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Original Issue

Clearing the Docket

After a week steeped in legalese, the sports world needed the iron hand of a hangin' judge

This court is now in session. Bailiff, please remove all the attorneys from the room. And the jury. And the stenographer and the clerks and the legal consultants. And get Doug Llewelyn out of here too. That guy seriously bugs me. Now that we've streamlined the process, we can take care of the ridiculous number of grievances, disputes and suits that piled up in sports last week. Any back talk and I'll give Bobby Fischer your home number. First case, let's go.

NCAA v. Demetrius DuBose. Let me get this straight. Mr. DuBose, a linebacker, is the biggest star on the Notre Dame football team, the team that made more than $7 million last year on its TV contract alone. But because Mr. DuBose is a student-athlete, he is paid nothing and is not allowed to take a job during the school year. So Mr. DuBose, whose family is not exactly the DuPonts, accepted a $600 loan and $700 worth of clothing, cash and phone calls over three or four years from some close Seattle friends of the family. For this the NCAA's director of eligibility, Janet Justus, suspended Mr. DuBose for two games and is making him pay back the $1,300. I overturn the verdict, Mr. DuBose, and you're free to go. Ms. Justus, I sentence you to a semester at Notre Dame with no money. Call us if you need help. But not collect. Next.

Kevin Taylor v. Sidney Moncrief. Mr. Moncrief, it says here that Mr. Taylor, an auto wholesaler, claims he went to your auto dealership to collect payment for two cars you bought from him. In response you hit him with a golf putter and broke his arm. Mr. Moncrief, I think I know what your problem is. You're losing your grip. Pay the man. Next.

SportsChannel America v. the NHL. Are you people from SportsChannel serious? You're suing because the NHL dumped you for ESPN? How many people get SportsChannel? Eleven? For a measly few million dollars extra, the NHL stupidly picked you guys instead of ESPN four years ago, and it nearly killed the league. Do you realize hockey fans missed four years of Mario Lemieux because of you guys? Get your Hofstra-showin', hockey-hidin', frivolous-suin' network out of my courtroom. Next.

Fay Vincent v. Major League Baseball. Mr. Vincent, I have one question for you: What took you so long to pull the Perot? Have you ever gotten a baby-sitter and told her you would be home about 11 p.m.? But then the movie you went to see stunk, and you got back at nine instead? The baby-sitter is supposed to go home then, right? You're the employer. She's the employee. She goes home. She does not demand to sit in your living room until 11 because that was the original agreement. Now, you owners: You don't want a commissioner. You want somebody to sit behind the bunting at the World Series. You want somebody who will lie down, let you wipe your feet on his chest and say thank you. Good thing. John Ziegler is out of work. Next case.

Hakeem Olajuwon v. the Houston Rockets. Am I reading this right? For his whole career, this team has thrown Mr. Olajuwon deadbeats and doorknobs for teammates. Guys like Ralph Sampson, Joe Barry Carroll and Sleepy Floyd. He has been an All-Star six times, and he has usually played with four guys who looked as if they were on their lunch break at the Y. So one time he tells management his hamstring hurts and he can't play, and you don't believe him? This man is honorable. He wants an apology. Apologize. Or next season you get the Astros' schedule-maker. Next.

City of San Francisco v. Bob Lurie. Mr. Lurie, what exactly do these people want from you? You tried three different bond proposals on the voters, trying to get another stadium built in the Bay Area, and lost on all three. Before you tried a fourth time, you warned them that you were leaving if it didn't pass. It didn't pass. Now you're leaving. Somebody get these people some smart pills. Next.

Vince Coleman v. the New York Mets. Mr. Coleman, you asked the Players Association to file a grievance after you were suspended for two games for arguing and pushing your manager, Jeff Torborg, right? And that happened after you'd been ejected from the game by an umpire and Torborg was out there trying to keep you from getting suspended for a month, right? You've been ejected three times this season, right? Either chill or I send the tarp-rollers after you again. Next.

Freeman McNeil v. the NFL. O.K., anybody with a brain larger than a lint ball knows the NFL players deserve free agency. But you don't want guys to hop around so much that you need The Wall Street Journal to follow the players. And you don't want salaries to get so obscene that the league sinks like a concrete bobber. In other words you don't want baseball. So I hereby find for McNeil, but the first guy who says, "All my life I wanted to be a Packer" and then jumps to the Dolphins the next season is going to get sentenced to watch 100 hours of the lost episodes of Hello, Larry. Next.

State of Arizona v. Arizona State University. Bailiff, bring in the arrest records on Arizona State athletes. Well, can't we rent a wheelbarrow? O.K., just bring in the recent arrest records. Well, when will your back get better? Forget it. Just give me the figures. Thirteen criminal charges in the last 14 months? Burglary, credit-card fraud, sexual assault, aggravated assault? That's it, then. I'm throwing the book at them. I hereby give all Arizona State athletes, coaches and administrators the ultimate sentence: Six weeks of caddying for Moncrief. Court adjourned.