WWF wrestles with finding Hulk's successor


Reading time, two minutes: Now that it's apparent which candidate is going to win the nomination of the Democratic Party in the run for the presidency this fall, time to turn our attention to who will become the next great headliner of the World Wrestling Federation.

With the words to Hulk Hogan's swansong, perhaps in WrestleMania VIII April 5, in composition, question is, who now steps up as Mr. Goodguy to caution the kiddos to eat their vegetables, say their prayers and save their money so they can buy-buy-buy WWF merchandise? Sid Justice? Randy Savage? Ric Flair? Stay tuned.

* Once Cal Ripken passes Lou Gehrig in number of games played consecutively, his body willing, he can get to work on the mark established by Al McGowan. The former American League umpire, just elected to the Hall of Fame, worked every inning for 2,500 straight games before neuritis forced an end to the streak.

* One of the reasons the Jeff Sagarin college basketball ratings strike a discordant note from time to time is the MIT grad puts too much stock in the margin of victory and defeat. Now you know why Oklahoma's Billy Tubbs has his lads run it up to 140 points or so every chance they get.

Sagarin's ratings heading into the NCAA tourney had Indiana No. 1 -- Jeff lives in Bloomington, Ind., and may be influenced by a coach there -- with Kansas second and Duke third. Must be that the Blue Devils played a weak schedule.

* Sometimes you have to question the intentions of Major League Baseball Players Association director Donald Fehr when he walks into spring training camps and, even before he says hello, starts talking about reopening talks on the basic agreement signed two years ago and the possibility of a strike in 1993.

* They've dug up an opponent (figuratively speaking, of course) for Riddick Bowe (28-0, 24 KOs) April 7 on USA Network. He's Conroy Nelson, a lad with an alleged 20-17 record.

* There are disquieting reports out of Florida that the Tampa Bay Lightning, newest member of the NHL along with the Ottawa Senators, is having trouble unloading season tickets. Fewer than 3,000 are gone for the team, which starts play in October. It's a good bet things won't get better as the season approaches and prospective fans in the Sunshine State get a peek at their expansionists.

Limited partner George Steinbrenner stopped by to "help" with the ticket drive last week and it's not likely his words of intimidation -- "if we fall flat on our face with this [hockey], then you can forget the rest of it [baseball]" -- helped any.

* The Bullets, constantly in search of a guard to distribute the ball, it seems, might want to take a look at ex-Notre Damer David Rivers, who seems to be doing everything right for the LaCrosse (Wis.) Catbirds of the CBA.

* Just two days away from sentencing following his rape conviction, Mike Tyson reportedly is hard at work in the gym getting ready to fight Bert Cooper.

Meanwhile, the Supermarket Star is out this week with a story from a Las Vegas medical assistant who says she was violated three times by Tyson last summer. Vegas police have been investigating the claim for three weeks.

* Lee Trevino, who will defend his Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf championship with partner Mike Hill next month, insists today's over-50 golfers are far superior to when they played the regular tour.

"Some didn't have as much chance to play and practice then," he reasons. "It seems a lot of the guys didn't have the confidence and probably didn't train properly. And, quite simply, they had the talent, but it never blossomed. And high tech has something to do with it, too. Most of the guys are hitting it farther and straighter now."

* The team with the longest odds on winning next year's Super Bowl is owned by a dumpy little man with white hair and red face who calls everyone "Tiger." . . . The Orioles are 25-to-1 to win the American League pennant and 50 -to-1 to take the Global Gonfalon.

* For as long as they've been running the NCAA tournament, it almost defies belief that teams from the populace northeast, Boston to Washington, have won just five times -- and just twice in the last 38 years. Imagine the so-called mecca of hoops, New York, claiming just one: CCNY in 1950.

Oh, while you're at it, don't believe those claims about the '92 Big Dance being the upset special. A total of 11 top seeds are exactly where they're supposed to be in the Sweet 16. The only real outsider is New Mexico State (12). Last year's 16s had a 12, Eastern Michigan, an 11, Connecticut, and a 10, Temple.

* One of Kentucky coach Rick Pitino's New Year's resolutions was to improve his language, especially when discussing controversial calls made by officials. He stumbled big time during a game against Notre Dame . . . on Jan. 2.

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