Those over-the-hill types will spoil soccer league

July 12, 1994|By Phil Jackman

Reading Time: Two Minutes.

Forgotten is the full name of a favorite player on the Baltimore Bays of the North American Soccer League of the late 1960s. His first name was Frank, he was a Brit, and nobody played harder at the game of soccer than this guy.

He once said, "A lot of the Europeans coming here view this as TC paid vacation, and they play that way. But I've got a wife and three little kids and I'm hanging on [in England's first division] by my fingernails. I improve here and earn my keep, and it'll buy me another season."

No matter how organizers talk up Major League Soccer beginning here next year, many foreign players will adopt a who-cares attitude and money will be squandered on over-the-hill types looking to make one more score. If this were done correctly at the outset nearly 30 years ago, the United States easily would have been in the world's top 10 by now.

* Wimbledon winner Pete Sampras and super salesman Andre Agassi figure to dominate the print and the cameras when the Washington Tennis Classic gets under way this weekend in Washington's Rock Creek Park, but it would be a mistake to overlook the supporting cast.

Stefan Edberg and Mats Wilander, multiple Grand Slam winners, head the foreign contingent, and looking to pick up a wild-card entry is Ivan Lendl. Down the list is Amos Mansdorf, who won the thing last year. The tourney proper begins next Monday with noon and 7 p.m. sessions.

Part of the show will be a free family picnic day Sunday, the day the two-day qualifying tourney will be wrapping up and a clinic for more than 2,000 juniors July 23.

* An innovation known as Microsoft Complete Baseball will be ready to go in a dozen ballparks (excluding Camden Yards) after the All-Star Game. The on-line service details the sport's history, teams, players, trivia, season summaries and statistics from 1876 to the moment. Video and audio clips will abound, and a detailed box score of every game this season is included. Oh, and if you wander out and happen to catch what's going on in the live game, that's all right, too.

* The National Hockey League Players Association is in the process of locating more than 400 players of the old World Hockey Association who are eligible for pension benefits beginning at age 45. Nice guys.

* Just so there's no further misunderstanding: Yes, Bulgaria had never registered a victory in four previous trips to the World Cup (1962-70-74-86), but it lost just half of its dozen games played and had ties with England, Italy, Sweden and Uruguay along the way. It's not as though the sport was introduced there last summer.

* The last time the names of the players on the disabled list came out of the American League office, it totaled 48. That's 3.4 per club. What, are these guys made out of paper? The Angels led the parade with seven, which suggests the surf was up, while the Twins had nil.

* Great line from Washington Post columnist Tony Kornheiser: Kevin ("Hindenburg") Duckworth misunderstood, instead of being enrolled at the fat farm at Duke University, he thought he was being treated to lunch at Duke's (classy and popular restaurant in D.C. owned by Duke Ziebert).

* They're expecting as many as 22,000 spectators per day (80,000 total) for the President's Cup Sept. 12-18 in Lake Manassas, Va., so dial up 800-668-6875 for ticket information if you're interested. This is a Ryder Cup-like format with a U.S. golf team opposing the rest of the world, excluding Europe.

* For some reason known only to themselves, the folks at MCI Telecommunications keep an excruciatingly detailed measurement of every home run hit in the major leagues.

Details such as Ken Griffey's 32 homers average 409.3 feet and the Montreal Expos, as a team, hit the shortest homers (381 feet) probably interest someone, but it's hard to figure who.

* Mickey Rivers smacked a double and a single during an old-timers game in Yankee Stadium the other day. Just the mention of his name brings back those wonderful days of yesteryear when, on the Yankees team bus one day Reggie Jackson bragged that he had an IQ of 150 and "Mick The Quick" inquired, "What's that, out of a thousand?"

* Paula Newby-Fraser's knocking off an iron man triathlon consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, a full marathon and a 112-mile bike ride in 8:50:53 is roughly equivalent to scaling Mount Everest without oxygen and climbing backward. Here's another sport where the women may ultimately catch the men.

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