On May 2 sports agent Lloyd Bloom was arraigned in state circuit court in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on misdemeanor charges of commercial bribery, deceptive trade practice and tampering with a sports contest, all stemming from payments he allegedly made to former University of Alabama basketball players Derrick McKey and Terry Coner in violation of NCAA rules. But after negotiations between the Alabama state attorney general's office and Bloom's attorney, Mike Trope, Bloom pleaded guilty to one count of deceptive trade practice and agreed to testify at the criminal trial of his former boss, Norby Walters, who faces the same charges. If Walters is convicted, Bloom's sentence—if you can call it that—is to spend one week in the Tuscaloosa hotel of his choice (at his own expense) and to wash state police cars nine hours a day for the week. "It's going to be great," Bloom told Chris Mortensen of The Atlanta Constitution. "It'll be like a country club. I get to stay in Tuscaloosa's top hotel, eat good food and mingle with some locals." If Walters is not convicted, Bloom won't even have to stay at the hotel. He'll get off scot-free.
"People may laugh at this deal," said Alabama Assistant Attorney General Don Valeska. "But I think it should be obvious that we want Walters, and to get Walters we need Bloom."
People should laugh at the deal, and that's a shame, because Alabama is trying to do what the NCAA and the professional leagues have failed to do: keep unscrupulous agents away from college athletes. Former agent Jim Abernethy was convicted March 1 in Alabama of tampering with a sports contest, a charge that arose out of his payments to Auburn football player Kevin Porter; he was sentenced to a year in jail and a fine of $2,000. He has appealed. In Bloom's case, the state's purpose would have been better served if Bloom had simply been sentenced to community service. Then he would not have been able to make such sniggering comments as "I've never washed a police car, just a few Rolls-Royces and a few Mercedes."
May 22, 1988
HIS SUNDAE BEST
As of Sunday night the woeful (5-31) Orioles were still recovering from their record season-opening 21-game losing streak. So was Mike Filippelli, a morning disc jockey at Ocean City, Md., station WWTR-FM and lifelong O's booster. On April 19, midway into the O's streak, Filippelli bet his broadcast partner, Vince Edwards, on the air that the Baltimore streak would not reach 13, then the season-opening record. The two deejays let listeners choose the stakes.
For Filippelli, that was a mistake. In order to pay up, he first had to crawl and walk a 6.2-mile stretch of Maryland's Coastal Highway, which took four hours. Then he went to the Ocean Plaza Mall, where, dressed in an Orioles jersey and helmet, he sat down in a plastic kiddie pool and let Edwards pour 30 gallons of chocolate syrup over him. While Edwards watched and gloated, mall patrons decorated Filippelli with cherries, pineapple, jimmies, nuts and whipped cream—the works. "After two hours of that, I can make it through a season of humiliation with the Orioles," says Filippelli, adding, "It was something not to tell my grandchildren about."
HOOSIER AND WHO?
Both Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight and Vice-President George Bush were in Albuquerque last week to discuss job openings. Knight was looking into the University of New Mexico coaching vacancy, and Bush was campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination. Who attracted more attention? On Thursday The Albuquerque Tribune sent one reporter and a photographer to cover Bush's speech at a Rotary Club meeting and five reporters and photographers to a hotel where Knight, who eventually turned down the Lobo job, had reportedly been spotted.
"I really am surprised to see so many people here," Bush told the Rotarians in his address. "I thought the queue would be around the Pit [the university's arena] for basketball tickets." Then he added, "I won't give my speech about Bobby Knight. I'm going to talk about other nuclear defenses."
THE INVISIBLE MAN RETURNS
NHL president John Ziegler finally surfaced on Tuesday of last week, two days after the Devils-Bruins officiating fiasco (SI, May 16), during which he had been mysteriously—and conspicuously—absent. Ziegler refused to say where he had been while 1) NHL executive vice-president Brian O'Neill announced he was suspending New Jersey coach Jim Schoenfeld for Game 4 of the Bruins-Devils playoff series for verbally abusing referee Don Koharski and blocking his exit from the ice; 2) the Devils got a restraining order allowing Schoenfeld to continue coaching; and 3) the Game 4 officials, seeing Schoenfeld coaching, refused to work, delaying the start for more than an hour and forcing the recruitment of three amateur refs. Ziegler said only that he had needed a couple days off and had been on a "personal errand"; The Toronto Star reported that he had been trying to help his son, allegedly involved in an unidentified "cult" in an undisclosed location.
Ziegler did finally exercise some authority in the Schoenfeld matter. He forced the coach to sit out Game 5 Tuesday night and fined him $1,000 and the Devils $10,000. "It's not a nice thing," said Ziegler. "It's not a pleasant thing. It's one of those things you wish would never have happened. But the league will survive it. It won't affect the attendance. It won't affect the ratings on television."
Speaking of Schoenfeld, music lovers will recall that 16 years ago, when he was playing for Buffalo, he recorded a cover version of a Beatles song. The title: You Can't Do That.
In a Philadelphia Catholic League baseball game, St. James High centerfielder Warren McIntire was chasing a fly ball off the bat of St. John Neumann High's Bill Eiser when he sensed a pit bull charging across the field at him. "I heard the dog's chain jangling," McIntire said later. "I looked and saw him about five feet away."
McIntire headed for the 12-foot-high chain-link outfield fence and climbed up out of the dog's reach. "I was thinking about it before the ball was even hit, when I first saw the dog out there at the beginning of the inning," said McIntire, who was only too aware that dogs are attracted by motion. "I said to myself, 'If that ball is hit out here, I'm going for the fence.' "
The dog's owner quickly rescued McIntire by leading away the pit bull, but the damage had been done. The umpire ruled McIntire would not have caught the ball in any event and awarded Eiser a ground-rule double. St. John Neumann went on to score three runs in the inning and win 7-2.
SI's Ralph Wiley reports from Tokyo on the JAL International Track and Field Meet:
The bullet man loaded himself onto the starting blocks in National Stadium last Friday evening, ready to stretch the envelope of human speed yet again. Ben Johnson of Canada, making his 1988 outdoor debut, had shown in recent workouts that he was on pace to pare his world record for the 100 meters from a breathtaking 9.83 seconds to an almost unbelievable 9.78.
But 40 meters into the Tokyo race Johnson felt his left hamstring begin to screw and twist instead of stretch and contract. He pulled to a halt in the cool breeze and watched Marty Krulee of the U.S. win in 10.32. The bullet man went under the grandstand and flung his spikes against a wall. "He did right," said his coach, Charlie Francis, of Johnson's withdrawal. "Maybe you win today and pay later."
Later means in races against Olympic champion Carl Lewis. The Johnson and Lewis camps have agreed in principle on a series of three match races for this summer, two 100s and a 200, for which each runner would receive a total of perhaps half a million dollars. "We're working on it," says Larry Heidebrecht, Johnson's agent. "One 100-meter race in Paris [set for June 27], the 200 in Italy on August 14, or maybe in Brussels on August 19, and the second 100 in Zurich on August 17. The financing has yet to be worked out, but there's enough incentive when these two meet."
Johnson's injury turned out to be a strain. It's expected to sideline him for one to three weeks. "Ben's getting faster in his event," said Francis, who looks for Johnson to peak at the Seoul Olympics in September. "He might go faster than 9.78."
A REGRETTABLE NIGHT OUT
There's simply no justifying the foolish behavior of the eight Detroit Red Wing players who were out drinking until almost 2 a.m. on May 10—the date of the Wings' biggest game of the season, the fifth game of their best-of-seven Stanley Cup semifinal series, in which they trailed Edmonton three victories to one. "They're a bunch of idiots," fumed Detroit coach Jacques Demers, and he was right. That night the Red Wings lost 8-4 and were eliminated. So ended what until then had been a surprisingly good and almost entirely positive season for Detroit.
Even more sadly, two of the players who had been out drinking nearly three hours past curfew were Bob Probert, who has been hospitalized four times in the last two years for treatment of alcoholism, and Petr Klima, whose drinking has prompted Wings management to consider suggesting that he, too, seek treatment at a clinic. Demers issued a public apology for his players, but they must take responsibility. They let down their franchise (which may yet bring some disciplinary action against them), their teammates, their fans and themselves.
THEY SAID IT
•Bo Schembechler, football coach and newly appointed athletic director at the University of Michigan, on his career plans: "I'll coach as long as I desire or until the new athletic director decides to fire me—which is not inconceivable."