Boats and Bikes
The speedboat accident on March 22 that claimed the lives of Cleveland Indian pitchers Tim Crews and Steve Olin was a baseball story. Last week's finding by Florida authorities that Crews was legally intoxicated when he was driving his 18-foot craft was a boating story.
Some people don't get the message about the perils of driving a boat while drinking. The National Marine Manufacturers Association reminds boaters that the lack of lanes and traffic signals on the water can, even for the sober, make driving a boat more difficult than driving a car. Accordingly, the Miller Brewing Company has joined boating groups in a campaign to persuade boaters to embrace the designated-driver concept that has gained acceptance among automobile drivers.
Bicyclists are another group that is lax about basic safety rules. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 950 bicyclists are killed each year in the U.S., a toll largely attributable to the fact that only 10% of cyclists wear helmets. The CDC urges that states make helmets mandatory. To date, New Jersey is the only state that requires helmets, and even then only for children under the age of 14; Georgia is expected to adopt a similar law beginning July 1 for those under 16. That all cyclists should wear helmets is another message that isn't getting across.
The retirement last week of Patrick, Adams, Norris and Smythe, not to mention Clarence Campbell and the Prince of Wales, came as another sign that the NHL is rejuvenating itself under new commissioner Gary Bettman.
Bettman changed the league's eccentric division names to more user-friendly designations: Patrick Division to Atlantic Division, Adams to Northeast, Norris to Central and Smythe to Pacific. The two conferences will also have geographically explicit names: East and West. In addition Bettman ushered through a realignment plan that makes more sense; for example, Tampa Bay, which had been grouped in the Norris with Detroit, Chicago and Minnesota, among others, will play in the Atlantic, which will also include the Miami expansion team. In the new setup the top eight teams in each conference will make the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Realignment can be a risky business. Just ask former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent, whose attempt to make the National League conform to the realities of the map cost him his job. Bettman persuaded his owners to put the good of the many over the demands of the few, a rare occurrence in pro sports these days.
Last Saturday's Grand National in Aintree, England, was a fiasco. The race was declared void, forcing the return of $115 million in wagers, after a horribly botched start resulted in eight horses' unofficially completing the 4� miles while nine horses waited at the start and others in the field of 40 wandered aimlessly around the course. But then misadventure and the National, the world's most prestigious steeplechase, have been stablemates throughout the event's 156-year history.