With likes of Senators, Sharks in NHL, Black Bears would have added some bite

Phil Jackman

February 24, 1993|By Phil Jackman

Reading Time, Two Minutes:

Checking out the standings in the NHL daily, speculating on the chances of Ottawa or San Jose to achieve that unscalable pinnacle of 10 victories, one wonders why the league didn't opt for including the University of Maine in the Adams Division. The Black Bears went through their first 31 games unbeaten before finally falling to Boston University, 7-6. In overtime, no less. Maine has received every first-place vote in the coaches' poll for 15 weeks.

* Johnny Oates appeared to mix his metaphors a tad the other day while discussing the early training exploits of Glenn "Sore Bones" Davis. The Orioles manager took one look at his first baseman frolicking like a pup in the Florida sun and said, "I like the look he had in his eyes." That's what boxing trainers and managers say. Next, John will say, "Toronto can run, but it can't hide."

* It's an old tale, Cuban officials failing (refusing) to file the proper visa information in time for one of its teams to compete here. The USA Women's national team was all ready to take on the Cuban nationals in volleyball at the Patriot Center (George Mason University) Friday, but it's canceled. Too bad.

* Lead paragraph from a spring training story: "H. Wayne Huizenga had tears in his eyes yesterday when the Florida Marlins held the first practice in team history. 'I like what I see,' said Huizenga, whose eyes dampened several times during his visit to the camp in Melbourne, Fla."

The owner's reactions don't figure to change a whole lot come the summer, when his $85 million investment goes out and drops 110 games or so in the National League East.

* An interesting over-the-hill hockey game pitting alums of the Washington Capitals and New York Islanders for the benefit of the Salvation Army goes at the Mount Vernon Ice Arena March 6. These elders used to stage some doozies back when the Isles were winning Stanley Cups and the Caps had finally arrived at respectability.

* It was no surprise to learn that, given his druthers, Michael Jordan won't go through the Olympic experience again. Recall, His Airness didn't want to be a Dream Teamer last year: "You play basketball for 17 months, then the Olympics was another two months. Mentally, it affects you." Jordan got a gold medal in 1984 when Bob Knight was coach and indicated that experience was enough to last him forever plus.

* If it's true, as they always say, that athletics is a character-builder, someone explain what lessons were learned last weekend when one team beat another by an even 100 points?

Strangely, it was in the Ohio girls basketball tourney that Pickerington beat Groveton-Madison, 105-5, after leading 61-0 at halftime. "It really wasn't much fun," said the victorious coach. Awwwww.

* As accompaniment for the click of the old ballbat, the tome "Baseball's Even Greater Insults" arrived in the office, and it's a treasure trove. For instance, remember when the late Orioles owner Edward Bennett Williams described a small win streak late in the season the Birds lost 107 games as "a muscle twitch on a cadaver"?

Or former Oakland A's owner Charlie Finley describing former commissioner Bowie Kuhn as "His honor, the idiot in charge"?

Or Jay Johnstone's description of the sartorial splendor of sportswriters: "Most of them dress like they just came from a Grateful Dead concert in the rain"?

* Hopefully, magnificent pugilist Julio Cesar Chavez, 85-0 with 73 knockouts, will not be coerced into fighting Terry Norris (34-3) for some trumped-up and mythical "best fighter in the world" designation. He's been packing on weight since starting out as a featherweight (126) and taking on a bona fide junior middleweight (154) at any weight is too much to ask. Look what such a course did to Roberto Duran over the years.

* You have to like the explanation of John "Hot Plate" Williams as to why he's now a happy member of the Los Angeles Clippers after his sour experience with the Washington Bullets: "Every summer when I was with Washington, I would go home to Los Angeles [and go wild at the fast-food joints]. Now, here I have Carl Horne [team strength and conditioning coach], who is here every day with me, checking on me, making sure I'm working out and eating right." John is 26 years old, going on 19.

* The way it works out, it wasn't so much the scotch and Perrier former Philadelphia Eagles owner Leonard Tose found at his elbow constantly that caused him to lose millions at blackjack tables in Atlantic City casinos over the years. Playing seven hands simultaneously at $1,000 to $5,000 a pop will do it to you every time.

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