Mandarich, 310-Pound Rookie, Has Tipped the NFL's Pay Scale

The Green Bay Packers might have created a monster when they signed offensive lineman Tony Mandarich to a four-year contract reportedly worth $4.4 million.

"Obviously, it's each club's prerogative to say yes or no to any figure," said Jim Finks, president and general manager of the New Orleans Saints. "Unfortunately, what's happened is that there's been so much hype over the college draft during the last few years that everything is out of proportion.

"I don't have the exact numbers handy, but of the 336 players drafted last year, 75% or 80% are no longer playing. Heck, 70 draft choices were waived (Monday).

"And if you want to track the ones that do stay, how many do you think become great contributors? The amount of money this league has spent on prospects--and that's all they are--is staggering."

Who's fault is that?

"I want to make it clear that we--and by that I mean the clubs--have nobody to blame but ourselves," Finks said. "But now we have guys coming into the league whose careers are too well orchestrated.

"Agents call a guy a 'franchise player,' the newspapers pick it up and soon the fans in town start saying, 'Yeah, we're not winning because our club isn't putting out the money.' It's a vicious cycle.' "

Add Mandarich: The former Michigan State All-American, who is 6 feet 5 inches and weighs 310 pounds, reportedly consumes 15,000 calories a day. David Letterman attempted to fit a typical Mandarich meal onto his desk one night and failed.

Trivia time: Fernando Valenzuela of the Dodgers had eight shutouts in the 1981 season, equaling a 68-year-old major league rookie record. With whom does he share the record and how many shutouts has Valenzuela had since?

And you thought you had it bad: Consider the plight of Steve Waugh from this account of an English cricket match: "Nick Cook, who mixed some magnificent deliveries with a number of very ordinary ones, picked up three wickets; fellow spinner Eddie Hemmings demonstrated commendable accuracy and debut-making fast bowler Devon Malcolm gained a thoroughly well-deserved first Test victim when removing . . . Steve Waugh for a duck."

On-the-air Jordan: According to a billboard that has gone up alongside a Detroit freeway, Motor City residents should be able to hear Chicago Bulls broadcasts.

The billboard urges listeners to tune in WLUP, a Chicago radio station. According to WLUP station manager Larry Wert, broadcasts of the Bulls' games can be heard in Detroit on clear nights.

Cracked Harry Hutt, director of broadcasting for the Detroit Pistons: "Apparently the Bulls can't get enough listeners in Chicago and Illinois. We don't have to go anywhere else."

Odoriferous: How would Darryl Strawberry evaluate his play this season? "It boils down to, I'm having a stink year," the New York Mets' right fielder told Newsday. "Some people might say stinky. This is the first time I've had a whole season where I had to say that."

Through Wednesday's games, Strawberry is batting .229 with 27 home runs and 69 runs batted in.

Trivia answer: Ewell Russell of the Chicago White Sox established the record in 1913. Valenzuela has 19 shutouts since his rookie season, but none since July 16, 1987, when he beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 7-0.

Quotebook: Manager Russ Nixon of the Atlanta Braves, after Jack Clark of the San Diego Padres had hit two home runs against the Braves Monday night at Atlanta: "I thought the first one was going out of Fulton County--not the stadium, the county."

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