Take a Number for Some All-Star Telephone Talk

Please don’t mention this to my superiors, but I just spent $131 on 1-900 calls to the Jose Canseco and Buddy Ryan hotlines. I guess I got a little carried away during the research phase of this column.

And who wouldn’t, what with Canseco, the Oakland Athletic slugger, dispensing pearls of wisdom on such topics as his alleged steroid use (“totally untrue”) and his growing number of speeding tickets, including the one he received for traveling 120 m.p.h. in his red Jaguar. (“Obviously, when you buy an exotic car, they’re extremely fast,” he patiently explains. “Sometimes they tend to get away from you.”)

Of course, they do, Jose. One moment you’re obeying all federal laws and then--oops--you notice the speedometer is 65 m.p.h. over the posted speeds. Happens all the time to us Chevette owners.

“Please, try not to speed,” pleads Jose, “and try to keep it under 55--if you can.”


Will do.

Meanwhile, Ryan, the outspoken coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, offers up insights galore into the violent and complicated world of pro football. For instance, want to know why offenses are scoring so much? Just press the No. 2 on your touch-tone phone and you get this controversial response from Ryan:

“I think it’s a combination,” he says breathlessly. “Ever since they’ve legalized holding, the scoring has gone up. It seems every year they want more points. That’s the way it goes, so you have to do something to counteract that.”

And they say there are no more geniuses.

Every day, the entire 1-900 library grows. Canseco and Ryan are the obvious pioneers, but word is that other sports celebrities soon will provide their own valuable insights for $1 the first minute and 75 cents for every minute thereafter. According to phone company sources, the list will include:

Ram owner Georgia Frontiere (1-900-PHONE-GA).

Frontiere reveals why her team still is called the Los Angeles Rams, despite not setting cleats in LA County for the past 10 seasons. (“Oh, I don’t know--I just like the sound of it,” she says of Los Angeles. “The Anaheim Rams sounds so, well, pedestrian.”) Frontiere also explains her reluctance to meet with members of the local media. (“Take a hike, creep.”)

Former Dodger and Padre star Steve Garvey (1-900-CEL-BACY).

Garvey welcomes all female callers with, “I didn’t do it. I can prove it. I didn’t even know her. We were just friends, acquaintances, at best.” Garvey offers advice on the wonderful world of dating. (“Don’t do it. I beseech you, don’t do it.”)

Former Ram Eric Dickerson (1-900-IM-GREAT).

This is not one of the longer audio programs available. There are two Dickerson segments: “How’d you get my number?” and “This better not be a collect call.”

Notre Dame Coach Lou Holtz (1-900-LOU-TALK).

Hear Holtz whine and poor-mouth his way into a frenzy. (“We stink. We are simply not a good football team right now. I know we’re favored by 31 over Purdue, but the oddsmakers aren’t the ones playing the game, we are. And I can’t see us winning by more than three touchdowns, which is absolutely pitiful, awful, unacceptable . . .”)

Angel owner Gene Autry (1-900-FOR-SALE).

The gentle Autry, victimized by another ill-timed Angel September swoon, explains why he is considering selling the team. (“I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE,” he says. “NO MAN CAN. THE CUBS WON; WHY CAN’T WE? WHY? WHY? WHY? (much sobbing) I’VE HAD IT. JACKIE, GET ME MARVIN DAVIS ON THE PHONE.”)

Boxer Mike Tyson (1-900-NEED-FOE).

Tyson details the daily difficulties of living life as a superstar and the unending search for a worthy opponent. An excerpt: “Drove car to store. Drove car through store. Got confused on which pedal did what. Had to drop store owner; he was complaining about broken plate glass window. Used two jabs and a right cross. Easy. Drove home and studied Shakespeare. Pondered “To be or not to be” line. Still don’t get it. Talked to Don King, my promoter, about my next fight. He asked me how I’d feel about boxing a newcomer. I said, ‘Tony Mandarich? Mark Gastineau? Who?’ He said, ‘That lady in England who jumped into the ring and starting hitting her son’s opponent with the heel of her shoe.’ ‘No problem,’ I said. ‘I’ll drop her in three rounds. Easy.’ ”

Kansas City Royal Bo Jackson (1-900-BO-KNOWS).

Jackson provides a succinct analysis of the Raiders’ growing problems (“Al doesn’t know football”) as well as his thoughts concerning the possibility of a franchise move. (“Bo don’t want to know Sacramento.”)

Angel vice president Mike Port (1-900-MR-TRADE).

Port explains why the Angels failed to make a single deal down the stretch, despite losing pitcher Chuck Finley to an injury. (“Uh . . . ") Port also lists the many reasons why the Angels still don’t have a leadoff hitter. (“Uh . . .”)

That’s all for now. After all, I’ve got an expense account to fudge.