Two years ago the Atlantic Coast and Big East conferences opened the Gator Bowl, which matches their No. 2 teams, to the Irish. Other conferences have yet to make similar guarantees, subscribing instead to a simple rationale: If Notre Dame wants the advantages of being an independent—its $9 million-a-year TV deal with NBC, for example—then it will have to accept the risks as well. But that thinking is selfish and shortsighted. When an 8-3 Irish team can't play in a top non-Alliance bowl, that isn't good for college football.
The English play I'm Marrying Ryan Giggs centers on a soccer-mad family so riven by allegiances to rival teams that Mum and Dad end up painting each side of their house a different team color. Though meant to be far-fetched, the comedy hardly underestimates the power of soccer passions.
The unseen object of Mum's desire is Ryan Giggs, a handsome, real-life winger for Manchester United. On Aug. 1, however, Giggs opens a seven-week tour in Liverpool, where hatred of United runs deep. That's why theater administrators have demanded that the show be temporarily renamed I'm Marrying Robbie Fowler after Liverpool's star striker and have also censored all references to Manchester United. Says a Liverpool Playhouse spokesman: "We didn't want a riot on our hands."
The Kindly Beest
In 1992, a few months after Fay Vincent was ousted as baseball commissioner and shortly before the Toronto Blue Jays won their first World Series, Blue Jays president Paul Beeston cropped up as a possible successor to Vincent. Beeston wasn't interested. "I just don't think it's a job for a little, fat, cigar-smoking, sockless Canadian," he said. The commissionership has been a job for no one since '92, but when putative commish Bud Selig appointed Beeston to the newly created position of president and CEO last week, the baseball world welcomed the fat little Canadian with open arms.
Beeston, a shrewd but unassuming 52-year-old accountant raised in the canal port of Welland, Ont., will work in Manhattan. He'll handle the daily operations of the commissioner's office as second in command to Selig, who will stay at his Milwaukee outpost running the Brewers. Beeston is expected to invigorate baseball's marketing, an area in which he thrived in Toronto, and will serve as a liaison to the players' union, whose boss, Donald Fehr, despises Selig. Beeston could help heal the fractious relationships between owners and players and between owners and owners. "This is a good day for baseball," said Fehr after Beeston's hiring.
Since becoming the Blue Jays' first employee in 1976, The Beest, whose nonstop cigar sucking and refusal to wear socks lend him the air of an eccentric, has emerged as one of the best-liked men in the game. Whether or not the appointment of Beeston, who is one of Selig's closest confidantes, is a prelude to Selig taking the commissioner's job is unclear. Beeston and several owners have called for Selig to give up the Brewers and formally assume the top spot, but Selig won't commit. Others predict that Beeston will one day step into the commissioner's role, an idea he rejects. While it's a perfect example of baseball's mishegas that the game has selected what amounts to a deputy commissioner without a permanent commissioner in place, bringing Beeston into the fold makes sense. He's lauded by such opposite-minded owners as Selig and Steinbrenner, who said of last week's appointment, "It answered a prayer, for me and for baseball. Paul is sharp, and he's got guts."
A Continuing Inspiration
Cam Cameron survived the Scylla and Charybdis of college coaching: He played basketball under Bob Knight at Indiana, then served as an offensive assistant under Bo Schembechler at Michigan. But as he prepares for his first season as Indiana's football coach, he might wonder if he'll ever be free of his mentors' torments. "If Cam has played for me and then worked for Schembechler and he can't succeed," Knight says, "then they probably just ought to shoot him."