The one thing Manning and Grant have going for them is that the ruling was rendered quickly. The NBA players have already reached a point in the legal process that their NFL counterparts took three years to achieve. Duffy's fast decision on the cap and the draft gives them a couple of months before the season starts to make their decisions. They'll need it.
Out of Bounds
For a man who has been exposed to many cultures in his world travels and who has flourished in the media spotlight for more than three decades, Jack Nicklaus should know better. But his recent comments on blacks and golf evoked the worst of Al Campanis and brought into question Nicklaus's perspective on golf history.
Nicklaus was in Whistler, B.C., visiting Green Lakes, a course he designed, when the subject of blacks in golf was brought up by reporter Don Harrison of The Province, a daily newspaper in Vancouver. Among other things, Nicklaus rejected the notion that golfers like himself and Arnold Palmer could have been more influential in bringing blacks to the game if they had spoken out against racism in private clubs; he denied, in fact, that racism had much to do with the paucity of black golfers and even inched into Jimmy the Greek territory by saying, "Blacks have different muscles that react in different ways."
Nicklaus did not deny his comments but says they were taken out of context. "I said the kids today are gravitating to the sports that best fit their body and the environment where they're growing up," Nicklaus told SI last week at the British Open. "The white society to a large degree is becoming nonfunctional. [Whites are] spending time in cars, they're sitting behind desks, they're not out exercising, whereas the young black kid is in an environment where he is exercising. His muscles develop, and they develop to the degree of that type of sport. I think the opportunity is there for young black kids to play golf, just like the opportunity is there for young white kids to play basketball. But I don't think they're gravitating to the same level."
Well, there's no doubt they're not "gravitating to the same level." Between veterans Calvin Peete and Jim Thorpe and 18-year-old Tiger Woods, who may or may not live up to his much-publicized potential, there is not a single African-American golfer making an impact at either the professional or high amateur level. To pretend that the exclusionary policies of private clubs have had nothing to do with that is plainly absurd. And for Nicklaus to pretend that greats like himself and Palmer couldn't have done more to turn that situation around by speaking out more forcefully against the racism—subtle and otherwise—that still pervades the game is equally absurd.
First, there was Graig Nettles, who in 1974 livened his bat by stuffing it with Superballs. Then there was George Brett, who in 1983 slathered his bat with excessive amounts of pine tar. And now there is Albert Belle, who packed cork into his bat to give it extra pop.
At least that's what the American League said Belle did, thus answering one of the questions raised by The Curious Case of the Purloined Bat, a Colomboesque melodrama far more entertaining than major league baseball's usual spine-tingling mysteries, Is there going to be a strike? or Who'll be the next commissioner? The league hit Belle with a 10-day suspension, which he immediately appealed. The suspension thus is delayed until his hearing, which has been set for July 29, thereby giving us all time to ponder the questions raised in this corker of a whodunit. To wit:
What second-story man crawled through air-conditioning ducts and around electrical tubing to steal Belle's bat from the umpires' dressing room in Comiskey Park and replace it with an imposter? At the behest of Chicago White Sox manager Gene Lamont, the bat had been impounded by umpire Dave Phillips in the opening inning of a battle for first place last Friday between the Indians and the Sox. Have G. Gordon Liddy's whereabouts been accounted for?