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Original Issue

Conspiracy Theories The recent results in sports that seem too good to be true are all part of an insidious plan

You think you know the TRUTH, but DO YOU? You say that sports
aren't RIGGED, but ARE THEY?!? What if we told you this: There
really is a vast right-wing CONSPIRACY out there--and it involves
every right wing in the National Hockey League?!? Think we're
crazy? THINK AGAIN!!!

Exhibit A: On his first trip to the plate in his last major
league All-Star Game, Cal Ripken Jr. "hits" a "home run" off Chan
Ho Park. Witnesses swear that Ripken was intentionally served a
"fat" fastball by Park, in whose name is concealed the words
nacho and Oprah. (Coincidence? You tell me.) Naturally, baseball
commissioner Bud Selig claims that baseball games aren't fixed.
But that's exactly what he wants you to think, isn't it?!?

Exhibit B: Three days before Cal Jr. goes deep, another Junior,
Dale Earnhardt Jr., wins the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International
Speedway, where his father, WHO WAS ALSO NAMED DALE EARNHARDT,
died in February. Again, witnesses suggest that the other drivers
in the field rode their brakes to accommodate Junior, and the
facts are hard to refute: On the trunk of Junior's Chevy was the
Major League Baseball logo. On both doors of the car was the
likeness of a baseball player circling the bases. On the hood of
the car--like a secret handshake, in red-and-white paint--was the
word Bud.

Is all of this pure chance? Or are we, the sports fans of
America, the innocent dupes, the guileless pawns, of a secret
society of sports executives--led by Allan H. (Bud) Selig--who
contrive the scores and conceive the highlights weeks, sometimes
months, in advance?!?

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, Just because the
CIA killed JFK, and the White House killed Vince Foster, and
Colombian drug lords killed Nicole Simpson, and the Navy shot
down TWA Flight 800, and Buckingham Palace crashed Princess Di's
car, and NASA faked the Apollo moon landings, and the government
created AIDS in a laboratory and the Air Force performed alien
autopsies in Roswell (and stored the cadavers in Area 51) doesn't
mean that everything's the result of a massive conspiracy. Or
DOES it?!?

"Twelve Jewish bankers in Switzerland rule the world," former big
league pitcher Steve Carlton told Philadelphia magazine in 1994.
Most readers, however, knew that Lefty was nuts, and that the
whole wide world is not, in fact, ruled by these "Elders of
Zion." (It is ruled, as nearly everyone knows, by the

The sports world, too, is a mere marionette, the tool of
invisible puppet masters. "Conspiracy theories are out there,"
said Milwaukee Bucks coach George Karl during his club's
appearance against Philadelphia in the NBA Eastern Conference
finals. Indeed, Karl and Bucks guard Ray Allen said that the
league was conspiring, with the complicity of referees, to put
the more marketable 76ers into the NBA Finals. "Given the amount
of coverage that we get...[fans] begin to take those issues
seriously," said commissioner David Stern. So he fined Karl
$25,000 and Allen $10,000, dismissing the entire incident with a
Warren Report-like wave of the pen. Weeks later the league
announced that Michael Jordan's Washington Wizards just happened
to draw--behind closed doors--the first selection in the NBA draft.
(Sure! Right!! As IF!!!)

We know better. We know that Lincoln had a secretary named
Kennedy and that Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln and that
Oakland Raiders tackle Lincoln Kennedy almost purchased, at
auction, Kennedy's Lincoln. Or something like that.

We also know now, after 50 years of silence on the subject, that
the Shot Heard 'Round the World was staged, not unlike Neil
Armstrong's moon walk. Several New York Giants have admitted that
the team stole signs at the Polo Grounds--using a telescope and an
electric buzzer--during the second half of the 1951 baseball
season. Virtually all of them vehemently deny doing so during the
three-game playoff against the Brooklyn Dodgers. One Giant,
though, bullpen catcher Sal Yvars, seems to recall that they DID
steal signs in the playoff, and thus Bobby Thomson would have
known what was coming when he clubbed Ralph Branca's high
fastball over the leftfield fence at the Polo Grounds.

It must be true, because the only other explanation is this: that
Thomson really DID hit a storybook homer, that Ripken really DID
rise to the occasion, that Earnhardt really DID earn a remarkable
victory and that the 76ers really DID deserve to make the NBA
Finals. Could it be that the endless aggrandizing of every moment
in sports--no matter how minor--has left us so skeptical that we no
longer even trust the truly great stories?!?

Yes, the truth is out there. But not as far out there as some
sports fans.