Big Day, But No Pelè
Americans can't be expected to understand why Sunday's celebrity-supersaturated World Cup draw in Las Vegas attracted 500 million TV viewers worldwide. But from abject ignorance good questions sometimes spring, and one such query is this: How come Pelè, the Babe Ruth of world football and the lone deity the soccer-impaired U.S. has always held sacred, wasn't involved in kicking off an event whose avowed purpose is to flog the game to heathen Yanks?
The answer is at once simple and saddening. It turns out that a TV station with which Pelè is affiliated recently lost a bid for a contract with the Brazilian Soccer Confederation (CBF). The CBF's president is Ricardo Teixeira, who happens to be the son-in-law of Jo‚Äö√†√∂¬¨¬£o Havelange, the cadaverous president of FIFA, the sport's international governing body. Pelè alleged that Teixeira had asked for a kickback; Teixeira responded with a defamation suit, which is still unresolved. "In 35 years I have only wanted to help Brazil," Pelè said on Sunday morning. "Always I am going to light against the corruption." Asked why Pelè wasn't one of the soccer stars, past and present, involved in the draw, FIFA spokesman Guido Tognoni said his organization "will respect the wishes of its president."
It's a shame: As soccer launched its showcase event, it hardly needed Faye Dunaway picking balls out of a bowl and Barry Manilow crooning (or lip-synching) more than it needed its alltime greatest practitioner.
Jan. 1, 1994
Staff writer Austin Murphy gazes into his college football crystal ball and sees these New Year's Day bowl results.
Hall of Fame: Kickoff is at 11 a.m., so curfew will be an issue. Michigan tailback Tyrone Wheatley is healthy, and North Carolina State (7-4) has beaten only one ranked team. Wolverines, 35-21—if everyone makes bed check.
Citrus: The SEC's best team spends New Year's Day in Orlando. Penn State can't contain Tennessee's Heath Shuler & Co., who averaged 40-plus points per game this season. Vols, 34-17.
Fiesta: A battle of terrific defenses and forgettable offenses. Last year Miami beat Arizona 8-7 during the regular season. This rematch will make that game look like a shootout. 'Canes, 7-3.
Carquest: After a month of head-knocking under martinet coach Tom Coughlin—punishment for handing a win to West Virginia on Nov. 26—Boston College can't wait to clobber overmatched Virginia. BC, 42-21.
Rose: Wisconsin quarterback Darrell Bevell, meet UCLA outside linebacker Jamir Miller. Bruins, 24-20.
Sugar: Bourbon Street has never seen so many pairs of overalls, just as the West Virginia Mountaineers haven't seen an attack like the one Florida will throw at them. Florida, 38-24.
Orange: Maybe eight starting Nebraska Cornhuskers could make Florida State's two-deep. Vegas likes the Seminoles by 18, one of the fattest spreads in bowl history. We like them even more. Florida State, 41-14.
Cotton: No Southwest Conference team has scored a touchdown in this bowl, much less won it, for three years. After Texas A&M loses to Notre Dame by, say, 28-17 and Florida State thrashes Nebraska, expect Golden Domers to lake up this cry: Our record is identical to the Seminoles'; we beat the Seminoles; ergo, we're the champs.
It will be tough to argue with them.
Are you still without a gift for that special person on your Christmas list? We mean that really special person. The one you hate. Well, think about getting him or her one of the following sports videos. Keep in mind we aren't making up the titles or the promotional material in quotes.
1) Learn the Art of Whip Cracking Made Easy ($24.95). "Presented by top international movie and television whip coach Alex Green." Surprisingly, the video is selling equally well in Wyoming and certain parts of New York City's East Village.
2) Michael Bolton's Winning Softball—Hit Harder, Play Smarter ($19.95). Hey, it could have been worse. Bolton (below) could have made a tape about hair care.
3) How To Watch Pro Football ($29.95). "Produced by the NFL, a step-by-step guide designed to enhance every fan's enjoyment of the game." And all this time we thought you just opened a beer and a package of chips, kicked the cat off the couch and flopped down.
4) Uncle Homer's Tips on Tackle ($19.95). "Find out what's what, how to use it and how to set up your tackle box like a pro!" And how much would the video that tells you how to catch a fish cost?
5) Introduction to Duck Calling ($19.95). "The secret to better duck calling is an understanding of the call from the duck's point of reference. What does the call say to the duck? And what does the duck want to hear?" This is the Stanislavsky method of duck hunting. Brando's great at it.
6) Cal Pozo's Bunnetics ($19.95). "Exercise your way to a perfect posterior." Let's face it: America thinks buns, America thinks Cal Pozo.
7) How to Butcher Wild Game ($29.95). "Game butcher Joe Blair guides you through a detailed butchering of an elk. Learn techniques that apply to anything on four legs, from skinning the animal to tying a roast. Recipes and barbecue hints included." For those who still feel like eating, that is.
8) Gunplay Made Easy ($24.95). If there's one thing this country needs, it's more easy gunplay.
9) Angela Lansbury's Positive Moves ($29.95). "Free exercise poster." Where you hang it is up to you.
10) Dixie Carter's Un-Workout ($19.95). "Designing Women's star is your guide for this aerobic routine she uses to keep herself trim, healthy, and glowing with energy—without any running, jogging, or jumping!" The guy who gets the football-watching video should check this out.
For almost three years—ever since he battered Sugar Ray Leonard into retirement in 1991—Terry Norris, the WBC super welterweight champion, had been telling anyone who would listen that, pound-for-pound, he was the best fighter in the world. After a series of impressive victories, a lot of people believed him. Promoter Dan Duva watched Norris flatten Meldrick Taylor last year and proclaimed, "Terry Norris is going to be the superstar of the '90s."
Make that the early '90s, Dan. Last Saturday night in Puebla, Mexico, Norris defended his title against 30-year-old Simon Brown in what was supposed to be a keep-busy appearance on the way to bigger and better things—the first, a proposed megabucks showdown against another pound-for-pound claimant, Pernell Whitaker, sometime next year. Brown, a former welterweight champion, had a different agenda. He knocked Norris down in the first round, and out with a booming right hand at 1:06 of the fourth.
Norris had been knocked out once before, in 1989 by Julian Jackson, and had been knocked down by the lightly regarded Troy Waters last June, but judicious matchmaking had kept his fragile chin protected while he overwhelmed a succession of outgunned opponents. In Brown, however, he found a fighter with the power to back him up, and, once hurt, Norris never recovered.
The night's other loser was Whitaker, whose date with Norris was effectively canceled. Perhaps he can make one with Brown, who is now likely to take over some of Norris's appointments, if not his pound-for-pound proclamations. "I'm not going to get ignorant even though I won this fight," Brown said. "I'm still going to stay the same humble Simon."
Humble Simon, meet the newly humbled Terry.
Dave Raymond, the man who played the Phillie Phanatic, the best and most original of all team mascots, is hanging up his green suit and long red tongue to enter a sports-marketing venture. SI asked Raymond (below) to list the National League players with whom he had the most fun—and also one sourpuss—from his 16 seasons on the job.
1) Manny Sanguillen, Pittsburgh Pirates: "He was the first visiting player to accept me. He raced my three-wheeler all the time, and the crowd loved it."
2) Willie Stargell and Dave Parker, Pirates: "Dave loved to play the bad guy, but when he got back to the bench, he'd always look at me as if to ask, How'd I do? And Stargell was always the one to pick me up and dust me off after Dave knocked me down. They were a great team."
3) Lonnie Smith, St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves: "Lonnie had a tendency to fall down—his nickname was Skates—and I'd walk around behind him, falling down every five feet. One night he just wasn't in the mood, and he knocked me over with a cross-body block. But he was real good about it most of the time."
4) Pete Rose, Phillies: "A lot of Phillie players from the late '70s had more fun with me than the guys who followed. Pete would just go along with almost any joke."
5) Vince Coleman, Cardinals, New York Mets: "We were both college punters [Raymond at Delaware, Coleman at Florida A&M], and that was kind of a bond for us. Being a good guy doesn't exactly go with Coleman's image now, but he was always great with me."
And the grouch?
"Eddie Murray [when he was with the Dodgers and the Mets]. Judging by how he reacted to me, he can't be a happy person."
DAVID BAUMAN/RIVERSIDE PRESS-ENTERPRISE
When 123 of the 128 runners in last month's NCAA Division II cross-country championships, held in Riverside, Calif., missed a turn on the 10,000-meter route, thereby cutting a kilometer (.62 of a mile) off the race, Mike Delcavo (above) of Western State College in Gunnison, Colo., stayed the course.
"I was waving for them to follow me and yelling, 'This is the right way,' " says Delcavo, a redshirt sophomore, who was running in the middle of the pack at the time. But only four runners went with him. For about a mile Delcavo thought that he might win the race, but then the pack appeared well ahead of him. Officials declared the abbreviated route the "official course," and Delcavo wound up in 123rd place, more than six minutes behind the winner. He did not protest because he "didn't want to ruin the event."
What did his competitors think of the result? "They thought it was funny that I went the right way," Delcavo says. We think it's admirable and hereby dub him Right Way Delcavo.
Shut Up and Adjust Your Smile Holders
A religious group in Norway has asked that the Olympic hymn, which is traditionally performed at the Opening Ceremonies, be banned from the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer because it is "a prayer to the Greek god Zeus."
This Week's Sign That the Apocalypse Is Upon Us
In an effort to help notoriously dour Norwegians appear more cheerful during the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, local officials planned to distribute 80,000 "smile holders"—strap-on devices equipped with plastic hooks that tug the wearers' mouths into grins.
They Said It
•Joe Kocur, New York Ranger right wing, on last Friday's fight with his former roommate and still close friend, Detroit Red Wing Bob Probert: "Before, we only fought over who should clean the house."