In Salt Lake City the battered but cheerful Islanders ("It took me 16 years," said veteran Eddie Watt, "but I finally got my amateur standing back"), won the first game of the playoffs, lost the next two and then came back to win the final two and the pennant. Again, they had to drink the other team's champagne.
Wade Phillips, who coaches the Houston Oiler linebackers, had no trouble negotiating his contract with the NFL team when he decided this season to shift to Houston from the University of Kansas coaching staff. His father is Bum Phillips, the Oilers' head coach. "I just showed the contract to Wade and said, 'This is it,' " Bum says. "Just like I used to tell him what to eat for breakfast. After all, if he can't trust his old daddy, who can he trust?"
Still, the son is an outspoken assistant coach. "Wade always says what he feels," admits Bum, "even when we don't agree. He's confident; he knows where he stands. He knows if I fire him, I got to fire my wife, my daughter-in-law and my grandchildren, too."
The younger Phillips claims he has a strong protective argument if ever he fouls up in his coaching duties. "If my father asks what went wrong," he says, "I'll plead heredity."
GOT THE HORSE HERE SOMEWHERE
Rick Talley, the Chicago Tribune sports columnist who considers himself something of a master in the subtle art of betting horses, kept telling everyone before The Hambletonian to bet on Billy Haughton's two-horse entry of Steve Lobell and Quick Pay. As you know, Steve Lobell won the Hambo—yet Talley didn't. It's a harrowing tale.
At the track on race day Talley bet the entry at nice odds of 5 to 1 in the first heat of The Hambletonian. Steve Lobell was moving well on the last turn when he lost a shoe, broke stride and ended up 14th behind the victorious Zoot Suit. Quick Pay was fourth.
Undaunted, Talley planned to bet the entry again in the second heat, but he got so involved in a radio broadcast he was doing from the infield that he forgot about placing a wager until it was too late to scramble back across the track to the windows. And, of course, Steve Lobell came strongly through the stretch to win.
Talley did get a bet down in the Hambletonian third heat, but Steve Lobell and Quick Pay were losers again as Armbro Regina won. Talley had only one more chance—the fourth, showdown heat in which Steve Lobell would go against Zoot Suit and Armbro Regina. But in the paddock Talley heard Haughton talking about the colt's weariness and his desire to scratch him from the final (SI, Sept. 13). Craftily, Talley shifted his bet to Zoot Suit. Steve Lobell, who collapsed from exhaustion after the race, trotted home the winner.