One of the six holdouts who kept Ryan from notching another perfecto was Philadelphia Daily News columnist Bill Conlin, a Hall of Fame voter since 1975. Conlin considers the alltime strikeout king Hallworthy but didn't think he deserved the highest vote percentage ever—an honor Ryan would have received had he gotten Conlin's vote. "People say he must have denied me an interview or something, but that's not it," says Conlin. "I have nothing bad to say about the man—except that he was only 32 games over .500 and wasn't in the top 100 in career earned run average. I am astounded so few people left him off their ballots."
Conlin, who often votes for first-time candidates, believes Cooperstown will welcome its first unanimous choice early in me next century. "I think Mark McGwire will be the first," he says. "By then, most of the old farts who keep reminding us that Ruth and Cobb weren't unanimous will be gone."
Steroids in Tennis
If there's a moral to the story behind Petr Korda's positive test for steroids at Wimbledon last year, it's that the inmates should run the asylum when it comes to drugs in tennis. International Tennis Federation (ITF) president Brian Tobin said last week that the ITF will try to reverse a decision by its player appeals committee not to suspend Korda, a Czech who's the 13th-ranked player in the world. But Tobin's statement came only after a caucus of some of the world's top stars ripped the federation and hinted they might boycott the Australian Open this week if Korda is allowed to defend his title there.
"I'm telling everyone Petr should not be allowed to play," says Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman. Failing to suspend Korda, says Bjorkman, may be "the worst decision the ITF has ever made."
In December the ITF's player appeals committee stripped Korda of the $94,000 and the 199 ranking points he earned for making the semis at Wimbledon but declined to suspend him. A one-year suspension is supposedly mandatory in such cases, but the committee bought Korda's claim that he had no idea how the anabolic steroid nandrolene got into his system. That annoyed players who think the ITF is soft on drugs.
"Too many people say, 'I don't know how it got in my body,' and get away with it," said Lindsey Davenport at last week's Hop-man Cup in Perth. "There are always exceptions."
Korda isn't the first to get his wrist slapped by the ITF's appeals panel. Last summer 19-year-old Samantha Reeves of the U.S., who flunked a drug test in 1997, was allowed to stay on tour after telling me committee she had ingested nandrolene accidentally in a diet supplement. The ITF has suspended only one steroid user: Ignacio Truyrol of Spain, who was banned for a year in '96.
Several players hinted last week that steroid use on tour is far more prevalent than three positive tests suggest. "We've heard about guys being positive and [the ITF's] covering it up," Bjorkman said. Tobin denies any whitewash. He says the ITF will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne—a sort of World Court for sports—seeking a harsher penalty for Korda.
On Saturday in Sydney, all 128 players in the men's draw of the Australian Open—including Korda—will meet to discuss the case. Many are ready to boycott if Korda plays. Says Jim Courier, "I'll speak out strongly in favor of banning him."