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Scott Ostler

Cheap as the Shots Might Be, at Least the Price Is Right

June 20, 1989|Scott Ostler

Deep thoughts, cheap shots and bon mots . . . At the official retirement ceremony of Oklahoma football Coach Barry Switzer, will his former players honor him with a 21-handgun salute?

You knew that when Switzer announced his retirement, there would be those who would portray him as a courageous martyr to the flawed and antiquated National Collegiate Athletic Assn. system. If you knew that, you probably also knew that the first person to portray Switzer that way would be Switzer.

He says he was frustrated by NCAA rules that do not "recognize the financial needs of young athletes."

Judging from the behavior of many of Switzer's players, the NCAA rules also do not recognize the sexual, automotive, pharmaceutical or ballistic needs of young athletes.

In announcing his retirement, Switzer said, "I finally decided the time has come for new leadership."

I agree with that statement, except that Barry should have left out the new.

Attention Dodger management:

You have a wonderful stadium, clean and pretty. You have a scoreboard that is a delightful dinosaur in that it always displays the game's linescore, never gives way to commercials, as does the annoying scoreboard in a nearby stadium that I won't name because I wouldn't want to embarrass the Angels.

You also have a nice video screen-message board, on which you show us amusing baseball blooper footage of players diving into grandstands and impaling themselves on umbrella tips.

You even took my advice years ago and installed TV monitors over the concession stands, to make more bearable those three-inning waits for nachos.

All you need to complete the package is a large board displaying up-to-the-minute scores of other games. I know, you flash the scores on the message board, but I'm always looking away and wind up having to ask five people before I find one who saw the Giant-Astro score.

With the Dodgers in a title race, and many fans interested in the big baseball picture, you really need an other-games scoreboard. For a state-of-the-art example, you might want to check out Wrigley Field in Chicago, which installed such a board about six decades ago.

Also, on the video screen, between innings, how about showing us videotape highlights of other games being played that very night? Thank you, thank you so much.

On the Detroit civic traitor scale, the only person higher up than a guy who drives a foreign car would be a beloved local sports superstar who has an endorsement deal with Toyota.

I'm speaking, of course, of Isiah Thomas. He signed with Toyota last year to appear in their ads, explaining that he tried to sign with an American auto company but was rejected. Many other Detroit sports figures do auto ads, including Sparky Anderson and Chuck Daly, but for American cars.

One Detroiter expressed his disapproval with Isiah last year by dumping 20,000 Ford truck tires on Zeke's front lawn. The tires clashed with the landscaping, so Thomas had them removed.

The day after the Pistons had won their recent championship, Toyota ran a full-page ad in each Detroit newspaper, featuring an enormous photo of Isiah--a congratulatory tribute from one king of the compacts to another.

A famous name in Laker history was in the news recently. It didn't rate big headlines, except maybe in Milwaukee, but the Bucks elected not to renew the contract of veteran guard Sidney Moncrief.

Sidney had a very nice 10-season career in Milwaukee, showing great leadership and averaging as many as 22.5 points. But he is 31 years old and has been plagued with injuries in recent seasons, so he will slip away, either to another club or into retirement.

Moncrief has a special place in Laker lore. It is all but forgotten that the Lakers, up first in the 1979 draft, weren't sure who to pick. Should they go with Moncrief, a great-attitude young man from Arkansas, a truly beautiful and high-flying off-guard type who would perfectly complement the Lakers' young point guard, Norm Nixon?

Or should the Lakers go for a teen-age kid who had played only two seasons of college ball, who had questionable National Basketball Assn. speed, jumping and shooting ability, and whose ballhandling skills might well clash with those of Nixon?

At least one high-ranking Laker executive held out for Moncrief. But Jack Kent Cooke, in his last official duty as Laker owner, ordered his staff to draft Earvin (Magic) Johnson.

It's really not a bit funny that some NBA writers covering the finals were referring to the leg-injury-stricken Lakers' quick exit as "swoon over my hammy."

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