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Secretary of Labor Robert Reich ruled last week that 14-year-old Tommy McCoy can toil as a batboy for the Class A Savannah Cardinals. Seven days earlier Tommy was fired after a Labor Department official phoned the team and said it was violating child labor laws limiting work hours for youngsters under 16. In suspending those laws as they apply to batboys and batgirls, Reich called the original decision "off base."
We agree. After all, with baseball losing its hold on the MTV generation, it can't afford to alienate kids like Tommy, who, even before being hired by the Cardinals, had adorned the walls of his bedroom with photos of Savannah players.
Why should anybody care that the NFL last week set the franchise fees for the two expansion teams that will begin play in 1995 at a staggering $140 million apiece, or that the league further decreed that each of those teams will get only a half share of TV revenues during its first three seasons? Here's why: The NFL's terms are so onerous that once the winning cities are chosen in October—the contenders are Baltimore, Charlotte, Jacksonville, Memphis and St. Louis—their owners will eagerly seek to pass the burden on to taxpayers and fans.
In fact, they've already begun. After learning of the NFL's price tag, Touchdown Jacksonville, the organization promoting that city's bid, asked the city council to pick up the entire bill for renovating the Gator Bowl; previously, Touchdown Jacksonville had agreed to pay $30 million of the projected $80 million tab. It also asked to be excused from paying rent at the Gator Bowl for five years. Similarly, Mark Richardson, of the group making Charlotte's bid, told SI that the high franchise fee will affect prices of everything from concessions to luxury boxes. "We'd prefer to charge lower prices for a ticket, a program, a Coca-Cola," Richardson says, "but as the NFL turns up the fee, we have to turn up the numbers on our revenues."
The huge entry fees may also make the new teams less competitive. Jerry Clinton, head of the St. Louis group, says, "Originally, with liberalized free agency, the hope was that the expansion teams could achieve parity relatively quickly. Now that doesn't seem possible."
What do a defunct pro basketball league, a first-to-second-to-first double play, a confrontation between Ryne Sandberg and Bob Walk, and Emerson Fittipaldi's vehicle have in common? All can be expressed as palindromes, i.e., words, sentences or terms that read the same backward and forward: ABA, 3-4-3, Cub v. Buc, and race car. But, hey (yeh!), those aren't the only sports palindromes. Dave Dye of The Detroit News notes that Texas Ranger pitcher Robb Nen is the eighth major league player whose last name is a palindrome. The others: Nen's father, Dick, a journeyman first baseman in the '60s and '70s; catchers Truck Hannah and Mark Salas; pitcher Dave Otto; and infielders Toby Harrah, Eddie Kazak and Johnny Reder. Monica Seles's last name is a palindrome, as is IUPUI, the acronym for the site of the 1992 U.S. Olympic swimming trials, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis. And what of such made-up palindromes as the well-worn "Madam, I'm Adam", or the fresher "He goddam mad dog, eh?" SI's resident palindromist, Steve Rushin, rushes in to fill any sporting gap that might exist. "A World Series between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Philadelphia Phillies would be, at the owner level, a 'Selig-Giles' showdown," says Rushin. "And if Indiana Pacer guard Pooh Richardson [left] hosted an NBA highlight show, it could be called Pacers' Pooh's Hoops Recap."