A Big Gamble
Is baseball right in keeping quiet about its gamblers?
A few spring trainings ago the members of a major league team made the FBI man assigned to give them their annual lecture on the evils of gambling cool his heels. It seems they were still filling out their picks for the team pool on the NCAA basketball tournament.
That kind of cavalier attitude toward gambling has long been the norm in baseball and, for that matter, other professional sports. Last spring Philadelphia Phillie outfielder Lenny Dykstra was warned, but not suspended, for playing in high-stakes poker games. Two umpires, whom the commissioner's office refuses to identify, are currently on warning for their gambling activities. Pete Rose, of course, was banned two years ago for gambling, but that was long after his wagering became common knowledge in baseball.
In an article in the November issue of Penthouse, writer Jerome Tuccille details the gambling habits of former Chicago Cub manager Don Zimmer. According to Tuccille, Zimmer bet from $3,000 to $5,000 a week on football and basketball games while managing the Cubs. Zimmer has admitted to talking to commissioner Fay Vincent about his gambling, but, he told WMAQ-AM in Chicago, "I have no concern. I'm in good grace with the commissioner."
The commissioner's office would neither confirm nor deny any past or present investigations into Zimmer's activities, which leaves the impression—accurate or not—that this is just another scandal being swept under the rug. Asked why Zimmer's situation was never made public, deputy commissioner Steve Greenberg said, "We try to balance the public's right to know with the individual's right to confidentiality. In the case of Don Zimmer, we felt that everybody who needed to know did know."
It seems as if baseball is merely trying to protect its image. If baseball had an effective program to treat players and others who have gambling addictions—which it doesn't—then its argument for confidentiality might be laudable. But until then, perhaps the game would be better served if the public—and baseball people, too—knew that the commissioner's office was dealing with threats to its integrity swiftly and forcefully.
An Air of Comedy
Live from New York, it's Michael Jordan
As you have probably figured out by now, Michael Jordan's schedule is a bit fuller than yours or mine. But even for Jordan, the eight-day period between Sept. 20 and Sept. 28 was extraordinary.
On Friday, Sept. 21, he was toasted and roasted in a prime-time NBC special called Comedy Salute to Michael Jordan, which was a benefit for Comic Relief and the Michael Jordan Foundation. The following day, in another nationally televised special, he was named to the U.S. Olympic team. That evening he hosted his annual gala in Chicago, which raised some $175,000 for the United Negro College Fund and other charities. On Monday, Jordan was in his native Wilmington, N.C., where a 7.1-mile strip of Interstate 40 was dedicated in his name. And the next afternoon he was at NBC Studios in New York City to begin preparations for hosting the season premiere of Saturday Night Live.
Jordan was visibly nervous as he began rehearsals, for SNL, but by Friday, the day before the show, he had calmed down considerably. His main concern, in fact, was keeping up with the televised golf action of the Ryder Cup. He was watching one match when there was a knock on his dressing room door. Al Franken, the grizzled veteran of the SNL crew, appeared with a basketball, a sweatsuit and a few pieces of paper.
"Uh, Mike," said Franken, "I told you I wouldn't ask you to autograph a lot of stuff, but...." Jordan looked up from the TV and asked, "But you want me to autograph a lot of stuff, right, Al?"
The writers had planned a sketch that called for Jordan to sink several shots—without missing—into a carnival net. But when the normally infallible Jordan missed one of five in dress rehearsal, the carnival sketch was cut.
Jordan's performance on the show was solid, but he should definitely keep his regular job. And he made several new friends among the cast members, guaranteeing severe ticket-distribution problems when the Bulls visit Madison Square Garden to play the Knicks during the season.
"What was it like having him host?" pondered Franken. "It was like having Babe Ruth host in 1927."
A Rocky Design
Nobody asked, but here's a new logo for Colorado
When the major league baseball owners decided in July to put a franchise in Denver, we applauded their choice. After all, Denver has a 105-year history of minor league baseball and becomes the first major league team in the Mountain time zone. When the franchise chose to call itself the Colorado Rockies, we could live with that, though we flinched at the association with the defunct NHL franchise of the same name.
When the Rockies announced that their primary color would be purple (for "purple mountain majesties"), we thought that was all right, although we weren't too crazy about their choice of black as a secondary color since the black jerseys of the Los Angeles Raiders and Kings have been adopted as uniforms for various gangs. When Colorado unveiled its cap with CR embroidered on it in black and silver, we kept silent, although a spokesman for Carbonic Reserve, a dry-ice company in San Antonio with a similar insignia, has said, "We think the Colorado people should acknowledge us somehow."
But when the Rockies unveiled their logo, the one that would appear on their letterhead and official merchandise, we could no longer remain mum. Not only does their snowcapped mountain not look like a snowcapped mountain, but, as SI's design director Steve Hoffman says, "Their logo doesn't evoke the tradition of baseball or any feeling for the western U.S. either." We thought, Hey, we can do better than this. So we asked Michael Doret, a New York City artist, to submit his idea of a logo for the Rockies, keeping the purple but using different secondary colors.
You make the call.
The Worst of Times
For the second year in a row, no women's track record fell
Where have all the good times gone? The 1991 track season, which ended on Sept. 20 with the Mobil Grand Prix final in Barcelona, was the second straight in which no women's world record was set. Only once before (1966) in the 71 years that the International Amateur Athletic Federation has been keeping world records has even one year passed without a women's mark falling. But in the three years since the Seoul Olympics, only one such record has been set—Paula Ivan's 4:15.61 in the mile in July 1989. When you recall that eight women's records were set in 1988 alone, you begin to wonder why women track athletes have suddenly hit the record wall.
One explanation is that with the disruption in Eastern Europe, priorities have changed as governments in former Soviet bloc countries no longer support costly sports programs. But another explanation is that drug use may be down. It is impossible to know, but 1988 may simply have marked a high point—perhaps low point is more accurate—in the use of performance-enhancing drugs. In the U.S. there is now year-round testing, and in Eastern Europe, athletes who want to use drugs can no longer rely on government officials to help supply them.
It has been suspected for years that East Germany employed the most sophisticated drug program for its athletes. On Sept. 7, The Washington Post reported the discovery of "reams of confidential documents" detailing state-sponsored drug use by top athletes in the old East Germany. Among the documents was a letter written by women's 400-meter record-holder Marita Koch, in which Koch complained that her teammate Barbel Wockel was getting bigger doses of anabolic steroids than she was because Wockel had a relative working at the state-owned pharmaceutical company. Koch's 400 mark of 47.60, which has stood for six years now without anyone coming close to it, may be safe for the foreseeable future.
As for men's track, it was only a month ago that Carl Lewis and Mike Powell set world records in the 100 meters and long jump, respectively. Why are men setting records while women aren't? One reason may be that women are helped more by steroids than men are—since women have little natural testosterone, their strength is enhanced more by steroids than men's.
It is also significant that Lewis's time in the 100 of 9.86 is still short of the steroid-tainted 9.79 that Ben Johnson ran in Seoul. Tom Tellez, who coaches both Lewis and the man whose record Lewis eclipsed, Leroy Burrell, says he cannot imagine either of them ever running 9.79. If Johnson had not tested positive in Seoul, we might have watched sprinters chase his perhaps unattainable mark for decades.
A Punting Wallenda
A 35-year-old freshman tiptoes onto the Temple team
Perhaps the biggest difference between David Klukow's current avocation and his former vocation is that now he is allowed to use a net. As a punter for the Temple football team, Klukow practices by kicking the ball into a net over and over; as a member of the Flying Wallendas, Klukow performed death-defying acts on a high wire—no net allowed. "We practiced and performed over a dirt floor," says Klukow, who was with the Wallendas for 10 years. "Never a net. That way, you couldn't let your mind wander."
The 35-year-old redshirt freshman, who as the Owls' third-string punter is still waiting for his first game action, didn't start thinking about going to college until three years ago. Klukow had joined the Wallendas a year out of high school and traveled with them throughout North America for the Ringling Bros, and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Seven years ago, he decided to come down to earth, and entered the real estate business. "That was just too much of a desk job, though," Klukow says. "I knew I wouldn't be happy doing that for long." So he sold his house and business in Sarasota, Fla., moved to Philadelphia and enrolled at Temple as a full-time undergraduate. He plans to become a physical therapist.
Klukow had not played football since junior high school, but at the same time that he enrolled at Temple, he wrote a letter to Owls football coach Jerry Berndt, requesting a tryout. Berndt brushed the letter off as a joke, but after Klukow spoke to him, he decided to give him a chance. "I was talking to him one day, and I asked if he could imagine punting in front of 85,000 people," says Berndt. " 'Coach,' he said, 'I don't think that will bother me. After performing on a high wire in front of 20,000 people and knowing that if you fall, you're going to die, I think I can stand the pressure.' "
[Thumb Up] To the Plainfield (Ind.) Middle School, for maintaining a no-cut policy on its cheer-leading squad, as well as on most of its athletic teams. Of the school's 800 students, 73 are cheerleaders.
[Thumb Up]To Norfolk Academy in Richmond, for voluntarily giving back its 30-28 victory over St. Christopher's on Sept. 20, after learning that the winning touchdown pass had come on fifth down. "We felt this was the right thing to do," said Norfolk's AD, Dave Trickier.
[Thumb Down]To the state of Minnesota, which in 1992 will begin testing a system that will permit people to play the state lottery using Nintendo games. The state attorney general and others say the plan could turn children into gamblers.
THEY SAID IT
Tom Hughes, disc jockey for WGST-AM in Atlanta, telling listeners about an imaginary new Dominique Wilkins Highway: "That's the one with all the No Passing signs."
Roberto Kelly, New York Yankee leftfielder, explaining why he failed to chase a fly ball hit by Milwaukee Brewer George Candle that fell for a double down the leftfield line: "He wasn't supposed to hit it over there."
Making a List
Marching bands are as much a part of college football as the weekly rankings, so we asked two college band directors, Florida State's Pat Dunnigan and Jackson State's Edward Duplessis, plus Dallas Cowboy scout Bob Ackels (who has sat through his share of halftime shows) and ESPN college football analyst Beano Cook, to rank their 10 favorite current college bands. Here are their choices.
We are pleased to learn of the engagement of 21-year-old Tracy Lovey, who is considered to be the best woman golfer in Great Britain, to the 24-year-old pro at England's East Dorset Club, John Dovey.
Going Down Swinging
Chicago Cub outfielder Andre Dawson recently paid a $1,000 fine for disputing a strike call by umpire Joe West. On the memo line of his check Dawson wrote, "Donation for the blind."
Replay: 10 Years Ago in Sports Illustrated
Twenty-year-old Wayne Gretzky appeared on the cover of our Oct. 12, 1981, issue, the hockey preview. Gretzky had just won his second MVP award, but St. Louis Blues coach Red Berenson warned that the world had yet to see the greatest of the Great One: "It's scary to think what he might do before he's done." In SCORECARD we revealed that Reggie Jackson's dog was named Miss October.
1. Ohio State
2. Florida State
Any Ivy band
N. Carolina A&T
9. Florida A&M
Central (Ohio) State