THE FAMILY PLAN
It's hard to fault a plan that promises to send one family member of each U.S. Olympic athlete to this year's Summer Games in Seoul. "The team behind the team is really the families," says C. Richard Coffey, president of the Seagram Beverage Company, whose Send the Families program will provide an estimated $2.75 million to fly some 560 Olympic family members to South Korea in September. Twenty-three of the 26 U.S. governing bodies of Summer Olympic sports have agreed to take part in Seagram's program.
Unfortunately for some families, the governing bodies of gymnastics and basketball want nothing to do with Seagram's program because it promotes Seagram's Coolers, a line of wine beverages. (The 26th U.S. governing body, the U.S. Tennis Association, has simply declined the invitation to take part.) While the gymnastics and basketball federations defend their nonparticipation on sound principle—they say they don't want to promote the use of alcohol by young athletes—they ought to reconsider their decisions in this case.
For one thing, the program is intended for families, not children. Also, there are risks in being too judgmental: A federation that shuns the Send the Families program because of Seagram's sponsorship would, logically, also have to boycott the U.S. Olympic Training Centers, which are sponsored by the Miller Brewing Company, and perhaps even the Olympics, which have an official beer sponsor, the Oriental Brewery Company of South Korea.
May 15, 1988
GOING TO SEED
George Toma, the groundskeeping wizard of Kansas City, has devised six ways to grow real grass on the artificial turf of Arrowhead Stadium. For one of his experiments, Toma and his crew put down some grass seed and some dirt in three test plots of AstroTurf-8 Drain Through System, which has holes in its padding. This was on a Friday. By Wednesday the grass had grown two inches high. The heat and moisture trapped underneath the padding actually helped germinate the grass seed.
Why in the world did Toma do this? Well, he likes a challenge—he has been known to grow grass on a slice of bread. But more important, Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt wanted to impress the visiting officials of FIFA, the governing body for international soccer, which is expected to award the 1994 World Cup to the U.S. this summer. FIFA does not allow World Cup games to be played on artificial turf, but Toma's grass on carpet might make Arrowhead and other U.S. stadiums with artificial turf viable sites for World Cup competition.
As expected, the National League executive committee last Friday upheld the 30-day suspension given Cincinnati Reds manager Pete Rose by league president A. Bartlett Giamatti for pushing umpire Dave Pallone on April 30. However, there were some unexpected developments arising from the incident:
•Pallone gave his first interview on the controversy to the Phillie Phanatic, the Philadelphia Phillies' mascot. It seems that Dave Raymond, who masquerades as the Phanatic, has a radio show on WDEL in Wilmington, Del., and knows Pallone well. Pallone was working a series in Philadelphia, and on May 3 Raymond asked Pallone to stop by the Phanatic's locker room. The one thing of significance that Pallone told Raymond was that he was unsure whether or not he poked Rose under his left eye during their argument, as Rose has charged.
•Songwriter Eric Gnezda of Columbus, Ohio, worked very quickly and three days after the incident came up with a song entitled Pallone Again, Naturally, sung to the tune of Gilbert O'Sullivan's 1972 hit Alone Again (Naturally). The parody contains these immortal lines: "Guess who blew the call. I'm not surprised at all. Pallone again, naturally."
•Because Charles Bronfman, chairman of the board of the Montreal Expos, was in Europe, his place on the executive committee was taken by Expo president Claude Brochu. This created an awkward situation because Cincinnati general manager (and former Montreal G.M.) Murray Cook, who argued Rose's case before the committee, recently married Brochu's ex-wife.
BEN LEXCEN, 1936-1988
SI's Sarah Ballard remembers Ben Lexcen, the Australian boat designer who died of a heart attack on May 1 at the age of 52:
Australians aren't much for hero worship. An innate skepticism tells them that the feet inside a general's boots are probably made of clay. The fellow they trust is the ordinary bloke, and a true hero is an ordinary bloke who beats the odds.
Ben Lexcen beat the odds on behalf of Australia's ordinary blokes when he applied his eccentric genius to the design of a winged keel for Australia II. In 1983 that "little white pointer," as he called the boat, wrested the America's Cup from the New York Yacht Club for the first time in the event's 132-year history.
Australia II's victory, which was attributed largely to Lexcen's innovative design, set off a celebration Down Under the likes of which hadn't been seen since the end of World War II. "I didn't think anything could be so powerful as winning the Cup," Lexcen said a year later. "People every day still come up to me in the street and shake my hand." Lexcen was the most approachable of heroes. His broad shoulders were stooped, and his thick dark hair was frequently in disarray from his habit of running his hands through it. His blue eyes—behind glasses that were forever sliding down his nose—were kind, and his humor was an ever-ready antidote to the deadly serious business that the America's Cup has become.
Lexcen had an Australian's healthy disrespect for privilege. Once, having attended a meeting of wealthy New York yachtsmen, he said, "I thought you had to be sharp in New York. I was stunned. I'm going to find out what business those guys are in, and then I'm going to get into it. I'll be a rich man."
When he died, he had far greater riches of another sort: a nation full of friends and admirers.
IN A WORD
Jim Lynam, who took over as coach of the Philadelphia 76ers in midseason, last week was given a three-year contract. That was good news for Lynam but bad news for the reporters covering the club, because he's a man of few words. In fact, when he was coach of the San Diego-Los Angeles Clippers a few years ago, a writer once asked him to stop replying to questions with one-word answers, whereupon Lynam said, "Why?"
When a Philadelphia writer recently asked him if that actually happened, Lynam said, "True."
A CERTAIN SAMENESS
There were two rather confusing golf pairings in last week's Grand Prix of Europe Match Play Championship in Chepstow, Wales: Gordon Brand vs. Gordon Brand and David Russell vs. David Russell. In case you're wondering, Gordon J. Brand of England defeated Gordon Brand Jr. of Scotland 2 and 1, and David J. Russell of England beat his countryman David A. Russell one up.
WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?
The official logo for the 114th running of the Kentucky Derby was a striking picture of two galloping horses, jockeys up, with Churchill Downs in the background. Something was amiss, however. The lead horse seemed to have five legs.
Mike Schuh, a reporter for Louisville's WLKY-TV, first got wind of the anatomical error on April 30 in a casual conversation with an employee of All Pro Championships, the licensing company for the Triple Crown races. Schuh did a piece on the air in which he asked people to count the legs. An overwhelming majority said five. All Pro vice-president Sandra Prew disagreed, saying, "I see four. I can't stop people from seeing five...any more than I can stop them from seeing little green Martians."
But Marti Long, the graphic artist whose design for the logo was chosen in a contest sponsored by All Pro and Churchill Downs, says that the horse now has five legs, although she didn't intend it that way. "My original design was a little ambiguous [in that it was hard to discern which legs belong to the first horse and which to the second]. But the color separations appear to have been joined in final reproduction. How could they not see they were putting five legs on a horse? I didn't notice until last week when someone who saw my Derby pin said, 'That horse has five legs.' "
The five-legged horse is also entered, so to speak, in the Preakness; its logo is based on Long's design. However, the Belmont logo, also a derivation of Long's concept, has been corrected.
THEY SAID IT
•John Trautwein, Boston Red Sox pitcher, after relieving Roger Clemens, who had had a rare poor start: "It was like Frank Sinatra opening for Bob Uecker."
•Rocky Bridges, the manager of the Triple A Buffalo Bisons, on how cold it was for the home opener: "Admiral Byrd threw out the first pitch."