Forget 54 years, Cup took 8 1/2 months


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And on the 253rd day of the season, the Stanley Cup got its annual ride around the rink last night as New York Rangers

players went berserk. Say, folks, that's 8 1/2 months, and we thought the NBA season was interminable.

* The NBA and NBC should keep a microphone out of earshot of New York Knicks highwayman Anthony Mason if he's going to say, "When we start hurting people and people are going out on stretchers, that's when we've crossed over the line [of too-physical play]," as he did prior to Game 3 the other night.

* A conservative estimate is it took the Major League Baseball Players Association 30 seconds to reject the owners' proposal of not only a salary cap but elimination of salary arbitration. Remember, they had to stop laughing first.

* What's a body to do? After his Detroit teams averaged more than 100 points per year over the last three seasons, Bryan Murray, sixth on the coach's all-time win list and let go as coach of a Washington Capitals team that four times piled up more than 100 points, gets jettisoned as Red Wings general manager. Maybe winning isn't important anymore.

* Why couldn't the Irsays be more like Utah GM Tim Howells, who has offered to sell the nickname Jazz to the Timberwolves if and when their transfer from Minnesota to New Orleans is approved by the NBA. Enter a name-the-team contest in Salt Lake City.

* Imagine the quality of big-league play when baseball gets around to expanding by four teams so that it can get back to four eight-team divisions. I nominate Arizona State, Southern Cal, LSU and Fullerton State receive strong consideration.

* Ever hear of the "Walton Rule?" It's a hunk of NCAA legislation that decrees that a guy can't instruct a college ballplayer for a fee unless he's an employee of the institution. A few years back, Bill Walton was hired by LSU coach Dale Brown to perfect the centering skills of one Shaquille O'Neal.

* That's a great idea the NFL came up with, erecting the Wall of Liberty at Normandy to commemorate the 638 players, including Medal of Honor winners Maurice Britt and Jack Lummus, who served in the European Theater of Operations in World War II. But once again it appears as if those who were involved in the Pacific will be overlooked.

* Perhaps one of the reasons John Thompson is such a good recruiter scouting up talent for Georgetown basketball is the fact he gets so much practice as an inordinate amount of his players flee the program early. At least one a year, it seems, sometimes two.

* I have no problem with Michael Jordan being given a spot on one of the teams contesting the Double-A All-Star game in Binghamton, N.Y., (July 11) despite a .204 batting average, do you? He just might sell a few tickets.

* Sydney Maree, one of the all-time great collegiate runners who finished fifth in the 5,000 meters at the 1988 Olympics and is working on becoming a marathoner for the 1996 Games in Atlanta, showed up for a 5-K on the roads in D.C. the other day and half-expected a breeze. No way. He had to bust it to hold off Dave McCormack in 15:03.

* The night Elgin Baylor set an NBA playoff record with 61 points, April 14, 1962, the Lakers were life and death to beat the Celtics, 126-121. That's the year when L.A. had a shot at the buzzer to win in regulation, Frank Selvy blowing a 10-footer on the baseline, and Boston won in OT, 110-107, in Game 7.

* There should be some interesting yarns spun tonight in Washington when Harmon Killebrew, Jim Lemon, Roy Sievers are on hand to help celebrate the opening of a new bistro named "Senators." Proceeds from the reunion will benefit the Bob Allison Ataxia Center. The former slugger (256 home runs) suffers from the degenerative disease of the nervous system.

* One night last week, American League games consumed 3:22, 3:11, 3:06, 3:26 and 3:30 of playing time. At the same time, not BTC one National League game staggered beyond three hours. Oh, those pitching changes and nine-minute at-bats by Kirk Gibson.

* The PGA Senior Tour has gone from a three-tournament slate worth well under $1 million to a 45-tourney circus yielding nearly $30 million to the over-50 players.

* Ever wonder how masterful Muhammad Ali lost the heavyweight title to a relative beginner like Leon Spinks back in 1978? The answer is provided by the "Fight Doctor" Ferdie Pacheco, who says, "Ali trained only six days for that one." The doc was probably being generous.

* Bam Bam Bigelow, Irving R. Schyster, Razor Ramon, Jeff Jarrett, The 1-2-3 Kid, Mabel, Hitman Hart's kid brother and Tatanka meet for the King of the Ring crown at the Baltimore Arena Saturday at 8 p.m. on pay-per-view. Clearly, it doesn't get any better than this.

* A gent it might be interesting to keep tabs of as the U.S. Open begins Thursday at Oakmont (outside Pittsburgh) is Jay Don Blake. He just made the field as an alternate (out of the qualifier in Rockville nine days ago), replacing Steve Elkington (sinus operation) and sometimes late starters have been known to do wondrous things (recall John Daly).

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