T oday's unconventional wisdom . . .
The Mighty Ducats: Personally, I don't know anyone who would camp out overnight in the Anaheim Arena parking lot for the right to pay $35 to watch Todd Ewen wrestle Keith Primeau, but there is photographic evidence. The lines wrapped around the building, the confusion in the ticket offices, the sheer hostility of the masses when choice games were declared sellouts--ice boxing is a runaway hit in Orange County. The Ducks are docked big points for insensitivity to their fans--they could have stuck to their advertised distribution plan instead of making it up as they went along--but, hey, they did introduce the $13 "cheap seat" this week. What do you want from Disney? Blood?
The $13 'Cheap Seat': Now a family of four can sample the Mighty Duck experience for under $60, provided it doesn't eat, doesn't drink, brings its own binoculars and blindfolds the kids before walking them past the souvenir shops.
The Mighty Thugs: Some preseason so far. Disney buys hockey team, Disney sells hockey team as "good clean family fun," Disney hockey team hits the ice and immediately imitates an Irish pub after the whiskey's run dry. Michael Eisner blanches at this stuff, but Coach Ron Wilson is unrepentant. "Fighting is not something I particularly love about the game," Wilson says, "but it seems to give our team a boost. We have some people who don't mind scrapping, and we've said all along that we would be a big, physical team. That's just how we've played so far."
"The Arrowhead Pond:" Ahem. I have only two things to say about it. One, Waldenbooks would have made a better corporate sponsor--giving us, of course, "Walden Pond." Two, it could have been worse. Had Disney taken the bid from the concentrated chemical cleaner, we could have been stuck with "Simple Green Acres."
The Angels: Aren't you glad they held that press conference to announce that the front office has cleaned up its act and put its house in order? Now the Angels can stop doing stupid things like paying $9.3 million to Joe Magrane (3-2, 4.28 earned-run average) and talking about signing Vince Coleman to replace Luis Polonia.
Vince Coleman: And Richard Brown says he can't understand why the fans stay away. The Angels just don't get it, do they? They run solid citizens Jim Abbott and Bryan Harvey out of town, their general manager says Coleman lobbing an M-80 at a small child "could have happened to anybody . . . If he wasn't Vince Coleman, probably nothing would be said about it." The fans aren't morons, Rich. They base their allegiance on more than victories and losses, and they set their standards a good notch higher than your front office.
Whitey Herzog: Why stop at Vince Coleman? Why not bring in Darryl Strawberry to supplant Tim Salmon in right, Mike Tyson to bat cleanup and Richard Dumas to pinch-run? Trade for Bret Saberhagen and hold Angel Clorox-in-a-Squirt-Gun Night (two free tickets to the fan who blinds the most people in his or her section).
Joe Magrane: I suppose we should be grateful the Angels decided to spend some money on somebody , but Joe Magrane? Whitey has his pets--and they all played for the St. Louis Cardinals some time between 1981 and 1987. Magrane, Coleman, Ken Oberkfell, Jack Clark (whom Herzog wanted desperately last season, only to have Jackie Autry veto the trade). Poor Bill Bavasi. He's trying to build the '95 Angels; his boss is trying to build the '85 Cardinals.
Luis Polonia: Sorry, Luis. You were never a Cardinal.
Chili Davis: Neither were you, Chili. But you did lose to Herzog's Cardinals in the '87 National League playoffs when you played for the Giants. If Whitey doesn't remember, remind him. It could be worth $9.3 million.
John Tudor, Joaquin Andujar: Rounding out Buck Rodgers' five-man rotation . . .
Dan O'Brien: OK, so he looks as if he still gets carded at 7-Eleven, he can't tell a joke to save his monologue, his voice is too whiny, his fat frat-boy sidekick has to go, and the self-deprecating act has already grown tired. I still say the Angels had no right to fire him.
Conan O'Brien: Sorry, got my O'Briens confused. In the words of Whitey, it could happen to anybody.
Nolan Ryan: You hate to see him go out like this, his elbow tendon torn and the Ranger fans grumbling that he cost his team a shot at the pennant. On that last one, Ryan deserves a break. This is the first time in 27 years Ryan let his team down, instead of the other way around.
Buddy Ryan: Buddy looks like he always does--a big mouth, and a nervous head coach watching his back.
James Lofton: About time the Rams signed him. But is it too little, too late? I don't mean Lofton. I mean Jim Everett.
Larry Kelm: Many moons ago, the 49ers took an old Ram linebacker and won a Super Bowl with him in the middle. His name was Jack Reynolds. But times were different then.
T.J. Rubley: He still runs the scout team in practice, so he stands little chance of replacing Everett while he's impersonating Warren Moon. But suppose the Rams lose to Houston today and to New Orleans next Sunday. (And good suppositions they are.) That would make the Rams 1-4 heading into the bye week, with 11 days to prepare for Atlanta's Red Sieve defense. Could then be the time for T.J.? Circle Oct. 14 on your calendar. Just a hunch.