LIVE FROM MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
It's a phenomenon of our times that many major sports events have become TV productions, first and foremost. To accommodate TV, the World Series is played at night and in lousy weather, last season's Army-Navy game was switched on short notice to a new date (the travel plans of ticket holders be damned), club owners move heaven and earth to put their teams in rich television markets and spectators in all sports are condemned to sit through interminable commercial time-outs. In consequence of all this, many stadiums and arenas have become little more than glorified TV studios.
Now let's consider one such "studio," Madison Square Garden, whose chief tenants, New York's Knicks and Rangers, are situated in the nation's richest TV market, and which packages some 125 events a year for transmission nationally on cable TV, including college basketball games, tennis matches and track meets as well as NBA and NHL games. Gulf & Western Industries Inc., which owns the Garden, claims that because of high taxes and labor costs the Garden loses $8 million a year. Accordingly, Gulf & Western officials want tax relief from New York City and hint that if such relief isn't forthcoming, they just might have to move the Knicks and Rangers, which they also own, to Long Island's Nassau Coliseum and New Jersey's Byrne Arena, respectively. That way, they'd have their cake and eat it, too. Their teams would still be in the lucrative New York TV market yet play in arenas where costs would be lower.
Big Apple politicians naturally don't want to risk losing the Knicks and Rangers. But is the Garden really losing so much money? The answer undoubtedly depends at least in part on how much "rent" the Knicks and Rangers are paying for use of the building. Although city officials supposedly have been given access to the relevant figures, neither they nor Gulf & Western are divulging that information.
This elusiveness on the subject of how Knick and Ranger finances might affect the Garden's profit-and-loss picture is objectionable enough. Things get even worse when the question of TV income is raised. The Garden's gross revenue from cable TV alone is believed to be in the neighborhood of $6 million and could well increase dramatically in the near future. Approached last week by SI, neither New York City nor Gulf & Western would say specifically whether any profits from cable TV had been applied against the claimed loss. On the contrary, City Sports Commissioner Allen Schwartz would say only that he was satisfied that the Garden had "an operating loss at that facility," reinforcing the suspicion that cable revenues were not factored into Gulf & Western's secret figures. It's as though NBC had tried to argue that while it turns a profit of perhaps $20 million a year on The Tonight Show, the city of Burbank should grant it tax relief because the particular studio in which Johnny Carson works loses money. The people who put on sports events should make up their minds. Either those events are TV productions or they aren't. And if they are, TV revenues should at least be considered before the owner of a sports facility is allowed to plead poverty.
ASSUME YOUR POSITION
During practice the other day, Mike O'Rourke, assistant basketball coach at Oral Roberts University, noticed Gerald Johnson, a seldom-used 6'7" forward, horsing around taking shots from mid-court. O'Rourke told Johnson to stop wasting time and shoot only from game-situation spots. Whereupon Johnson walked over to the bench, sat down and lofted a shot from there.
Their shared business cards say it all: MONKEN'S THE NAME, FOOTBALL'S THE GAME. And, indeed, the five sons of Omer and Louise Monken of Belleville, Ill., all of whom are respected high school coaches in their native state, have been up to their necks in football ever since Jim, the oldest brother, started playing the game in the ninth grade. "I grew up on a farm in Mascoutah, Illinois," he says. "My dad spent his life farming, not playing sports. But we moved to Belleville when I was 10, and I remember selling newspapers so I could get enough money to buy shoes for football." One by one, all the other brothers became involved in the game, too. "It seemed like whatever I did, everybody else did," Jim says. "That's what happens in a big family."
So now, without further ado, please meet the Monken boys: Jim, 47, coaches at East St. Louis Assumption in southern Illinois; Glenn, 45, is at Highland, 35 miles away; Bob, 44, coaches up at Lake Park High in Roselle; Mike, 42, is at Joliet East, just south of Chicago; and Bill, 40, is at Charleston High, in the middle of the state. One might think that life gets pretty confusing in Illinois high school football with so many Monkens on the sidelines, but there are ways to sort the boys out. For example, Jim's team is classified 2A, the lowest, Glenn's 3A, Bill's 4A and Mike's and Bob's 5A. The teams play in different conferences, and no brother has ever coached against another.
But, let's see, maybe there's an easier way to keep members of the Monken clan straight: Jim runs a multiple offense; Bob runs a double wing; Bill goes in for a wishbone; Mike a hambone (an inverted wishbone); Glenn uses a split-T.
Or, how about this? Glenn's teams are traditionally made up of small kids; Mike's boys tend to be disciplined; Bill's teams are defensive-minded; Bob's emphasize offense; Jim, who coached the 49ers' Eric Wright and Notre Dame standouts Jerome Heavens and Mansel Carter, has the best overall career record (96-44), although all the brothers except Bill are above .500.
Maybe Glenn can help clarify matters even more: "Mike is the quietest of us, Bill has the heaviest temper and I'm the smartest."
Until a few years ago, the Monkens got together for several days every summer at a motel in Bloomington, Ill. and conducted what amounted to their own mini-clinic. Each would bring an assistant coach and plenty of reels of film and talk football. After a couple of days, says Jim, "we'd go out on the town and raise hell." Although they've discontinued the summer get-togethers, the Monkens still compare notes at family reunions at Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. When the entire clan meets, it numbers close to 40, including wives, children and girl friends. "We talk football all the time," Glenn says. Jim adds, "Sometimes my sister Julie gets really mad at us, especially when things get too heated. She'll say, 'Will you guys please shut up?' " If that doesn't work, Julie can always drag her husband, Art Abegg, into the room to call time-out. He's a high school football referee.
THE BAD NEWS BEARS GO SKATING
When the youth hockey program in Tyngsboro, Mass., a community of 6,000 just across the line from Nashua, N.H., was disbanded last summer for lack of interest, 26 youngsters who did want to continue participating in the program, which had been sponsored by the Amateur Hockey Association of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, found themselves very much out in the cold. The displaced boys, ages 7 to 16, subsequently joined a youth hockey program under the aegis of the Nashua-based Southern New Hampshire Amateur Hockey Association. What made that a logical step was that the southern New Hampshire teams play their home games at the Tyngsboro rink, which would seem to indicate that state lines don't mean much in youth hockey. And why should they? The important thing is to just let the kids play, right?
Wrong. The switch to the New Hampshire program was opposed by the Massachusetts association, whose president, Matthew O'Neil, took the position that the Tyngsboro youngsters should play for Massachusetts teams. But the nearest available association-sponsored Massachusetts program was at a rink in Lowell, 15 miles away from the Tyngsboro rink, and parents of the Tyngsboro boys understandably preferred having their sons play in their hometown facility. The dispute escalated last October when an official of the Massachusetts association showed up at the Tyngsboro rink on the night a Tewksbury, Mass. team of 13- and 14-year-olds was playing a southern New Hampshire team that included a couple of the Tyngsboro kids and persuaded the Tewksbury coach to pull his team off the ice.
That was too much for the Tyngsboro parents, who obtained an injunction in Middlesex (Mass.) Superior Court allowing the boys to play in their hometown rink. But New Hampshire's statewide amateur association, which had pretty much stayed out of the controversy up to that point, then sided with the Massachusetts amateur officials. Maintaining that the Massachusetts injunction wasn't binding in New Hampshire, a position upheld by a Manchester, N.H. judge, the New Hampshire association sacked Steve Schaffer, the southern New Hampshire official who had let the Tyngsboro boys participate in the New Hampshire program. The youngsters were dropped from that program.
Amateur hockey associations doubtless have reason to be concerned about setting a precedent that might encourage team-switching across state lines. But SI's Bob Sullivan, who interviewed all parties to the dispute, observes, "This was clearly a special case. The kids were left in the lurch because of a disbanded program and they merely wanted to play in their own hometown. As so often happens when adults get involved in children's sports, the hockey officials in both states appeared to be less interested in the kids than they were in asserting their own authority."
The upshot is that none of the 26 Tyngsboro youngsters is currently playing in association-sponsored youth hockey in either Massachusetts or New Hampshire. Under the circumstances, Schaffer can hardly be blamed when he says, "This is my first and last attempt at getting involved in youth hockey."
ELEMENTARY, MY DEAR RECRUITER
There are several things about Dora Lee Holmes's son that make you sit up and take notice. For one thing, he's 6'7". For another, he's averaging 22.9 points a game for Memphis' Westwood High basketball team and is one of the top college prospects in the country. For yet another, last spring he did 7 feet in the high jump, a state high school record. And, oh yes, there's the matter of his name. Baskerville Holmes has quite a moniker.
It was only coincidence that the former Dora Lee Willis happened to marry David Holmes Jr. and also happened to have a weakness for the 1939 film The Hound of the Baskervilles, in which Basil Rathbone played Sherlock Holmes. And it was sheer coincidence that, after having two children (prosaically named Tony and Mary), she saw the movie again while pregnant with her third child. "I told everyone, 'If it's a boy, I'm going to name him Baskerville,' " she recalls. "They'd say, 'What?' "
Folks at Memphis State, which has apparently won the recruiting battle for Dora Lee Holmes's son, had better take note, though. Their blue-chip recruit was christened Baskerville, but goes by the nickname of Bat, this in honor of yet another storied crime fighter. "He just loves Batman," explains his mother.
HE'S OUR SHORTSTOP, LORD LOVE HIM
It's part of the ritual of baseball salary arbitration that club management frequently belittles a player's talents at the hearing and then, when it's all over, slaps him on the back and says, "Hey, come to spring training and have a great year." Trouble is, players sometimes take the bad-mouthing personally. Dave Collins of the Reds was so miffed by what the club said about him during his 1981 arbitration battle—he lost, although he wangled a $100,000 raise that was $92,500 less than he wanted—that he hinted he wouldn't re-sign with the Reds in 1982. Indeed, as a free agent, he has moved over to the Yankees.
But it's unlikely that any player has been more slighted by his employer than was the White Sox' Bill Almon, who earned $100,000 as Chicago's regular shortstop last season, when he went before arbitrator Richard Mittenthal in quest of a $340,000 salary for 1982. The White Sox offered $220,000, and Mittenthal chose the Sox' figure after hearing a club attorney, Jack Noble, complain that Almon, who was on hand to take it all in, lacked leadership qualities, tended to choke in the field, was inexperienced, hadn't made the All-Star team and, ludicrously, had batted .158 during a particular 13-game stretch. When it was noted that 13 shortstops earned more than $280,000, Noble said the Sox would prefer any of them to Almon. He also said the Sox had attempted to trade Almon to the Phillies for Larry Bowa during the off-season only to have the Phillies veto the deal because they didn't consider Almon an "everyday shortstop."
The White Sox leave for training camp in Sarasota, Fla. next week. Go get 'em, Bill.
GOODBY COOP, HELLO COOPERSTOWN
It isn't enough that at major league baseball games mascots in birdlike costumes cavort in the stands, atop the dugouts and on the field. Nor that Donruss, one of the three companies that make baseball cards (Topps and Fleer are the others), has seen fit to put the progenitor of the species, the San Diego Chicken, on a card of its own. No, the situation is even worse than you imagined. Card Prices Update of Selden, N.Y. says that while the market value of most of the 2,000-plus cards issued for the 1982 season is a meager 2¢ apiece, a few choice ones are instantly worth more, and several of them might be expected to fetch from collectors the handsome sum of 75¢, including, yes, sir, the one on which The Chicken is shown.
Some of the other top-of-the-market cards are also unconventional, one being a Fleer card entitled "Pete & Repeat" that shows Pete Rose with his 12-year-old son, Petey. But 75¢ for The Chicken? By contrast, a 1982 Topps Tom Seaver card is worth only 50¢.
THEY SAID IT
•Stan Morrison, Southern Cal basketball coach, extolling the playmaking talents of Missouri Guard Jon Sundvold: "He's one of the smartest guys to put on sneakers since Einstein."
•Kevin Cassidy, 15-year-old son of Cal State-Northridge Basketball Coach Pete Cassidy, watching his father protest a referee's call during a game against Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo by kicking the floor, flinging his arms in the air and angrily stalking up and down: "He does the same thing when I show him my report card."