By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Female Sports Figure of 1998
Chamique Holdsclaw. She just doesn't lose. Especially at the end of the season. At Christ the King High School in Queens, she led her team to four straight city and state titles. At Tennessee, she's brought home the NCAA championship in each of her three years there. Now she's gunning for a fourth. And every basketball fan in the tristate area is crossing their fingers that she'll be playing in a Liberty uniform come spring. Chamique Holdsclaw is quickly becoming the Michael Jordan of the women's game let's hope she has a few more qualms about doing endorsements for sweatshop-supporting firms.
Runners-Up: Cammi Granato.Combining the excitement of the Women's Dream Team basketball team in Atlanta and some of the underdog spirit of the Miracle on Ice team from Lake Placid, the U.S. women's hockey team took the gold in Nagano last February. And Granato led the way with both a bushel of goals and articulate spokesmanship. Her class act was in clear contrast with the underachieving, juvenile-delinquent, Olympic Villagetrashing U.S. men's hockey squad.
Se Ri Pak. She prevailed in one of the year's most thrilling contests, the U.S. Women's Open, after a 20-hole playoff. The next week she set an LPGA record with a round of 61. Before all that she won another major, the LPGA Championship. Two other victories sealed her year as one of the best ever. And Pak, from South Korea, is only 21 years old.
Team of 1998
New York Yankees.Best ever? Doesn't matter. They gave us a hell of a debate to go along with that awesome ride. But 125 wins is good fodder for their side of the argument. Throw in a perfect game, a batting champ, a World Series sweep, and not one, but two human dramas ("El Duque" Hernandez and Darryl Strawberry), and you've got a good case for myth of the year, if not team of the year. The only thing the Bombers haven't beaten is the immovable force that wants to yank them out of the Bronx.
Runners-Up: France.Early on Zinedine Zidane and his multiculti teammates caught catcalls from French neo-fascist Jean-Marie Le Pen and indifference from the rest of France. But by the time the Algerian-born Zidane headed home the game winners in a stunning World Cup upset of mighty Brazil, indifference had been turned into amour fou prompting the biggest party on the Champs-Elysee since World War II.
Czech Republic.With that break-dancing Gumby, Dominik Hasek, stopping everything in sight, the Czech hockey team brought home the gold. Along the way, the Czechs stopped the U.S., Canadian, and Russian teams, each of which was stocked with topflight NHL players. No matter, the Czechs had the Dominator. His sprawling, twisting, blind save of an Eric Lindros penalty shot in the game-deciding shoot-out with Canada was the tournament's signature moment.
Worst Sports Figure of 1998
David Stern and the NBA Owners. It was a lockout, after all, not a strike. The owners claim that some teams are losing money. Well, if they can't make it on 43 percent of $2 billion, what they've got is a revenue distributionproblem, not a salary problem. Besides, who says the owners should even get 43 percent? The players bring in all the money. No one pays to see Stern or Knicks owner Chuck Dolan or any other short, fat rich guys run up and down the court.
Rudy Giuliani. He's got great seats anytime he wants, he gets to go in the clubhouse on a moment's notice, and his office houses the last two Yankee World Series trophies. So what's the world's most infamous Yankee fan got to gain by building a new stadium for the Bombers? (Real estate contributions for a future campaign, perhaps?) Either way, bleacher seats are sure to be a lot more than $7 in Giuliani Field at Trump Park.
Patrick Ewing.Someone take away his cell phone, please. And while you're at it, take away his eight-figure salary and all his savings and let Patrick see what it's like to "survive." Ewing, when not mucking up the Knicks playoff run with a postseason "comeback," was demonstrating a considerable lack of tact as president of the NBAPA. His fellow players may deserve a fairer shake from the billionaire owners, but with Ewing at the helm, somehow even a 10-day contract, minimum-salary guy ended up looking like a greedy bastard.
1998 Village Voice Sportswriters Poll Results
Here are the vote totals for the Seventh Annual Sportswriters Poll. Everyone who contributed to the Voice sports section in 1998 was asked to vote for a first-, second-, and third-place finisher in each of the poll's four categories (57 contributors responded). A first-place vote was worth four points, a second-place vote two points, and a third-place vote one point. Below, the vote getters, preceded by the number of points they received.
Female Sports Figure of 1998
56 Chamique Holdsclaw, basketball
50 Cammi Granato, hockey
49 Se Ri Pak, golf
43 Marion Jones, track
29 Cynthia Cooper, basketball
26 Lindsay Davenport, tennis
20 Picabo Street, skiing
15 Venus Williams, tennis
10 Ila Borders, baseball
10 Martina Hingis, tennis
10 Pat Summitt, basketball coaching
8 Teresa Edwards, basketball
8 Florence Griffith Joyner, track legend
8 Teresa Weatherspoon, basketball
6 Jackie Joyner-Kersee, track
6 Sang Lan, gymnastics/injury survivor
6 Billie Jean King, tennis/activism
5 Franca Fiacconi, marathon
5 Dominique Moceanu, gymnastics*
5 Nykesha Sales, basketball
4 Pasha Grishuk, ice dancing
4 Mia Hamm, soccer
4 Ann Trason, ultra marathon
4 Hayley Wickenheiser, hockey
2 Kisha Ford, basketball
2 Yolanda Griffith, basketball
2 Michelle Kwan, figure skating
2 Tegla Loroupe, marathon
2 Lucia Rijker, boxing
2 Katja Seizinger, skiing
2 Serena Williams, tennis
1 Svetlana Abrosimova, basketball
1 Jenny Chuasiriporn, golf
1 Julie Foudy, soccer/broadcasting
1 Anna Kournikova, tennis*
1 Lisa Leslie, basketball
1 Shannon Strong, lumberjill
1 Sarah Tueting, hockey