Clemens' problems aren't with umpires

Phil Jackman

July 10, 1991|By Phil Jackman

Reading time,two minutes:

Word around Beantown has American League umpires squeezing Roger Clemens' strike zone into the size of a 3-X-5 card since his run-in with Terry Cooney during the playoffs last year. Bull! Clemens gives up two very loud homers against the Tigers, then, despite his established pinpoint control, wires John Shelby in the back and doesn't even get tossed out of the game.

* Great line from NBC golf analyst Johnny Miller as Bill Laimbeer was plopping ball after ball in the drink during the Celebrity Golf Tournament playoff: "The next ball he puts down will have a red stripe around it, gang." The Detroit Pistons' center finished with a 14 on the hole and during his ordeal muttered, "Chicago Bulls fans have to be loving this."

* Top names heading into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport this weekend are Ilie Nastase with 57 tourney victories and five Grand Slam titles, Guillermo Vilas with 61 and four, and Aussie Ashley Cooper, who won Wimbledon, the U.S. and Australian titles in 1958.

Jimmy Van Alen, who died last week at age 88, was the gent who saved the Newport Casino and started the Hall of Fame, but it was his Van Alen Simplified Scoring System (VASSS) that will endear him forever. It was after watching a seven-hour 3-6, 49-47, 22-20 match that Jimmy decided the game needed help.

* A guy, obviously on vacation, took time to research Ted Williams' 1941 season and concludes that "Teddy Ballgame" would have hit about .420, not .406, if the sacrifice fly rule was in effect at the time.

* A nine-hour documentary on the life of Muhammad Ali, three years in production, is a month away from completion and will hit worldwide TV early next year. Proceeds will finish off an Ali-sponsored Islamic Academy in Chicago.

* He didn't end up backing a truck up to haul his winnings away, as Bobby Riggs did in 1939, but Jimmy Connors made a nice score at Wimbledon when he won 300 pounds ($510) by wagering no matches would be played the opening day of The Championships. Back just as World War II was breaking out, Riggs bet a parlay on himself winning singles, doubles and mixed doubles, won, but had his winnings frozen in a London bank for a couple of years.

* Riddick Bowe (24-0), self-promoting heavyweight from Germantown who zapped Rodolfo Martin in two rounds on the Mike Tyson-Razor Ruddock card, gets a USA Network shot July 23 when he takes on Philip Brown (30-7). Most had assumed Brown had quit.

* Tired of knocking your brains out trying to come up with Mickey Mantle's rookie card or the famous Honus Wagner card? Introduced at the National Sports Collectors Convention in California last week was a set of cards featuring 100 Major Soccer League players plus a subset of 14 all-stars. Or how 'bout this trading cards alternative, sports agents?

* They had four spots remaining in the 156-player field for this week's PGA stop, the New England Classic, and six players going for them in a sudden-death playoff. Bogey was good enough to make it.

* If someone asks you how many baseballs will be used during the course of Orioles games this season, tell him/her about 12,000, give or take a thou. Eight dozen are readied for each contest.

* Fred Lebow has Carl Lewis (long jump), Leroy Burrell, Greg Foster, Skeets Nehemiah and Doina Melinte lined up and he's going for Soviet vaulter Sergei Bubka for the New York Games July 20 at Columbia University. Bubka's asking price is $40,000, but never-say-die Fred thinks he has a chance offering half that.

* The year was 1948 when Bill Veeck signed 42-year-old pitcher Satchel Paige to a contract, prompting the "Bible of Baseball," The Sporting News, to declare the move "a travesty on baseball." Satch went 6-1 that half-season (2.48 ERA) and, nearly 20 years later and at age 59, I saw him mow down the Red Sox for three innings, Carl Yastrzemski getting the only hit.

* It's still mystifying why teams feel a need to pay Jack Morris, Jeff Reardon, Scott Sanderson, Jimmy Key and Rick Aguilera $50,000 bonuses for making the American League All-Star team. What are the $1 million-plus salaries for, showing up?

* Scott Young (Crofton), Shannon McKenzie (Frostburg), Juan Johnson (Waldorf) and Mike Brohawn (Woolford) are Marylanders on the East baseball team at the U.S. Olympic Festival beginning Friday in Los Angeles.

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