Tigers' tale of College World Series title seems like natural for the silver screen


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* It sounds like a heckuva movie to me, LSU's baseball team having to come out of the loser's bracket to win its conference (SEC) tournament, an NCAA regional qualifier and, finally, the College World Series. Besides, the Tigers had to rally from two down in the ninth inning in the semis. There's probably a descendant of Roy Hobbs on the team.

* New York's sophisticated, supposedly all-knowing baseball fans would not have to endure miserable summers if they didn't believe all that noise about their teams emanating from spring training. It has been at least three decades since simply putting on the Yankee pinstripes made a guy a better player instantly.

* I disagree with Charles Barkley: He is a role model for anyone aspiring to become a totally insensitive boorish lout who lacks all social graces.

* Good, old-fashioned handball is the toughest of all athletic endeavors, many insist, and that sport is the order of the week at the Merritt Athletic Club/Security. Beginning at 8:30 a.m. daily, more than 700 players from all over are competing in the 43rd championships of the U.S. Handball Association. Men and women players from 20 to 80 are competing in 31 categories, singles and doubles with the top pros topping it off with a 1 p.m. championship Saturday.

* If Mickey Mantle didn't hit that extraterrestrial home run off Chuck Stobbs in old Griffith Stadium eons ago, would IBM be keeping copious records of the distances homers are being hit today? I mean, of what possible value or significance is the knowledge that the average length of 20 home runs struck by the Florida Marlins has been 386 feet?

On second thought, do you suppose the ultra-creative minds of baseball are contemplating an extra run for lengthier clouts, a la the three-point shot in hoops?

* In addition to their hallowed spot up there with dynasties such as the Yankees and Celtics, the Montreal Canadiens are the lads who have always short-circuited latter-day attempts at dynasties, stopping impressive runs by the Flyers, Oilers and Penguins over the past 20 years. Unfortunately, this year's gripping charge to the Stanley Cup will be remembered for the customary celebration riot. Next, Chicago will attempt to outdo Montreal when the Bulls get rid of the Suns.

* The women's tennis tournament in Washington grabbed a terrific spot: The Elizabeth Arden WTA Challenge abuts the start of the U.S. Open in New York and already has Gabriela Sabatini (5), Arantxa Sanchez Vicario (3), Mary Joe Fernandez (7) and Jana Novotna (9) in its U.S. vs. The World team format on Aug. 25-28.

* What if the Suns' 3-hour, 20-minute triple-overtime victory over the Bulls Sunday night had been played in Boston, not Chicago? The Garden, recall, does not have air conditioning, so you can imagine what it was like back in '76 when the Celtics and Suns did play three OTs. Richie Powers can't. He was the ref who was carried off due to heat exhaustion.

* Come now, folks, the U.S. national soccer team played a fine game while losing to Germany in Chicago the other day, but it could have been about 6-1 without Tony Meola in goal, and the defending World Cup champs were a bit lax on defense, always their forte.

* It was back in the days when Brooks Robinson was being inducted into the Hall of Fame and the only seat available in an open dining room was at a table with an elderly couple.

The man, Johnny Mize, seemed overly irascible and, when he excused himself for a moment, I asked his wife Marjorie about it and she said "Big Jawn" was still upset the baseball writers had left it to the old-timers committee to vote him into Cooperstown.

I remember checking out the lifetime stats of Mize, who died earlier this month, and feeling mortified: .312 average, 358 home runs, 2,011 hits, 1,337 RBI with three years in the Navy during World War II in the middle.

* What does it say about a school or an individual when Kentucky extends basketball coach Rick Pitino's contract until the year 2000 and he receives an extra $1 million if he fulfills his part of the bargain?

* The "Colts, Cattle & Charity" bull roast benefiting Joe Ehrmann's inner-city ministry June 23 at the Timonium Fair Grounds couldn't have picked a better man to honor than Raymond Berry, a true scholar-athlete and great guy.

* Just in time for Father's Day and perhaps upset that it was only able to unload just $2.4 billion worth of retail merchandise on the easily-swayed public, NFL Properties will airmail ties, wallets, golf balls, cuff links, coffee mugs, shirts and the rest of it to Dad (at scandalous prices) if you call in your orders by tomorrow. Fan-friendly, that's the NFL.

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