Put the old pedal to Olympic medals


News . . . but Mostly Views:

Two more "sports," surfing and ballroom dancing, are looking ultimately to make it into the Olympic Games as medal events, being granted provisional recognition, and I say loudly and clearly: GOOD. The more the merrier.

The Games, be they the Summer or Winter variety, simply aren't crowded enough at this point with just 34 medal sports on the menu. And besides, anyone who has been subjected to synchronized swimming or gymnastics, knows it's time for a little "Saturday Night Fever" and "Endless Summer."

The list of provisional sports is lengthy, these latest two joining roller skating, squash, water skiing, trampolining, mountaineering et al. Beach volleyball and mountain biking are demonstration sports next year at the Atlanta Games. Cricket, polo, golf, roque, lacrosse and Jen de Paume were once on the program. No, that last name is not a French maid.

* Judging from all the stories that were written, and the pictures, and the TV and the sound bites, one gets the impression that it was VE (Victory in Europe) Day, not the resumption of baseball in a few weeks.

It was smiles and glad-handing all around as representatives from both sides, following their actions of heroic proportion, expressed relief that the acrimony and mendacity are past and baseball is one big happy family again.

What a crock! They're right back where they started months before the walkout last August, going back to the opening of negotiations on a new player agreement in late 1993. Recall the progress made over those 17 months, measured with a micrometer.

Peter Angelos, owner of the Orioles, was described as refusing to gloat over his "victory" of refusing to utilize replacement players. But if "The Generalissimo" was the ultimate stand-up guy, he would refuse to conduct business until a Basic Agreement was agreed to and the threat of a strike or a lockout was eliminated.

* Some spring it would be absolutely great if all the players who are tended invitations to the Masters suddenly showed up at the front gate of Augusta National, clubs and spikes in hand, fully intending to compete. They would have to send off foursomes starting at 4 a.m. from the first and 10th tees to fit 'em all in.

All past winners are invited, including Gene Sarazen, who struck that famed double-eagle to win in 1935, Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson. Then there are the top 30 money-winners, the top 24 (and ties) from the year before, the first 16 in the U.S. Open and PGA, tour victors, 23 international stars and a few amateurs.

Of course, some invitees qualify in three or four categories, but what if the absolute maximum number of players qualified? No doubt the first two guys kicked out would be Guy Yamamoto and Tim Jackson, Public Links and U.S. Mid-Amateur champs, respectively.

You know your stuff if you were aware Jack Nicklaus, Hogan, Gary Player and Sarazen are the only players to have won golf's four "majors." Lee Trevino is missing only the Masters, but he wasn't invited.

* Oksana Baiul can say the reason she didn't apply for reinstatement as an "amateur" skater, which would allow her to compete in the next Winter Olympics (1998), is because she loves the pro figure skating life all she wants. But here's a sneaking suspicion she recalls how returnees Katarina Witt, Brian Boitano, etc. fared two years ago in Lillehammer, and the grotesquely unfair scores pro dancers Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean were subjected to in Albertville ('92).

* There's no moss growing on the folks over at the NHL, the league already coming out with its logo for the All-Star Game in Boston next year. "Mike the Minuteman" is shown about ready to unload a slap shot, NHL director of creative services David Haney explaining, "We wanted to celebrate Boston's role in American history, as well as its hockey tradition." What, the smell of the soon-to-close Boston Garden?

It's a good thing the logo shows Mike with a hockey stick in hand, because some protest group has been picketing the well-known minuteman with musket statues, logos and pictures for a year as espousing violence.

* It's official, every sports event with delusions of grandeur now has to carry the "Road to the . . . " tag or it runs the risk of being classified as something less than big time. "Road to the Derby" is the latest to join the parade, no less than 55 races throughout the first four months of the year being classified as stops on the way to the "First Saturday in May (6)."

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