The Sports pages

Bring on the Baseball Strike

After Robert Horry sank a last-second three-pointer to push the Los Angeles Lakers past the Sacramento Kings in Game 4, the Sacramento Bee’s Mark Kriedler moaned, “You don’t need me to tell you the Kings won’t get another chance in this series like the one they had here, when the two-time defending champions from L.A. spotted them a 24-point first-half lead, a seven-point advantage opening the fourth quarter and a five-point edge with two minutes to play. … [T]hey wrote this ending themselves, giving back this game bit by bit, undoing their own inspired, often brilliant work one possession at a time.”

The Los Angeles Times’ T.J. Simers writes, “The biggest issue facing the Lakers as they prepare to leave for Sacramento tonight is who will be food tester for Kobe. Isn’t that why they still have Mitch Richmond on the roster?”

But not everyone is bullish on Los Angeles’ prospects. The Times’ J.A. Adande notes that the Lakers have spent the better part of the series playing like underdogs. “[T]he Lakers will have to revert to their old selves for much longer than 12 to 24 minutes a game if they want to collect two more victories. Right now the best that can be said about them is that they can win this series, not that they will win this series.”

Kings center Vlade Divac explained: “Just a lucky shot, that’s all. You don’t need to have skills in that kind of situation. Just throw it, and if it goes in, it goes in.” No word on whether it was luck or skill that caused Divac to blow a critical free throw seconds before Horry’s game-winner.

The wreck at Indy: The true winner of Sunday’s Indy 500 remained in doubt more than 24 hours after the race’s end. The dispute came down to whether driver Paul Tracy was correctly penalized for passing Helio Castroneves, the declared winner, under a caution flag. The Indianapolis Star’s Bob Kravitz writes, “After five hours of looking at racing’s version of the Zapruder film and studying other data, the best IRL officials could do was adopt the shaky stance of an incompetent NFL referee: We couldn’t find conclusive evidence to overturn the call, so the original call stands.” Finally, after more hand-wringing, Castroneves was still the winner—but officials couldn’t muster the video evidence to prove it.

Who says a baseball strike is such a bad thing? Small-market columnists cheer the prospect of a baseball strike. “Shut down the game, such as it is,” the St. Petersburg Times’ Gary Shelton writes. “Lock the gates. Unlike every other stoppage before, don’t come back until you can spread around the competitiveness, and the hope, a little bit. … The Rays are the same as the Royals, who are the same as the Tigers, who are the same as the Padres, who are the same as the Pirates, who are the same as the rest of baseball’s great unwashed. None of them has a chance.”

The Kansas City Star’s Jason Whitlock explains, “I say let the work stoppage begin. … If the owners take the proper, hardcore negotiating position and my sportswriting colleagues properly explain what’s at stake, I believe baseball fans will side with the owners, and there will be little fan hostility.”

Where have you gone, Nick Buoniconti? Lest NFL studio shows wind up like the network news, producers have begun to weed out graying hosts, USA Today’s Rudy Martzke’s reports. HBO dumped Len Dawson, Jerry Glanville, and Nick Buoniconti, all over age 60, from its Inside the NFL show. CBS dropped Glanville and Mike Ditka.Fox Sports canned seventysomethings Deacon Jones and Marv Levy.

What Martzke doesn’t say is that the reason the old guys are getting fired might have something to do with the huge number of recent retirees who have pushed them out of the booth. In the last year alone, the networks have recruited Deion Sanders, Cris Carter, Tony Siragusa, Troy Aikman, Daryl Johnston, Michael Irvin, and DeMarco Farr, none of whom are more than a few years removed from their NFL retirement. And in almost every case, the youngsters have revitalized the telecasts.

Not all the news about the youth movement is good, however. Martzke reports that Fox Sports’ NFL This Morning is shopping for a “replacement comedian” to fill in for Jay Mohr, who fled to ESPN.

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