Scattershooting on a Monday after paying 1.55.9 for gas in Burnaby and feeling like I’d won a lottery . . .

Scattershooting

I don’t know how you spent you Memorial Day weekend, but here’s Bob Tory, the general manager of the Tri-City Americans, heading out on another scouting junket. . . .


Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference is ‘involuntarily’ removing Division III powerhouse St. Thomas’ football program because of its ‘competitive’ advantages. Translation: It wins too much. . . . ‘You can do that?’ asked 31 NBA teams in unison.”



Rob Vanstone, in the Regina Leader-Post, prior to St. Louis taking out San Jose a week ago: “The 2019 NBA playoffs are so much more interesting and entertaining than the NHL post-season. Honestly, is there any reason to care unless you happen to be a fan of the Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues or San Jose Sharks? The entire post-season process is a grind. The officiating is awful and the calibre of play isn’t much better.”

——

Vanstone continues: “And the NHL’s video-review system? A complete mess. The offside challenges simply have to go. Give the linesmen the final say and leave it there. Please. Enough.”

——

One more from Vanstone, who was on a roll earlier this week: “Drake, who seems to think that he is playing for or coaching the Toronto Raptors, has singlehandedly turned me into a Milwaukee Bucks fan.”


Phone


Hey, NHL, I tried. I really tried. I tried to watch Game 1 of your final, but, well, this thing about letting the players decide things really shouldn’t be a thing. A cross-check is a cross-check and a slash is a slash, except when you pretend it isn’t. So, sorry, but I’m outta here. I’m off to watch the NBA final. Here’s hoping I am able to find a national U.S.-based telecast.

——

So . . . I don’t enjoy play-by-play voices and analysts who constantly seem to be yelling, which is why I rarely watch the Toronto Raptors on Canadian TV. But I tuned in to Game 5 of their series with the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night. I gotta say the only thing missing was Buck Martinez.



If you have ever wondered about the popularity and power of the NFL, consider this . . .


“Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay forked over $718,750 to buy John Lennon’s famed piano,” reports the aforementioned Dwight Perry. “Hey, Jim, when the player-personnel people said they wanted Peppers, they meant Julius, not Sgt.”



We got home late Monday afternoon after spending some time on the highways and byways of beautiful B.C. I am pleased to report that we saw a lot of Alberta licence plates along the way, meaning those nice folks continue to visit and spent their hard-earned dollars on our expensive gasoline.


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Mondays With Murray: Palmer Had the Open; Andretti Has this Place

The Greatest Spectacle in Racing

The 103rd running of the Indy 500 is set for Sunday, May 26. It will mark the 50th anniversary of Mario Andretti’s victory in the race.

——

SUNDAY, MAY 23, 1993, SPORTS

Copyright 1993/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY

JIM MURRAY

Palmer Had the Open; Andretti Has This Place

   If, as has been said, it’s never a good idea to bring up the subject of rope in the house of the hanged, perhaps it’s not too advisable to bring up the subject of the Indianapolis 500 in the house of the Andrettis.

   For too long, it has been a sore spot. The purists wince, the dedicated fans groan, and well-wishers shriek “Not again!” as the tragic words come drifting over the loudspeaker mondaysmurray2in the late stages of the race, “Andretti is slowing down!” Pit crews kick the fuel tanks, owners curse, wives weep.

   It’s a bit of historic injustice that happens every year. It doesn’t seem to matter which Andretti — father Mario, or sons Michael and Jeff. Maybe, one of these years, it will be nephew John.

   The Andrettis should enter this haunted house with dread. Trepidation. It’s Little Red Riding Hood going to grandmother’s house. Hansel and Gretel strolling through the forest. Snow White and her stepmother.

   It’s galling. It’s particularly discouraging when it keeps happening to Mario. Mario Andretti is unquestionably —  now that A.J. Foyt is retired — the greatest race driver of our times still in a car.

   The Indianapolis Motor Speedway was supposed to be to Mario Andretti what the stage of the Old Vic was to Olivier, the Met to Caruso, the Bolshoi to Nureyev, a ring to Muhammad Ali. A showcase for his great talents

   The first time he drove the 500, he dazzled the natives with the confident competence with which he handled it. He was a 4F driver — fast, fearless, feisty and (usually) first. He was rookie of the year. He finished third, only ticks behind winner Jim Clark.

   When he won in 1969, it was freely predicted he might win a dozen of these before he was through.

   He has won one.

   Anyone who ever watched an auto race knows what a colossal bit of unfairness this is. Mario Andretti winning only one Indy is like Arnold Palmer winning one U.S. Open. Mario is the Arnold Palmer of auto racing. The gods of sport have it in for them.

   You will remember that Palmer, too, in winning only one Open, was second in four of them and in playoffs in three of those.

   Mario has won only once at Indy. But he has been second twice, third once and fourth once.

   You might say he was in a playoff in 1981. That was the year Bobby Unser, driving one of Roger Penske’s cars, arrived in Victory Lane, only to be told the next morning that he had been penalized a lap for passing cars under a yellow light. His “victory” was taken away from him and awarded to Mario Andretti, who had come from 32nd — next to last — on the grid to second. And then, apparently, to first.

   Andretti got the traditional pace car at the victory banquet the following Monday — but without the keys in it. He got an envelope with the winner’s check in it — but the check wasn’t signed.

   The race was turned over to the courts. The litigation dragged on until October, when a three-judge panel returned the victory to Unser — but by a vote of 2-1. Bobby got two-thirds of a triumph.

   It was the longest, costliest Indy race in history, four months from start to checkered flag. It computed out of an average of about 6 m.p.h. Covered wagons might not take that long to make 500 miles.

   So, Mario — like Palmer with golf — became synonymous with racing, a popular victim of what Aristotle called underserved misfortunate.

   Arnold won 60 golf tournaments on the PGA Tour, fourth all time. Mario has won 52 Indy car races, second all time.

   By rights, each should be multiple winners in his sport’s showcase tournament.

   The Open eluded Palmer once when he had a seven-shot lead with only nine holes to play.

   Indy has eluded Mario when he was in sight of the checkered flag, had a clear track in front of him and plenty of fuel. In 1987, he had led the race for 170 laps when, on Lap 195 of 200, his car suddenly slowed and stopped.

   In 1985, Mario not only saved Danny Sullivan’s race, he saved his life. Andretti dived down beneath Sullivan’s spinning car on Lap 120. Mario led that race for 107 laps, but finished second.

   Shouldn’t Mario stay in bed on race day? Or take the family to the beach? Get an insurance policy against even hearing the race?

   Not Mario. He couldn’t wait to get out on that track this year, as usual. He was first off the blocks on qualification day. He rolled out there and put himself solidly on the pole — for six hours — on a day the track was so hot it made pizza out of the tires and slowed the cars into delivery trucks.

   But, Mario knows those corners like Palmer knows the greens at Augusta, and he put up a number — 223-plus — that stood until late in the day and the cool of evening, when Arie Luyendyk went out and took the pole away from him by a tick of the second hand.

   Mario has won the pole three times at the Speedway. This will be the third time he has started from the No. 2 position. The first time he did, he won.

   Does he feel snakebit at this citadel of motorsport? Is the Brickyard the graveyard for Andretti hopes?

   “Well, when you consider I’ve led this race more laps than anyone in it — and more times than a guy who was a four-time winner (Rick Mears), you have to think something is at work here,” Mario concedes. “Yes, I would have thought I’d be working on my fifth win by now.”

   Instead, he’s working on his second.

   It’s the hardest race in the world to win. You don’t even win it when you do.

   Of the 1981 debacle, Mario says: “The rules say you can’t pass (cars) under the yellow (caution flag). (Bobby Unser) passed 13 cars under one yellow. He put 13 cars behind him and the pace car. The pictures showed that.

   “The rules are there. When Jerry Grant finished second (in 1972), they found he had pitted in Bobby Unser’s pit and took on fuel there. They penalized him 12 laps. Moved him back to 12th and cost him a lot of money ($72,000). They penalized Johnny Rutherford for passing under the yellow one year (1985) when he was running third.”

   So, who won the ’81 race?

   “Penske’s lawyers,” Mario says.

   Mario makes his 28th assault on the Speedway next Sunday. At 53, is he Don Quixote tilting at his personal windmill once again? Age 48 is the oldest anyone has won this race — Al Unser Sr.

   Mario Andretti is not interested in trivia. The Indianapolis 500 owes him one. Auto racing owes him plenty. The hope in the infield is that this year the exciting news that comes spewing over the loudspeakers on Lap 198 is, “Andretti is speeding up!”

   Even Arnold Palmer would applaud that. It would be fitting and just. But, if racing had any decency, Andretti would be on the pole. If it had a conscience, he would win. And we would all be 25 years younger.

Reprinted with the permission of the Los Angeles Times

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 60753, Pasadena, CA 91116

———

What is the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation? 

  The Jim Murray Memorial Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, established in 1999 to perpetuate the Jim Murray legacy, and his love for and dedication to his extraordinary career in journalism. Since 1999, JMMF has granted 104 $5,000 scholarships to outstanding journalism students. Success of the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation’s efforts depends heavily on the contributions from generous individuals, organizations, corporations, and volunteers who align themselves with the mission and values of the JMMF.

Like us on Facebook, and visit the JMMF website, www.jimmurrayfoundation.org.

——

A dozen years ago, Linda McCoy-Murray compiled a book of Jim Murray’s columns on female athletes (1961-1998). While the book is idle waiting for an interested publisher, the JMMF thinks this is an appropriate year to get the book on the shelves, i.e., Jim Murray’s 100th birthday, 1919-2019.  

Our mission is to empower women of all ages to succeed and prosper — in and out of sports — while entertaining the reader with Jim Murray’s wit and hyperbole.  An excellent teaching tool for Women’s Studies.

Proceeds from book sales will benefit the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization providing sports journalism scholarships at universities across the country.

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering how many points Drake scored . . .

Scattershooting


Newspaper


To little fanfare Canada lost another newspaper the other day when the Saskatoon Express, a weekly that was completely local and gave readers an option of sorts to Postmedia’s Saskatoon StarPhoenix, closed its doors. The Express was home to a couple of long-time friends — Dale Brin, a former publisher of the Kamloops Daily News, was its publisher; Cam Hutchinson was the editor.

The Express also was home on a weekly basis to some of the musings of RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com. As the Express went down, Currie filed one last observation:

“Boston swept Carolina out of the NHL playoffs with a 4-0 Game 4 shutout. The Bruins’ defence was so numbing, it turned the Hurricanes into the Novocaines.”



Hey, CHL, I don’t know what’s in your agreement with Rogers Sportsnet, but I’m guessing you’re not getting the exposure out of it that you expected. Ron Toigo, the majority owner of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, hit the nail hard on its head when he told Donnie and The Moj on TSN 1040 Radio in Vancouver: “It was terrible. Absolutely terrible. Sportsnet . . . it’s a terrible deal for the league. We should have gone with TSN.”

The WHL’s annual general meeting is scheduled for June 11 and 12 in Kelowna. Have to wonder if national TV coverage might be on the agenda.


——

The Guelph Storm dumped the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, 5-2, at the Memorial Cup in Halifax on Saturday. . . . On Sunday, the host Halifax Mooseheads got past the Storm, 4-2. . . . On Monday, the Prince Albert Raiders, who lost 4-1 to Halifax on Friday, will meet the Huskies. . . . Halifax is the only unbeaten team, at 2-0, and is guaranteed at least a semifinal game. Guelph is 1-1, with Prince Albert and Rouyn-Noranda both 0-1. . . . The Storm and Raiders are to play on Tuesday, with the Mooseheads and Huskies meeting on Wednesday to conclude the round-robin portion of the event.


“Schick Razors has bought Harry’s for $1.37 billion,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Shaving profits soar this time of year — every time a team gets eliminated from the NHL playoffs.”



Headline at TheOnion.com: NHL Warns Hockey Fans that Banging on the Glass Scares Players.

——

Headline at Fark.com: Michigan’s John Fellein has agreed to become the future ex-coach of the Cavs.


Oldwomanshoe


“Tiger Woods has missed the cut in the PGA Championship,” noted Janice Hough at leftcoastsportsbabe.com on Friday. “So to CBS, which is televising the tournament, thoughts and prayers.”

——

One more from Hough: “Russell Wilson, who just signed a four-year $140-million contract, with a $65-million signing bonus, bought his mom a house for Mother’s Day. Wilson didn’t say where the house is, but we know it’s not in San Francisco. He’d have needed a bigger contract.” . . . Yes, Hough lives in the San Francisco area.


F Simon Boyko, a 20-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., scored twice on Sunday to help the host Brooks Bandits to a 4-3 victory over the Prince George Spruce Kings in the final game at the national junior A championship tournament. . . . Brooks led 4-1 after two periods. . . . The host team has won four of the past five titles. The Portage Terriers won in 2015, the Cobourg Cougars in 2017 and the Chilliwack Chiefs in 2018.


Defensive end Chris Long of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles ended his playing career on Saturday. Long, 34, played 11 seasons in the NFL and is a two-time Super Bowl champion. Here is his retirement announcement.


It’s the middle of May. A federal election is scheduled for Oct. 21. The Conservative Party of Canada already is running attack ads. Oh joy . . . only five more months of being inundated with such unimaginative junk.


Spidey

Scattershooting on a Monday while wondering if we’ve seen last of snow . . .

Scattershooting

“The fumble-fingered Seattle Mariners entered May on pace to commit a whopping 187 errors this season,” notes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “So if the M’s host a Sesame Street Night this season, chances are it’ll be brought to you by the letter ‘E.’ ”

——

One more from Perry: “From the Sometimes These Items Just Write Themselves file comes word that Houston Astros farmhand Seth Beer hit home runs on back-to-back Thirsty Thursday beer discount nights — April 25 and May 2 — for the Fayetteville (Ark.) Woodpeckers. As for fans of beer and Beer, that’s what you call a doubleheader.”


When Brighton and Hove Albion scored in the 75th minute of a 1-1 draw with Newcastle in a recent Premier League soccer game, it was the club’s first goal in 12 hours 15 minutes of playing time over seven games. Seriously!


Airlines


Headline at TheOnion.com: Retired Marshawn Lynch goes into Yeast Mode while baking.


Starting pitcher Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox started 0-4, 7.43 this season, which resulted in RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com noting that “the only pitcher looking worse lately is the Trivago guy.”


“Oregon is producing more marijuana than it can legally sell, as in a surplus of 1 million pounds,” reports Perry. “In a related story, demands to be traded to the Portland Trail Blazers just shot through the roof.”


WIFI


Once a pro league goes down the video review rabbit hole there isn’t any turning back, which is why the NHL has to take an immediate look at all major penalties that result in game misconducts next season. . . . And don’t make me laugh by claiming that this will only lengthen game times. Hey, it isn’t like there are four of these penalties a game.


Is Pierre McGuire the only broadcaster in captivity who is able to speak without breathing, something that allows him to just keep on talking and talking and talking . . .?


In case you are wondering why old friend Jack Finarelli is the Sports Curmudgeon, here’s a recent example:

“I read a report recently that a school district in Central New York will not use any pesticides on any of the athletic fields in the district.  Folks there have run across some “organic stuff” that will be applied to the fields and that will supposedly take care of all the pests that might be associated with large grass fields in that climate zone. How ecologically friendly is that?

“I wonder why they don’t take the next rather obvious step here and end the use of mowing equipment whose 2-cycle engines spew all sorts of environmental nasties into the air.  For the cost of a bit of fencing the school district managers could get a few goats and turn them loose on the field to let Mother Nature really take over there.”

Now you know my he’s a must-read on a daily basis.


It is Friday, 11:25 a.m. There are six Rogers Sportsnet channels available on our satellite TV feed. One of them is showing darts. Of course, it is. . . . The St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs are just starting a game on another one. On the other four? The game from the previous night between the Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Angels.


If you’re wondering what all went down after the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, Tim Layden of Sports Illustrated has the story right here.


Hunch

Mondays With Murray: Reflections on a Race

MAY 5, 1964, SPORTS

Copyright 1964/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY

JIM MURRAY

Reflections on a Race

   At the finish of the 90th running of the Kentucky Derby the other day, three exuberant youths in the infield shucked off their shirts, held their noses, and dove, head-first or feet-first, into the fountain-filled finish-line pool.

 Bettor observed this sourly. “Shouldn’t,” he asked, “Bill Shoemaker be joining them?” A mondaysmurray2companion thought about this for a minute: “Naw,” he said finally. “Not deep enough.”

  Clearly, only a high dive into 5th Avenue traffic, or a free fall from a balloon into an alligator pit would satisfy the punters who had bet more money on Hill Rise — $695,000 — than had ever been bet on a single steed in the Derby before, Shoemaker has had worse luck in Louisville than Scotch. “ ‘Shoe’ Boots It Again” was the kindest headline. The gnashing of teeth in the press box was deafening.

  There is a famous story in which a man of rather limited character references died in the Old West and was being buried. As speaker after speaker declined the chance to get up and extol his virtues, a stranger rose in the back of the room and announced: “Since there’s no one here to talk about the deceased, I’d like to take this opportunity to say a few kind words about Texas.”

  Well, I’d like to say a few kind words about Shoemaker. It has always been my custom to restrain my enthusiasm when talking about some athletes. But to give you an idea of the kind of guy Bill Shoemaker is, a colleague, not noted as the Louisa May Alcott of sports writing, either, once came up to me and said: “You know, just once I wish that Shoemaker would do something mean or snide so I could feel better about it when I write something critical. But he’s just as polite to me as if I compared him to the Pope.”

Churchill Downs Not Shoe’s Kind of Course

  It is abundantly clear that Churchill Downs in the Derby is just not Shoe’s kind of course. He’s as out of place as Veloz and Yolanda at a barn dance. It’s a cutthroat two-minute rodeo and the evidence is overwhelming it is meant to be won by someone on horseback riding with the demented fury of a sword-wielding Cossack charging into a crowd of mutinous peasants — which is as good a description of Bill Hartack’s style of riding as you can get in a hurry.

  A study of the jockeys who HAVE won this race shows that you apparently have to whomp up this kind of adrenal frenzy for it. A journalist said of one perennial winner, “I’ll tell you one thing — his mother better not be standing in that straightaway when he comes down to the finish.” Of another, he prophesied, “He’d ride his mount through a crowded classroom to get to the finish line on time.”

  Shoemaker rides as if he merely wanted to find out which was the best horse, which was the original idea of racing before they let in all those types with the holes in their shoes at the $2 window.

  Much has been said and written about Bill Hartack and his supposed indifference, not to say contempt, for notoriety and publicity. Bill Hartack is just as starved for affection and approval as the rest of us. It’s not much fun being 5-feet tall in a world where, when they think of a guy on horseback, they think of John Wayne, not John Adams. But it’s not much fun having to wear glasses if you’re a little girl, either, or having stomach ulcers if you’re a grown man, or not being able to read or write if you’re a perfect physical specimen. Put another way, why do ugly men become good dancers?

  Hartack’s posture is a classic one against rejection, which he fears far more than a guy with a pencil and notebook. He kept the press waiting for the same reason a suitor keeps a date waiting who’s secretly important to him. Hardly anyone is as mad at him as he is at himself most of the time.

Shoe Will be Big Winner in Long Run

  Shoemaker, on the other hand, adjusted to his role in life a long time ago. His dimensions made him shy, not truculent. He will win many more races — and many more friends — than Bill Hartack in the long run.

  Now, about that “terrible” ride of Shoe’s in the Derby. Consider that the winner had to run two lengths faster than the track record to beat him by a dirty neck. Consider, too, that the winner tied Whirlaway’s home stretch record of the last quarter in :24. Hill Rise was two lengths behind the winner when they hit the quarter pole, which means Hill Rise ran the last quarter in :23 3/5.

  No, the heartache was not Shoemaker’s. It was an old old man’s in a flowing topcoat and battered hat walking stiff-legged, arthritically, his glasses fogged up, out to the barns after the race to check his horse as he has done after 20,000 other races. At 73, Bill Finnegan had put the best horse of his career on the racetrack at Louisville. And he wasn’t good enough. At 73, you’re not likely to get a better one.

Reprinted with the permission of the Los Angeles Times

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 60753, Pasadena, CA 91116

———

What is the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation? 

  The Jim Murray Memorial Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, established in 1999 to perpetuate the Jim Murray legacy, and his love for and dedication to his extraordinary career in journalism. Since 1999, JMMF has granted 104 $5,000 scholarships to outstanding journalism students. Success of the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation’s efforts depends heavily on the contributions from generous individuals, organizations, corporations, and volunteers who align themselves with the mission and values of the JMMF.

Like us on Facebook, and visit the JMMF website, www.jimmurrayfoundation.org.

——

A dozen years ago, Linda McCoy-Murray compiled a book of Jim Murray’s columns on female athletes (1961-1998). While the book is idle waiting for an interested publisher, the JMMF thinks this is an appropriate year to get the book on the shelves, i.e., Jim Murray’s 100th birthday, 1919-2019.  

Our mission is to empower women of all ages to succeed and prosper — in and out of sports — while entertaining the reader with Jim Murray’s wit and hyperbole.  An excellent teaching tool for Women’s Studies.

Proceeds from book sales will benefit the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization providing sports journalism scholarships at universities across the country.

Scattershooting after watching Cubs and Dodgers, Tigers and Red Sox, Yankees and Angels . . .

Scattershooting

The great Al Arbour won 29 playoff series as the head coach of the NHL’s New York Islanders. Yes, that is a franchise record. Who’s in second place? Barry Trotz, Jack Capuano and Terry Simpson, each with one.


“Look,” writes Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, “Tiger Woods is one of the greatest athletes of our time. And he’s been great for golf as a sport. But a Presidential Medal of Freedom? Is Trump awarding it to him for his Masters’ win, or for being a fellow example of success and applause after repeatedly cheating on his wife?”

——

Richmond, B.C., blogger TC Chong: “Tiger said he would reciprocate by giving Trump an autographed copy of the Nine Commandments.”


Hough, again, this time on the mess in which New England owner Robert Kraft finds himself: “How perfect that the Patriots finally are on the other side of being unknowingly videotaped?”



RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com weighs in on the Tampa Bay Lightning getting ousted in shocking fashion by the Columbus Blue Jackets: “With the Lightning suffering a Round 1 sweep, I’ll spare them electrical puns, like lacking a spark, feeling re-volted or the Jackets being amped up. I’ll only say this: Watt happened?”


So . . . you’re watching all the upsets in the NHL playoffs and you’re wondering two things:

  1. What does the regular season really mean?
  2. Is this parity or parody?


A baseball note from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “If Milwaukee Brewers slugger Christian Yelich got to play all 162 games against St. Louis, based on his first seven games against the Cardinals in 2019, his season numbers would read: .500 batting average; .625 on-base percentage; 1.542 slugging percentage; 185 home runs; 231 runs scored; 440 runs batted in.



One thing that never changes when watching an NHL playoff game go into overtime . . . I always wonder why the referees bother coming out of their dressing room.



Headline at TheOnion.com: Dedicated Russell Westbrook Stays Late After Practice To Miss 100 Extra Shots


So . . . Sportsnet picked up Game 7 between the Vegas Golden Knights and San Jose Sharks from NBCSN on Tuesday night. That meant that play-by-play man Gord Miller and analyst Ray Ferraro, who normally work for TSN, were doing a game on Sportsnet. Interesting!


Chess


The Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets will play an NHL game at 33,000-seat Mosaic Stadium in Regina on Oct. 26. Tickets went on sale to the general public on Thursday morning. According to the Regina Leader-Post: “Prices ranged from $164.50 to $369.50. It appeared that about half of the stadium’s seats were booked up within the first half hour of the public sale.” . . . Yes, many Regina hotels already are full up that night.


It’s officially baseball season now that the first round of the NHL playoffs is over. By this point of every NHL season, I am tired of watching NHL referees ignore the rule book at their choosing, and my attentions turn to Major League Baseball. This spring shall be no exception.

Mondays With Murray: Clippers Finally Come of Age

THURSDAY, APRIL 1, 1993, SPORTS

Copyright 1993/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY

JIM MURRAY

Clippers Finally Come of Age

   There used to be a scene in the old Westerns where one gunslinger would ride into town and come up to another and snarl, “There isn’t room enough in this town for the both of us, Buster, so why don’t you get on your horse and ride out while you still can!”

   It was sure-fire theater and sold a lot of popcorn. I was reminded of it the other night at the Sports Arena, where the Clippers suddenly came of age. They stopped being the mondaysmurray2pimply-faced kid at the end of the bar dreaming of glory and instead went up to the town bully and said, “Make me!”

   The game between the upstart Clippers and the old pro Lakers was a watershed moment. They walked down Main Street at high noon, and the Lakers blinked.

   It isn’t as if the town is the Clippers’ — but it isn’t the Lakers’ anymore.

   The Lakers, for years, didn’t even know the Clippers existed. Remember the famous time in New York when the Giant manager, Bill Terry, maliciously asked, “Brooklyn? Are they still in the league?” And the Dodgers, smarting, knocked them out of the pennant in a season-closing series?

   The Lakers, luxuriating in the glory years when they had the roughest hombres in the West — Magic, Kareem, Worthy, Wilkes, McAdoo, Cooper and Scott — had no reason to know if the Clippers were still in the league. Or where. They beat them when they were the Buffalo Braves. They beat them when they were the San Diego Clippers. They beat them when they were the Los Angeles Clippers. They beat them wherever they found them.

   The Clippers were kind of a municipal embarrassment. They went through more towns faster than the Ohio River or Butch Cassidy on the lam. They wore out their welcome right after they wiped their feet, and when owner Donald Sterling figured he might as well join the rest of the country and move them to Los Angeles, the reaction was, “L.A. already has a team. Have you given any thought to Anaheim?” Or Dubuque, for that matter.

   No one ever used that sports-page cliche, “cross-town rivals,” because there wasn’t really any rivalry. The Lakers used to treat the Clippers as kind of a complicated workout. An uncontested shootaround.

   The Lakers got to thinking they could send 10 guys from the back of a truck out there with “Lakers” scrawled on their jerseys, and the Clippers would fold. But this began to change subtly when first Kareem, then Magic, left the Lakers.

   The rivalry extended off the court. Elgin Baylor and Jerry West never played each other on the court, but as general managers, they went one-on-one with each other with customary intensity.

   Getting a winning team in the NBA is a crapshoot. A Magic Johnson or Larry Bird or Michael Jordan comes walking out of the collegiate ranks to prove to be an all-world only infrequently. More often, a guy with equal collegiate credentials can’t jump shoot in this competition.

   Most years, you don’t get superstars. You have to be crafty and figure out who are the best of the journeymen.

   Los Angeles is no stranger to the notion of cross-town rivalries. UCLA and USC would rather beat each other than win the conference. But the pros have never had any comparable feuds.

   In New York, the Dodger fans hated the Giants’. But in California, the Giants are 400 miles away. It’s easier to hate someone whose ballpark you can invade periodically to vent your hostility. In New York, they hated one another whether their teams were last or first.

   Does Los Angeles need a contender to care that much? Will the fans leave in the seventh inning or hit the parking lot with a quarter to play unless a championship is at stake?

   The Lakers look like a guy with one foot on a banana peel and the other on a roller skate. The Clippers won’t remind you of the Bird Celtics or the Magic Lakers, but they artfully use what they have.

   One of the things they have is a kind of bull-elephant backfield. Stanley Roberts and John Williams look in poor light like a pair of Alps and are as impenetrable as rush-hour traffic. When those two lock arms, the only way to the basket is by Figueroa Street. They are the only duo on the floor who are 7 feet tall — and 10 feet wide. They should play in Santa Claus suits.

   And the Clippers have Mark Jackson, a cat-quick, savvy point guard — we used to call them “playmakers” — who keeps the Clippers on their toes with his fast footwork and ear-high passes. He is to the Clippers what Joe Montana was to the 49ers. He steers them downcourt, then commands the attack under the basket, skillfully working for the open man. His idol and role model was Magic Johnson. “I’m no Magic,” he admits. “But I try to set up the floor the way he did.”

   Since Jackson played his whole career in and around New York — at St. John’s and with the Knicks, before the Clippers slickered him West — he is asked whether a New York-style rivalry is possible in laid-back L.A.

   “In New York,” he explains, “the attitude is set up by the media. It’s not that they’re more knowledgeable or more caring, they’re more demanding. They read a story in the papers and get their perception from that. They not only boo ineffectiveness, they boo great players. This town booed Babe Ruth, don’t forget. They booed Earl Monroe. There’s a lot more pressure playing in New York because you’re bucking preconceived notions.”

   It has been suggested (here) that the difference between the New York fan and the L.A. fan can be summed up in the attitude of the guy at the race track watching his horse struggle to the wire. In New York, the fan’s face is contorted with rage. “Don’t die now, ya dog!” is his scream at the mount. In L.A., the fan is more inclined to plead and encourage than to insult. “Just a few more steps, sweetheart, you can do it!”

   “They get on you here, too,” Jackson says. “But I think we passed a test tonight. We’re still a game behind the Lakers, but they know we’re here now. I’m proud of this team. We needed this win and we got it.”

   It’s the Lakers’ turn to wonder, “Who are these guys?” It’s their turn to consider getting out of town, according to the Clippers.

   All dynasties fade in time. The Lakers owned this town for a long time. But that funny little team on the other end of the freeway passed a major test Tuesday night. It was the first time since 1974, when they were the Buffalo Braves, that they have won a season series from the Lakers.

   If anybody has the right to say, “Be outta town by sundown!” it’s the new kid on the block. He gets to wear the white hat in this chase.

Reprinted with the permission of the Los Angeles Times

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 60753, Pasadena, CA 91116

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What is the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation? 

  The Jim Murray Memorial Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, established in 1999 to perpetuate the Jim Murray legacy, and his love for and dedication to his extraordinary career in journalism. Since 1999, JMMF has granted 104 $5,000 scholarships to outstanding journalism students. Success of the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation’s efforts depends heavily on the contributions from generous individuals, organizations, corporations, and volunteers who align themselves with the mission and values of the JMMF.

Like us on Facebook, and visit the JMMF website, www.jimmurrayfoundation.org.

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A dozen years ago, Linda McCoy-Murray compiled a book of Jim Murray’s columns on female athletes (1961-1998). While the book is idle waiting for an interested publisher, the JMMF thinks this is an appropriate year to get the book on the shelves, i.e., Jim Murray’s 100th birthday, 1919-2019.  

Our mission is to empower women of all ages to succeed and prosper — in and out of sports — while entertaining the reader with Jim Murray’s wit and hyperbole.  An excellent teaching tool for Women’s Studies.

Proceeds from book sales will benefit the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization providing sports journalism scholarships at universities across the country.