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Waiting for Lefty to Reach the .500 Level

Pounding the sports beat . . . Who says there’s no cheering in the press box? I’m certain a lot of baseball writers around the country will be rooting, silently perhaps, for Steve Carlton to hit the magic .500 mark in career games won and lost.

Lefty, who kissed off the media several years ago, is 2-13 over the last two seasons, and currently has 315 wins and 220 losses. He should reach .500 before the turn of the century-- if he can stay unhealthy and avoid key victories.

The Lakers-Rockets series would have a much different look right now if Houston still had point guard John Lucas, who drove himself out of the game earlier this season with drug-related problems. Lucas played 65 games, averaging 15.5 points and 8.8 assists.

This isn’t an alibi for the Rockets. In today’s NBA, avoiding drug problems is like hitting free throws--it’s an unglamorous but important part of a team’s overall game. The Lakers, through the years, have been either very clean or very lucky, or both.

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Tommy Heinsohn keeps telling the TV viewers that a good strategy against the Lakers is to put only one defender on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and encourage him to tire himself early by shooting a lot.

Only problem with your theory, Tommy, is that object Kareem is skyhooking out there is a basketball, not a medicine ball.

Applying Heinsohn’s Theory to Fatigueativity to baseball, a manager would instruct his pitcher to groove the ball to elderly Mike Schmidt, let Schmidt have three or four homers early in the game, which would sap the strength from his arms and legs for the late innings.

What Heinsohn doesn’t realize is that everyone over the age of 38 isn’t badly out of shape.

By the way, say what you want about Heinsohn, I think he’s making an honest attempt on the CBS broadcasts to be fair to the Lakers, to give them proper credit. For somebody from Boston, this is no small achievement. Next Tommy will attempt to make a few complimentary comments about King George’s tea tax.

The NBA has done it again. For the second straight year, the league prevented any major criminal tampering with the sealed team logos at the Big Draft Lottery.

Pat O’Brien was the CBS announcer for Sunday’s dramatic telecast of the loser’s lottery to determine the order of the draft. As a grim-faced man in a suit dropped the sealed envelopes into the huge goldfish bowl, and gave the bowl several turns to mix the envelopes, Whispering Pat said: “That’s NBA chief of security Jack Joyce, who actually guarded the envelopes. He was unarmed.”

Even without violence, though, it was a hell of an exciting show. NBA commissioner David Stern was back by popular demand as the show’s zany host and MC.

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Next year, according to my sources, the NBA will make the show even more exciting. Instead of tossing envelopes into the big, rotating goldfish bowl, Jack Joyce will toss in the top seven college players eligible for the draft.

Recent Page One news item: New USC basketball Coach George Raveling charges that the three Trojan freshman players he eventually stripped of their scholarships were illegally pursued and recruited by other universities.

Comment: Shocking.

George, are you sitting down? Here’s another stunner: Some people cheat on their income taxes.

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Revealed by the Mavericks--and likely to be re-revealed by the Celtics--is the Lakers’ lack of a consistently deadly medium to long range pressure shooter.

Maybe the Lakers should have kept Bob McAdoo? Only if McAdoo could have trimmed about 10 years. As he showed in Philadelphia, Brittle Bob is too injury prone to be counted on at playoff time.

Meanwhile, one of Pat Riley’s primary tasks, if the Lakers face the Celtics in the finals, will be to work on Michael Cooper’s head, keep Cooper’s shooting confidence up.

You be the judge. Is NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle doing a better job:

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a) Protecting the confidentiality of the drug tests that were administered to prospective NFL draftees; or b) Keeping Al Davis and the Raiders out of Los Angeles.

News item: Chuck Cottier, fired as manager of the Seattle Mariners, says team owner George Argyros put too much pressure on the team by phoning or visiting every day, and by insisting that the team had to start winning.

Cottier should be glad he’s out. Now he can go get himself a job running a multimillion-dollar company where the stupid company owner doesn’t pester Chuck all the time to make the company function efficiently.

And if constant pressure was the problem with the Mariners, the players should really be able to relax now under the laid-back, sunny leadership of Dick Williams.

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The Year of the Old Folk?

Sure, Jack Nicklaus, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Shoemaker and other old timers have turned in brilliant performances in ’86.

But this is shaping up as the Year of the Kid. Already famous and on a first-name basis with fans everywhere are rookies Refrigerator, Spud, Manute, Wally and Ferdinand.

I don’t know if Kirby Puckett--the Twins center fielder, who is off to a sensational, slugging start, has landed any endorsement contracts for bats or shoes or gloves, but I notice he already has on the market a personalized model vacuum cleaner.

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