After hitting a grand slam to beat Cleveland last week, Steve Balboni of Kansas City exulted, "Hitting your first grand slam is a thrill. I'll always remember this." When reminded he'd also hit one in '83, Balboni said, "You're right. I guess I forgot about that one."
A BOAT THAT REALLY SMOKES
Cigarette boats, those storied offshore racing craft, have long been the fastest thing on the Southern Florida seas. So fast that they've become a favorite of the area's abundant drug smugglers. But now the federal government is fighting fire with fire. U.S. Customs officials have acquired an even faster 39-foot twin-hulled version of the craft called Blue Thunder. It was built by Don Aronow, the designer of the original Cigarette.
In the past, cigarettes have been used to offload illicit drugs from larger vessels cruising outside the 12-mile international boundary. Customs agents, in a single sluggish Boston Whaler, were no match for the 60-mph-plus cigarettes. The only way the white hats could capture a loaded cigarette was if it was tied up to a dock. Even when confiscated boats were used to chase down their sister cigarettes, the drug war was at best an even fight. But Blue Thunder is capable of speeds of nearly 70 mph and has extraordinary handling ability.
Cats, more common in ocean powerboat racing than in recreational circles, aren't often used by drug smugglers. They're harder to come by and don't hold as great a payload. Cats can be considerably faster than the conventional deep-V monohulls, though, because the twin hulls ride on a column of air rather than water.
U.S. Customs has only one of these hep cats, hardly enough to police Southern Florida's coast and to stem its share of the nation's $80 billion-a-year drug traffic. But the agency hopes to get more of the $150,000 boats, a development that, one Customs official says, "will definitely affect drug smuggling by sea."
DESPERATELY SEEKING STEINBRENNER
When New York Yankees manager Yogi Berra was axed April 28 and replaced by the ever-available Billy Martin, local sportswriters sidestepped the clubhouse and headed for the analyst's couch to get insights into the uneasy psyche of owner George Steinbrenner. The New York Times' Ira Berkow conducted a whimsical, posthumous interview with Sigmund Freud in which it was suggested that "Herr S" fires managers simply because it makes him feel better. Larry Fox of the Daily News consulted a sports psychologist named Eric Margenau, who is still alive. Margenau says that when Steinbrenner's "need for turmoil" is combined with his "insecurity" and "narcissism," it "creates a very toxic sort of result." He concluded that if Berra's dismissal wasn't strictly a box-office decision, then Steinbrenner is "probably a lot more disturbed than I think he is."
Any psychological profile of Steinbrenner should probably also take into account the acute lack of self-awareness reflected in a quote that appears in a book by Victor Navasky and Christopher Cerf, The Experts Speak. It seems that when Steinbrenner purchased the Yankees in 1973, he said: "We plan absentee ownership. I'll stick to building ships."
SACKED FOR A BIG GAIN AT THE A & P