For Pete's Sake
Pete Sampras said last week that he expected to "get some flak" for choosing not to travel to Melbourne next month to help the U.S. defend the Davis Cup in a first-round tie against Australia. Well, here's some flak.
Sampras, the No. 2 player in the world, and Wimbledon champion Andre Agassi, who also begged off this time around, delivered a lot of patriotic rhetoric last year as they, along with Jim Courier and John McEnroe, won the Cup for the U.S. ( McEnroe is now semiretired, and the top-ranked Courier does not wrap himself in the flag.) After the victory over Switzerland in December, Sampras and Agassi told a national TV audience that nothing in their careers could top helping the U.S. win the Cup.
Now, with the TV cameras off, they say that going to Australia and playing on grass, right after a U.S. hard-court tournament and just before Europe's clay-court season, would make things too tough for them. So No. 24 Brad Gilbert and No. 48 David Wheaton will play in their stead.
By way of further explanation, Sampras said, "I have a chance to become Number One in the world right now." There it is, the big "I." The next time Sampras and Agassi play Davis Cup on American soil in front of those endorsement-producing cameras, don't believe them when they say it's for the good old U.S. of A.
Once upon a time Rush H. Limbaugh III worked for the Kansas City Royals. Yes, the rotund best-selling author, star of radio and television and the voice of the hard right in America handled group ticket sales and special events for the Royals from 1979 to '83. He was between radio gigs at the time and was brought to the Royals by his friend Bryan Burns, then K.C director of marketing and broadcasting. "I often tell people that I was in charge of national anthem singers," says Limbaugh, whose The Way Things Ought to Be has topped The New York Times nonfiction best-seller list for 20 weeks and whose radio show from WABC in New York is carried by 560 stations. "But I actually did a lot of things: stadium music, scoreboard advertising, group sales. The only bad time came when the Yankees were in town, and everybody wanted seats. 'People,' I would tell them, 'I cannot eat paper and have it come out the other end as tickets.' In all seriousness, it was a great experience, and I still have a lot of friends from those days—I was at George Brett's baby shower the other day. The only time my politics got me in trouble was when I engaged Hal McRae and Amos Otis in a debate about the players 'union."
Limbaugh says the highlight of his baseball career was an Olathe ( Kans.) Night at Royals Stadium. "I must have had 3,000 Olatheans at the game, and they were lined up around the infield. I walked out to the mound with the guy who was throwing out the first ball and said, 'Go ahead.' He said, 'I don't have a ball.' So I got on the mike and asked if somebody could throw a ball onto the field. The next thing I knew, 200 balls were coming out of the Royals dugout, as well as bats and gloves. The crowd loved it, but management wasn't too happy."
A Hunger for Justice
In early January when Charles Grantham, director of the NBA players association, assembled a group of civil rights leaders for a conference-on racism in sports, several participants expressed doubts that pro athletes would take a stand in support of controversial causes. Filmmaker Spike Lee said no athlete would "stick his neck out, jeopardize a contract or a sneaker deal."