Amid the season's countless sports books, a CPA's memoirs make a
This is an article from the July 6, 1998 issue
If you read only one book this summer by a Chicago-based sports
accountant, make it Thanks for Your Trust (Bonus Books, $24.95),
the new beach staple by Harvey S. Wineberg, Bean Counter to the
Almost Famous. Just one of the scores of sports books cranked
out each year by a publishing industry eager to help sports fans
dispose of some of that disposable income, but one impossible to
ignore, this is that rare publishing phenomenon in which the
dust-jacket blurbs, though breathless, are not nearly effusive
enough. "After 30 years," burbles Bobby Hull, the Hockey Hall of
Famer who is Wineberg's one bona fide star client, "Wineberg &
Lewis, P.C., still handle my tax work!" We have added the
exclamation point, but then, we think Hull must have said it
After all, how can one not enthuse about a book that name-drops
so deliciously? Wineberg has been the double-entry bookkeeper to
some of sports' most semi well known figures, men who were once
vaguely recognizable in certain parts of Chicago, including
ex-Bulls guard John Mengelt and former White Sox third baseman
Bill Melton. Naturally, the routine tax concerns of such
not-quite-famous men make for a rollicking good read. Which
isn't to make light of the CPA's heartbreak, for there is plenty
of that in these 203 pages, too. Of former Cubs manager Herman
Franks, Wineberg writes achingly, "Franks ended up getting
involved with an accountant in Salt Lake City, Utah." Who among
us has not been there? To Salt Lake City, I mean.
On the whole, Trust, as the title implies, betrays few secrets.
Wineberg is not one to itemize and tell. If you want to know
whether Hinks Shimberg, Sheldon Fink, Dr. Robert Replogle or
Bruce Gregga--all Wineberg clients, their names inexplicably
splashed on the cover--filed singly or jointly, look elsewhere.
However, if you want to feel the CPA's longing, the debits duly
entered in the ledger of his love life, then Wineberg is your
Whitman. In one terribly poignant passage, he addresses
ex-Portland Trail Blazers guard Jim Paxson, who was a
near-household name in certain Oregon precincts in the '80s. "He
met some financial people out in Los Angeles, who, I believe,
took a very conservative approach," writes Wineberg. "Jim wound
up using them instead." The heart sinks at that last sentence,
for nothing is sadder than unrequited recordkeeping.
Did Paxson and Wineberg patch things up? Did Franks and Wineberg
reach a rapprochement? Who in God's name is Bruce Gregga? You'll
have to buy the book. Or--cross your fingers--wait for the
movie. --Steve Rushin
WHAT'S UP WITH TIGER?
Since doing the unimaginable in April 1997--winning the Masters
at age 21 by 12 strokes--Tiger Woods hasn't done a whole lot. He
has won just three times in this country and once abroad. Sure,
that's a career for most golfers, but Woods is not most golfers.
Most recently, Woods finished in a disappointing tie for 18th in
the U.S. Open last month and tied for ninth on Sunday in the
Western Open. Taking four putts on a single green, as he did at
Olympic in the Open, has golf's young god looking mortal and
Tiger-watchers groping to explain the so-called slump. The
leading theories suggest Woods has been struggling because of 1)
indifferent-to-bad putting; 2) inability to control distances on
his short irons; 3) distractions caused by death threats; and/or
4) dismay over loss of youth, privacy, friends, etc.
Because Woods doesn't let strangers inside his head, only his
confidants can judge the validity of these theories. But any
outsider can see there's confusion in the Woods camp about
putting. Butch Harmon, Woods's swing coach, advises him on
putting, too. But Harmon was never a great putter, and his
stroke is old-fashioned. Earl Woods, the kid's old man, wants
Tiger to putt like a Tiger again, on feel, but it's not that
easy when the greens get fast and the expectations monstrous.
As for distance control, Woods does tend to hit his seven-iron
anywhere from 140 yards to, well, a lot farther than that, which
is a problem Woods is trying to work on. If anything, he's
working too hard. As for the death threats, nobody outside the
Woods camp knows how serious they are, and publicly Woods
dismisses them. Still, how well would you play if you knew
someone out there was sick enough even to make such a threat?
Of all the theories, No. 4 may best account for Woods's woes.
Sure, Tiger can fly his buddies in to tournaments, drink beer
and play computer games into the night, but it's not the same as
before, and that truth must be a shock. Getting there is almost
always more fun than being there. Tom Lehman says the biggest
challenge facing Woods is to be a reasonably happy person. Those
who were there will recall that Woods looked almost happy while
shooting 40 on the front nine in the first round of the '97
Masters. He was an underdog then. He hasn't looked exactly that
way since. --Michael Bamberger
Notre Dame Football
WILL YOU STILL NEED ME... ?
On Dec. 2, 1996, shortly after he was named head football coach
at Notre Dame, Bob Davie fired the Fighting Irish's longtime
offensive line coach, Joe Moore. Davie has cited all sorts of
reasons for the sacking. Moore, Davie claimed in a deposition,
mistreated players, smoked during practice and drove a dirty
car. Oh, and he was a lousy coach. Moore, who had been a Notre
Dame assistant since 1988 (and, along with running back coach
Earle Mosley, 47, was one of only two assistants canned by
Davie), says Davie is obscuring the real reason he was fired:
Davie felt Moore, at 64, was too old. Now Moore has filed a
new-fashioned federal age-discrimination suit against the
school. Moore was earning $90,000 a year. Asserting that he
could have coached for another 10 years, he is seeking $1
million in lost salary and benefits.
The trial, which is set to begin July 9 in Lafayette, Ind., is
likely to be embarrassing for both sides. Moore will try to
prove that Davie, his former friend, is a liar. Davie will try
to prove that Moore, who helped recruit Davie to South Bend as
defensive coordinator in 1994, was unfit to be an assistant.
Starring for the plaintiff will be Mike Rosenthal, a senior
offensive lineman this fall, who has testified on videotape that
he heard Davie say Moore was too old for the job.
Meanwhile, the lawyers working for Davie and Notre Dame will
trot out all available dirt on Moore, a celebrated line coach
who has sent dozens of players to the NFL. Unfortunately for the
university, there may not be much dirt. Yes, Moore has an
official reprimand in his personnel file for slapping a player
in 1995. But that's pretty common in the coaching ranks,
especially among the aggressive old guard.
A jury will examine the suit as a matter of law, but the larger
truth is that it's about generational change. Davie, 43, is part
of the new breed; Moore, who is decidedly old school, had hoped
to coach at Notre Dame through 2006 and then retire. Instead,
he's working as a consultant for the Baltimore Ravens. "In the
beginning, I wanted to get even," Moore says. "Now all I want to
do is get my point validated."
If his point is that a guy in his mid-60s can be an effective
coach, he's likely to win. Exhibit A is Joe Paterno of Penn
State, a certified antique at 71 and still going strong. Then
there are Iowa's Hayden Fry, 69, Florida State's Bobby Bowden,
68, and BYU's LaVell Edwards, 67. When this case is over, the
Fighting Irish may wish they hadn't fought this one out.
MAKING THE (JETS) CUT
At last week's Cadillac NFL Players Golf Classic in Clifton,
N.J., Jets coach Bill Parcells announced that he was releasing
quarterback Neil O'Donnell, signing Vinny Testaverde and naming
incumbent Glenn Foley the starter. Even as Parcells was holding
forth, Foley was shooting a three-over 75, Testaverde an 11-over
83 and O'Donnell--talk about lousy days--a 12-over 85.
Coaching in the WNBA
ODD MAN FOR THE JOB
During his 13-year NBA career, Orlando Woolridge earned a
reputation as a selfish, one-dimensional player who, when he
wasn't shooting the ball, was thinking of ways to shoot the
ball. He averaged a career-high 25.1 points with the 1990-91
Nuggets, but that same year was blasted in The Denver Post as a
player whose uniform number--0--matched his commitment to winning.
Thus when Julie Rousseau, who became coach of the WNBA's Los
Angeles Sparks midway through last season, asked Woolridge to
join her staff, more than a few jaws dropped. "I know I had a
reputation as a scorer," says Woolridge, 38, who also works as
an analyst for Fox Sports. "But I was a student of the game. I
had a chance to play for three of the greatest coaches ever--Pat
Riley, Chuck Daly and Jerry Sloan--and I saw how they managed. I
want to have an impact, too."
He already has. In addition to working with the Sparks' two main
post players, forward Lisa Leslie and center Haixia Zheng,
Woolridge finds himself offering informal lessons on the perils
of excess. In 1988, while with the New Jersey Nets, Woolridge
entered rehabilitation for cocaine addiction. He talks openly,
and often, with the L.A. players about his struggles. "Whenever
I come near, they tease me and say, 'Uh-oh, here comes another
story,'" he says. "But I've been where they are now, and I know
about the troubles athletes go through."
He also knows that the ability to fill the basket isn't all a
player needs. Woolridge says he stresses rebounding and defense
as much as scoring. "My goal is to be a head coach in the pros,"
he says. "For that, you have to show you can get everything out
of your players. Scoring's great. But that's not all basketball
GETTING TO THE CORE OF COORS
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to tell you that baseballs
fly farther at Denver's Coors Field, but it seems it does take
two geographers and a physicist to tell you just how much
farther. With this year's All-Star Game set to be played at the
mile-high launching pad--where a major-league-leading 222 home
runs were hit last year--University of Colorado at Denver
geography professors Frederick Chambers and Brian Page and Clyde
Zaidins of the physics department decided that, as they put it
in a 1,350-word paper, "a re-evaluation of the ballpark's
reputation was in order."
Working from data supplied by Stats Inc., which plots every fair
ball hit in the big leagues, the scientists analyzed fly balls
in National League parks over the past three seasons, more than
80,000. They determined that the ball indeed carries farther at
Coors, but only 6.5% farther than in other stadiums--not the 10%
expected given the low air density at the park's 5,280-foot
elevation. Moreover, when taking into account Coors' dimensions,
where the fences average 375.4 feet (12 feet deeper than the
average elsewhere in the league), Chambers and his colleagues
reckoned the "effective difference" between Coors Field and
other National League stadiums to be a mere 2.8%. "Upon closer
scrutiny," they wrote, "the assumption that elevation alone
explains the large number of home runs in Denver vanishes into
so much thin air."
This raises two questions: Why don't baseballs fly the assumed
10% farther in Colorado? And what accounts for the greater
number of Coors Field dingers? The answer to the first,
according to the Denver scientists, required an analysis of
"micro-meteorological" conditions at Coors, which showed that a
pattern of descending air within the park acts to suppress the
flight of the ball. They propose that site-specific studies be
conducted at the other National League parks "to gain a more
complete understanding of the various forces affecting fly ball
In attempting to answer the second question, Chambers and his
colleagues looked at how certain hitters fared away from Coors
and speculated on "the personnel make-up" of the Rockies and
"the delicate psychology of pitchers." In this case, it seems,
the scientists are no closer to the ultimate answer than the
--That the Rose Bowl execs who sold their game's name to AT&T
get flooded with collect calls from fed-up fans.
--That baseball take a page from English Premier League soccer
and demote noncompetitive teams like the Marlins to the minors
and give the best Triple A team a shot.
--That Raptors fans appreciate Charles Oakley's heart and hustle
as much as Knicks fans will miss them.
Age, in years, of Orlando nursing-home resident Samie Howe, to
whom the city's 1999 WNBA expansion team awarded its first
Months older, on average (at 27 years, four months), that the
Marlins' Triple A affiliate Charlotte Knights are than their
Days that a Springfield, Mo., semipro football team was named
the Psychos before complaints from mental-health workers
persuaded owners to drop the name; the team is now the Rage.
Percent of teenage soccer players responding to a Purdue survey
who said they would intentionally foul, even at the risk of
injuring an opponent, to prevent a goal.
Respondents to an open casting call in Chicago for actors to
play Michael Jordan in a TV movie.
World Cup games, of the tournament's first 40, in which the
refereeing was judged unsatisfactory by FIFA officials.
Major league games scheduled for June 29, baseball's first
planned actionless regular-season day in 25 years.
Should Jeff Gordon be Jeered or Cheered?
Don't hate him just because he's beautiful. Boo Gordon
because--like the Yankees of yore--NASCAR's defending champ wins
with such heartless efficiency. He always has the best equipment
money can buy, and he's had it since he first climbed into a
driver's seat at age five. NASCAR fans know racing shouldn't be
a free ride. They root for guys like Dale Earnhardt, nasty boys
and underdogs who've spent time in the trenches. A white hat
with a big bankroll deserves a few hoots. --Mark Bechtel
Or CHEER HIM
Fans slam him for supposedly winning every week, but with
Sunday's victory at Sears Point, Gordon has four firsts this
season, the same as Mark Martin. What the fans really hate is
his pretty-boy image, the one corporate marketers love. Sure,
NASCAR was growing before Gordon, but the Wonder Boy should be
hailed for shifting the sport into overdrive. He's respectful of
the competition and gracious to the boo-birds. Even if a lot of
fans don't like it, they're buying it. --Loren Mooney
Admit it. You've tried to get into soccer, but like most
Americans you don't have much of a feel for the sport, and
there's been so little scoring in the World Cup that you're not
sure if that 2-nil game you just saw was a blowout or a
nail-biter. Here's a little perspective: Compare the number of
wins by three or more goals in the single-elimination rounds of
the last five World Cups with the number of painfully lopsided
victories in recent postseasons of the NBA, the NFL and major
World Cup: Three-Goal Wins* 10 of 68 matches, 14.7%
NBA: 20-Point Wins[#] 50 of 360 games, 13.9%
NFL: 25-Point Wins[#] 8 of 55 games, 14.5%
Baseball: Six-Run Wins[#] 20 of 134 games, 14.9%
[#]IN LAST FIVE POSTSEASONS
CLIP 'N' SAVE
Believe it or not, it has been a decade since the Los Angeles
Clippers have had the draft's No. 1 pick (Danny Manning, right).
Last week they selected Pacific's Michael Olowokandi. What's in
store for the 7'1" center? If history is a guide, not much. Here
are the Clippers' top-10 choices since 1985 and a look at
whether their ships came in.
7th in 1996
7th in 1994
8th in 1990
2nd in 1989
1st in 1988
4th in 1987
3rd in 1985
Sophomore center from Memphis taken ahead of Kerry Kittles
despite broken foot. Coach Bill Fitch termed him "light-years
away" from NBA level when Wright hit camp out of shape. As
rookie had 7.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. Led team with
8.8 rebounds a game last season.
Arguably one pick the Clippers didn't botch, Cal's alltime
scorer averaged 14.1 ppg and 4.4 rebounds as rookie forward.
After two mediocre seasons he was Clippers' leading scorer last
year, with 15.4 ppg.
Led NCAA in scoring as Loyola Marymount senior, started 22 of
first 23 games as L.A. rookie before straining groin. In
1991-92, his last full NBA season, averaged 3.3 ppg before being
waived; went to Europe and later the CBA.
Duke Naismith winner hopped to Italian League for a season
rather than play for Clips. Returned Stateside after rights were
traded to Cavs, for whom he's valuable reserve.
Star of Kansas's NCAA champ held out for a month, then started
26 games before suffering season-ending ACL tear. After five
decent years and repeated trade requests, was shipped to Hawks
for Dominique Wilkins.
Big East Player of Year at Georgetown touted by team owner
Donald T. Sterling as "Michael Jordan-type player," shot 35.6%
in 35 games in '87-88. Traded to Cleveland in '89, has averaged
12.5 ppg in six-team, 10-year career.
Streaky Creighton 7-footer set L.A. record for blocks (1,117)
but was beset by weight problems and injuries and gave
management headaches with passive play and hiring of Don King as
agent. Traded to Seattle in his sixth season.
THIS WEEK'S SIGN THAT THE APOCALYPSE IS UPON US
The South Korean government has invited Canadian sprinter Ben
Johnson to run in a race marking the 10th anniversary of his
1988 Olympic 100-meter victory--the race after which he tested
positive for steroids, was stripped of his gold medal and banned
from the sport for life.
They Said It
Ohio State football recruit from Zephyrhills, Fla., and the
owner of a Rottweiler puppy named Buckeye, after attaining the
required SAT score on his third and final try: "If I wouldn't
have passed, I'd have to change its name to Prep School."