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THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO / RANDY HARVEY

It's Pass-the-Buck Land, Brought to You by Disney

May 26, 1997|RANDY HARVEY

Bless Donald T. Sterling.

He is no closer to winning an NBA championship than he is to moving his team to the Champs Elysses. Even NBA Commissioner David Stern makes jokes about Sterling.

But at least the Clipper owner can take a punch line.

When his team makes a bad hire, a bad draft choice, a bad trade, Sterling deserves blame. Just as he deserves credit when the Clippers make a good decision, such as the one last week to extend Bill Fitch's contract.

Sterling is accountable because he's the owner.

Which brings us to last week's whodunit at the Pond of Anaheim.

Duck President Tony Tavares, eager for us to believe he can dance, even when Michael Eisner isn't pulling the strings, says he's accountable for Disney's hockey and baseball teams.

But a few days later, when he starts feeling heat because of the daffy Ducks' decision not to renew Ron Wilson's contract, Tavares calls together a few reporters so they can watch him wash his hands. General Manager Jack Ferreira, Tavares says, made the final decision.

So who's in charge?

The answer is Disney. That's not Eisner, Tavares, Ferreira or Mickey Mouse. That's a corporation. The corporation's agenda, the Ducks informed us last week, is greater than winning and losing, and we are not entitled to know what it is.

Owners we have known have been heartless (Jack Kent Cooke), soul-less (Al Davis), shameless (Bruce McNall) and clueless (Georgia Frontiere). Now we have one that is faceless.

I suspect we will have another soon. Rupert Murdoch might put Fox in the Dodger clubhouse but presumably will have no more to do with the team than he does "The X-Files." I bet he doesn't even know Dana Scully from Vin.

*

Stanley Woodward, the late sports editor of the late New York Herald Tribune, used to warn his writers about the "godding up" of athletes. . . .

In almost three decades of covering sports, I've seen that done with Tiger Woods more than any athlete. . . .

On Sunday in Ft. Worth, he didn't even have the C-plus game that carried him to victory seven days before. Still, he was obviously disappointed when he had to settle for a fourth-place tie. He is a superb competitor and golfer, potentially the best of his or anyone else's time. . . .

But it's unfair to expect him to be anything more. Despite his provocative Nike commercial, he's apparently not interested in becoming a Civil Rights activist. If he were, he wouldn't play his practice rounds at a Houston club that discriminates against women. . . .

Peter O'Malley was predictably classy in extending personal service contracts to Dodger department heads to insulate them in case of a Murdoch purge. . . .

Now what can O'Malley do for Richard Aller? . . .

A peanut vendor at Dodger Stadium for 38 years, famous for his cry of "Nuts!" Aller was fired by stadium concessionaire Aramark Corp. for a $2 error in judgment. . . .

UCLA and the Dodgers are sponsoring a tribute to Jackie Robinson on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium. A pregame ceremony will feature other former Bruins, Eric Karros and Todd Zeile of the Dodgers and Jeff Conine of the Florida Marlins. . . .

One dollar of each ticket sold through a special number, (213) 224-1HIT, will be contributed to UCLA academic scholarships and the Jackie Robinson Foundation. . . .

Observation from the ACLU's executive director, Ira Glasser: Every New Yorker his age who joined the organization in the '60s was a Dodger fan. . . .

"Statistically, this was impossible," he says. "But it was then I realized that it was the Yankee fans who grew up to believe in oil depletion allowances, and that it was Dodger fans who grew up to be civil rights activists." . . .

Piper Davis, the first black player in the Boston Red Sox organization, who died last week at age 79, was a utility infielder for one of the finest teams ever on the West Coast, the 1956 Pacific Coast League champion L.A. Angels. . . .

One of the players he backed up was second baseman Gene Mauch. . . .

It has been a merry month of May for Gary Stevens. He followed his induction into the Hall of Fame with victories in two Triple Crown races on Silver Charm. Then, on vacation last week at Cabo San Lucas, the 5-foot-3, 116-pound Stevens persevered for 25 minutes to reel in an 8-foot-4, 240-pound marlin. . . .

Today, riding Sunshack, the horse he's trying to catch in the Hollywood Turf Handicap is named Marlin.

*

While wondering if Wilson might win a Stanley Cup before the Ducks do, I was thinking: don't worry about Dodger hitters, they're playing their C-plus game, nuts to Aramark.

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