Reading Time, Two Minutes: If the hockey players and NHL owners couldn't come up with a basic agreement after 198 days of effort, it would seem only fitting that the first strike in the 75-year history of the league commences on April Fools' Day.
One gent who probably gagged when informed negotiations were at a standstill and the players would be walking is Don Beaupre. See, the Washington Capitals goalie has an incentive clause wherein 30 victories fetches him a check for $50,000. Don is stuck on 29, last night's game in New Jersey already is lost and there doesn't appear to be much hope two more weekend games will be played.
* Ye olde Boston Marathon, due up in 18 days, has a classy international field of Gelino Bordin, Ibrahim Hussein, Juma Ikangaa, Wanda Panfil, Uta Pippig and Olga Markova. The top American men, such as they are, will be missing as they've got the Olympic Trails Marathon in Columbus, Ohio, April 11.
* The old-timers game at OPACY this season, called the Upper Deck Heroes of Baseball, will be Aug. 9 and will feature players who had 200 career home runs, steals or wins or 200 hits or strikeouts in a season. Dick Allen has signed up to play; now the problem is actually showing up, putting on the uniform and going out there.
* Not only are high school hotshots from across the country coming in for the Capital Classic at the Cap Centre April 9, they'll be in town the four days previous practicing. Considering some of the SAT scores these blue-chippers carry, one wonders if their time might not be better spent.
* The Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, N.Y., has a classy bunch of warriors being inducted June 7: Alexis Arguello, Nino Benvenuti, Max Schmeling, Ken Norton, Lou Ambers, Eder Jofre, Billy Graham and Angelo Dundee.
* For some strange reason, ESPN has dropped the popular weekly baseball feature "Major League Baseball Magazine," which ran for four years, while picking up "This Week in the World League." That's football, in case you're interested. Thing is, the cable didn't let Phoenix Production know it was dumping the baseball show until it was too late to work up a syndication deal.
* Terry Cashman, the so-called "Balladeer of Baseball," has worked up a ditty called "Opening Day," and, together with previous efforts such as "Talkin' Baseball," has a two-cassette .. package available to the public by calling 1-800-245-3011.
* Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino took part in a PGA Tour pre-tournament shoot-out recently and,on the first hole into a fierce wind, he outdrove seven of the nine pros . . . wearing Isotoner gloves, no less.
* The cheapest ballplayer on the all-salary major league team at a paltry $3,333,333 is catcher Mickey Tettleton of the Tigers. Hey, didn't he used to work in this town?
* This easily was the toughest year to select the top college hoops player for the John Wooden Award: Christian Laettner, Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning, Walt Williams, Jimmy Jackson, Harold Miner, Anthony Peeler and 10 more worthies. I took the coward's way out and tossed a dart blindfolded.
* Speaking of Shaq O'Neal, mark him down as much better than an even bet to flee LSU and coach Dale Brown for the NBA. Hey, a guy can take only so much of Brown; look at John Williams.
* "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball" is a book authored by Harvey Frommer, which once again pleads the case for Joe Jackson being framed in the Black Sox Scandal of 1919. The writer hopes a reappraisal of the situation will prompt baseball to right this alleged wrong.
* A bunch of jockeys took on a crew of Hollywood celebrities in a softball game to benefit the Don MacBeth Memorial Jockey Fund with Laffit Pincay making off with the MVP award as the jocks won, 15-9. Kent Desormeaux was tabbed the least valuable player, which makes you wonder what the three-time Maryland rider of the year did to deserve the honor: run the wrong way on the bases?
* Washington Bullets center Pervis Ellison will run summer camps at Bowie State July 13-17 and July 20-24, 9-to-5 daily at a cost of $200 per camper.
* Former President Nixon, who used to slip away from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and sneak in through the Washington Senators first base dugout to check out the action a couple of times a year, took in his first NBA game ever a couple of weeks back. Watch out, WrestleMania (Sunday).
* Organizers in Washington warn the public that if a May exhibition soccer game between the United States and Ireland doesn't pull a huge throng, the city's chances of getting important late-round games in World Cup 1994 will be nil. Where have we heard such threats before?