Martin has some explaining to do here

September 26, 1994|By PHIL JACKMAN

The truth, the whole truth and . . .

When he shows up here this week to take part in Pam Shriver's charity tennis event at the Baltimore Street Bistro, no fair asking Todd Martin why or how he lost the fifth and deciding match of the Davis Cup semifinals to Magnus Larsson and Sweden yesterday.

Sure, Pete Sampras' suffering a hamstring injury in his match with Stefan Edberg was a tough break as we were blowing a 2-0 lead and losing, 3-2, but it also serves as a convenient excuse, which the U.S. always seems to have in abundance.

* If you thought boxing's heavyweight division resembled a swamp in the Bayous previously, just wait until you see what promoter Don King has in mind now that he has a piece of the title back via Oliver McCall's victory over Lennox Lewis Saturday night in London.

King has any number of his stablehands ready to oppose McCall until Mike Tyson alights from prison next May and re-signs with King in order to reclaim a title. Riddick Bowe and Lewis might as well reapply for the amateurs and go back to the Olympics.

* Lawrence Ritter, who wrote the classic "Glory of Their Times," wherein early greats of baseball tell of their experiences in narrative fashion, lays a very justified haymaker on Ken Burns' "Baseball," telling the New York Daily News, "All I know is if baseball was this dull, it would have gone out of existence a long time ago."

The Hall of Fame is full of tapes of old-timers reminiscing about the game and famous situations (a lot of them contributed by Ritter and other authors) and he says Burns made a big mistake not going with this material instead of today's writers, politicians (?), etc., waxing poetic.

Here's what Tom Boswell of the Washington Post contributed: "Americans have always had a wonderful aversion to the excesses of honesty. Baseball has always been able to express that. The sense in baseball is that the reason there are those four umpires out there is to enforce the rules. But if you can get outside the rules and outside the umpires it is a very reasonable question to ask whether you might be allowed to do it." Uh, does this passage have any meaning whatsoever?

* While on the subject of the Grand Old Game, just mention of it goes against a campaign being conducted by a Los Angeles attorney named Al Schallau, who has written to nearly every newspaper in the country suggesting that they run zero inches of copy about big-league ball this off-season.

All the proof you need concerning this contention was available on Capitol Hill last week when the House Judiciary Committee held about the hundredth hearing on the game's infamous reserve clause and management got skunked in the discussion for the hundredth time.

* This being the "push Heisman Trophy candidates" season, this just in from the sports information office at the University of Florida: "Terry Dean [quarterback] -- a picture of efficiency and effectiveness." What follows is all the stats run up by Dean as the Gators have averaged 58 points against three opponents so far.

The very last statement is that Terry "has a cumulative 3.89 grade-point average and will graduate in December," which should be listed first if this student-athlete business is to be fostered.

* The thing about ABC announcer Brent Musburger referring to Washington's victory over Miami (ending the Hurricanes' 58-game win streak in the Orange Bowl) as "a monumental upset" is he knows better. This was the Huskies, Brent, not Washington University of St. Louis.

* Is it possible that after signing five-year contracts with ESPN and the Fox Network after striving for TV coverage since Gordie Howe was a lad, and with what figures to be a banner season at hand with little competition for the pro sports headlines for the next several weeks, the NHL would cancel the start of its season until a basic agreement is signed with the players? The sticking points are salary and free agency (surprise!) and, obviously, no -- one noted what happened in baseball?

* One of the side trips Orioles owner Peter Angelos made while he and Governor Schaefer were in Los Angeles trying to pilfer the Rams from Anaheim was a visit with Raiders owner Al Davis. You want a plan of attack against the NFL, Al's your man. His winning streak against the league is in triple figures. And wouldn't Davis just as soon see the other franchise in the area at least two (St. Louis) or three (Baltimore) time zones away?

And thank you, thank you, thank you, Oakland, for refusing the Orioles permission to talk to your manager, Tony La Russa. The man is a very unpleasant individual.

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