It was a wacky week to be out of touch

Phil Jackman

August 31, 1992|By Phil Jackman

Bear with me, please. Been out of town and by that I mean out of touch. Totally. Completely. Almost irretrievably.

Problem with going to a place like Block Island, a 10-square-mile chunk of beauty off the coast of Rhode Island and Connecticut at the end of the Long Island Sound, is sports is not a priority. An educated guess is sports ranks somewhere down there between the price of a sleigh ride in Siberia and the pollen count in Queensland, Australia.

It was the third night on "The Other Block" before I caught glimpse of a television set. From across a street, through a bar window and it was tuned to PBS.

The first boat from the mainland arrived at about 9 a.m. daily and there was such a rush for the dozen or so newspapers on board that the two markets in the village had them out for sale by about 3 p.m. -- a day old, to boot.

Anyway, I remember well what was going on when I departed this world, but upon re-entry I found things to be slightly messed up.

For instance, upon checking back issues of this paper, not necessarily in order, an interesting story jumped out about how Orioles owner Eli ("Big Jake") Jacobs has apparently defaulted on a sizable loan from a local bank. And in the very next issue scanned, there are about 500,000 words on Cal Ripken's signing a contract exceeding the country's expenditure for Alaska and the Louisiana Purchase. Hope the dough's in escrow, Junior.

And what's this about Fay Vincent?

The Lords of the Diamond hire the guy to make a series of tough decisions regarding a lock-out, Pete Rose, ill-advised expansion, realignment, drug violators, TV, the length of games and a thousand other litigation-inducing problems. He does and now they want him out?

No doubt the boys and Marge Schott desire a return to the good old days of Ford Frick, whose never-to-be-forgotten reply to nearly every question except what he wanted for lunch was, "Uh, that's a league matter."

Entering the New England time warp, I could have sworn Towson State was pulling the plug on its men's and women's swimming teams, assuring a savings of millions. But, wait, obviously it was April Fool's Day in August because the team's back and in no more time than it takes for a swimmer to take over for a teammate in the 400-meter medley relay.

A review of the tape of ESPN's coverage of last Thursday night's doubleheader at Memorial Stadium -- Colts' love-in with Saints vs. Dolphins in prelim -- appeared to provide overwhelming reason why the return of pro football here is imminent.

That being said, however, the storm clouds began gathering immediately, forecasting another delay in expansion as the NFL continues its never-ending and never-winning battles in the courts.

How out of touch was I with the national scene in this land that sports forgot (or conveniently avoided)? Ask me anything you want about the Pawtucket Red Sox, the lone stipulation being that it has to involve something that happened at least 36 hours previous.

But, heck, on vacation you're supposed to sort of let things slip until it's time to check back in from the spot first sighted in 1524 by the Florentine navigator Verrazano, who was seeking a western route to Asia. . . . and ended up constructing a bridge between Brooklyn and Staten Island.

With only a fierce croquet match between a woman and her six kids (all seemingly the same age) to distract me, I explored the island much more completely than Verrazano ever did, finding "Mohican Bluffs" the feature.

In 1590, it seems, about 40 Mohican Indians, with war paint, invaded the island. Historians speculate "they either had to be intoxicated or thought they were supermen. The point is, there were 2,000 Manissean Indians here and, having spotted them three or four hours before they arrived, they ambushed the invaders and threw them off the cliffs."

It was a 202-step ascent down to the rugged surf pounding noisily on the rocks below, which suggests that this was indeed the last of the Mohicans -- at least until they were discovered again somewhere in upstate New York by James Fennimore Cooper.

Next time, I pack a radio.

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