Do the spirits help? During McCoy's three years as coach, the Armadillos have lost just three home games. Their record this year was 8-1-1. Lest their opponents be unaware of the forces working against them, McCoy has put up a sign near the visitors' locker room that reads: WELCOME TO THE GRAVEYARD.
FRED SHERO (1925-1990)
For 14 years, SI's Jay Greenberg covered the Philadelphia Flyers for the Philadelphia Daily News. He recalls Fred Shero, the Flyers' quirky, innovative coach from 1971-72 to '77-78, who died last week of cancer at the age of 65:
Hockey has lost one of its greatest coaches and most fascinating personalities. Fred Shero, who guided the brawling Flyers to Stanley Cups in 1974 and '75, was that rarest of coaches, a true theorist. He popularized the diagramming of plays and designed drills using tennis balls and folding chairs.
A shy man who sprinkled his conversation with quotations culled from Bartlett's, Shero kept a low profile. In 1972 he ducked out for a cigarette after a game and somehow locked himself out of the arena, thus contributing to his nickname of Freddie the Fog. Not loath to embellish the image he had acquired of being the bumbling genius, he delighted in saying things like "I want to be miserable. That makes me happy."
"Sometimes I don't think he knows the difference between Tuesday and Wednesday, and sometimes I think he is a genius who has us all fooled," said former Montreal coach Scotty Bowman. The real secret of Shero's success was that he simplified and made enjoyable what he called "a little boys' game played by men." The boys who played for Shero have been made older and sadder men by the fact of his passing.
FOR PETE'S SAKE
The National Baseball Hall of Fame is forming a committee to review its selection procedures, prompting speculation in the last few weeks that the move was related to Pete Rose's possible election. SI's Steve Wulf writes:
The fire won't really start until next year, but the alarm is already sounding: Baseball is out to get Pete Rose.
Ringing the bell are members of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA), which votes on Hall of Fame candidates. It's a rather big jump from the fact that the Hall has created its new committee to the conclusion that the powers-that-be are trying to keep Rose's name off the 1991 ballot, but several writers have made it.