Even WFAN won’t touch it, but admit it, you’ve been curious. What happens in the standings when a team has a firsthand brush with the Big C? Since we’ve been down with Darryl when everyone else was down on him, Jockbeat will go there. And unfortunately for the Yanks, there’s not much good news. The 1997 Orioles had built up most of their AL East lead before Eric Davis’s diagnosis, and then were upset by the Indians in the AL Division Series. The 1996 Dodgers earned the NL wild card after Brett Butler came down with throat cancer, but lost to the Bravesin the playoffs. The 1994 Phillies went from the World Series to fourth place after first baseman John Kruk came down with testicular cancer. That same year the White Sox took the AL Central crown after Scott Radinsky missed the year with Hodgkin’s disease, but the postseason was wiped out by the strike. The 1973 Minnesota Twins slipped slightly after infielder Danny Thompson was diagnosed with leukemia, while the 1963 Houston Astros drew inspiration but few extra wins from the plight of pitcher Jim Umbricht,who posted a 2.61 ERA after coming back from cancer surgery and ultimately had his number retired by the team. On the subject of truly good news, note that bicycle racer Lance Armstrong, on the comeback trail after a case of metastasized testicular cancer, finished fourth overall in last week’s multistage Tour of Spain.
Williams Family Values
”I try to do two charity events a day five days a week,” said Jayson Williams at the recent Post Oreo O’s Hoop Jam at Basketball City, ”and the only criteria is that they be family-orientated.” The contest–which featured finalists from Minneapolis, Chicago, and Dallas, as well as New York–promised the 150 slam-dunkers a $1000 grand prize, though all participants got to take home as many boxes of the new cereal as they wanted. If only payment were so easy in the NBA. ”Commissioner Stern makes $10 million dollars a year, but I don’t hear anything about him taking a pay cut,” Williams noted, referring to the league’s insistence on a player salary cap. ”But as soon as you get a black man trying to make some money, everyone says, ‘He shouldn’t make $15 million a year.’ ” Said Williams, ”You should be able to make as much money as somebody wants to pay you–it’s the American way.”
So’s eating cookies for breakfast. How does the Nets star feel about pushing kids to start the day with Oreos, never touted (till now)a breakfast of champions? ”It takes so much time to eat Oreos. You got to dip it in the milk. Now we finally figured out we could put ’em all in a bowl together!” Lockout, shmockout–this is progress.
What About Wheatley?
Giants’ coach Jim Fassel told the media last week that he planned to use running back Tyrone Wheatley on special teams Sunday against Tampa Bay. He also wouldn’t ”rule out” using him to give starter Gary Brown ”a breather.” Instead, Wheatley, the Giants’ number-one draft choice in 1995, stood on the sidelines in street clothes as New York fell 20?3 to the Bucs. It was his third game as a healthy scratch this season.
Once a star at the University of Michigan, Wheatley has struggled in his four years as a Giant, averaging fewer than three yards per carry. This year, he has remained in Fassel’s doghouse since training camp even though the backs ahead of him on the depth chart have averaged only 77 yards rushing per game this season. Starting his first game of the year, the veteran Brown set a Big Blue season high Sunday, gaining only 67 yards on 17 carries.
In losing to Tampa Bay (2-3), however, the Giants showed they may need to retool the entire offensive backfield. QB Danny Kanell completed only 10 passes in 27 attempts for 83 yards. He threw three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown on Big Blue’s first possession of the game. Coming into the contest, the Giants’ offense was leading the league in ”three-and-outs” (possessions in which the offense punted after failing to get a first down).
Even with six more such drives on Sunday, Fassel told reporters after the game that he never considered replacing Kanell with veteran backup Kent Graham. Now 2?3, the Giants are spending this week searching for solutions to their struggling offense as they prepare to battle their ex Dan Reeves and the Atlanta Falcons (3?1) at the Meadowlands Sunday night. Whether those answers include Wheatley and Graham remains to be seen.
contributors: ALLEN ST. JOHN, ADAMMA INCE, BRIAN DUNLEAVY sports editor: KATHERINE PUSHKAR