SI Vault
Edited by Alexander Wolf and Richard O'Brien
February 06, 1995
The Third Sex
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February 06, 1995


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The White House picked an opportune time to act. Congress had recently seemed sympathetic to the grievances of the players, as legislators on both sides of the aisle talked of introducing bills to eliminate the owners' precious antitrust exemption. But two days before Clinton's announcement, the second circuit court of appeals, in a case brought by NBA players against their league, ruled that the basketball union can't use antitrust laws to challenge the NBA's salary cap as long as a collective bargaining relationship exists. With baseball's players pushing Congress to repeal the antitrust exemption so they can sue the owners for having implemented a salary cap, acting baseball commissioner Bud Selig declared the NBA decision a victory for baseball's management.

But Selig might want to temper his crowing. Clinton's Justice Department, in an amicus curiae brief filed last August in the NBA case, came down emphatically on the side of labor, asserting that players should be free to pursue antitrust cases after negotiations reach an impasse and objecting that preventing them from doing so "disserves both labor and antitrust interests." Based on that brief, it's reasonable to assume that any White House recommendation for congressional action would almost certainly include repeal of the antitrust exemption. Fans should bear in mind that the most recent agreements in the NBA and the NFL both came about under the same circumstances: when management faced the threat of huge antitrust judgments.

Twenty-Five Alive

They didn't get together for a slumber party in the crew boathouse the way they used to before every home game, but all 22 members of Cornell's 1969-70 hockey team showed up at Lynah Rink in Ithaca, N.Y., last Saturday just the same. They turned out to commemorate the 25th anniversary of their NCAA-title-winning season, in which they went 29-0 to become the only Division I hockey team ever to put together a perfect record. Among the old-timers, who received new championship rings between periods of Cornell's 4-4 tie with Clarkson, are two lawyers, a dentist, a social studies teacher and a chiropractor—but only one veteran of more than four NHL games, current Cornell coach Brian McCutcheon. "Maybe we didn't have the most talent in the country," McCutcheon says. "But you can't do what we did without some talent."

Indeed, the Big Red may have lost goalie Ken Dryden to graduation the year before, but the team was good enough to earn North American bragging rights by beating the University of Toronto, the eventual Canadian college champ, in Canada. That was a sweet win, as 20 Cornell players hailed from north of the border. In the 1970 film Love Story, fictional Harvard hockey captain Oliver Barrett, played by Ryan O'Neal, calls Cornell "the wild Canadian horde" after the Big Red beat the Crimson 4-3. Cinematic license? No. Coach Ned Harkness refused to lend the filmmakers his team's jerseys unless the script had his boys winning. Says Harkness, "I didn't want us to be on the losing end of anything."

A Buffalo No Mo'

Hideo Nomo is a 6'2" righthander and a winner of the Sawamura Award, Japan's equivalent of the Cy Young, who pitches for the Kintetsu Buffaloes. Or he used to pitch for the Kintetsu Buffaloes. His Tokyo-based agent, Don Nomura, recently retained a Los Angeles counterpart, Arn Tellem, to comb through Nomo's contract with the Buffaloes, and together they discovered a gaping loophole. While the standard major league contract prohibits, say, Barry Bonds from announcing his retirement from the San Francisco Giants and then signing to play for any other team anywhere in the world, it seems that Japanese contracts restrict a retiring player only from playing for other Japanese clubs. As a result Nomo, who's 26 and has always dreamed of testing himself in the American major leagues, has announced his retirement—and may become one of the most sought-after pensioners in baseball history.

This week Nomo will visit the Giants, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Seattle Mariners to take physicals, scout out local life and talk contract; the Colorado Rockies, the New York Yankees, the Texas Rangers and the Toronto Blue Jays may receive him over the following weeks. Although the Department of Labor won't permit any foreigners to serve as replacement players, he could sign a minor league deal now, report to Triple A and then go to the majors when there's a settlement to the strike. Nomo is the David Cone of Japan, where he led the Pacific League in strikeouts four times with his peek-at-second-before-going-home Luis Tiant-style delivery. "He has a great fork-ball," says Ranger general manager Doug Melvin. "And he's still young." If Nomo signs with a team on the West Coast, where there's a huge Asian population, we could see the Nipponese Valenzuela soon after the strike gets settled. And no matter where he signs, we're sure to see a new standard Japanese player contract.


Sometimes good lines come in bunches. Arnold Palmer recently announced plans to play in what he says will be his last British Open, at St. Andrews in July. The 65-year-old Palmer would not, however, commit himself to playing in any other tournaments, saying, "When you get to my age, you don't even buy green bananas anymore." We had just finished chuckling at that one when we read Missouri basketball coach Norm Stewart's response when asked if he would bring his team back to Jackson State, given the size of the crowd that turned out to watch Mizzou's 86-72 win there on Jan. 18. "I go day-by-day," said Stewart. "I don't buy green bananas." Day-Oh! A little digging revealed that Palmer and Stewart are far from alone on the banana boat; in September, Ron Meyer, the former coach of the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts who's now guiding the Las Vegas Posse of the CFL, commented on the job security of coaches in his new league, saying, "Not many people in Canadian football buy green bananas."

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