The final offer? Enough, already


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After observing what has been going on in baseball and hockey the last several months, taking a spot behind "The check is in the mail" among the three biggest lies ever uttered is, "That's our final offer, take it or leave it!"

* Nine underdogs have won the previous 28 Super Bowls with the biggest, of course, being the 18-point 'dog Jets against the Colts in III. The Vikings were a 12-point favorite over the Chiefs the very next year (1970) when, in the famous words of Kansas City coach Hank Stram, "This [23-7] is like taking candy from a baby." One of the "proposition" bets for the 49ers-Chargers game getting under way at 6:18 p.m. is you can get 100-to-1 odds that there won't be a touchdown scored.

* Joe Namath is correct when he says the "guaranteed victory" business he is credited for (or reviving) 25 years ago has gotten out of hand. Which is San Diego quarterback Stan Humphries' opening to decree a humiliating defeat for his 19-point underdog San Diego team. "We'll be lucky if we get a first down," might be a good opening remark by Stan.

* You get a pretty good idea how big illegal betting is in the country with the estimates that of the $2.75 billion that will be wagered on the Super Bowl, only $54 million (about 2 percent) will be bet legally in Nevada. So legalize office and bar pools, politicians, and take your cut.

* Heck, they're taking all the fun out of hockey. No longer can a player roar up from behind and lay his stick across the back of a player or shove him headlong into the boards. Formerly judged a two-minute minor, the penalty is now a major plus a game misconduct (the heave-ho).

* The lowest-keyed marathon extant, the chummy and well-run 34th Washington's Birthday Marathon, will be staged in Greenbelt Feb. 19. Registration forms are available at (703) 241-0395.

* A recent lengthy story about how the continuing baseball strife has wreaked havoc on the financial well-being of baseball card and autograph-selling entrepreneurs had me close to tears throughout.

* You really know your stuff, Rufus, if you named Ishpeming, Mich., as the site of the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame and Museum.

* Two Maryland youngsters are on Parade magazine's 57-player All-America team to be made known later this week, and if you guessed a certain football-flinger from McDonogh School is one of them, there's a better than even chance you're right.

* How come professional basketball and hockey teams don't offer food that is actually good (a.k.a. nutritious) for people who are in attendance when they do things like score 110 points or score six goals? For example, if the Washington Bullets score 100 points, everyone present gets a choice of a spoonful of castor oil or cod liver oil.

* The Colorado Rockies, moving to a new, cozy 35,000-seat Coors Field, raised their ticket prices about 40 percent but still report a 99 percent renewal rate on season tickets.

* They will be hauling 240 tons of sand into the Patriot Center (George Mason University) Feb. 4 when the bathing suit and sunglasses set, the pro beach volleyball players, hook up in a one-day, round-robin pairs tournament. Karch Kiraly and partner Kent Steffes are top-seeded in the charge for $250,000 in prize money.

* Memo to Tom Clancy: Harrison Ford's getting a tad long in the tooth to romp around in knickers and collarless shirt as Jack Ryan, so better finish up that techno-thriller on the Grand Old Game soonest. On second thought, maybe you could make him the manager; he resembles Earl Weaver slightly.

* The Big East basketball conference has had eight Rookies of the Week to date and half of them have been named Allen Iverson. Yet not once has the Georgetown freshman been named Player of the Week.

* I don't know if I believe the Sullivan Award people when they describe me as "an esteemed member of the voting panel," then spell both my names wrong. Oh well, I picked the winner, speed skater Dan Jansen.

* Touchdowns were up 12.5 percent in the NFL this season . . . and that's before the 49ers-Chargers game Sunday. At the end of the regular season, a computer said Frisco was the No. 1 team by a healthy margin while San Diego was No. 10.

* A kid walked up to hard-serving Karel Novacek in Sydney, Australia, and challenged him to a serving duel. After the tour player cracked one in at 104 mph, the challenger belted one in at 105. Novacek signed a T-shirt for the kid and sent him on his way.

* Even with five players making in excess of $2 million, led by Kevin Duckworth's $2.61 million, the Bullets have the third-lowest payroll in the NBA. The Lakers, the leaders, pay out 2 1/2 times as much.

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