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THE INSIDE TRACK | THE HOT CORNER

Hbo

May 13, 1997|MIKE PENNER

A consumer's guide to the best and worst of sports media and merchandise. Ground rules: If it can be read, played, heard, observed, worn, viewed, dialed or downloaded, it's in play here.

What: HBO's "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel"

Replays: Thursday (8 p.m.), Saturday (5:30 a.m.),Sunday (9 a.m.), May 21 (8 a.m. and 11 p.m.), May 24 (11:30 a.m.).

A sham and a scam are the featured pieces in this latest installment of HBO's sports magazine program, which was first seen Monday night.

The sham is major league baseball's foot-dragging "search" for a commissioner, which, the segment points out, has consisted of little more than a charade played out by the owners to keep Congress at bay.

Truth is, the owners don't want a commissioner, preferring the self-serving status quo, under which, according to Peter Ueberroth, the last baseball commissioner to complete his term, "The inmates are running the asylum."

In the meantime, Milwaukee Brewer owner Bud Selig continues as acting/interim/de facto commissioner--accepting a reported annual stipend of $1.5 million from the owners' Executive Council, which, reporter James Brown notes, is in violation of the Major League Basic Agreement.

"Real Sports" also examines the trail of betrayal and ruined lives left in the wake of Alan Eagleson's tenure as executive director of the NHL Players Assn. In 1994, Eagleson was indicted on 32 counts of fraud, racketeering and embezzlement of player association funds--charges that have yet to be brought to trial because Eagleson is fighting extradition to the United States.

Reporter Frank Deford's profile is burdened by a heavy-handed narrative and nothing he says measures up to the words of former New York Ranger and Boston Bruin star Brad Park, who says of Eagleson: "If I could, as an honored member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, I'd love to take a hammer to his setup in the Hall of Fame. The way he's hurt so many people without really a care . . . that's unforgivable."

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