SBJ/August 13 - 19, 2001/Other News

Wake up, NCAA … there's gambling in Las Vegas

Earth to the NCAA ... Earth to the NCAA ... Come In! How could that overly righteous group of bureaucrats, currently in the midst of lobbying Congress for anti-gambling legislation and whose slogan, "Don't Bet On It," is plastered all over college teams' locker rooms, even consider approving a basketball tournament on Vegas hotel-casino property? Well, they did, at least two of them, three full months before newspaper pressure and a query from Fresno State coach Jerry Tarkanian brought the matter to their attention. Despite the fact that the two tourneys were moved, one might ask: What the hell was the NCAA doing for those three months? Moving in a conference table that slept 12 comfortably?


A NEW TEAM IN VEGAS IS A DICEY PROPOSITION: Word heard is that the struggling Oakland A's franchise is headed to Las Vegas — where a baby's first words are, "But it's only dry heat!" Anticipating the move, the SF Chronicle's Scott Ostler has come up with a few nicknames for the new team, including The Crapouts, The All-You-Can-Eat Buffets and The Siegfried and Roys, with their mascot a big furry pit boss. To that list you can add others, like The Hit-Me's, The Tour Buses and the Discards. However, because the group reportedly buying the team includes the corporation that owns the Mandalay Bay Casino, and Major League Baseball is wary of approving any ownership group that includes gambling interests, don't bet on it. The odds are against such a move.

DISREGARD THE PREVIOUS FORTUNE COOKIE: When Don King announced that the John Ruiz-Evander Holyfield heavyweight championship fight to be held in China had been canceled — few even realizing it had been scheduled — there was some concern his Chinese hosts might hold him hostage until the fight was re-scheduled. Not to worry, Don; the Chinese are only arresting scholars.

CUSTER WAS LUCKY AT HIS BATTLE OF THE BIG HORN: What numbskulls at ABC and IMG decided it would be a good idea to showcase Tiger Woods in that bore-snore called "The Battle at Bighorn"? The made-for-TV golf shoot-out between two mixed teams was the closest thing to an interminable John Tesh CD ever produced. Described by ESPN's Mike Lupica as "Four hours and 22 minutes of golf that had everything except one of them trying to put the ball through the windmill on No. 18 and win a free round," the golf was so bad that, as NY Times columnist Richard Sandomir noted, "The only bunkers that the quartet missed were named Archie and Edith." When Tiger told partner Annika Sorenstam to "just dump it down there" on her second shot on the first par-five, he probably meant the whole concept — right in the toilet, where it belonged. If ABC insists on giving us Tiger, why not in a real "Battle of the Sexes" — with tees and flags placed differently, as they are on the LPGA tour — rather than this golf-lite approach?

LINE OF THE WEEK: Bill Scheft in ESPN The Magazine: "Beijing was officially awarded the 2008 Olympic Games July 13, which explains why NBC didn't report the news until the 28th."

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