- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
People once scoffed at claims that the world was round, and now a group of Chicago sailors are encountering similar resistance to a novel geographical claim of their own. They are insisting that Lake Michigan, the inland body of water on whose wind-whipped shores their city is situated, is legally an "arm of the sea."
The claim is being advanced by members of Chicago Challenge 1987, Inc., a syndicate that hopes to enter a boat under the burgee of the Chicago Yacht Club in the next America's Cup competition, now scheduled for Australian waters in 1987. Under the terms of the 97-year-old Deed of Gift that governs America's Cup racing, entries are confined to yacht clubs that hold their regattas on "an ocean water course on the sea or an arm of the sea." Officers of the Royal Perth Yacht Club, which now holds the Cup, make no secret of their belief that the Chicagoans probably don't meet the arm-of-the-sea requirement. After all, Michigan is a freshwater lake separated from the Atlantic by locks—not to mention 2,250 miles of waterway. But the Aussies have requested that the New York State Supreme Court, which historically has had jurisdiction in America's Cup related cases, pass on the validity of Chicago's argument.
The Chicago group is prepared to do some fancy on-shore navigating to make its case. "We'll prove that the Great Lakes are an arm of the sea," says Chicago lawyer Leland Hutchinson, a syndicate member. "People and marine life use the Great Lakes like the sea. Lamprey eels and alewives, both saltwater fish, find their way to Lake Michigan. And there are international ships in our ports." The Chicagoans' strongest argument may be their assertion that they can vie on equal terms with the world's best sailors. "We may be new to 12-meters, but we'll be competitive with any group," Hutchinson says. " Chicago has world-class competition, and we have the best skipper around." The last was a reference to the Chicago group's choice as skipper, Buddy Melges of Zenda, Wis., who won a gold medal in the Soling class at Kiel in the '72 Olympics.
The Chicago challenge is fueled by dreams of a day when America's Cup races might be seen on Lake Michigan from the Sears Tower and the John Hancock Center. Toward that end, the Chicago syndicate is raising funds for its $6.8 million campaign and researching designs for a 12-meter boat. Meanwhile, the Perth club is taking a determinedly sporting attitude toward the whole thing. Notwithstanding the Aussies' reservations about Lake Michigan being an arm of the sea, Noel Robins, executive director of the Perth club's America's Cup Committee, says flatly, "We'd like to have the Chicago club here."
The New York Islanders' first-round Stanley Cup playoff" series against the New York Rangers, which ended with the Islanders advancing to the Patrick Division finals against the Washington Capitals (as of Sunday the Islanders led that best-of-seven series 2-1), is one that deserves to be savored. The Islanders had won the Cup four straight years. The Rangers hadn't won it for 44 years. The teams had been bitter foes for 12 years, but it wasn't until this series that their rivalry produced a classic moment that stood out from the rest.
Through the first four games the plucky, well-prepared Rangers and the endlessly resourceful Islanders battled on even terms, and the score was 2-2 after 60 minutes of Game 5. During the overtime the pace was relentless, the tension high. The Islanders' Mike Bossy missed the net entirely on a three-on-one break. The Rangers' Mikko Leinonen fanned on a point-blank chance from the slot. For minute after minute it went on like this. It was a game impatient for a hero, and it finally got one when, at 8:56 of overtime, Ken Morrow of the Islanders scored the series-ending goal on a screened shot from 30 feet.
Writing the next day in the Long Island paper Newsday, Joe Gergen reported that Morrow's dramatic goal "left the victors spent and the losers in tears." Gergen concluded: "This was a landmark series, game and overtime, something to measure other hockey moments against in the foreseeable future. It was professional hockey at its best, played by a team with something to prove and another with something to preserve." And SI's E.M. Swift said, "Driving home after the game, I couldn't help thinking of something Muhammad Ali had said after defending his heavyweight crown in the Thrilla in Manila against Joe Frazier in 1975: 'I always bring out the best in the men I fight, but Joe Frazier, I'll tell the world right now, brings out the best in me.' That seems to me to define the essence of competition: Two athletes, or in this case two teams, bringing out the best in each other and their sport."
BIG, BIG DIPPER
Kentucky center Melvin Turpin last week declined an invitation to the U.S. Olympic basketball Trials, explaining, "I'm not in enough shape to play basketball. I'm overweight." This admission by the Dipper, who gave his weight, in what Lexington sources called a most conservative estimate, as 265 pounds—he's listed in the Kentucky media guide at 240—was significant, because the Wildcats' season had ended less than two weeks earlier. But it wasn't all that surprising; Turpin had appeared to be out of shape during the NCAA tournament.