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Thanks to Lachey, Clay Thrust into Tough Spot

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Comings and goings . . .

Gone . . . Jim Lachey

Never think you’ve seen everything in sports. There is always a new twist, another trip down Bizarre Boulevard.

Here is a seemingly intelligent young man, a wholesome type in whose name--and with whose funding--a football scholarship is presented each year at Ohio State University.

It seems, however, that he did not major in geography, because he determined that San Diego was much too far from home and insisted that he be dispatched elsewhere. It turned out that elsewhere was El Segundo, where the Raiders train when they are not in Oakland, Oxnard, Los Angeles or Irwindale.

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Apparently, profound words from Al Davis convinced him that El Segundo was the place to be if he did not want to be in San Diego. Maybe Al the Itinerant promised him he would move the Raiders to Columbus.

And so it has happened that Mr. Lachey, one of the finest young tackles in the National Football League, will be playing elsewhere just because he stubbornly refused to report to San Diego.

It was kind of the Chargers to trade him, even if it wasn’t to Cleveland or Cincinnati or Pittsburgh. I would not have been as accommodating. I would have told him to stay in Columbus and wait until someone was even kinder . . . and brought a franchise to him.

Coming . . . John Clay

This man will be the Chargers’ new left tackle. He came from the Raiders to assume Lachey’s erstwhile assignment of protecting the blind side of the Charger quarterbacks.

John Clay steps into a tough spot under circumstances made more difficult by the fact that he came to the Chargers with a lower back strain that has caused him to carry a “damaged goods” label.

Clay also has had to endure the slurs of those suggesting that this deal is a steal for the Raiders. Such observations belittle a man who simply ended up in the wrong package at the wrong time.

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His dignity and credibility, in a sense, have suffered because of Jim Lachey’s almost arrogant insistence that he not be subjected to another season in San Diego.

Coming . . . ???????

Whereas John Clay catches flak peripherally, Steve Ortmayer has absorbed the brunt of criticism that the Chargers have been taken to the laundromat by their hated rivals.

Ortmayer, the director of football operations, has staunchly maintained that the trade must be measured in the future.

The keys to the future are the two draft choices involved, said to be a third and fourth in 1989. The keys to the draft choices lie in how they will be used.

There have been rumors, none with attribution of any substance, that the Chargers will send these picks back to the Raiders for running back Napoleon McCallum. While the rumors have been afloat, so has McCallum . . . literally and figuratively. He is trying to get permission from the Navy to play professional football while fulfilling his five-year post-academy commitment.

In one sense, it would seem logical that the Navy might find something for McCallum to do in San Diego. It’s too bad Lachey was not in the Navy.

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However, what the Chargers might be wiser to do is simply wait and use the draft choices as draft choices. This team’s future is certainly not in the present, Lachey or no Lachey, McCallum or no McCallum.

Coming . . . America’s Cup Races

That’s right, races .

The competition is finally out of the hands of Justice Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick of the New York Supreme Court and headed for a Sept. 7 start in the ocean off Point Loma.

Ciparick accomplished this, essentially, by washing her hands of the matter. She ruled that New Zealand could not protest the legality of a boat against which it had not yet raced. Don’t ask me why it took her so long to become enlightened to such a conclusion.

Regardless, the two syndicates are now in the hands of sailors rather than attorneys.

Unfortunately for the America’s Cup, the timing is not good. America’s sports pages--and Americans, period--will be preoccupied with baseball pennant races, college and professional football openers and the pre-Olympic buildup.

Tune in a sports talk show hereabouts the first week of September, and I guarantee that you will hear a lot more talk about how the Chargers did against the Raiders in their season opener than you will about the America’s Cup.

When the America’s Cup soared to its most brilliant moments in the winter of 1987, it was able to capture the hearts of America because it got the attention of America. Nothing else of consequence was happening in the world of sports.

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This America’s Cup regatta, a little two-nation tea party, will hardly match the consequence, nationally or internationally, of either the Olympics or World Cup.

Assuming that this year’s winner quickly establishes an orderly format for a multi-nation competition in 1991, the America’s Cup can get back to where it was 18 months ago.

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