When is a goal not yet a goal? When it's under video review. In
the first 45 games of the NHL playoffs, 38 potential goals were
reviewed on video, and with each replay, talk about camera
angles and rules technicalities further eclipsed discussion of
In 27 of the cases, game officials went to the videotape to
determine if an offensive player was in the crease at the time
the puck entered the goal. Before the 1995-96 season the NHL
adopted a "zero tolerance" stance on offensive players in the
crease, regardless of whether they interfered with the goalie.
Before this year's playoffs, the league told its on-ice
officials to have a "heightened awareness" of their option to
resort to video to make in-the-crease calls.
Protecting the goalie's domain is important, but crease
infractions should be called by the refs on the ice, as
penalties are. Videotape review is not necessarily conclusive;
an offensive player is absolved of intruding into the crease if
he was pushed by a defender, yet video judges are empowered only
to say whether a player was in the crease, not how he got there.
With players so often close enough to the crease to warrant
review, the NHL faces the same burden of nondefinitive replays
and tiresome delays that plagued the NFL when it employed
instant replay from 1986 to '91.
Conversely, using replay to confirm that a puck fully crossed
the goal line is as well-suited an application of video review
as could be found in sports. Pucks ricochet out of the net at
high speeds, and referees often get blocked out. The cameras
positioned over every goal provide excellent, unobstructed views
of the goal line and net. In overtime of Game 3 of the Florida
Panthers-New York Rangers first-round series (page 48), Rangers
forward Esa Tikkanen slapped a shot on goal and raised his arms
in triumph. The puck appeared to have bounced off the crossbar,
however, and play continued for nine seconds before referee Dan
Marouelli stopped the game to call upstairs, where a judge was
reviewing the tape.
For several minutes both teams and the SRO crowd at Madison
Square Garden were riveted to Marouelli until he announced that
Tikkanen had scored. Though it dampened the climax of an
exciting game, the use of replay in that case was wise and
ensured the right call.
Video review is terrific for goal line controversies. But the
NHL should keep cameras, along with aggressive forwards, out of
At an autograph session last week at Manhattan's Official All
Star Cafe to promote his autobiography, Just Give Me the Damn
Ball!, New York Jets wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson insisted
that the book's harsh criticism of several Jets, among them
quarterback Neil O'Donnell, wouldn't cause problems with his
teammates. "We're all professionals," he said. "Everyone on the
team should have a positive attitude about it all."
Maybe so. But at the same spot earlier in the week, according to
a restaurant employee, some two dozen of Johnson's fellow Jets,
who had dropped in for dinner, made a statement of their own.
During their meal, an announcement was made that in a few days
Johnson would be appearing to promote his book.
The Jets booed.
Righthander Rick Reed was a spring training replacement player
in 1995--a scab, in the eyes of striking major league baseball
players. The treatment such players received from teammates when
the strike ended, ranging from aloof to rancorous, drove nearly
all of them out of the game. But not Reed, the early-season ace
of the New York Mets and the most prominent of the three former
replacement players in the majors. On April 22 Reed got his
first major league win in three years, allowing just seven hits
in a complete-game 7-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. "The
man pitched his butt off," said Reds outfielder Deion Sanders,
who went 0 for 4. "He could have thanked me by throwing me a
couple of fastballs."
Reed does want to thank Sanders for what Sanders did on July 21,
1995. Reed was in the Reds organization then and had just been
called up from the minors. The Cincinnati players gathered in
the clubhouse to debate how unkindly to greet him. One suggested
they assign him a locker next to the toilet. Sanders, though,
stood up in dissent. He said that they should lay off, that they
couldn't know what Reed's reasons were for breaking ranks.
When Reed crossed the picket line, he was a 29-year-old
journeyman who had gone 9-15 with three major league teams since
his 1988 debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates. His mother was a
diabetic and needed money for medicine. The car she drove had
one door held on by rope. With his spring training salary, Reed
bought her a Chevy Corsica.
But when he came to Cincy that summer, Reed was shunned by the
other Reds. (Sanders, coincidentally, had been traded to the San
Francisco Giants the day of that players' meeting.) After four
appearances he was sent back to the minors and later released.
The Mets picked up Reed in November 1995, and his 3.16 ERA at
Triple A last season got him to spring training this year.
There, many players avoided him. Reliever John Franco, New
York's player representative, said he would never talk to Reed.
The silence began to lift after Reed won a spot on the roster.
When he began pitching better than anyone else on the Mets, the
players not only started talking to him, but also called him by
his nickname, Reeder. At week's end he was 1-1 with a 1.33 ERA.
"I used to be intimidated," Reed says. "I was afraid even to
cheer for my own teammates. Now I hoot and holler."
Hours after his outing against the Reds, in which he exhibited
pinpoint control and a befuddling changeup, Reed went with
several other Mets to the New York Rangers playoff game at
Madison Square Garden. When he arrived, Franco was standing near
the entrance and grabbed Reed's arm. "You got a ticket, buddy?"
Franco said, joking.
"Scared the hell out of me," Reed says. "I know he was trying to
make me feel like one of the guys. I appreciate that. But I
still don't know what to say to him."
NINETEEN POINTS WELL TAKEN
Maybe he made the promise in 1988, in the midst of his 2-13
rookie year as Princeton lacrosse coach, when Cornell pounded
his hapless Tigers 21-5. Or maybe it was two years later, when
the Johns Hopkins band struck up Ach du Lieber Augustine to
celebrate the Blue Jays' 20th goal in a 20-8 pasting. But
sometime before Princeton re-emerged as a national power,
winning NCAA championships in 1992, '94 and '96 and embarking on
a winning streak that at week's end had reached 23 games, Bill
Tierney made a vow: His team would never embarrass an opponent
by scoring a score.
Indeed, the ledger of the top-ranked Tigers' latest victories
reveals perhaps the most principled spate of point shaving in
lacrosse history: 19-6 over Harvard, 19-8 over Cornell, 19-8
over Rutgers and, last Saturday, 19-5 over Dartmouth. Only twice
in the last six years has Princeton reached the 20s, once when
its lead had dipped below double digits and once during NCAA
tournament play, when Tierney takes a no-goals-barred approach.
"Everything we try to teach in athletics has to do with life,"
the 45-year-old Tierney says. "Not stepping on people who are
not so fortunate is one of those lessons of life."
In the April 19 Cornell-Princeton game, the Big Red pulled its
goalie midway through the fourth quarter with the score 19-4
because it knew Princeton would not try to score despite the
empty net. Against Dartmouth last Saturday, the Tigers maxed out
with 3:27 left in the third quarter, forcing the substitute
attackers to play keepaway for more than 18 minutes. "It was
tough for our kids," says Big Green coach Tim Nelson. "But at
one point I thought Princeton would score 40, so I'd rather they
hold the ball."
Nelson believes that the Tigers' skill at maintaining possession
will help them in their march to a second straight national
title. But fan reaction to Tierney's edict has been mixed, from
appreciative remarks by the parents of opposing team members to
cries of "bor-ing!" from the stands. Tigers players respect
Tierney's stance, even as each scrambles to score as many goals
as he can before the team hits 19. "No matter what people think,
there's a good reason behind it," says junior midfielder Mark
Whaling. "You don't rub it in."
Michael Volpe insinuated himself into the baseball world last
fall, when, to protest the San Francisco Giants' Nov. 13 trade
of third baseman Matt Williams to the Cleveland Indians, he
ended his longtime allegiance to the Giants and declared himself
a "free agent fan." Over the next few months Volpe, 45, received
an obscene amount of attention from major league clubs, which
wooed him with, among other things, free meals, stadium tours
and souvenirs. Now it appears the teams may have been courting
disaster. In March, Volpe ended the bidding war by declaring
himself a Philadelphia Phillies fan. As of Sunday the Phillies
were 7-14 and last in the National League East. The Volpe-free
Giants, who haven't made the playoffs since 1989, led the
National League West with a record of 16-5.
SOMETHING FOR JOEY
Amid the heartfelt adieus and the arena-rattling applause that
fittingly accompanied Mario Lemieux's final games in Pittsburgh
(on April 23) and in the NHL (last Saturday in Philadelphia),
another future Hall of Famer slipped almost unnoticed from
Joey Mullen was no Mario Lemieux, but the Penguins winger was
one of the most productive scorers of his time and the most
accomplished U.S.-born player ever. A veteran of 16 seasons and
four teams, the 5'9" Mullen scored more than 40 goals seven
times, including 42 in 1991-92, when he helped Lemieux bring the
Stanley Cup to Pittsburgh. On March 14 of this year, two weeks
after his 40th birthday, he put in a deflection against the
Colorado Avalanche to become the first American-born player to
score 500 goals.
Raised in New York City's Hell's Kitchen, Mullen learned to play
on asphalt, wearing roller skates and stickhandling rolls of
electric tape before Lemieux was even born. Last week as
reporters followed Mario's every move, Mullen was left to
reflect quietly on his career. "I don't have much of an idea
what I'm going to do after hockey," he said. "It's been a great
COLOR ILLUSTRATION: ILLUSTRATION BY VICTOR JUHASZ [Drawing of hockey players and referees checking replay on television monitors]
B/W PHOTO: A.Y. OWEN/LIFE [Children doing jumping jacks]
COLOR PHOTO: CHUCK SOLOMON Teammates are warming to Reed, a strikebreaker who's breaking through at last. [Rick Reed in game]
COLOR PHOTO: BILL FRAKES MAD HATTERS Want a sure thing for Saturday's Kentucky Derby? You can bet there will be an array of wacky headgear. Some past favorites: [Woman wearing homemade hat with horse draped in wreath of roses]
COLOR PHOTO: BEN VAN HOOK [See caption above--woman wearing homemade hat with horse and jockey]
TWO COLOR PHOTOS: FRAKES (2) [See caption above--woman wearing homemade hat shaped like cocktail; woman wearing homemade hat made in shape of horse's head]
COLOR PHOTO: MANNY MILLAN [E.R. Shipp]
COLOR PHOTO: JOE DIMAGGIO [Dee Kantner]
COLOR PHOTO: DARRELL MIHO [Violet Palmer]
The Fuss over Fuzzy
E.R. Shipp, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for New York's
Daily News, comments on the Fuzzy Zoeller-Tiger Woods controversy.
The public fury that followed Zoeller's remarks about Woods was
wildly disproportionate to the offense. But such is the state of
race relations in the U.S. that many blacks easily assumed the
worst about Zoeller. And a news media stung by issues of race
then turned Zoeller's lame attempt at humor into what it never
was: yet another example of racism in America.
Zoeller is golf's reigning jokester, and his remark about fried
chicken and collard greens was a smart-alecky take on what Woods
might serve at the champions' dinner next year. He was being
silly, but I don't believe he was being malevolent. Charlie
Sifford and Lee Elder, two veteran black golfers who know a
thing or two about racism on the links, were not perturbed. Nor
apparently was another black golfer, Victor McBryde, who on
Monday at a course in Greenville, S.C., joked with Zoeller about
fried chicken, corn bread and even watermelon. Said McBryde
later, "People shouldn't take it so serious."
But just about everyone else did, including the Kmart executives
who dumped Zoeller as a spokesman. Many blacks overreacted to
Zoeller's reference to Woods as "little boy," recalling "boy" as
the traditional racist put-down of even mature black men. They
did not consider that the 45-year-old Zoeller's assessment of
the 21-year-old Woods might have reflected a gap more
generational than racial. This was the same Zoeller, after all,
who a month ago referred to his alcoholic white friend John
Daly, age 31, as "a sick little boy."
What Zoeller said was tame compared with remarks I've heard in
newsrooms and in my living room--or read in April's GQ, in which
Woods himself was depicted as a purveyor of jokes about lesbians
and about black male sexuality.
I look forward to a day when race is no longer the prism through
which we view each other. Then the reaction to a Fuzzy Zoeller
won't be a national debate, but a chuckle. Or, if the joke is
bad, a groan.
Age, in years, that Pro Bowl cornerback Darrell Green will be
when the five-year, $12.5 million contract he signed with the
Washington Redskins last Friday expires.
Total distance, in feet, of the 11 home runs--one homer short of
the single-game major league record--hit in Friday's Cleveland
Indians-Milwaukee Brewers game, which the Indians won 11-4.
Consecutive no-hit innings thrown over three games by starting
pitcher Ryan Franklin of the Double A Memphis Chicks.
Record number of runs scored by Britain's greatest cricketer,
Denis Compton, who played from 1936 to '57 and who died last
week at 78.
Kids around the world expected to be doing jumping jacks at 10
a.m. on May 7 in an event organized by All Children Exercise
Simultaneously, a U.S. group that promotes physical fitness.
WOMEN ON THE VERGE
The recent announcement that two women are likely to referee in
the NBA next season has received mixed reactions. "I'm all for
it," says Denver Nuggets guard Kenny Smith. "Women have better
judgment than men." The Miami Heat's Tim Hardaway differs: "I
think that's horrible, honestly. This is our game, and let it
stay our game." Here's the skinny on the female pioneers.
37 (5'7 1/2", 142 pounds)
highest athletic achievement
Field hockey star at Pitt from 1978 to '82
most memorable reffing assignment
1993 Women's NCAA championship game
most daunting challenge
"There's going to be a lot of attention. [But] I'm here to ref
and not carry a flag for women or prove anything."
favorite scene from Forget Paris
When Debra Winger had a bird stuck to her head
32 (5'9", 160 pounds)
[highest athletic achievement]
Led Cal Poly-Pomona to Division II basketball titles in 1985 and
[most memorable reffing assignment]
1996 Women's NCAA championship game
[most daunting challenge]
"Getting used to the players. They're so much bigger that it's
hard just to see around them."
[favorite scene from Forget Paris]
When ref Billy Crystal had a breakdown and began haphazardly
THIS WEEK'S SIGN THAT THE APOCALYPSE IS UPON US
Scott Landry, a Cal cheerleader, is facing school disciplinary
charges for yelling "Kill the tree!" and inciting fans at the
Cal-Stanford football game last Nov. 23 to attack the student
dressed as the Cardinal's arboreal mascot.
THEY SAID IT
Mike Richter Rangers goalie, when asked what Finnish teammate
Esa Tikkanen had said to him during an on-ice celebration of
Tikkanen's game-winning goal against Florida in Game 3 of their
playoff series: "Don't ask me. I need a dictionary with English,
Finnish and Tikkanese."