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Earth to Bush

The President is needed at the environmental summit

On June 3, 20,000 people from 180 countries will arrive in Rio de Janeiro for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), an event that the National Audubon Society describes as "the most important meeting in the history of mankind." This Earth Summit was conceived to develop a worldwide consensus on how best to address the key environmental issues of our time: global warming, toxic-waste disposal, forest conservation and air and water pollution. And it is expected to attract the largest gathering of world leaders in history. The President of the United States, however, may not be there.

Why is George Bush reluctant to attend? He is wary of a proposed treaty to be signed in Rio, which will likely require all countries to hold carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels after the year 2000. (The U.S. produces 22% of the world's CO[2], one of the gases responsible for global warming.) Bush is also loath to antagonize the U.S. business community during an election year. White I louse press secretary Marlin Fitzwater notes that if the President skips the UNCED, "it would look like we are standing up for what we believe is important, which is [U.S.] economic growth, jobs and the future of the world."

But environmental and economic concerns are not mutually exclusive. The world's demand for cleaner air, land and water has created new opportunities for industry. Japan, for example, has already initiated a 100-year plan to develop the so-called "green technologies."

As for the political ramifications, Bush would do well to remember that he once claimed he would be the "environmental president." To the contrary, he has shown himself to be largely indifferent to the environment by moderating his promise to protect the nation's wetlands and by stubbornly refusing to acknowledge the dangers of global warming and ozone depletion. By going to Rio de Janeiro, Bush would demonstrate that he and the world's most influential nation are truly concerned with the future of the planet.

Spare Change

A noted baseball scholar exposes an untruth

The advent of free agency in baseball has meant more player movement between teams, right?

Wrong. Numbers simply do not support the commonly held belief that players change teams more often nowadays than they did before 1977, the year in which a free-agent system took effect in major league baseball.

One way to track player movement is to compare spring training rosters in consecutive seasons and count how many of the players were with a different major league club the preceding year. From 1951 through '77, while the old reserve system was in effect, an average of 4.7 players per club per year changed teams, mostly through trades. From '78 through '92, with limited free agency in effect, the average number of switches was 4.6. This season the average was 4.2, the lowest in five years and the seventh-lowest since 1951.

So whatever else free agency does, it does not increase the movement of players. That's one reasonable-sounding theory thrown out at the plate.

The corollary to that misconception is that the big stars no longer stay with the teams they came up with, which leads fans to complain that there's no player loyalty anymore. That, too, is easily disproved. Consider the 127 players who were named to the Hall of Fame before 1980 and were thus unaffected by free agency. Of those, 89 players, or 70%, played for at least two teams. And 14 of them played for at least five. Such immortals as Grover Cleveland Alexander, Rogers Hornsby, Napoleon Lajoie, Babe Ruth, Tris Speaker and Cy Young were all sent to new teams in the middle of their careers. Hall of Fame shortstop Walter (Rabbit) Maranville came up with the Boston Braves in 1912. He was then traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, Brooklyn Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals before being dealt one last time back to the Braves.

A sampling of Hall of Fame players from the era when free agency was available would be too small for a proper comparison, but consider these recent and potential Hall of Famers: Johnny Bench. Wade Boggs, George Brett, Tony Gwynn, Jim Palmer, Kirby Puckett, Cal Ripken, Mike Schmidt, Willie Stargell, Carl Yastrzemski and Robin Yount. All were or have been players who played with only one team during their major league careers.

Despite what people seem to believe, it's clear that the players of today are showing at least as much—if not more—loyalty to their teams as the teams of yesterday showed to their players.

Tale of the Tape

Hypnotized Mare McDowell wins bowling's big prize

It was an offer Marc McDowell could have refused. But because he didn't, on Saturday in Fairlawn, Ohio, McDowell won the Firestone Tournament of Champions, bowling's most prestigious tournament.

In January, McDowell was approached by bowling fan Jack Blumenthal, a hypnotherapist in their hometown of Madison, Wis. Blumenthal offered the 29-year-old McDowell a hypnotic-suggestion tape if McDowell would give howling lessons to Blumenthal's children. McDowell agreed. "I was kind of skeptical at first, but I found that the tape helped me relax," McDowell said before Saturday's final round. "I started using it, and I won the first tournament of the year."

McDowell was the Professional Bowling Association's Rookie of the Year in 1986, and he won two titles in '89. But last year, despite reaching the final round in six tournaments, he failed to win a title. Feeling he had nothing to lose, he tried the relaxation tape and promptly won the AC-Delco Classic in Torrance, Calif. "On the tape," said McDowell, "Jack counts down—8, 7, 6.... Then he snaps his fingers. Then he tells me that I'm the Bowler of the Year, and that I'm courageous and brave.

Then he tells me I'm at the White House with all these other great athletes like Wayne Gretzky and Reggie Jackson. And I belong there with them."

On Saturday, McDowell struck out enough times to make Reggie proud. In the semifinal he faced Danny Wiseman, a bowler on a roll. Before the tournament Wiseman had dedicated his performance to his terminally ill father, and after six frames Wiseman had a 147-139 lead. But then McDowell rolled four straight strikes for a 248-235 victory. Later in the final against Don Genalo, McDowell opened with five more strikes to take that match.

"A couple of months ago Jack made me a tape that says, 'You're going to win the Firestone this year,' " said McDowell. "Funny thing is, I didn't listen to that one this week. I just stuck with the first tape." Whatever the tape, McDowell is bowling as if he were in a trance.

Doc Sock

Hackie Reitman wears two gloves: surgical and boxing

Hackie is a rotten nickname for a surgeon. But Dr. Harold Reitman, a specialist in arthroscopy and sports medicine in Plantation, Fla., is stuck with it, right there on his boxing trunks. Reitman didn't get the sobriquet by stitching up has-been boxers; he got it by decking them.

Twenty-one years ago Reitman won the New England Golden Gloves heavyweight title before giving up boxing to become an orthopedic surgeon. Since reentering the ring in 1989, Reitman, 42, has put together an 8-3-3 record. "My goal is to win the heavyweight championship of the world," he says.

Reitman donates his purses to children's charities. Even so, he is often asked how a doctor can bring himself to inflict pain. He replies that boxing is no worse than any other contact sport, but he admits that he recommends it only for himself. Reitman's manager, Tommy Torino, is more succinct. "Hackie isn't worried about the hypocritical oath," he says.

Legendary trainer Angelo Dundee, who is Reitman's friend, feels that Hackie "should go back to being a surgeon before he gets hurt." But Torino disagrees. "Hackie can fight. I wouldn't jeopardize my career so that some middle-aged doctor can take a trip to Fantasy Island," says Torino (who also manages boxer/actor Mickey Rourke).

On Saturday night Reitman was knocked down for the first time in his career, during a bout against Big Joe Humm at the Miami Beach Convention Center. But Reitman is undaunted. "The night was like a fairy tale, except that I lost," he says. "It was a real war. It was like a Rocky movie, the way blood was gushing everywhere."

At least there was a doctor in the house.



Teams tossed Maranville (inset) around, but Ripken has stayed with the Orioles.



[See caption above.]








A relaxed McDowell won the Tournament of Champions.



"Physician, heal thyself" took on new meaning for Reitman last Saturday.



Judgment Calls

[Thumb Up]To Darryl Stingley, New England Patriots player personnel director, for earning his degree in physical education from Purdue. Stingley, a former Patriots wide receiver who has been paralyzed since being injured in a 1978 exhibition game, left Purdue in 1973 without graduating.

[Thumb Up]To commissioner Fay Vincent, for vetoing a plan to commercialize Major League Baseball's new fall league by naming it the Safeway Arizona Fall League (SCORECARD, April 20).

[Thumb Down]To Schenectady, N.Y., which is planning to erect a statue to Los Angeles Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda, who pitched one season for the Schenectady Blue Jays (9-12, 4.64 ERA in 1948), while it will confer no such honor on Pat Riley, the New York Knick coach, who grew up in Schenectady and starred in high school basketball and football there.

NORMAN CHAD: Feeling a Draft

Berman. Kiper. Edelstein. Weren't those three of the 10 plagues the Lord visited upon the ancient Egyptians? Yeah, I watched all 5½ hours of ESPN's NFL draft coverage, also known as the Last Roundup, on Sunday, and, yeah, I took notes. Read 'em and weep:

10:53 a.m., EDT. I brace for ESPN's Chris Berman, Mel Kiper Jr. and Fred Edelstein by sticking my head in the microwave on high for six minutes.

11:08 a.m. The first appearance of Kiper. For the ninth consecutive year, ESPN declines to run English subtitles.

11:19 a.m. Steve Emtman, the first player picked, tells Berman, "It's just great to be a Colt." It is not immediately clear if Emtman is conscious at the time of his statement.

12:52 p.m. Kiper—who disseminates multiple lists of first-round predictions like folks submit 12 entries in their NCAA basketball tournament office pool—says the New England Patriots will take a defensive back. They take an offensive tackle. Kiper is upset.

12:56 p.m. Edelstein makes a belated entrance, discussing a possible San Francisco 49er—Los Angeles Raider trade that may or may not happen, depending on whom you talk to, and he's not really sure, but look for it if indeed it happens, and if it doesn't, well, that's what he was told might come down. (Edelstein always punctuates his misguided reports with the expression "I am told," as in "The earth is flat, I am told.")

1:13 p.m. Those well-dressed, well-behaved, well-spoken, well-groomed, well-disposed, well-bred New York Jet fans boo the team's selection of Johnny Mitchell.

1:26 p.m. Kiper is wrong about something or other.

1:27 p.m. Madonna calls to compare our respective Time Warner deals. Not only are her financial terms a bit better than mine, but she also negotiated a contractual clause barring the company from making her watch the NFL draft.

1:32 p.m. Here is the actual transcript of Jim Steeg, the NFL's executive director for special events, announcing an Atlanta Falcon-Dallas Cowboy deal: "The trade involving this selection choice, Atlanta trades this choice, which they obtained from Philadelphia, and the fifth-round choice they obtained from New England, which is the 120th choice in the draft, for the two selection choices Dallas had previously obtained from Atlanta, the 19th choice in the first round and the fourth-round choice from Atlanta, which is the 104th choice. So Atlanta trades Philadelphia's No. 1 and New England's fifth for Atlanta's own No. 1 and Atlanta's own No. 4."

1:33 p.m. Honest.

1:38 p.m. I hate to admit this, but I've come to like Joe Theismann on ESPN. I really have. I'm sure I'll bring this up at therapy next week.

1:40:15 p.m. Edelstein says the 49ers will select a running back.

1:40:30 p.m. The 49ers select a defensive back.

2:01 p.m. The delivery guy's at the door. I berate him—after all, I ordered the pizza during the Final Four. He blames traffic and takes three dollars off my bill.

2:23 p.m. Kiper tends to speak in long, winding nonthoughts. Here are highlights of his assessment of New Orleans Saints pick Vaughn Dunbar: "Here's a guy blah blah blah blah blah 4.49 speed blah blah blah blah blah 5'10½", 208 pounds blah blah blah blah blah, just as I expected."

3:03 p.m. I run only a 9.24 40, but I type 38.6 words per minute with two fingers.

3:18 p.m. Kiper is wrong about something or other again.

4:07 p.m. NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue is interviewed by an overmatched Berman. Final score: Tags 73, Boomer 0.

4:28 p.m. I threaten to jump off the roof of my building. A social worker talks me down by assuring me there is no Mel Kiper III.

Name Games

It was predestined that at the recent Easter Bowl Junior Tennis Championships in Miami, Michelle O (below left), a 16-year-old from Winter Garden, Fla., would lose to Meilen Tu, 14, of Northridge, Calif., by the score of 6-0, 6-2.


Gene Gieselmann, St. Louis Cardinals trainer, after arthroscopic surgery was performed on righthander Bryn Smith's elbow: "It was hind of like his 100,000-pitch checkup."

Tom Webster, Los Angeles Kings coach, on defenseman Rob Blake, who scored a spectacular goal in a playoff victory over the Edmonton Oilers: "He looked like Bobby Orr out there. Some nights, however, he looks like iron ore."

Replay: 10 Years Ago in Sports Illustrated

Before Deion, before Bo, there was Skeets. Renaldo (Sheets) Nehemiah, then the world-record holder in the 110-meter hurdles, made the April 26, 1982, cover after he signed as a wide receiver with the San Francisco 49ers. Earlier, during a tryout with the New England Patriots, Nehemiah was approached by 6'7", 260-pound offensive tackle Shelby Jordan. "Hey, Nehemiah," said Jordan, "I'm a defensive back." Skeets replied, "If you're a defensive back, I'll stay a hurdler."