THE GAMES (CONT.)
The Paralympics began, as did the Summer Games themselves, at
Olympic Stadium in Atlanta, with a lone athlete standing beneath
an unlighted cauldron. Muhammad Ali was not in the house last
Thursday, but 64,500 other people were, including Mark Wellman,
a 36-year-old American mountain climber who is paralyzed from
the waist down. This did not prevent him from scaling the
184-foot Olympic tower hand over hand while carrying the flame
between his legs. Moments after Wellman ignited the flame,
Christopher Reeve--Superman in the movies, now bound to a
wheelchair--officially pronounced the Games open, and 3,500
athletes from 127 nations began 10 days of competition in 19
Paralympians have cerebral palsy. They are blind. They are
missing limbs. They are paraplegics and quadriplegics,
high-jumpers and marathoners and shot-putters. They are
athletes. On Saturday, 23,729 spectators watched Heinz Frei of
Switzerland set a world record in the wheelchair 10,000 meters.
The fans--those who could--stood and clapped. Others pursed
their lips and shook their heads, awed by the accomplishments of
a fellow man, an athlete.
DOES IT COME IN PURPLE?
According to a Nike media alert, Monica Seles will appear at a
"gala event" in New York City on Saturday to unveil a signature
tennis shoe, the Air Haze, "named for Seles's love of music from
the 1960s." The alert promises that the gala will be "a tie-dyed
evening of lovebeads, lava lamps, black-lighting and '60s
music." Sounds groovy--and talk about a flashback: Seles was
born in 1973.
LOOKING FOR A LANDIS
Now that baseball's owners and players appear close to settling
their contractual squabbles, it's time to think about filling a
long-standing vacancy. Baseball has been without a commissioner
since the owners fired Fay Vincent in September 1992. Bud Selig,
the owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, has been imitating a
commissioner, and not too convincingly, ever since.
One thing the next commissioner should not be is an owner--or a
puppet of the owners. One thing the next commissioner should be
is hired jointly by the owners and the players. And the
commissioner's power to act independently in the "best interests
of the game," a concept weakened since the ouster of Vincent,
should be reestablished.
Applicants should send resumes to Selig, in care of Milwaukee
County Stadium. In the meantime, we hope the following
candidates get consideration.
--Mario Cuomo, former New York governor, onetime minor league
centerfielder. Strengths: smart, populist, has convictions,
loves the game. Weakness: suffers fools poorly.
--Len Coleman, National League president. Strengths: Reasonable,
fair, liked by owners and players. Weakness: liked by owners.
--Billy Payne, chairman, Atlanta Committee for the Olympic
Games. Strengths: master salesman, comfortable with TV execs and
corporate chiefs, sympathetic to spectators. Weakness: tells
--Jim Bunning, Hall of Famer, U.S. representative from Kentucky.
Strengths: keen sense of baseball and politics. Weakness:
--Doris Kearns Goodwin, historian, baseball fan. Strengths:
intelligent, has enthusiasm for the sport, would be first member
of the stronger sex to serve as commissioner. Weakness: baseball
experience limited to appearances in Ken Burns's PBS series.
Faced with an obtuse case in which some Passaic County (N.J.)
tavern owners were charged with showing a pirated closed-circuit
telecast of the 1995 Larry Holmes-Oliver McCall fight, U.S.
district judge Nicholas Politan borrowed a leaf from Muhammad
Ali's book. He put a poetic punch in the proceedings last week
when he issued a four-page ruling, denying a defense motion to
dismiss the case, written entirely in rhyme. "We had to do
something to entertain ourselves," says Politan, who, with the
help of clerks, spent two months crafting his verse, complete
with footnotes. Insists Politan, "The legal basis is absolutely
Which is more than can be said for the meter. Still, when
grappling with matters of evidentiary admissibility, it's
refreshing to encounter such passages as "The Court is not
satisfied that perfidious antics/(Rhyme is not easy--excuse the
semantics)/Are afoot and affecting the within litigation--/Not
the most monumental in the courts of the nation."
Politan, who's considering drafting future opinions in Latin
verse, says he's no boxing fan. That much should be clear from
the ruling's fifth stanza: "The bout was between Messrs. Holmes
and McCall/Whose pugilistic talents are well-known to all./The
match evoked international attention/But the outcome herein
shall go without mention."
Denver's KOA radio has been auditioning candidates to be the
color commentator for its Broncos broadcasts, and former NFL
safety Michael Harden was eager for the job. His debut at the
Aug. 10 Broncos versus Carolina Panthers game went well, but
when Harden stepped from the booth at Mile High Stadium, he was
promptly handcuffed by police. It seems Denver's finest had been
searching for Harden since his girlfriend filed a domestic
violence complaint against him last month. "Somebody heard him
on the radio," says police spokesman John Wyckoff, "and we all
of a sudden realized where he was."
Harden, who retired in 1990, spent a night in jail before
posting $550 bail. Not surprisingly, he was unavailable for
JOHN KRUK: AT THE MOVIES
Phoef Sutton's script for The Fan included a role to be played
by a "John Kruk look-alike." The producers, aware of the former
big leaguer's profane glibness around the batting cage and his
entertaining appearances on David Letterman's show, decided to
hire the lumpish, bestubbled Kruk himself. In The Fan, which
opened Friday, Robert De Niro plays an obsessive knife
salesman-baseball fan and Wesley Snipes a Barry Bondsesque
ballplayer who is the object of De Niro's obsession. Kruk, who
retired in 1995 with a .300 batting average after 10 seasons,
spent four months in California playing one of Snipes's
teammates. "We were on the set about 13 hours a day, and I must
have slept eight of 'em," says Kruk. That left him five hours a
day to gather impressions. And we wondered....
Who is more frightening, De Niro or Randy Johnson, the Seattle
Mariners' fireballer whose fastball came famously close to
Kruk's head in the 1993 All-Star Game? "De Niro, by far," says
Kruk. "He had a knife. In one scene he goes after me, and I was
like, What the f---! I thought he was serious. I mean, he goes
Could the ballplaying actors play ball? "Snipes wasn't bad for
how little he'd played, but I wouldn't tell my pitcher to walk
How were the fringe benefits? "They only let us drink fake beer,
which was horrible. Snipes had someone sneak me in a 12-pack of
What gets left on the cutting room floor? "I haven't seen the
movie yet, but I heard they cut some of the scenes with me
cursing. Those are the scenes I like best."
How faithful was celluloid baseball to real baseball? "Well, in
the movie we play in a rainstorm that's like a typhoon. No real
game would go on in that kind of rain and mud. And they also put
books in the dugout. I tried to tell 'em, you don't get a whole
lot of books in big league dugouts."
How much money did he make? "Not as much as De Niro or
Snipes--or the caterer."
Caught Inside: A Surfer's Year on the California Coast, by
Daniel Duane (North Point Press, $21)
The idea is refreshing: drop out for a year, live beachside,
surf daily. That's what Daniel Duane does in this, his second
book. Duane, although not yet 30 and wholly at ease with the
word stoked, follows in the tradition of Thoreau. He is a
naturalist, a historian, a ponderer. The Pacific--in its chilly
zone, in the vicinity of Santa Cruz--is his Walden Pond.
Big-wave, cold-water surfing is an act of courage, and so is
writing a 239-page surfing book without photographs, as Duane
has done. His book is a report on what he learned in his
waterlogged year. Between swells, we learn about surfing
literature, movies and etiquette. We learn about surfers being
attacked by sharks, monster waves, one another. We learn about
surf, about the physical properties of a wave. "Until somebody
figures out how to ride sound or light, surfing will remain the
only way to ride energy," Duane writes, and in a single sentence
he reveals the allure of the sport for even the most sedentary
He doesn't write about how to surf. Duane, a child of the
skateboarding culture, seems to have known how to do that going
in, which is a shame. Caught Inside needs a journey, a start in
one place, a finish someplace else. It aches for some sense of
the development of its protagonist. "I called my uncle on the
phone," Duane writes, "told him that theory of mine about
surfing not being a story." But of course there's a story.
There's always a story. Unfortunately, Duane only outlines his.
He brushes at characters--a sporadic girlfriend who is
indifferent to tides, a college teacher who surfs when he should
be handing out exams, a lawyer's son afraid of life on the sandy
side of the sandbar. They sound compelling, but who are they?
Duane, for all his fearlessness, never jumps in.
Instead, he has written a long, thoughtful, uncommon essay--a
tribute to the Pacific's green ceiling and the birds above it,
the dolphins below it and the surfers upon it.
Players named Tyrone (Malone, Shorter) and Tyron (Wright)
released by the San Diego Chargers last Thursday.
Course credits that 1969 Heisman Trophy winner Steve Owens, new
athletic director at Oklahoma, needs for the college degree he
finally plans to get.
5 1/2, 68
Inches shorter and pounds lighter that Peyton, a giraffe born
July 27 at the Knoxville Zoo, is than his namesake, 6'5 1/2",
223-pound Tennessee QB Peyton Manning.
Days after surgery to stop bleeding in the brain--caused by an
on-ice collision--that NHL forward Tony Granato signed with the
San Jose Sharks.
Percentage increase announced in the price for a courtside
ticket to the U.S. Open from 1996 to '97--raising the cost per
seat from $3,150 to $8,125.
Strokes it took Ivan Lendl to play the first two--his only--rounds
at the Czech Open golf tournament in Prague.
LEAVING HIS MARK
New Mariner Mark Whiten is with his seventh team in six years.
Last Friday, in his first Seattle at bat, his game-tying
pinch-hit homer helped beat the Yankees. Though Whiten isn't the
most garrulous of teammates, it's still somewhat of a mystery
why he is so readily disposable. With tape-measure power,
basestealing speed and one of the game's best arms, Whiten has
provided memorable moments at each of his many whistle-stops.
July 1990 to June '91
Charges mound after brushback in May '91 and decks the White
Sox' Jack McDowell with right cross. McDowell ineffective versus
Toronto ever since.
June 1991 to March '93
In '92, for second straight season, American League managers
choose him as the outfielder with best arm. That same year, he
bats .439 in an 11-game hitting streak.
March 1993 to April '95
While leading the Cards in homers (25) in '93, ties two major
league records with four homers and 12 RBIs in a game against
April 1995 to July '95
There's that arm again: In April '95 brings Fenway crowd to its
feet by doubling Oriole Chris Sabo off first base on a flyball
July 1995 to June '96
In his 30th career game at Veterans Stadium, becomes fourth
player in history to homer into the upper deck twice, with moon
shot versus the Giants.
June 1996 to August '96
In final at bat, belts three-run pinch homer to ensure 5-2 win
over the Phillies and foreshadow his Mariners debut.
Head badges, the colorful, ornately designed emblems bicycle
companies place on steering columns, have become collectibles.
Antique badges fetch as much as $500.
THIS WEEK'S SIGN THAT THE APOCALYPSE IS UPON US
A man who was expelled in 1990 from the Fort Washington Golf and
Country Club in Fresno, Calif., for swearing dropped a
breach-of-contract suit against the club when it agreed to pay
National League umpire, upon ejecting often petulant Cincinnati
Red Kevin Mitchell from an Aug. 14 game: "Go to your room!"