LEGENDS OF THE FALL
Baseball's monumental skippers are on display during the
Literature had Bloomsbury. Physics had the Manhattan Project.
Baseball has this year's League Championship Series, a harmonic
convergence of managing's brightest lights and most distinctive
personalities. The Cardinals' Tony La Russa, the Mariners' Lou
Piniella, the Yankees' Joe Torre and the Mets' Bobby Valentine
are among the best of the current skipper class, in achievement
and in outsized reputation. The Braves' Bobby Cox may have better
numbers, and the Expos' Felipe Alou may get the most bang for his
buck, but, hey, Rushmore has room for only four faces.
Not to say that any of this group is lacking in stat cred. La
Russa, Piniella and Torre have won World Series, making this only
the third time since divisional play began in 1969 that so many
ring-wearing skippers have landed in the same final four.
Valentine hasn't won anything yet, but over the last two years he
has the best regular-season winning percentage of the four. He
is--as he'd gladly tell you--one of the most astute baseball minds
of our time.
Track records are just half of it. There are also the
personalities, as recognizable to the average fan as the stock
characters in a Hollywood action flick. Torre, the new Yankee
yogi, is the very picture of Zen, whether sipping green tea from
a paper cup behind the cage before games or sitting droopy-eyed
on the bench during them, like a parent struggling to stay awake
at a school play. Sweet Lou, after simmering his way through his
playing days and his managing career, is finally living up to his
nickname. Ejected only twice this year, Piniella has calmed and
now is as prone to goofy stunts as to hat-mashing tantrums.
October 15, 2000
La Russa, law school sheepskin in one hand and a copy of Bill
James in the other, is the gray-streaked professor, at turns
brilliant ("No one is more prepared," says a National League
scout) and eccentric (batting his pitcher eighth). Then there's
Valentine, baseball's Machiavelli. He's untrustworthy and
untrusting, insouciant and insecure, but his joy at beating a
fellow manager is outstripped only by his fellow managers' joy at
After the Mariners swept his team last week, White Sox manager
Jerry Manuel conceded he was outmaneuvered by Piniella. Responded
Piniella, "I don't believe in outmanaging. I believe in putting
players in position to do their jobs. When they do, the manager
looks good." In that case here's to baseball's finest temp-agency
execs. --Stephen Cannella
Managers with the Worst Postseason Records*
Joe Morgan, 0-8. Former Red Sox skipper gets an F for getting
swept by the A's in 1988 and '90.
Johnny Oates, 1-9. His Rangers scored two runs against the
Yankees while being swept in '98 and '99.
Larry Dierker, 2-9. The Astros batted .193 in postseason losses
to the Braves ('97, '99) and Padres ('98).
Danny Ozark, 2-9. Directed the Phillies to three consecutive
division titles but got swept by the Big Red Machine in 1976 and
lost twice to the Dodgers ('77 and '78).
Al Lopez, 2-8. Won 111 games with the 1954 Indians and 94 with
the '59 White Sox but got swept by the Giants in the '54 World
Series and won only two games against the Dodgers in '59.
*minimum eight games
WELCOME BACK, MATE
Upon returning from Sydney, U.S. Olympic medalists promptly
received the standard hero's welcome--they got to go on Letterman.
How did the rest of the world celebrate the return of their
conquering Olympic heroes?
India: Karnam Malleswari, bronze medalist in women's
weightlifting, was showered in marigold garland and rose petals
as she walked into the New Delhi airport. She also received more
than $50,000 from local and state governments for her
performance. Soon afterward she decided to change her plans to
Indonesia: The gold medal badminton team of Tony Gunawan and
Candra Wijaya was met at Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Jakarta by
traditional dancers wearing grass skirts and face paint. Both
winners also received $80,000, plus a complete set of appliances,
home electronics and mobile phones.
South Korea: Upon arriving in Seoul, archery gold medalist Mi Jin
Yoon received a visit from teen idol Seung Joon Yoo, South
Korea's Ricky Martin. Before leaving for Sydney, Yoon had told
Yoo that she had a crush on him, and he responded by promising to
write a song dedicated to her if she returned with a gold medal.
She won two.
Romania: Gymnast Andreea Raducan (right), who was stripped of her
all-around gold medal despite heated protests from the Romanian
sports authorities, was met at Bucharest's Otopeni airport by
1,000 cheering fans, a brass band, President Emil Constantinescu
and her sobbing parents. ("She is my golden girl," said her
mother, Simina.) Two days later a Romanian film company optioned
the rights to her life story for $10,000.
France: The men's basketball team, a surprise silver medalist,
was hailed by President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Lionel
Jospin. Explaining why the team came up just short against the
U.S., the daily Liberation wrote, "Very early in [American
players'] lives, mothers pull forcibly on the legs of their small
boys. Then when they have finished stretching their boys on the
clothesline, they force-feed their children with a...funnel.
French mothers do this as well, but usually to geese."
Last week a Canadian court convicted former Bruins defenseman
Marty McSorley of assault with a weapon for bludgeoning Canucks
forward Donald Brashear in a game last February, and sentenced
him to 18 months' probation. During the trial Vancouver coach
Marc Crawford testified that he'd never sent a player onto the
ice to fight, a contention that incensed McSorley. "Let's just
say I had players volunteering to give contradictory testimony,"
said McSorley. SI recently asked NHL coaches--not for
attribution--whether they had ever sent a player over the boards
to mix it up. Although the vast majority said no, several
qualified their responses by saying something like, "Not really,
but they knew when I sent them in what they had to do." As for
those who admitted to ordering hits, the answer was self-evident.
("Duh, of course," was one response.) The yes-men also asserted
that they're not as small a minority as it appears. As one coach
said, "Anybody who said no to that question is lying."
Patrick Ewing's career as a SuperSonic began last week as NBA
camps opened. Will longtime Knick Ewing, 38, find gold at the end
of his career rainbow? Here's how other great athletes fared when
they went from being one team's icon to another's prized antique.
Spent two seasons with Brewers after 21 with Braves. Home run
king lost fizz with Brew Crew: 22 dingers and .232 average.
After 10 years with the Knicks, played 2 1/2 seasons with
Cavaliers. Averaged 16.2 points and 4.1 assists in first (and
what should've been last) year with Cleveland.
Capped a 12-year Jets career with one season with Rams. Lights
dimmed on Broadway Joe as he threw five interceptions in four
games for L.A.
Played two seasons with 49ers after nine with Bills. Averaged
3.7 yards per carry as Niners went a grisly 4-28.
Followed 17 years with Colts with one season in San Diego. Only
high point with Chargers was getting 40,000th passing yard.
Spent 1 1/2 seasons with Mets after 20 1/2 with Giants. Batted
paltry .238 for Ya Gotta Believers; got sympathy All-Star berth.
what If ?
HAVE YOU SEEN ME?
Name: Barry Bonds
Height: 6'2" Weight: 210 pounds
Career postseason stats: .196 (19 for 97), 1 HR, 6 RBIs
My name is Barry. I also respond to "MVP" and "future Hall of
Famer." I have dark brown hair, and I like funny jewelry. Me and
my bat were supposed to be with my baseball team last week, but
we disappeared without an explanation. We were last seen in Pac
Bell Park in September, causing trouble for opposing pitchers and
men with cameras. (Note to grown-ups: I have vanished in past
autumns as well, so look for me in the spring.) If you know
anything about my whereabouts, please call Dusty Baker at
Mount Everest, by Davo Karnicar of Slovenia. The 38-year-old
ski instructor became the first to descend uninterrupted from the
29,035-foot summit to the base camp at 17,472 feet on skis, a
trip that took five hours.
London's Wembley Stadium, after 77 years as England's national
stadium. Among the events hosted by the venerable venue were the
1948 Olympics, a 1963 heavyweight fight between Henry Cooper and
Muhammad Ali, the 1966 World Cup (above), which is often hailed
as England's greatest sporting triumph, and Live Aid in 1985.
Germany beat England 1-0 in soccer last Saturday in the final
official match there.
By the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, a ruling that the
Ravens copied their team logo from drawings by Baltimore amateur
artist Frederick Bouchat. He's seeking $10 million in damages and
may also be entitled to some of the team's merchandise sales.
Timberwolves forward Joe Smith, from a bobble-head-doll
promotion this season that will feature teammates Kevin Garnett,
Terrell Brandon and Wally Sczcerbiak, among others, because his
Minnesota contract could be voided. An arbitrator is assessing
punishments Smith and the T-Wolves might receive for a secret
deal under which owner Glen Taylor would pay Smith up to $93
million in addition to $7.45 million included in his contract.
14 of the 18 greens at Loch Lomond Golf Club for last week's
Solheim Cup. The putting surfaces were scarred and discolored
when greenkeepers accidentally used too much herbicide.
Which is goofier, the canine commentary by actor Fred Willard in
the movie Best in Show or Joe Garagiola's actual play-by-play on
USA's Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show broadcasts? Compare
Willard's movie lines with Garagiola's calls during the 2000
On odd backgrounds
This may seem like a silly question: You get a French dog, a
Chinese dog, a German dog--do they all bark the same?
A mountain dog [from Brooklyn]. That doesn't fit. But calm,
sensitive and loyal. You're talking about a Dodger fan.
He went after her like she's made out of ham.
Every dog that's walked out there, you want to stick a jumper
cable on them.
On team players
If you put 'em on a football team, who's going to be your wide
receiver and who's going to be your tight end?
As beautiful as that dog is, you just want him for the team
picture. You never want to play him.
On handling with care
I don't think I could get used to being probed and prodded.
Doesn't it hurt when you grab 'em by the tail and lift 'em up?
On why size matters
You'd think they'd want to breed 'em bigger, like grapefruits or
I've got a cuff link bigger than that.
On the toy group
They look like every one could be wound up. They are a funny
If you didn't know better, you'd think you'd get a Toys "R" Us
catalog and get him.
On true romance
Women bathing their dogs in cutoff jeans and T-shirts, with the
soap and the water--let your imagination run wild.
I can't help but think on Valentine's Day, I love the dog, the
dog loves me, he lives with me--perfect.
On good form
Good way to judge a woman--have her run away from you and then run
Look at them little legs going! Pump them little leggies, man!
While munching on liver and onions at Manhattan's Smith and
Wollensky steak house, his three swimming gold medals sitting on
a table between a house salad and plates of shrimp and crabmeat,
Ukraine-born U.S. Olympian Lenny Krayzelburg talked about being
besieged with dozens of marriage proposals since he was in
Sydney. But the slick-haired heartthrob has definite ideas about
his dream wife. "A Russian Jewish woman would be ideal," says
Seems as if Marion Jones has been on every magazine cover in the
country. In fact, she's even making it onto magazines that don't
exist. Jones turns up on the cover of Blush, the fictional
fashion mag on NBC's Just Shoot Me, in the show's season opener
Turns out Playmate of the Year Heather Kozar isn't the only
bunny to have attracted the attention of Bears quarterback Cade
McNown. According to the Los Angeles Times, McNown's dalliance
with Hugh Hefner's ex-squeeze, Brande Roderick, got him banned
from the Playboy Mansion. "We have all kinds of guests at the
mansion," said a spokesman, "and sometimes we must cast someone
out into the darkness of the night, the transgressions ranging
from the trivial to the more serious." ...
Michael J. Fox scored two goals for a team of celebs against the
Boston Bruins Alumni in the Celebrity Hat Trick hockey game in
Worcester, Mass., to benefit the Leary Firefighters Foundation.
Worcester native Denis Leary created the charity in honor of six
firefighters killed last year in a blaze. Also on the ice: Tim
Robbins, Kiefer Sutherland and Cam Neely....
Ike Richman, publicist for Philadelphia's First Union Center, got
pop diva Tina Turner to pose for a photograph with him last
month. Richman didn't tell Turner his intention--to use the photo
on holiday cards offering season's greetings from Ike and Tina
Have you ever sent a player into a game to get into a fight?
(24 of 30 NHL coaches responded)
Hours of live prime-time Olympic coverage NBC plans to air of the
2004 Games in Athens--because no events will be held during those
Teams in the new eight-team ABA 2000 pro basketball league that
have a canine nickname: the Detroit Dogs, the Memphis Houn'Dawgs
and the Tampa Bay ThunderDawgs.
Passes completed by McComb (Ohio) High's Dusty Aldrich to his
twin brother, Rusty, in a 41-14 win over Dola Hardin Northern
Amount the Broncos, whose new stadium will be mostly
taxpayer-financed, have contributed to defeat Amendment 21, a
tax-cut measure on the November ballot in Colorado.
Reds' road attendance this season, the first time a team has
drawn more than three million on the road.
NBC affiliates, out of 190, that carried the Yankees-A's playoff
game on Oct. 3 rather than the presidential debate.
Hours Australians waited at post offices to buy stamps featuring
Aussie gold medalists, a promotion that's grossed Australia Post
Amount skateboarder Ryan Sheckler received in 1999 in travel
stipends and payments from sponsors.
This Week's Sign of the Apocalypse
Male fans relieving themselves on the walls inside Rio de
Janeiro's massive Maracana Stadium have caused such severe
corrosion that officials had to hire an eight-man crew to ensure
that men use the proper facilities.
They Said It
Virginia Tech coach, on Hokies quarterback Michael Vick: "We have
two plays when he's in the game--the one we call and the one he
winds up turning it into."