- The Washington Times - Monday, August 7, 2000

Is nothing sacred any more? Apparently not when it comes to making big bucks potentially anyway on the Internet.

For fans of a certain age, the most dramatic moment in baseball history remains Bobby Thomson's ninth-inning home run off Ralph Branca that won the 1951 pennant playoff for the New York Giants over the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball's so-called "Shot Heard Round the World." Now an outfit called Steiner Sports Marketing has signed the pair to an exclusive collectibles deal.

Thomson's homer is one of a series of cyberspace baseball card moments that Steiner will begin issuing in the fall. "You put the card into the disc and the whole moment is reenacted," a company spokesman said. "We hope to have the Mookie Wilson-Bill Buckner play from the 1986 World Series and Enos Slaughter's dash home with the winning run in the 1946 World Series."

What, no electronic version of "Merkle's Boner," circa 1908?

It's nice that Thomson and Branca were friends after their baseball careers both became extremely successful businessmen but do we really need to have their cataclysmic moment (3:58 p.m. at the Polo Grounds on Oct. 3, 1951) "reenacted." And how many people who surf the Web will be old enough to care?

All Steiner needs to do to make the moment really cheesy is add Russ Hodges' famously hysterical radio call: "The Giants win the pennant, the Giants win the pennant," etc… . Don't bet against it.

Garbage collectors

In our continuing efforts to point out the idiotic prices paid by some memorabilia collectors, how about this: A baseball autographed by the 1919 Chicago Not-So-White Sox went for $93,666 during an on-line auction.

That's right the infamous Black Sox who tossed the 1919 World Series to the vastly inferior Cincinnati Reds.

The ball was autographed by the entire White Sox team, not just the eight players who were thrown out of baseball a year later by the game's first commissioner, rock-rumped Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Supposedly what made the ball extremely valuable was the ersatz signature of slugging Shoeless Joe Jackson. Jackson didn't sign many things, and with good reason: He was illiterate.

Hey, this nonsense has to stop somewhere, sometime. Doesn't anybody remember, or care, that these guys betrayed their honest teammates and White Sox fans, as well as the Grand Old Game itself?

'Round Mound' II?

Pausing between his NBA career and his anticipated entry into politics, Charles Barkley has some unsolicited advice for Mike "Skinny" Miller, the Orlando Magic's first-round draft pick lose the nickname.

"If you're a little guard running around the perimeter, 'Skinny' is fine," Barkley said in Sioux Falls, S.D., of all places. "But if there's paint underneath your feet, you better be called 'Beefy' or 'Chunky.' "

Or maybe another "Round Mound of Rebound," as Barkley was known at Auburn in his porkier days.

Miller, lest we forget, is a 6-foot-8 forward from Florida and a South Dakota native. Says Barkley: "I obviously follow the SEC quite a bit, and he's got that little charisma thing where he can get people excited. He's also not afraid to take the big shot."

Fine. Now all Miller has to do is live up to this praise from on high.

O's new mouthpiece

News item: The Baltimore Orioles hire President Clinton's personal attorney, David Kendall, to represent them in a dispute with their landlord, the state of Maryland.

Comment: Can you impeach an entire baseball team, even one as recently restructured as the O's? And why doesn't Peter Angelos handle the case himself?

Of course, it has been said that a lawyer who defends himself has a fool for a client. Well?

Favre takes a hit

Here's another example of how Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers are no longer masters of all they purvey, even in Cheesehead land. A steakhouse named for the quarterback and two-time NFL MVP has closed in Milwaukee after three years and will reopen as an Italian restaurant.

Italian, as in Vince Lombardi?

Favre's steakhouse in Green Bay will not be affected, which certainly must be a relief to fans hungry for another title. As Favre goes, so goes the Pack in 2000.

Eminently quotable

Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher, on star running back Eddie George: "We all know Eddie doesn't always feel 100 percent when he steps on the practice field. That doesn't matter. The mark of a great back in this league is when you can line up and play through the nicks and bruises and through the pain and push yourself through it. When he sets a standard, the rest of the team will follow." …

George, on being compared with such former stars as Barry Sanders, Jim Brown and O.J. Simpson: "I really don't want to try to follow in the footsteps of anyone but create my own footsteps." …

Cuban slugger Omar Linares, on why he won't leave his homeland to play major league baseball no matter how much he's offered: "They are people who come to you without giving you their names. I told them not to waste their time, that I didn't even know what millions of dollars were." …

NFL MVP Kurt Warner, in his autobiography "All Things Possible," on being snubbed by coach Hayden Fry on a recruiting trip to Iowa in 1988: "The King got within a couple of feet of me, and I very nearly extended my hand. It's a good thing I didn't or I would have been left hanging. Fry walked right past me as if I didn't exist and started schmoozing with some of the other recruits."

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