Live and Learn
Maybe this accident is a blessing in disguise
Athletes everywhere could benefit from the close call involving two Philadelphia Phillies. Shortly after midnight on May 6, centerfielder Lenny Dykstra and catcher Darren Daulton were on their way home from a bachelor party for teammate John Kruk when Dykstra's car—traveling at an excessive speed—skidded into two trees. Neither player, police say, was wearing a seat belt: Dykstra suffered three broken ribs, a fractured collarbone and a broken bone beneath his right eye, and Daulton, a scratched left cornea and a fractured left eye socket. Daulton is expected to be back in uniform in about a month, and Dykstra may play by August, but police say that had the car hit the trees from a different angle, both players might have been killed. Dykstra has been charged with driving under the influence.
The list of athletes involved in alcohol-related driving incidents grows and grows. Police said Willie Shoemaker was legally intoxicated when he drove his car over an embankment last month, leaving him paralyzed. And in March, a car driven by Boston Celtic Charles Smith ran into two pedestrians, killing them. (Smith has pleaded not guilty to vehicular homicide and driving under the influence.)
Is this a trend? If it is, clubs may be able to do something about it by refusing to pay players while they recuperate from injuries sustained while driving under the influence. After all, a player who drives drunk not only risks lives when he gets behind the wheel, but he also betrays his team. Although standard player contracts contain provisions prohibiting such risk-taking as drunk driving, the Phillies have decided to pay Dykstra and Daulton while they are out. (Because of the number of games he will miss, Dykstra will lose $400,000 to $900,000 in performance incentives.) "I think that Lenny has suffered enough," says Phillie owner Bill Giles. "I'm sorry, not angry. People make mistakes."
Dykstra's friends are hoping that the hard-charging centerfielder will now slow down away from the diamond. "Lenny's lived," said former teammate Kevin McReynolds of the Mets. "Let's see if he's learned."
Lies and Videotape
The PGA's replay policy is getting ridiculous
First Craig Stadler lost more than $37,000 in a tournament in 1987 when a TV viewer called in to point out that Stadler had broken a rule by kneeling on a towel to protect his pants while taking a shot. Then Paul Azinger was disqualified from a tournament in March when somebody phoned to say that Azinger had nudged some rocks with his foot. Embarrassed by these incidents, the PGA Tour decided to monitor telecasts for infractions, and sure enough, two weeks ago Tom Kite was penalized a shot in the Byron Nelson Classic when one of the new replay officials ruled that Kite had made an improper drop.
Not only are replay rulings inherently unfair (only some players are shown on television, therefore only they can be penalized), and not only is the whole idea of replays abhorrent to the game's history (golf has gotten along fairly well for 500 years on the honor system), but there is also the question of where this video madness will end....
"This is Stan Dimpleworth, PGA Tour video rules division."
"Well, it's just that a few of the fellas were sitting around after work the other night, watching highlights of your famous charge at Cherry Hills to win the 1960 U.S. Open, and I don't know if you remember this, but on Thursday, you hit into a bunker on No. 5."
"Well, just before you played the shot, you dropped your cigarette and it burned a weed down about a quarter inch. That's a clear violation of Rule 13-4 regarding touching or moving obstacles in a hazard. I'm afraid that you've been disqualified from the '60 Open. Nicklaus now has 21 majors."
"This is a joke, right?"
"I'm afraid not, Mr. Palmer. Also, Lenny, my mechanic, says he specifically remembers looking at an old Shell's Wonderful World of Golf show and seeing you mismark your ball on the 15th at Cotton Bay. You owe $23,500 and that Samsonite luggage you got. Cadillac wants its endorsement money back, and, oh, your wife wants a divorce."
"She took another look at the home movies from your wedding. She says you didn't look sincere."
Brian Bosworth stars in his first movie, "Stone Cold"
Here is the Boz amidst gunfire, bloodshed, fisticuffs and rampant female frontal nudity. Is this a documentary about a Barry Switzer-era Oklahoma athletic dorm? No, it's Stone Cold, in which Brian Bosworth makes his silver-screen debut playing maverick Alabama cop Joe Huff, who goes undercover to infiltrate the Brotherhood, a motorcycle gang that has been terrorizing the Deep South, assassinating politicians and maintaining poor hygiene. Something has got to be done.
Stone Cold is an ideal vehicle for Bosworth's debut for two reasons: 1) It contains no soliloquies or big words to trip him up, and 2) it provides him plenty of chances to flex his triceps while tooling around on his moderately chopped hog.
Bosworth, who retired from the NFL's Seattle Seahawks last year with chronically bad shoulders, has been taking acting lessons for six years. By all means, he should continue to take them. That said, it must be added that Bosworth is actually not bad. He is relaxed on camera, his timing is good, and there is a nice understatement to his delivery. The Boz may not be ready for Shakespeare in the Park, but compared to, say, Steven Seagal, he comes off like Olivier.
With Schwarzenegger and Stallone advancing on middle age, Bosworth could fill a void in the Terminator/Rambo mayhem-flick market. Will there be a Stone Colder"? And if there is no sequel, what's next for Bosworth? How many other roles can there be for a guy who looks like a beefy Billy Idol? That very predicament is addressed by the movie's hirsute, verminous biker Ice, who, upon meeting the Boz, alludes to the Flintstones and the blond, muscle-bound son of Barney and Betty. Exclaims Ice, "Looks like we got us a grown-up version of Bamm-Bamm."
An Enduring Legacy
In life, Chucky Mullins brought people together
Former Mississippi defensive back Roy Lee (Chucky) Mullins died in Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis on May 6, a year and a half after shattering four vertebrae in his neck while breaking up a pass to Vanderbilt fullback Brad Gaines. Mullins, who was paralyzed by the injury, died from a blood clot that resulted from his inability to move his limbs.
Mullins lived only to age 21, but the legacy he passed on to those around him was the work of a full and generous lifetime. Mississippians were humbled and unified by his misfortune, and Gaines, the opponent into whose body Mullins had rammed headfirst, was profoundly affected too. "It was a play called '152-up,' " says Gaines. "I went up the hash mark, and when the ball got there, I grabbed it and then—bam!—I got hit from behind. When I got up, I was thinking, 'That was a good, strong lick.' Back in the huddle, time went on and on. I saw the player was down, and I thought he had a stinger [a temporary numbness]. When I found out it was worse, I was torn up."
Gaines could not shake off the memory of the accident. Though he had done nothing to cause the injury, he still felt guilty. His concentration on the field suffered, as did his performance in Vanderbilt's remaining games; after the season he entered the NFL draft. He told people he was going pro because he had led the Southeastern Conference in receptions with 67, but in truth he was doing so because he wanted distance between himself and the tragedy. When he wasn't drafted, he returned to Vanderbilt, from which he graduated last December.
Shortly after Christmas in 1989, Gaines made his first trip to see Mullins. "I could not believe my eyes," he says. "Instead of a big football player, what I saw was a little, shriveled body hooked to machines." But he also saw a happy, indomitable spirit. "He had those eyes, man. He wasn't down at all. You could just tell he was a great guy."
Gaines, who is white, and Mullins, who was black, talked for the first time that day—Gaines leaning down to hear Mullins's whispers—and a friendship was born. "What's the tint of somebody's skin got to do with anything?" asks Gaines. The two talked on the phone many times (Mullins used a headset), and Gaines visited Mullins when he could. He was with him at the end, holding his hand and talking to Mullins even as Chucky's vital signs flattened to nothing. "There was a poem one of his teammates had written in the room and a game ball on his bed," says Gaines. "Every team has a guy like Chucky, somebody who is just so nice, so decent."
While Gaines feels emotionally spent—"I'm cried out, I don't think there's any water left in my body," he says—he also feels a sense of joy. "Chucky brought so many people together, black and white, that it's just unbelievable."
Howard Spira is convicted. Guess who wants back in?
The Howard Spira trial ended last week with a jury in Manhattan convicting him of, among other things, five charges of attempting to extort money from banished New York Yankee owner George Steinbrenner. Spira came to Steinbrenner in 1986, offering him incriminating information about the Boss's longtime nemesis, former Yankee outfielder Dave Winfield, and Steinbrenner maintained ties with Spira for three years thereafter. Prosecutors charged that Spira threatened to damage Steinbrenner's reputation unless he was paid $110,000, and the jury agreed.
It was because of Steinbrenner's relationship with Spira that commissioner Fay Vincent suspended him last July from taking part in Yankee operations. Now that Spira has been convicted, Steinbrenner's supporters are talking about asking Vincent to reinstate him.
But Vincent never disputed that Steinbrenner might have been blackmailed by Spira; he said that Steinbrenner hadn't contacted the authorities or informed the commissioner's office when he should have.
The commissioner's interest in Spira should not end; his office should investigate leads and information it failed to develop a year ago regarding Spira's relationship with Winfield (SI, Oct. 8, 1990). But Vincent was right in suspending Steinbrenner, who acknowledged at the time that he had acted contrary to the best interests of the game. The Spira verdict doesn't change that.
[Thumb Up]To the Florida Legislature and Bertram Firestone for bringing racing back to Hialeah Park, which closed in December 1989. After Firestone, the owner of rival Gulfstream, reached a compromise with Hialeah over racing dates, the legislature approved a 50-day meeting at Hialeah starting Nov. 10.
[Thumb Up]To the Korean table tennis team, which took part in the world championships in Chiba, Japan. It was the first time since 1945 that a combined team from North and South Korea competed internationally.
[Thumb Down]To Edmonton Oiler forward Glenn Anderson, who kicked Minnesota North Star forward Gaetan Duchesne in the chest with his skate, leaving a six-inch welt, during a skirmish in Game 4 of their Stanley Cup semifinals. Using skate blades is taboo even in the liberal etiquette of hockey fighting.
THEY SAID IT
Jerry Glanville, Atlanta Falcon coach, on the hazards of his profession: "If you're a pro coach, NFL stands for 'Not For Long.' "
Elden Campbell, Los Angeles Laker rookie forward, when asked if he had earned his degree from Clemson: "No, but they gave me one, anyway."
Making a List
The Stanley Cup, the oldest professional team trophy in North America, will soon change hands. The Cup has been in some odd situations since Sir Frederick Arthur Stanley, Governor-General of Canada, had it made in 1893 for $48.67 (Canadian). Here are 10 of them.
1. In 1903, a member of Ottawa's Silver Seven took the Cup home. After teammates found out, there was a scuffle, and the Cup was tossed into a cemetery.
2. After the Silver Seven again won the title in 1905, one player drop-kicked the Cup into the Rideau River in Ottawa.
3. After posing with the Cup in 1906, the Montreal Wanderers left it at a photo studio. The photographer's mother found it and planted geraniums in it.
4. When the Kenora (Ont.) Thistles weren't allowed to use two players in the '07 series, a team official took the Cup, saying, "I'm going to throw it in Lake of the Woods." He didn't.
5. One of the players on the 1910 champion Wanderers placed the Cup in the window of a bowling alley he owned, and filled it with chewing gum.
6. On their way to a party for their 1924 title, some Montreal Canadiens had a flat tire. Upon arriving, they realized they had left the trophy on the curb.
7. With the Canadiens losing to Chicago in the '62 semifinals, a frustrated Montreal fan tried to abscond with the Cup. He said, "I was taking the Cup back to Montreal, where it belongs."
8. Chris Nilan of the champion Canadiens borrowed the Cup in 1986 to have his infant son photographed with it. "His bottom fit right in," said Nilan.
9. The night after the Edmonton Oilers won the Cup in '87, one of them placed it on stage at an Edmonton strip joint.
10. During the '88 finals, two Harvard seniors, hired for security, baby-sat the Cup in Boston's Ritz-Carlton hotel. The Cup deserved a night at the Ritz.
A Game of H-O-R-S-E
Maybe you read last week that Magic Johnson had purchased a share of the colt Honor Grades, who is scheduled to run in this week's Preakness, from co-owners Bruce McNall and Wayne Gretzky. Perhaps Magic should consider adding some of these horses to his stable: Slam Dunk, Knick Press, Fullcourt Press, Double Dribble, Back Court Pass, Jump Shot, Doctor J., Willis, Wilt and Bill Russell. By the way, there is also a horse named Magic Johnson and jockeys named Larry Bird (at Assiniboia Downs) and Michael Jourdan (at Birmingham Race Course).
Replay: 15 Years Ago in Sports Illustrated
Julius Erving appeared on the May 17, 1976, cover after his New York Nets took a 3-1 lead over the Denver Nuggets in the ABA finals. (They won in six.) Erving was shooting baskets before Game 2 when league publicist Jim Bukata mentioned that Nugget David Thompson and high school star Darrell Griffith were the only two people who could do a 360-degree dunk. Dr. J took three steps, spun and slammed. "Make that three," he said.