Happy St. Patrick's Day to one and all. A former colleague of Irish extraction from NYC always took St. Patrick's Day off and referred to it as THE
High Holy Day. Many celebrators today will have their attention dragged in different directions with the partying scene going in one direction and the
first round of the NCAA tournament going in another and the Congressional hearings on steroids in baseball tugging in a third direction.
Me? I'll be in front of a TV set with a remote in my hand. When CBS goes to one of its myriad commercials, I'll check to see if anything important is
going on over on C-SPAN. I suspect that I'll tire of that quickly because nothing important is going to happen, but I'll start out the day with that
routine in mind.
One thought about the Congressional hearings coming up today. In his book, Jose Canseco said he had injected Mark McGwire with steroids more times
than he could remember; when he went on 60 Minutes, he amended that assertion to say that he had injected McGwire maybe twice. Here is the witness who
will allegedly set the scene for the Congressional interrogators and if you take his statements and juxtapose them, this is a guy who can't remember
how to enumerate events that happened "maybe twice". The number, two, seems to be the upper limit of his ability to quantify. From that starting
point, you'd think that these hearings have nowhere to go but up. I remain confident in these Congressthings, however; I know they can take it down a
level even from there.
I've talked about the chaotic events of the ABA this season with the Nashville Rhythm trying to fire its coach in the middle of a game and then the
Rhythm opting out of the playoffs for which it was qualified. Teams folded in the middle of the season and players seemed to move around like billiard
balls after "the break". Well, there's another story there; the Utah Snowbears were supposed to host the semifinals of the ABA championship
tournament. At that point, they decided to "withdraw" from the tournament and to "sit down and watch for a while". The league issued a statement
making it clear they were not happy about this but the Snowbears say that the league could not commit to who the opponent would be for the semi-finals
and that the league kept changing dates. The league evidently had some prior difficulties with Utah coach, Ike Austin, because it said in its
statement, "It was Ike Austin's decision to withdraw from the playoffs. The decision was similar to his decision not to participate in the ABA
All-Star Game. No good reason."
The Snowbears say they will be back next year; the ABA says that it hopes to return to Utah "under new ownership". Imagine a seven game series between
the Nashville Rhythm and the Utah Snowbirds. You might get enough off-court histrionics out of that series for ESPN to create the basketball version
of Playmakers and Tilt all wrapped up in one.
The Dallas Morning News reported that Roy Tarpley attended a Mavs' game in Dallas this week and that he might be trying to make a basketball comeback.
Tarpley is 40 years old and has been out of the NBA since the middle of the 1995/96 season when he ran afoul of the NBA substance abuse rules for what
seemed then like the umpteenth time. Tarpley has been in the John Lucas rehab/aftercare program for the last year or so and Lucas says that Tarpley
has the basketball skills to make a comeback. Of course, Lucas' history as an NBA coach might make his ability to judge players' levels of skills a
bit suspect, but this is a nice feelgood story for the moment. Stay tuned.
There is a report that the NFL will play a regular season game in October this year between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers in
Mexico City and that it will be the ESPN national game. Paul Tagliabue hinted at something like this during his "State of the Game" speech during
Super Bowl week and this move would come on the heels of NASCAR staging a race in Mexico earlier in this year. It will be one of the Cardinals' eight
home games and I think that is one major reason for putting this game in Mexico City. The Cards don't draw flies and in Arizona, this game might not
draw 30,000 fans to a stadium that seats 75,000. Here is a way for the Cards to draw one huge crowd for the year - maybe in excess of 100,000 fans.
And it would give the league a reason to put Arizona and SF on a nationally televised game without having to jam it down ESPN's throat. The game will
probably stink because these ought to be two pretty miserable teams next season, but ESPN can promote the historic nature of the game and get an
audience for it that might be four or five times as big as the one that you would expect from two bad teams.
Speaking of bad NFL teams and ticket sales, the Miami Dolphins announced a hike in ticket prices for next year but told its fans that it was holding
the raise to an average of only 7%. After last season, any kind of rise in prices is nervy. Greg Cote of the Miami Herald put all of this in
perspective for Dolphins' fans:
"The FCC ruled that 'Monday Night Football's' 'Desperate Housewives' introduction was not indecent. However, the FCC ruled that the Dolphins 4-12
The Cubs fired broadcaster Steve Stone over the winter. Stone's critical comments about the Cubs drew ire from players and manager Dusty Baker. Stone
went on a Chicago sports radio show in the past week and had this to say about Kerry Wood:
"Wood has shown no adaptability. He wants to throw the ball 95 to 96; he wants to throw it at times through the catcher. When he loses his mechanics,
he can't get them back again."
Somebody is going to have to tell Kerry the object of the game is to pitch. That's why they call you a pitcher. If not, they call you a thrower. And
if they call you a thrower, and if you keep saying you can't change your mechanics, and if in fact your mechanics are partially responsible for you
getting hurt every year, you've got a couple of choices:
"You can take all the money you've made -- which is a bundle -- and you can go sell cars.
"Or you can make some adjustments and try to stay around this league for 10 years."
Stone may not be doing the Cubs' broadcasts this year, but somehow I suspect that his critical comments might persist. By the way, Kerry Wood left a
spring training game about a week ago with some tightness in his shoulder...
Chuck Lamar is the Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays; he's been there for eight years so
presumably he has figured out the organization and his job and all the subtleties therein. Lamar told the St. Petersburg Times:
"The only thing that keeps this organization from being recognized as one of the finest is wins and losses at the major league level."
Memo to Chuck Lamar:
1. That is absolutely true! You have so many more losses than wins that everyone thinks you and your organization couldn't find fleas in a kennel.
2. Your statement is the equivalent of saying that the only thing that keeps Queen Elizabeth from being King of England is the happenstance of her
Finally, if you want to figure out who the real ruler of the college basketball scene is, you might want to consider my idea for the King of the Court
Tournament. It would have 16 teams. Nine teams have the nickname, Royals; four teams have the nickname Monarchs; two teams have the nickname Barons
and one team is called the Lords. Draw lots to see how they pair up in a bracket of 16 and in short order, you'll know who is really in charge here.
But don't get me wrong, I love sports...
Copyright The Sports Curmudgeon