Two weeks ago pitcher John Smoltz suffered slight chest burns while trying to take the wrinkles out of his shirt. At first it was reported that Smoltz had been trying to iron his shirt while wearing it; Smoltz later said he had been using a hand-held steamer, not an iron, and that the steamer had spit hot water onto his chest. Either way, Smoltz probably ought to send his shirts out to a laundry next time.
BRING BACK THE LOCKOUT!
It's a good thing baseball's owners ended their spring training lockout as soon as they and the Players Association came to general terms on a new basic agreement on March 19. If the two sides had waited to work out the fine points, camps would still be shut and big leaguers would be out playing one-a-cat at the local junior high.
Last week the two sides haggled over roster size. The deal that ended the lockout called for the retention of 24-man rosters until next season, when the number returns to the traditional 25 that was abandoned four years ago. Because spring training opened so late, the deal also allowed teams to carry 27 players for the first three weeks of the season. But last week players and owners battled for several days over how much the 25th, 26th and 27th players would be paid and how and under what stipulations the players would be sent to the minor leagues at the end of three weeks. No one seemed to dispute that 27-man rosters are preferable, given the shortness of spring training, and the issues were finally resolved on Monday. But owners and players had to go through another silly set-to first.
With luck, baseball's bickering will be over just about the time the Mariners, Expos, Tigers and Braves clinch their division titles in September.
AND THERE'S MORE
Early in spring training, the Pirate management split up the team for a few days and had the pitchers and catchers travel from McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla., to a separate practice facility three miles away. The Players Association—we're not making this up—asked that the players be reimbursed 20 cents a mile for gas. The Pirates refused to pay.
THE FORESIGHT BROTHERS
When the NBA signed a four-year, $600 million television contract with NBC in November, nobody was happier than brothers Ozzie and Dan Silna. Ozzie, 57, and Dan, 45, will soon be collecting $4.6 million a year from the deal even though they don't work for or own any part of an NBA team.
The Silnas did own the Spirits of St. Louis of the American Basketball Association in 1976, the year the NBA and ABA merged. Because the NBA made room for only four of the six ABA teams, ABA owners had to decide which two of their teams would be left out. The owners of the Denver Nuggets, the Indiana Pacers, the New York Nets and the San Antonio Spurs persuaded Kentucky Colonels owner John Brown and the Silnas to fold their teams in exchange for compensation. Brown settled for a single $3.3 million payment from the Spurs, the Nets, the Nuggets and the Pacers.
The Silnas held out for more. They signed a deal that guaranteed them one seventh of the combined annual television revenue from those four teams. And because the deal included no expiration date—a monumental oversight on the part of the four new NBA owners—the Silnas are entitled to the TV money in perpetuity.