Tear Down Wrigley!
It's time the Cubs made the supreme sacrifice for a Series
They pour into Wrigley Field every year, more than two million
strong--Kiwanis clubs from the Quad Cities, frat buddies from
Lincoln Park, businessmen from Loop offices, families from
Arlington Heights and Oak Forest, baseball purists and tourists
from around the world. The fans pack Wrigley on hot summer days
and nights to quaff Old Style, regale one another with Harry
Caray stories, check out the action in the stands. At these big,
happy outdoor parties, it hardly matters whether the beloved
Cubbies win or lose. Which is precisely why Wrigley Field must
This Sammy Sosa trade business is the last straw. It tells you
all you need to know about why the Cubs will never win a World
Series at Wrigley. Sosa, a 60-home-run man, wants to be one of
the highest-paid players in the game, wants to know he's loved.
He'll never get that love from the Cubs, for the same reason
big-market Chicago didn't do everything in its power to keep Greg
Maddux, and the same reason the Cubs never make a play for guys
like Kevin Brown or Ken Griffey Jr. The Cubs don't need Sosa,
Brown or Griffey. Year after mediocre year Wrigley fills up with
All over baseball, teams looking to change their fortunes are
tearing down old parks. Unlike Cincinnati, Milwaukee or
Pittsburgh, though, Chicago already generates revenue with an
appealing, quirky throwback venue. What the Cubs need is a change
of heart, a karmic conversion, a blood sacrifice.
Preservationists may shudder at the idea of a wrecking ball
smashing Wrigley's famously ivied walls. But what is really
preserved at Wrigley other than a nearly centurylong tradition of
haplessness? Their environs are a national landmark, but the Cubs
themselves are a national laughingstock.
It's unrealistic to ask fans simply not to show up; rationalists
have been making that plea for years, to no avail. The Wrigley
siren is too tempting. Tribune Company, which owns the Cubs, must
wean itself from its cash cow. No Cubs fan should be content
until ownership puts a decent product on the field, and that will
happen only when Wrigley lies in smoldering ruins and the Cubs
are playing in a cold, charmless cement home where nobody wants
to linger any longer than they have to.
After all, it worked for the White Sox. --M.M.
A Tiger On the Bag
The U.S. Open champ turned caddie for his pal
Imagine Bill Clinton moonlighting as campaign manager for
Arkansas state senate candidate Brenda Gullett. Or chic boy band
'N Sync postering Boston telephone poles for local pop-rock trio
Banjo Spiders. On June 21, Tiger Woods performed the golfing
equivalent when, four days after whipping the U.S. Open field by
15 strokes at Pebble Beach, he caddied--caddied!--for his former
Stanford roommate Jerry Chang, who was attempting to qualify for
the U.S. Public Links, a top amateur tournament, at Black
Mountain Golf and Country Club in Henderson, Nev.
With Las Vegas only a 20-minute drive up Boulder Highway, a
skeptic might say that Woods was just soaking up a little sun
before taking his $800,000 U.S. Open check to a Bellagio
cashier's window. But Woods was on the course at 6 a.m. and
weathered two hatless rounds in 100[degree] desert heat to be at
Chang, who played with Tiger for two years on the Cardinal golf
team, is a former special-projects director of the Tiger Woods
Foundation, Woods's onetime personal assistant and one of his
closest friends. The two have been known to engage in
posttournament bar-hopping and in friendly games of Mortal Kombat
(Woods always wins) in hotel suites. Tiger teamed up with Chang
in February's Pro-Am at Pebble. The duo finished second.
Unfortunately Tiger couldn't pull any of his vaunted magic out
of the bag he was toting at Black Mountain. Chang shot a
one-under-par 143 and failed to qualify.
HOCKEY HALL OF FAME
Ease of Entry
The Hockey Hall of Fame doesn't have an open-door policy
exactly, but it's still easier to get into than a Springsteen
show. While the Baseball Hall of Fame has inducted 202 players,
the hockey hall in Toronto has waved 218 through its door, even
though the NHL has historically had fewer teams--six between
1942 and '67--and smaller rosters.
The hockey hall's latest honorees are longtime Blackhawks center
Denis Savard and 502-goal scorer Joe Mullen, who played for four
NHL teams. Mullen in particular is the kind of player the hockey
shrine can't seem to resist. The right wing was a first-rate
sniper but hardly a dominant force, a member of three Stanley
Cup-winning teams but the mainstay of none, a first-team
All-Star and a 50-goal scorer only once in his 17 NHL seasons.
The fact that Mullen is an American and that only five previous
Hall of Famers hailed from the U.S. might have carried more
weight than even his exemplary work on the Calgary power play in
the Flames' championship season of 1988-89. In choosing him, the
15 members of the selection committee--three others were absent
from the June 15 meeting at which the balloting was
conducted--passed over eminently deserving Dale Hawerchuk, a
six-time 100-point man and a cornerstone center for Winnipeg who
retired three years ago as the NHL's 10th-leading career scorer,
with 1,409 points.
Hockey is awfully bighearted by nature--the NHL hands out more
feel-good, end-of-the-year awards than a grammar school--but if
its Hall of Fame is to continue to have any prestige, the
selection committee, which includes former players, current and
former hockey executives and five media members, will have to
turn ornery. There will be some tough decisions in the coming
years, when the offensive explosion of the 1980s must be put in
historical context. Among players who'll soon be up for
consideration are Dave Andreychuk (552 goals), Doug Gilmour
(1,305 points), Phil Housley (1,130 points) and Igor Larionov (a
superb center whose best years were in the former Soviet Union),
not to mention goalies Grant Fuhr (403 wins, five Stanley Cups),
Tom Barrasso (353 wins, two Cups), Andy Moog (372 wins, three
Cups) and Mike Vernon (371 wins, two Cups).
The 500-goal and 300-win standards for virtually automatic
admission should be tightened. Mullen's election suggests that
the committee lacks the stomach to do that. --Michael Farber
ATHLETE TURNED ACTOR
A Hard Man To Appreciate
Americans might recognize Vinnie Jones as the taciturn tough
named Sphinx in Nicolas Cage's new car-theft movie, Gone in 60
Seconds, or as Big Chris, the enforcer who sucker-punched and
head-butted his way through the 1998 black comedy Lock, Stock and
Two Smoking Barrels. Across the Atlantic, though, Jones is best
known for another picture--one from 1987 in which he's manhandling
the manhood of shocked English soccer star Paul Gascoigne. "It
was 13 years ago, and people still talk about it as if it were
last week," says Jones, 35, who earned his tough-guy reputation
while patrolling the defensive midfield for Wimbledon. "The
photographer won picture of the year. I've got a painting of it
hanging in my living room. I had it done in oils."
Throughout his 14-year career Jones terrorized opponents. He was
ejected 12 times for rough play, once only five seconds into a
match, and in 1992 he was fined more than $30,000 for narrating
Soccer's Hard Men, a notorious video of vicious tackles and dirty
plays. Jones also dabbled in journalism during his career,
writing a column for a London tabloid until he had an altercation
with a fellow newspaperman. "I got into a bit of a scrap, so they
sacked me," he says with a laugh. He had bitten the other
Gone in 60 Seconds isn't Jones's first sting on the auto beat.
He once hosted a TV show on a channel called Men & Motors, in
which he met with celebrities and soccer players in a rowdy
London bar to discuss subjects dear to men's hearts. "All they
talk about at pubs is football, cars and women, don't they?" he
says. "I won presenter of the year."
SPORTS AND POLITICS
Point Man, Point Guard
Two weeks ago Bob Conrad, 42, a former star point guard at
Clemson, was enjoying a quiet five days working at a basketball
camp at his alma mater in which his three sons were
participating. A week later Conrad, a federal prosecutor in
Charlotte, found himself in the thick of things in a much more
hostile arena: the political cauldron of Washington, D.C.
Last Thursday, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) revealed that Conrad,
who had been appointed in December to head the Justice
Department's Campaign Financing Task Force, had recommended to
Attorney General Janet Reno that she name a special counsel to
investigate Vice President Al Gore's 1996 fund-raising efforts.
Needless to say, the disclosure considerably elevated Conrad's
profile. "Life was a lot simpler teaching left-handed layups at
basketball camp," he says, "than it was last week in Washington."
If there's one thing Conrad demonstrated at Clemson, however,
it's that he knows how to lead a team through trying times. In
1979-80, his senior season, he teamed with forward Larry Nance
to lead the Tigers to their only Elite Eight appearance in the
NCAA tournament. The 6'2", 170-pound Conrad exhibited grit on
the court (he's the school's alltime leader in charges taken,
with 62) as well as sound instincts (his 402 career assists are
fourth highest in school history).
Immediately after Conrad's recommendation to Reno was made
public, the Gore campaign released a transcript of a contentious
four-hour interview with the vice president on April 18, and
Democratic officials questioned his impartiality in light of a
$250 campaign contribution he'd made in 1996 to the reelection
campaign of Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.). Conrad is used to
absorbing hard elbows, though. "Being chief of this task force is
very similar to playing point guard," he says. "You have to drive
down the lane not knowing what to expect but stay confident that
something good will develop." --Seth Davis
While the brain trusts of the league's other teams were mulling
the endless possibilities in the week that led up to Wednesday's
NBA draft, personnel men might have been surprised to learn that
the Grizzlies, owners of the second pick, had already made a
commitment. To two players, no less.
On June 20, Vancouver worked out guards Speedy Claxton of Hofstra
and Eddie Gill of Weber State. Grizzlies player personnel
director Tony Barone, undoubtedly a bit numb from having put more
than two dozen players through their paces, told the pair
jokingly, "I'm empowered to say that if you make a shot from
center court, you'll be the Number 2 pick in the draft."
"This for real?" Claxton asked, and when Barone nodded, he
stepped up to center court and drained one. Gill then proceeded
to bank his shot home.
"I've done that 100 times, where you offer to buy the whole camp
a soda if a guy sinks it," Barone said, "and in 20 years that has
only happened one time."
Luckily for the Grizzlies, this offer wasn't in writing.
After making mincemeat of Lou Savarese last Saturday, the
Hannibal Lecter of heavyweights unleashed a tirade directed at
champ Lennox Lewis. "I want to rip out his heart and feed it to
him!" Mike Tyson spewed. "I want to eat your children! Praise
Allah!" And pass the hot sauce.
Amount for which AT&T is suing NFL Properties over unpaid phone
charges from June 1998.
Times the A's have hit back-to-back homers against the Royals
Value of a diamond necklace stolen from Nets guard Stephon
Marbury on a Manhattan street.
Mark McGwire's career steals, seven fewer than Harmon Killebrew
and lowest in the 500-homer club.
Price Ashford Stud of Versailles, Ky., reportedly will pay for
Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus, a record.
Nike.com, for several hours as visitors to the site were
rerouted to s11.org and greeted by the banner headline GLOBAL
JUSTICE IS COMING--PREPARE NOW. Administrators for s11.org, run by
a network of groups planning to picket the September World
Economic Forum in Australia, said they weren't responsible for
the misdirection play.
Screen Actors Guild picket lines, by Shaquille O'Neal, for his
"I'm going to Disneyland" ad. Others who have defied SAG's labor
action and filmed commercials include Terrell Davis, Eddie
George, Keyshawn Johnson, Marion Jones and Kurt Warner.
Kangaroo, emu, crocodile and balmain bugs, on the menu at the
Sydney Olympics' main press center. "It's very flavorsome and not
too gamy," says manager Jennice Kersh of 'roo meat, which will be
available off the grill and in Caesar salads, among other
Pete Sampras, last summer's Wimbledon champ, to actress
Bridgette Wilson, who has appeared in Love Stinks and I Know
What You Did Last Summer.
Rant or Reason
Just what does comedian Dennis Miller, hired by ABC for the
Monday Night Football booth, know about sports? Plenty, judging
by how liberally he sprinkles his famous rants with sports
references. A few samples from Dennis Miller Live, his show on
The myth of what men want: "...Traci Lords in the bedroom, Julia
Child in the kitchen, Hazel around the house, Lesley Visser
during a game, Mary Poppins for the children, Cha Cha Muldowney
Affirmative action: "This subject is tougher to sort through than
Marv Albert's laundry."
That the Y2K bug could destroy civilization: "It's like saying
basketball's going to lose its fan base 'cause one guy retires.
O.K., bad example."
The judge in Lewis-Holyfield I: "She couldn't have been more
bought if she had a bar code stamped on her forehead."
Pro wrestling: "How phony can it be if Don King isn't making any
money off it?"
Dennis Rodman and his piercings: "You're on the verge of becoming
the world's most passe wind chime."
Fan behavior: "Even the most accepting of us has, at one time or
another, dreamed of establishing a far-reaching eugenics program
that would require mandatory sterilization for anyone
who...screams 'You da man' at golf tournaments."
Brandi Chastain's goal celebration against China: "If that had
been me out there, I would've de-pantsed myself and shouted,
'Take that, you spying Commie bastards!' while bending over to
flash my naked, hairy, pivotal-goal-of-the-game-scorin' ass at
The golden era of sports: "A whole nation of unshaven men sitting
in their tattered undies on plaid couches, expanding like
doughnuts on a jelly injector, watching a bunch of a------- play
games. But the a------- who play the games couldn't get enough
from the a------- who own the teams, and so the rest of us have
been forced to confront the fact that we were the biggest
a------- of all for being so fascinated by it."
This Week's Sign That the Apocalypse Is Upon Us
The rights to the address superbowltampa.net--Tampa hosts next
season's NFL championship--belong to Mons Venus, a strip club near
the Bucs' Raymond James Stadium.
is precisely why it must go.
Tennis vixen, when asked about her love life during a press
conference to promote the undergarments she endorses: "I'm not
here to talk about my personal life. I'm here to talk about