With the Dodgers' World Series victory (page 32), the city of Los Angeles has reached a sports pinnacle. L.A. can now claim to be home to the world champions of both baseball and basketball (the Lakers), the nation's No. 1-ranked college football team (UCLA, according to most polls), the greatest player in hockey (Wayne Gretzky) and, if you include nearby cities such as Newport Beach and Placentia, some of the top stars of this year's Seoul Olympic Games (including Florence Griffith Joyner, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Janet Evans).
Enjoy it while it lasts, L.A.
During the World Series, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen discovered a real pair of Bash brothers. Richard and Daniel, living in Castro Valley, Calif. Despite their seeming natural affinity to the so-called Bash Brothers of the Athletics, Richard and Daniel Bash are Dodger fans.
October 31, 1988
THE TOO-LATE SHOW
There's a conclusion to be drawn from the familiar scenes of drunken brawling in the stands at Giants Stadium during the Buffalo Bills' 37-14 victory over the New York Jets on Oct. 17: Either the NFL needs to stop playing Monday night games in the East or ABC-TV should move up the 9 p.m. starting time of such games by at least an hour.
The problem is pregame drinking. By the time the Jets-Bills game got under way, a significant minority of fans had been sitting around at bars or in the parking lot for a couple of hours getting soused. When Buffalo jumped to a 31-7 halftime lead, many unhappy fans took off the paper Jets caps they had been given as they entered the stadium and started throwing them. Some of the caps were piled up and set on fire. At least 30 fights broke out, 11 other "incidents"—including beer-throwing—were reported by stadium security guards, and 56 fans were ejected for unruly behavior. Fifteen other spectators were arrested.
This was hardly the first time such ills had beset a Monday night game in the East. The New England Patriots have had particular trouble over the years (SCORECARD, Oct. 13, 1980 et seq.). Teams have tried increasing security and limiting beer sales inside their stadiums, but those remedies haven't done the trick. The Jets-Bills game was staffed by a slightly larger security force than usually works daytime games at Giants Stadium. Beer sales were cut off eight minutes into the third quarter rather than at the end of that period, as is the custom at day games.
Short of such drastic measures as banning beer completely inside and outside stadiums and perhaps putting fans through sobriety tests at the gate, one logical answer seems to be to do something about late starting times. ABC Sports president Dennis Swan-son, whose network pays the NFL a reported $7.2 million a game for rights to the Monday telecasts, has said in the past that affiliates in the eastern and central time zones prefer that all Monday night games start an hour earlier, no matter where they're played. That's because the games as now scheduled end so late—often after midnight in the East.
The first four Monday night games this season were played an hour earlier than usual, largely to help ABC compete with rival NBC's Olympic coverage. The experiment worked well: There were no significant spectator problems, and ratings did not suffer even though the telecasts began at 5 p.m. (Pacific time) on the West Coast. It would be wise to make the change permanent.
VANNA'S NEW PARTNER?
It sounded rather farfetched when the National Enquirer reported it. but it's true almost right down to the letter. Last month Jimmy Connors briefly put down his tennis racket and picked up a microphone to audition for the job of daytime host of Wheel of Fortune. Merv Griffin, whose company produces the television game show, is a friend of Connors's, and he suggested the tryout.
"Merv thought it would be fun, and Jimmy enjoyed it," says Connors's agent and lawyer. Ivan Blumberg. "There seems to be a sense that he did a good job." Indeed, spokesmen for the show say that Connors is one of several auditioners still under consideration. The new host will be announced at the end of November. (The current host. Pat Sajak, is leaving the daytime Wheel sometime in December to do a talk show, but will continue on the nighttime version.)
Connors says he's committed to full-time tennis through 1989. which would seem to leave Wheel out of the picture. In any case, the producers might decide that Jimbo is too much of a risk, given his on-court history of inventing colorful phrases of his own.
The toll-free telephone number for Stanford football ticket information is 1-800-BEAT-CAL.
In response to former South Carolina defensive lineman Tommy Chaikin's story about the use of anabolic steroids by him and a significant number of other Gamecock football players (Oct. 24), the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division announced last week that it will conduct a preliminary inquiry—but that inquiry will focus mostly on Chaikin's allegations regarding the players' use of cocaine and LSD. not those relating to steroids. State solicitor James Anders said steroid use is a "university matter" because it "is not criminal under most circumstances. Your doctor can give you steroids this afternoon."
Anders has a point. Doctors generally aren't criminally prosecuted for improperly prescribing or administering steroids to an athlete, though they can face license reviews by state medical boards. But it is a criminal offense to sell or buy steroids without a prescription. According to Chaikin, such activity was common among Gamecock players and their suppliers. Apparently this aspect of the matter will be left largely unexamined; the university plans no investigation of its own.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, Congress passed and sent to President Reagan an antidrug bill that includes a section on steroids. The legislation, which the President was expected to sign this week, would make the illegal distribution of steroids—now a misdemeanor—a felony punishable by up to three years in prison. For those caught distributing the drugs to minors, the penalty would automatically double. Doctors who improperly administer or prescribe anabolic steroids would not be affected by the measure.
WELCOME BACK, OLGA
The Darling of the 1972 summer Olympics is visiting the U.S. for the first time since '76. "In the 12 years since I was last here, I've gotten tons of mail from Americans requesting autographs and pictures," said 33-year-old Olga Korbut, the Soviet gymnast whose expressive personality and daring moves on the uneven bars at the Games in Munich captivated a worldwide television audience. "So I knew I was remembered, but I didn't think to the extent that I now see."
Korbut and her husband, Belorussian singer Leonid Bartkevich, came to the U.S. last month from their home in Minsk. Their vacation turned into a working trip: Korbut. who teaches gymnastics in Minsk, visited gymnastics centers in several cities, went to Orange County, Calif., for her induction into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame and last week was feted in New York by the Women's Sports Foundation, which had elected her to its hall in 1982 without her knowing it.
Now that glasnost has become official Soviet policy, Korbut returned to a warm welcome, and she spoke of perhaps setting up a gymnastics school in the U.S. if the Soviet and American gymnastics federations are able to agree on details. "Now that we have friendly relations, I think it's all very possible," she said. Korbut criticized her sport for having grown unartistic and unimaginative. "They want to do everything fast now, and I'm very against it," she said. "Gymnastics is getting worse and worse, and now it's no longer beautiful." As for the Olympic competition in Seoul (in which two athletes who were from Korbut's gym helped the Soviets to the women's team title), she said, "There was nothing new there, really. Everything was fine, our people won, but there was no individuality."
Individuality runs strong in Korbut's family. Her nine-year-old son, Richard, is a budding Soviet movie star. Her husband is devoted to his music and while in the U.S. is recording an album of Belorussian folk songs. Korbut plans to sing on one of the numbers, suitably entitled I Cannot Forget You.
THEY SAID IT
•Jeff Feagles, Patriots punter, on his junior college team, the Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College Artichokes: "We were known as the Chokes for short."
•Chuck Noll. Steelers coach, after a 34-14 loss to the Oilers two weeks ago: "You don't have to look at the movies to smell this one."