A few leftovers and some food for the thoughtful


In case you didn't have enough of your own already, more dreaded holiday leftovers . . .

The multi-sponsored bowl season is picking up, moving from weed-eaters to blockbusters. In tonight's Blockbuster Bowl between Penn State and Florida State, do ticket-holders get an extra night's free rental of the stadium?

Of course, the big day is New Year's, when we traditionally sit in front of our TVs all day and all night, as opposed to other days of the year when we sometimes get up for dinner. Here's one very possible bowl-day scenario: No. 1 Colorado loses to Notre Dame; No. 2 Georgia Tech loses to Nebraska; No. 3 Texas loses to Miami and then who's No. 1? For some reason, No. 4 Miami (with two losses) is rated ahead of No. 5 Notre Dame (with two losses and a tougher schedule and a win over Miami). But should either team be No. 1?

According to careful research done by someone else, no team with two losses has ever won a national championship. But who would finish ahead of Notre Dame or Miami? The next team in the rankings with only one loss is No. 9 Houston, the sportsmanship guys who are on probation and guilty of other excesses, too. If Houston is No. 1, we have to re-think the entire process. The next team with one loss is No. 18 Louisville, which does not play for national titles unless Denny Crum is coaching.

What to do? That's easy. Let the voters vote and then let's argue about the result, loudly if possible. Resist all talk of a national championship tournament, however. Why must we have everything tied up neatly like a Christmas present, especially if your present, like mine, was a dozen pairs of socks?

In real life, there are ambiguities, and this time we've got a shot at an all-time puzzler. It takes me back to my college days when we were asked to ponder: If a tree fell in a forest and no one was there to hear it, would the tree's sponsor be eligible for a rebate from the networks? (That question brought to you by the Mobil Cotton Bowl.)


The biggest news in the NBA is that Magic Johnson is upset over criticism of his play by Lakers GM Jerry West, who is apt to criticize anyone. Magic says he may want to switch teams, which could bode well for the Orlando Magic, who apparently named the team Magic in the hope of eventually luring Johnson to Florida. In fact, when Magic retires, Orlando is going to rename its team the Jordans.

Closer to home, the word is that John Williams' holiday trimming is coming along nicely, and that, right now, Ledell Eackles is the chunkier of the two. When Williams returns, the Bullets might actually be decent, meaning too good to make the lottery and not quite good enough to make the playoffs. The amazing thing is how good they are right now. Forget about his comeback, but isn't Bernard King too old to play at such a formidable level? It's the year of aging gracefully in the NBA. Look at the Celtics (23-4).

My guess is that the Celtics won't be able to keep up this pace all season. Here's how I'd handicap the NBA if the playoffs were to begin today: Portland, Boston, San Antonio, Chicago, Utah, Philadelphia, Lakers, Detroit, Phoenix. In April, it should go like this: Portland, San Antonio, Lakers, Chicago, Detroit, Boston, Utah, Phoenix, Philadelphia.


Maybe you read in the paper yesterday that the senior baseball league folded in midseason, which I found very interesting because I didn't know the league had even started again. This is an idea (folding the league, that is) whose time has come. Not everyone ages gracefully.

The sports where a senior league works is the kind where seniors actually play. In other words, golf -- an activity that requires only a set of clubs, money for greens fees and a pair of green slacks. When you have folks 75 or 80 years old playing golf, they think Arnold Palmer is just some pup who needs to work on his putting. It's gotten to the point where Lee Trevino can win a million bucks on this tour, which isn't as surprising as it might seem. The old- timers are an attraction because they're the only golfers anyone recognizes any more. Or could you pick Nick Faldo out of a crowd?

It's OK to watch Arnie play golf, or Don Carter bowl, or Paul Newman drive, but who wants to see Willie Mays play baseball unless it's on videotape? Right now, let's just settle for another season of Nolan Ryan.


And a bonus question: Which game gets to your house first -- the Domino's Pizza Copper Bowl or the Federal Express Orange Bowl?

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