Ducks not all they're quacked up to be

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There are two ways to look at the new Anaheim franchise in the NHL being given permission to use the nickname Mighty Ducks: First, the league is plumbing new depths in embarrassment. Two, just think, the team could have been called "101 Dalmatians," which is probably the way it will perform for a couple of seasons.


* It's probably a good thing Ted Williams made it into the Hall of Fame in 1965, back in the days when people seemingly weren't as sensitive and literal with regard to the spoken word.

"The Thumper" used to serve as a hitting instructor for the Red fTC Sox during spring training and, in that capacity, he was asked why a couple of kids, who happened to be of Italian extraction, seemed to be stronger and more advanced as hitters than their rookie brethren. "I think most paisans mature faster physically," he answered, and no one bothered to make a federal case out of it.


Speaking of Williams, the poor guy just lost the No. 6 spot on the all-time individual batting list. Tris Speaker, previously tied with Ted and Slidin' Billy Hamilton at .344, had his average jump ahead to .345 when researchers found him being charged with extra at-bats more than 80 years ago.

* Strange, the ways of boxing. A very good fight coming up Saturday night (HBO) pitting WBC welterweight champ Buddy McGirt (59-2) and Pernell Whitaker (31-1) doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The victor, 'tis said, moves on to a multimillion-dollar bout against Julio Cesar Chavez. But not really, probably. Whitaker-Chavez, yes, that would draw great interest. But the same cannot be said for Chavez-McGirt. So why is Whitaker risking a big payday against a dangerous foe?

* Still more than a month before baseball starts and already the season's a success. Ageless Robert Smith, author of the best history of the game, simply titled "Baseball," just finished a book entitled, "Baseball in the Afternoon -- Tales From a Bygone Era," and early reviews have been glowing.

* The way it works out, Clarence "Bighouse" Gaines was eased out the door at Winston-Salem State after coaching 47 seasons and 828 basketball victories at the school. But is it fair to paint the people making the decision as ingrates, as some have, when a man is 70 and his work and the program have fallen on tough times of late?

* That Mario Lemieux is back on ice and performing nearly up to his best after two months of radiation treatments while battling Hodgkin's disease comes as no great surprise. Last year, while leading the Pittsburgh Penguins to their second straight Stanley Cup championship, Mario didn't even practice and rarely skated except in games during the last several weeks of the season because of severe back problems.

* The headline said, "Knicks turn back Hawks despite 42 (points) from Wilkins" and so did the Associated Press story out of New York. What it should have said is "because of 42 (points) from Wilkins," not "despite." Basketball, even the NBA mutation, is a team game and when Dominique takes all the shots and scores all the points, voila, the Hawks or any other team, for that matter, are going to lose.

* Let's see now, the U.S. National Team (soccer) hasn't scored a goal in the equivalent of the time it takes to earn a master's degree from Harvard and coach Bora Milutinovic isn't sweating it? Come, come, we're not still going to be in the business of registering moral victories when everybody shows up here for the World Cup next summer, are we?

* New York Giants general manager George Young usually has a pretty straightforward way of expressing his feelings. For instance, regarding the new NFL free-agency rules, the ex-Baltimore teacher and coach says, "I know they worked awful hard to put this together. In fact, it was easier to frame the American Constitution than it was to frame this."


* One of the most interesting "battles" raging this very moment involves Charlie Brotman, well-known boulevardier, bon vivant and public relations expert from Washington, and a newspaper up the road apiece known as The New York Times.

Ever since starting his PR business in 1969, Brotman has had the slogan "All the news (releases) fit to print" on his letterhead. Recently, Charlie received a pompous cease-and-desist order from the legal department of the paper, charging that his unlawful infringement of a registered trademark (but for an alteration of one word) was "diluting" said valuable trademark.

Brotman has taken the matter under advisement, has thanked the Times profusely for elevating his "modest and humble firm" to "threatening" status, and is seriously considering changing his motto to "Most of the news (releases) fit to print."