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The Inside Track | Page Two

If Our Seer Is Correct, L.A. Will Be Stargazing Again

November 13, 1998|RANDY HARVEY

Where have you gone, Bo Jackson?

And Wayne Gretzky, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Reggie Jackson, Rod Carew, Mike Piazza and Eric Dickerson?

It wasn't so long ago that the players here were bigger celebrities than the Hollywood stars who came to watch them. Even some of the coaches and managers who stood in the wings and shouted instructions, like Pat Riley and Tom Lasorda, couldn't walk down the Champs Elysees without being stopped for an autograph.

Now, we don't have any sports stars who would cause a tourist to stop on Sunset Boulevard and buy a map to their homes except for Shaquille O'Neal and--if the tourist was Canadian or Finnish--Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne.

That, however, could change as entertainment companies such as Disney and Fox become more involved with professional teams here and learn that sports business is also show business.

It took one longer to learn that than the other, but, with the pursuit of a couple of the biggest names in baseball's free-agent market, even Disney is now on board.

We're not rebuilding. We're reloading.

Mo Vaughn: When word leaked from the Angels' front office that they would try to sign either Vaughn or Mike Piazza, the reaction from most here was, sure, when pigs fly.

Look out below. Piazza was taken, but the Angels proved they were serious with their six-year, $72-million offer to Vaughn. Even if that doesn't buy him, Disney's Angels have bought credibility.

Randy Johnson: The Angels' beat writer for The Times, Mike DiGiovanna, poses an interesting question. What if Vaughn, Johnson and Todd Stottlemyre, who have been offered contracts, all accept?

That's an easy one. You'll pay through increased ticket prices. But it will be worth it to see the Angels in the World Series.

Jaromir Jagr: The Pittsburgh Penguins have a problem. The bankrupt team could improve its immediate financial situation by shedding its highest-paid player but damage its long-range outlook by losing its most valuable asset. If Jagr becomes available, the Kings should do whatever it takes to get him.

That includes trading Olli Jokinen. The Kings, however, should not include the promising rookie center in a deal for other potential 50-goal scorers such as Pavel Bure or Ziggy Palffy. Jokinen could eventually turn out to be the name that the Kings need for the Staples Center marquee.

Karl Malone: He announced on his KXTA (1150) radio show Wednesday that he has played his last game with the Jazz and would like for those who actually do deliver mail to forward his to Laker headquarters.

You can probably turn the dial because he would put the Lakers about $100 million over the salary cap. On the other hand, he said he would play here for less.

"The pebble has been snatched from my hand," he said. "It's time for me to leave, like 'Kung Fu.' "

I have no clue what that means, but he sounded sincere when he said it.

*

Bobby Bonilla was warmly greeted on his return to the Big Apple by a headline in the New York Post reading: "Say It Ain't Bo." . . .

Billy Hunter, executive director of the NBA players' union, says it ain't so. But sources say that an executive of one team who met with 13 players last week reported none knew the details of the owners' most recent proposal. . . .

Fans wearing a Laker or Clipper cap will receive $5 off reserved seats for Long Beach State's first three basketball games, starting with Saturday's home opener against Cal State Northridge. It doesn't matter whether it's a hard cap or a soft cap. . . .

The NFL levied a $10,000 fine for excessive face paint/eye black against Minnesota's John Randle, who then canceled future appointments with Tammy Faye Bakker. . . .

Mike Holmgren and Jim Fassel, roommates when they were USC quarterbacks in 1969, match wits as head coaches for the first time when the Packers visit New York on Sunday. . . .

Washington quarterback Brock Huard isn't frustrated by the Huskies' play this season. "A stressed-out Christian is like a tall midget," he says. "They just don't exist." . . .

Cobi Jones will sign autographs during the first intermission of the Kings' game Saturday night. Well, the Kings said they were looking for another goal scorer.

*

While wondering if Malone would like playing with Kobe Bryant any better than he did in the All-Star game, I was thinking: There are players like Vaughn and Piazza you don't let get away, Andy Katzenmoyer hasn't been the same player since he started having to go to class, Terry Collins was on his way to AL manager of the year until the pebble was snatched from his hand.

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