Amid scandals, sports has had its '90 blessings, too

Phil Jackman

December 27, 1990|By Phil Jackman

ALL YOU HAVE to do is give a newspaper a 30-second glance to come away with the impression there's not a whole lot good going on in sports these days.

With each passing day, it seems, the NCAA finds some new indiscretion committed by the folks out at Nevada-Las Vegas. All you have to know about the Runnin' Rebs is if Saddam Hussein could bury the three, there's a good chance he'd be in their backcourt.

And how about George Steinbrenner, Mike Tyson, Pete Rose, Don King, Andre Agassi, Al Davis, Lockerroom Lisa and Lou Holtz, read enough about these folks to last you until the millennium?

When I was but a mere cub in this news-gathering business, the city editor used to assign a little feature called "There's Always Good News" to a staffer in an attempt to break up the daily menu of five-alarm fires, notice of tax increases and bank closings.

Some of the stuff in TAGN was so bad (love is never having to say you're sorry was Shakespearean by comparison), it was actually good.

I thought of the feature while running the mind over the last 12 months for one of those yearly wrapup numbers. Yes indeed, it's time to look at all the good stuff that transpired since the new decade started 361 days ago.

It was stupendous Fernando Valenzuela and Dave Stewart pitching no-hitters one terrific night in June, the first time mound gems were cast concurrently in the American and National leagues.

How bad are things, really, when Jim McMahon slips out of sight and mind somewhere in the NFL?

Think of the charge millions of commoners received when word came down that the aspiring fight mogul Donald Trump was being placed on a monthly stipend of $450,000 (not including yacht and jet plane upkeep).

Pete Rose stories slowed to a trickle once he drew his grays.

The American League won the All-Star Game, 2-0.

Michael Jordan. That's all, Michael Jordan.

The look on Mrs. Frances Genter's 92-year-old face when her steed Unbridled won the Kentucky Derby.

Cincinnati, a fine baseball town with great fans, tumbling the Oakland dynasty in the World Series.

Greg LeMond showing those Europeans what-for by taking the Tour de France for a third time.

A real gentleman, Evander Holyfield, stepping up to claim the world heavyweight championship.

Jim Palmer and Joe Morgan going into the Hall of Fame -- even if Cooperstown didn't know what to do with the crowd when it started raining and never stopped.

A bunch of senior footballers at Holy Cross ended their careers never having lost a game (21-0-1) at friendly Fitton Field.

The United States winning the Davis Cup for the first time since 1982 with Michael Chang as star.

Not only Nolan Ryan's sixth no-hitter, but the terrific commercial he does for a razor blade company.

The Washington Caps making it out of the Patrick Division in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Buster Douglas clubbing Mike Tyson to the canvas one night in Japan. Forget his feeble first defense against Holyfield eight months later.

Ted Turner's Goodwill Games in Seattle were a good show, something you'll probably have to take my word for considering the TV ratings.

Pete Sampras, Andres Gomez and Stefan Edberg, all terrific chaps, winning Grand Slam events while Agassi is the loser in two of the finals.

Unknown Cecil Fielder returning from playing ball in Japan and bashing 51 home runs and making the game fun again in Detroit.

Fans everywhere letting bygones be bygones and rescinding on threats to boycott baseball over the lockout by the owners last spring.

Sprinter Ben Johnson making it back to competition, although Randy Barnes and Butch Reynolds have replaced him on track and field's suspension list.

The banishment from the Memorial Stadium scoreboard of those awful crab races.

A dreadful team succeeding in spite of itself. Example: New Jersey Nets. They wanted more than badly to swap the No. 1 NBA draft pick (which had to be Derrick Coleman), were unsuccessful and the Syracuse big man proves to be the goods.

The word that the cancer has been stopped and San Francisco lefty Dave Dravecky gets to keep his left arm.

Steve Spurrier peeling $100,000 off his roll, designating it be used by the women's sports and the health department at the University of Florida, where he coaches football.

Lee Trevino winning more money on the Senior PGA Tour ($1,190,518) than Greg Norman did on the regular tour.

Only 14,000 showing up at the Aloha Bowl football game between Syracuse and Arizona on Christmas, perhaps a message that should be heeded.

The Seniors Professional Baseball Association mercifully expired at 4:31 (EDT) yesterday.

That's right, Virginia, there's always good news, although you aren't likely to find it going against Tennessee in the USF&G Sugar Bowl.

OK, back to Joe Paterno's son Jay being robbed on the beach in Miami, ballplayers laying down a successful sacrifice bunt and insisting their contracts be renegotiated and the return of Jackie Sherrill to the coaching sideline.

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