Expanding MSL suddenly is looking Hale and hearty

The Inside Stuff

April 30, 1991|By Bill Tanton

The Major Soccer League, struggling to survive just two years ago, is rejuvenated and then some. The sport looks to be on the verge of a boom period.

Pittsburgh re-entered the league yesterday. Dallas, which talked of quitting, may yet be saved, giving the league nine teams next year.

And the push is on to bring in Buffalo. Commissioner Earl Foreman would be delighted with a 10-team league.

Also, Foreman and Blast owner Ed Hale are meeting this week with people from the National Professional Soccer League in an attempt to merge the two indoor leagues.

It would be Hale's dream to bring in all nine NPSL teams right away. Foreman's plan is to target four cities -- Milwaukee, Atlanta, Detroit and Chicago -- and add them now.

If the MSL is to be taken seriously, it has to be in major markets, which Wichita and Tacoma are not. Milwaukee, Atlanta, Detroit and Chicago are.

What saved the MSL was the establishment of a salary cap of $617,000 for a team of 18 players. The NPSL's cap is barely more than half that.

While the Blast owner and the MSL commissioner work on expansion and merger, the only coach Baltimore has ever had -- Kenny Cooper -- is faced with a seven-to-10 day stay in a local hospital for a stomach ailment of an undetermined nature.

* Fred Funk, the former University of Maryland golf coach now playing on the PGA Tour, is a good example of the vagaries of golf.

Coming off a seventh-place finish the week before at Hilton Head, Funk played the Greater Greensboro Open over the weekend and failed to make the cut.

Golfers understand why. The course at Greensboro is long; Funk's game is not.

Where does that leave Funk for the Kemper Open at Avenel at the end of May? No problem. That course is by no means short, but it's manageable for Funk. He'll certainly draw large galleries there.

* People wonder why the Orioles' Cal Ripken Jr. is off to such a great start, even with power-hitting Glenn Davis on the disabled list. The answer may be right there in the Major League Baseball Newsletter published by the commissioner's office.

Connected to his house in the Worthington Valley, Cal has built a basketball gym complete with breakaway rims, a three-point line and a scoreboard. If Ripken keeps hitting as he has been, there'll be more players building gyms.

* Before last week's Atlantic Coast Conference lacrosse tournament, former Maryland player Jim Peters wrote ACC commissioner Gene Corrigan -- a friend since they were 13 years old -- saying the tournament is redundant and self-destructive and should be quietly dropped. What happened in the two-day event at Duke only confirmed Peters' concerns.

Virginia, Duke and Maryland -- all battling for position in the NCAA tournament -- suffered losses. Maryland had a big win over Virginia Friday night, but then was beaten, 18-8, by North Carolina Saturday.

"Maryland left its game on the field Friday," Peters said. So many people share Peters' feelings about the ACC tournament that the opinion here is it will be discontinued.

* An interesting clipping has been received from Tom Ostendorf, who kept the scorebook for Loyola College for a basketball game at LaSalle in 1949 that is still disputed.

A Philadelphia paper detailed the controversy. With 1:05 to play, Ostendorf's scorebook and those of three newspapermen had Loyola ahead, 63-62. But the LaSalle scorer, whose book was official, showed a 62-62 tie. The refs went with that, and after Larry Foust scored a field goal with 30 seconds left, LaSalle won, 64-62.

In those days, Villanova, Seton Hall and LaSalle were as imposing as any Big East threesome would be today. Loyola played each of those national powers twice, home and home. The schedule then also included Maryland, North Carolina, Siena and Xavier, much more difficult than next year's Loyola slate.

* Former Mets manager Davey Johnson, who played second base for the Orioles from 1965-72, was a guest on Roy Firestone's show on ESPN and blamed his firing by the Mets last year not on his old friend from Oriole days, general manager Frank Cashen, but on New York itself. Expectations in that media center, Johnson said, are always so high it's almost impossible to satisfy people.

Johnson's successor, Bud Harrelson, is having his troubles now with the New York media. Joe McIlvaine, who left the Mets' front office this year to become general manager of the San Diego Padres, was also happy to get away from The Big Apple's press corps.

Oh well, as the song says, if you can make it there you'll make it anywhere.

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