Abubaker Omar Shariff, the Kenyan witch doctor who correctly predicted that Manchester United would win England's F.A. Cup in soccer, has predicted that Italy will win the World Cup.
Or has he?
Said Reuters: "To be on the safe side, he has picked five other strong contenders. He says reigning champion Argentina, England, the Netherlands, the Soviet Union and Sweden all have a good chance should Italy falter."
Bad joke: Said San Francisco Giant Manager Roger Craig, recalling Monday's game at Chicago, where his old buddy, Cub Manager Don Zimmer, threw a tantrum after the umpires reversed themselves and ruled that Ryne Sandberg's home run was a foul ball: "I called him. I said, 'The ball was foul. You held up the game and got my pitcher tired.' He hung up."
Said Sandberg, when asked what he said to umpire Randy Marsh: "I told him I thought the call was weak. Well, something similar to that."
Trivia time: Who was the last pitcher to throw a no-hitter against the Dodgers?
Storm warning: From Bill Lyon of the Philadelphia Inquirer, suggesting that the Boston Celtics' Larry Bird, who differed with Jimmy Rodgers on strategy, helped grease the skids for the coach: "At one point, after Rodgers forcefully suggested that Bird pass more, Bird did just that--he blatantly passed up shots to pass the ball, whether the receiver was open or not.
"At that moment, you knew Rodgers was gone."
The survivor: Said reserve forward Ed Nealy of the Chicago Bulls, when asked to list his career highlights: "Every time I make a team, it's a highlight."
Mike's lament: After his No. 20 uniform was retired at Philadelphia, Mike Schmidt told Phillie announcer Richie Ashburn he was upset that Pete Rose hadn't been invited to the ceremony.
"I've had a tough time with that," Schmidt said. "Pete and I are close friends. When he came to the Phillies, he had a very positive effect on my career. I'll always be indebted to Pete for that."
As for Rose's gambling, Schmidt said: "I can't take his side in what has happened off the field. All I can say is that I love Pete for what he did for me, and I think he knows I would have done anything to have him standing by my side."
He's not kidding: Davey Johnson, who blamed a breakdown in communications with the New York Mets' front office for his firing, was asked how he would like working for George Steinbrenner with the New York Yankees.
"One thing," he said, "you'd definitely have a lot of conversations."
Trivia answer: Tom Browning, Cincinnati Reds, 1988. He pitched a perfect game to beat the Dodgers, 1-0.
Quotebook: George Vecsey of the New York Times, on the firing of Davey Johnson by the Mets: "Darryl Strawberry was quoted as saying the Mets felt 'numb' after Johnson was dropped. Big deal. They've been numb for two months."