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Scorecard

Sept. 02, 2002
Sept. 02, 2002

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Sept. 2, 2002

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Scorecard

Gone Cheatin'
Now that it's not just done for the halibut, fishing is seeing a
slew of scandals

This is an article from the Sept. 2, 2002 issue

This summer's most significant weigh-in did not take place in Las
Vegas before the Barrera-Morales featherweight title fight but
occurred on the shores of a Canadian lake during last month's
Great Ontario Salmon Derby. Local angler Gary Morrison allegedly
tried to con tournament judges by ramming 7 1/2 pounds of threaded
lead pipes, small rocks and various sinkers down the guts of a
chinook he claimed to have caught. The fish tipped the scales at
a massive 34 1/2 pounds--nearly enough to have netted the 50-day
derby's $50,000 grand prize.

Morrison had also been implicated in another suspected
weight-rigging scheme earlier in the tournament (a 38 1/2-pound
salmon had been larded with ice cubes), and officials called the
cops. He was charged with two counts of "cheating at play" and
two of "attempted fraud over $5,000." If he's convicted on all
counts--a court date is pending--Morrison's sentence would be
oddly appropriate: He'd face up to eight years in the tank.

It's said that the only time a fisherman tells the truth is when
he calls another a liar. Half the fun of angling is spinning
yarns about the trout that hunted you out in the shallows while
mayflies performed their ballet under the branches--you know, the
same five-pounder that shimmied past five hooks until it found
yours. But cheating?

Sorry, Charlie: In an age of steroid, ephedrine and blood-doping
scandals, the noble pastime of sittin' and dreamin' and spittin'
in the creek may well be the smelliest sport of all. Crooked
anglers in cast-for-cash contests not only fib about the ones
that got away but also stretch the truth about the ones they've
caught. Lured by the prospect of big prizes for big fish, they're
telling whoppers instead of landing them.

As it turns out, it's a lot easier to shoot fish in a barrel than
to smuggle them into a competition. At a trial in New Zealand in
July three South Aucklanders were accused of having pulled a
30-pound snapper out of the deep freeze rather than the deep
water. A "seafood scientist" testified that the bait found inside
the snapper was fresher than the fish itself, which, he said, was
probably caught two weeks earlier. Though the defendants got off
the hook--the evidence was judged flimsier than a plastic wiggler,
and the anglers were acquitted--match organizers have refused so
far to give them the winning $9,600 purse.

A few weeks after that verdict a fisherman was arrested for theft
in Indiana at the Tippecanoe Valley Anglers Tournament after
claiming a $300 prize for the heaviest catch of the day. Police
say a video camera caught him wet-handed as he loaded bass from a
sunken cage onto his boat; the fisherman pled not guilty.

Electronic gadgetry is being used to snag cheats as well as fish.
The Bass Anglers Sports Society (B.A.S.S.), which holds 20 elite
tournaments every year, requires competitors not only to catch
large strings of fish over several days but also to take
polygraph tests when accusations of cheating arise. Even this
deterrent isn't infallible: In 1983 a Louisiana angler won
$105,000 at an independent Texas fish-off by presenting judges
with a Florida bass. Investigators figured the fisherman--who
later admitted the deception--had beaten the lie detector by
swallowing Valium.

The fishiest scam B.A.S.S. founder Ray Scott ever heard of
occurred at a tournament in Virginia. Despite a fair-weather
forecast, a participant was observed climbing into a boat in a
full-length raincoat. Under the slicker, draped around his neck,
were two stringers of bass. The fish flasher had planned to dump
the contra-bass into one of the craft's live wells when his draw
partner wasn't looking.

Scott's own test of character: "What would a person do if he knew
he wouldn't be caught?"

That, of course, opens a whole new can of worms. --Franz Lidz

Flash Gordon
Battling tight turns and road rage, a star finds his way back to
victory lane

Allow us to make a plea to NASCAR's powers that be: Give us more
short-track races like the one we saw last Saturday night, when
the Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway reminded us that for
all the sport's attempts to go mainstream, stock car racing is
still at its best when 43 drivers are acting as if they were
auditioning for The Dukes of Hazzard.

The big winner was Jeff Gordon, who simultaneously ended the
longest victory drought of his career (31 races) and jumped from
fifth to third in the standings. He now sits just 111 points
behind leader Sterling Marlin. Gordon secured the win when he
passed Rusty Wallace for the lead with three laps left after
giving Wallace a tap on the rear fender heading into Turn 3. It
was Gordon's first win since Sept. 30, 2001, and the 59th of his
career.

The Bristol track, a half-mile bullring, requires racing in tight
quarters, and drivers seldom go fast enough to do serious damage
to one another. Hence the constant banging--and ensuing
complaints, threats and promises of vengeance--which invariably
provide the best theater of the year. Ward Burton chucked his
heat shields at Dale Earnhardt Jr., then lamented not having
something to shoot at him. Jimmie Johnson did find something to
shoot at Robby Gordon: the bird. Elliott Sadler pointed to his
temple in the universal sign for "Use your head, chump," as Joe
Nemecheck drove by. And Hut Stricklin stayed on the track to give
Jeremy Mayfield a round of sarcastic applause after Mayfield
ended Stricklin's day.

The whining provided a welcome respite from the sort of
complaints one hears at other tracks, namely that NASCAR has
tilted the playing field in favor of one manufacturer or another.
At Bristol it hardly matters what kind of car you're in--only that
you can drive it. And on Saturday, Gordon showed that even though
he hadn't won in almost a year, he's still one of the best. His
winless jag was misleading; he finished in the top 10 in 16 of
his 31 losses, and he has been hovering high in the standings all
year. After his late-race move on Saturday, it was just like old
times, with his competitors bemoaning their own helplessness. "I
was desperately trying to knock the s--- out of him," said
Wallace. "I just couldn't catch him." --Mark Bechtel

ODD JOB
NEW YORK JETS INSTANT REPLAY ADVISER

It doesn't sound much like a job, especially since millions are
already doing it for free every Sunday. But this fall, former
NFL ref Tony Veteri will get paid to watch football on TV and
disagree with the officials. In August the Jets hired Veteri,
78, to become the team's instant replay adviser, the first
former official to be hired for such a position. During games
Veteri will huddle with assistant coaches in the press box and
advise them on challenging calls. His job is pressure-packed: If
the ruling is upheld, his team loses a timeout. "I'm going to
have maybe 30 seconds tops," says Veteri, who will rely on the
regular network feed.

Coach Herman Edwards will still make the final decision on
challenges, but if anyone is qualified for such a gig, it's
Veteri, who worked four Super Bowls during his 40-year career as
an NFL referee and an observer of officials. He had no challenges
in the team's first three preseason games and says he wouldn't
hesitate to challenge calls made by his son, Tony, an NFL
official. "I'm treating it just like reffing," Veteri says of his
job. "When you think you see something, don't call it. When you
know you saw it, then you call it."

GO FIGURE

19,000
Hotel rooms already booked in metro Detroit for the 2006
Super Bowl at Ford Field.

$845 million
Value of the Washington Redskins, according to Forbes magazine's
annual ranking of pro football franchises. The Redskins have
topped the list for three consecutive years. The average value
of an NFL team, according to Forbes, is $531 million.

2,081
Ranking on Amazon.com's sales list for Bud, Sweat and Tees:
A Walk on the Wild Side of the PGA Tour before Rich Beem won the
PGA Championship. The book, written by SI's Alan Shipnuck,
chronicles Beem's 1999 rookie season.

8
Ranking on the list after Beem's win.

92-10
Combined 2002 win-loss record of Venus and Serena Williams
heading into the U.S. Open.

40,210
Average daily attendance at the First Union Center for the
five-day 2002 X Games in Philadelphia, a 13% increase over last
year's daily attendance at the same venue.

$1.2 million
Received by Little League baseball in 2001 from ABC
and ESPN as part of a six-year deal worth more than $7 million.

The Cincinnati Kid, Part 2
Meet jockey John McKee, whom some folks call the next Steve
Cauthen

At River Downs in Cincinnati they've been making the comparisons
all summer. In May 1976 Steve Cauthen, the 18-year-old son of a
horse trainer, arrived from Walton, Ky., 30 miles distant, and
despite his apprentice status quickly became the track's leading
jockey, winning a record 109 races and launching a career that
would be capped by the 1978 Triple Crown, aboard Affirmed, and
three Eclipse Awards. Twenty-six years later, here comes John
McKee, 21, the son of a jockey from Hamersville, Ohio, 30 miles
distant, and guess what? The apprentice is the leading jockey at
River with 97 wins through Monday and $595,944 in purses. In
July, McKee became the first apprentice to ride 65 winners at the
track before Aug. 1. (Cauthen had 64.) With a week left in the
meet, Cauthen's record is clearly in jeopardy.

Both men seem to have been born to ride, being small even by
jockey standards: McKee is 4'11", 95 pounds; Cauthen, in his
first season, was 5'2" and 87 pounds. But outside the record
books, their paths have not crossed. "I've never met or talked to
Steve Cauthen," says McKee, whose father, David, rode at River 20
years ago, "but it's a thrill just hearing my name with his. I
remember my dad talking all the time about how great Cauthen
was."

Some are already saying that about McKee. "He's as good as
Cauthen was when he started," says former Downs steward Mike
Manganello, who rode Dust Commander to victory in the 1970
Kentucky Derby. "The kid's clearly a natural." --Albert Chen

SPORT? NOT A SPORT?
SCRABBLE

NOT A SPORT "Any football player cannot consider Scrabble a
sport. Flipping letters cannot be considered a
physical-typeactivity."
--Steve Beuerlein, Denver Broncos quarterback

NOT A SPORT "It would only be a sport if you had to stand up for
the whole game and hold something in each hand with your arms
extended while the other players make their word." --Mark Cuban,
Dallas Mavericks owner

NOT A SPORT "Scrabble? There's no physical effort. It's kind of
like chess, maybe, but not a sport." --Apolo Ohno, U.S. Olympic
short-track speed skater

NOT A SPORT "I'm not sure it's a sport, but it helps me with my
interviews." --Dave Veres, St. Louis Cardinals reliever

SPORT "You have to be pretty sharp. It's a sport of the mind."
--Desi Relaford, Seattle Mariners shortstop

SPORT "I trained for 100 hours in the past month. There's a
certain amount of physical movement, lifting the tile bag and
reaching into it. It's been proved that as we're thinking, we're
burning calories at a rate similar to doing an activity that
requires physical exertion." --Joel Sherman, grand prize winner at
last week's National Scrabble Championship in San Diego

THE BLOTTER

Refused

By twin brothers Jose and Ozzie Canseco, 38, a plea bargain on
charges relating to a fight last fall. On Nov. 4 the Canseco
brothers will stand trial in Miami on charges of aggravated
battery for allegedly fighting with two men at a nightclub last
October. Under the agreement Jose would have received five
years' probation and Ozzie three years' probation. If convicted,
Jose and Ozzie could face up to 31 and 17 years in prison,
respectively.

Died

Of heart failure, Hoyt Wilhelm, 79, the renowned knuckleballer
and the first reliever elected to the Hall of Fame. Even as a
kid Wilhelm was fascinated with the darting, dipping pitch and,
practicing his grip, would wear the fuzz off tennis balls.
Drafted into World War II, he earned a Purple Heart at the
Battle of the Bulge, then spent nine years in the minors before
joining the Giants at age 28. Known as the Johnny Appleseed of
knuckleballers, Wilhelm preached the benefits of his pitch to
young hurlers during his years with the Giants, Orioles, White
Sox and six other teams. Because Wilhelm's knuckler frustrated
catchers, Baltimore manager Paul Richards ordered oversized
mitts for his receivers in 1960, an imperfect solution that is
still in use. Wilhelm finished his career in 1972 with a 143-122
record and 227 saves; he remains the last pitcher to no-hit the
Yankees, beating them 1-0 on Sept. 20, 1958, while with the
Orioles. "He had," said former White Sox teammate Tom
McCraw,"the best damn knuckleball I've ever seen."

After his Mercedes crashed outside Kansas City, Mo., Wayne
Simmons, 32, former NFL linebacker and a starter on Green Bay's
1996 Super Bowl championship team. Simmons played for Green Bay
between '93 and '97 before moving on to Kansas City and, briefly,
Buffalo.

Revealed

That she plans to join the Winston Cup racing circuit as a
driver, Tonya Harding, 31. The former skater made the
announcement as she checked into the Clark County Jail in
Vancouver, Wash., on Aug. 20, to serve 10 days for DUI while on
probation.

THE WEEK IN TELEVISION

Aug. 30-Sept. 5

FRIDAY 8/30--TBS 7 PM--Braves at Expos
If TBS is airing reruns of Matlock or Mama's Family tonight,
you'll know the baseball players are on strike.

SATURDAY 8/31--ABC 8 PM--Maryland versus Notre Dame
Poor new Irish coach Tyrone Willingham. Tonight's tussle against
the Terps is the first of nine games Notre Dame will play against
2001 bowl teams this season.

SATURDAY 8/31--TNT 9 PM--China versus U.S. National Team
Ming the Merciless? Or Ming the Meek? Judge for yourself when
7'5" center Yao Ming, the first pick in the NBA draft, goes
against Team USA's big men at the World Basketball Championships.

WEDNESDAY 9/3--USA 11 AM and 7 PM--U.S. Open Quarterfinals
If the seeds hold on the women's side, the quarters will offer a
dynamite doubleheader of top seed Serena Williams against Justine
Henin and second seed Venus Williams against Monica Seles.

THURSDAY 9/5--ESPN 8:30 PM--49ers at Giants
Are you ready for some...Bon Jovi? For the first time, the NFL
kicks off on a Thursday night, just seven miles from Times
Square, where Enrique Iglesias, Eve, Alicia Keys and New Jersey's
most famous big-haired band will perform as part of a four-hour
pregame jam.

DON'T MISS

THURSDAY 9/5--SHOWTIME 10 PM

The 1972 Munich Olympic Games: Bud Greenspan Remembers This
documentary airs exactly 30 years after Arab terrorists killed
Israeli athletes at the Games (SI, Aug. 26). Radio reports filed
by Greenspan, then a 44-year-old correspondent, are chilling.

UNDER REVIEW

--Fox's New Crew
--TNT Is the Pits
--A Lead-in for PTI

With so much attention showered upon ABC's new Monday Night
Football pairing, it's easy to forget that Fox is also debuting
a freshly minted No. 1 announcing team this season. The trio of
Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Chris Collinsworth called the
Eagles-Ravens game last Friday and show plenty of promise after
just two broadcasts. Last year Aikman shone as a rookie analyst,
thanks to the deferential manner of fellow analyst Daryl
Johnston, and now Collinsworth is giving him the same room to
make salient points. ("The one area Donovan McNabb really
struggles in is when he's forced to sit in the pocket and
deliver the football," Aikman said last Friday.) Both analysts
have also meshed nicely with Buck, who has made a seamless
transition from baseball to football.

TNT's pit reporters distinguished themselves during NASCAR's
entertaining Sharpie 500 last Saturday night. First, Matt Yocum
elicited some menacing words from driver Ward Burton, who said he
wished "I had something I could have shot through the window"
rather than throwing his heat shields at Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s car
after Earnhardt knocked him out of the race. Then, in the
postrace ceremony, Bill Weber opened his questioning of race
winner Jeff Gordon with an eloquent "Welcome home." That prompted
Gordon, who won for the first time in 31 races, to look toward
the heavens, arms raised, and scream, "Thank you." Terrific
stuff.

With Unscripted failing as a lead-in for Pardon the
Interruption, ESPN will try again with Around the Horn, a daily
half-hour show featuring writers from newsrooms around the
country offering their takes on the sports news of the day. The
show is expected to debut in late September. --R.D.

B/W ILLUSTRATION: MARK ZINGARELLI HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMP One fisherman allegedly stuffed his catch with five pieces of threaded lead pipe, 10 sinkers and nine small rocks.COLOR PHOTO: JEFF GROSS/GETTY IMAGES (GORDON) TENNESSEE STUD In Bristol, Gordon soared while Burton (left) seethed.COLOR PHOTO: COURTESY OF TNT (BURTON) [See caption above]COLOR PHOTO: JOHN IACONO (VETERI) Sultan of Slo-moCOLOR PHOTO: PHIL MASTURZO (MCKEE) DAILY DOUBLE McKee (top) even has the same agent as the young Cauthen.NEIL LEIFER (CAUTHEN) [See caption above]COLOR PHOTO: ROGER CULLMAN/NSA Sherman (right) winning the Super Bowl of ScrabbleB/W PHOTO: AP (WILHELM) Hoyt Wilhelm COLOR PHOTO: NEIL LEIFER The police move in
"Forty-three drivers, acting as if they were auditioning for The
Dukes of Hazzard." --FLASH GORDON, PAGE 32