St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri on March 20, 2000 · Page 6
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri · Page 6

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Monday, March 20, 2000
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3 MAR -20 203 ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH MONI)AYL March 20, , 2000 A golden oldie The newest Cardinal is also the oldest, but lefthanded reliever Jesse Orosco may be the final piece of the puzzle for a team that expects to contend in the National League Central. C2 SECTION c Farewell from a fan Though unpopular, trade of McEwing does make sense Trading Joe McEwing is like being mean to a kitten. It's stealing candy from a baby. It's like laughing at the end of the film, "My Dog Skip." It's Dan Devine not letting "Rudy" dress for a football game at Notre Dame. It's like rooting against the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team when it played the Soviets. Trading "Super Joe" is a thankless, heartless job, but Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty volunteered to do it. Baseball people have to make baseball decisions. The executives get paid to think with their heads. We have it much easier; we form opin- ions based on Bernie EE in our "Little Mac" was one of my favorite St. Louis athletes. Ever. I got a kick just observing him the clubhouse, in the dugout, getting ready to play ball. He'd have a determined look on his face, staring at his locker. Every day was Game 7 of the World Series. It was a joy to watch McEwing take his at-bats. The way he'd stretch, roll his shoulders, twitch, exhale, tug on his jersey. Or the way he'd run the bases or chase down baseball with his relentless hustle. "It's great to be in the big leagues," he'd always say. McEwing represented what baseball players used to be or at least our romanticized ideal of what we think they should be. He was honored to wear the uniform. He would have paid the Cardinals to let him play. In this era of cynicism and greed, we embrace a Joe McEwing and his old-school values. That's why Cardinals manager Tony La Russa grabbed McEwing's cleats on Saturday, after the trade with the Mets. La Russa plans to keep McEwing's red shoes in his office, "to remind me of what a professional ballplayer is supposed to be." McEwing batted over .400 through much of last April. Could it last? After all, McEwing was a 26-year-old rookie. It took him seven seasons to reach the big leagues. He batted .279 in nearly 3,000 minor-league at-bats. That's a fine average, but nothing spectacular for a player with limited speed and power. Alas, "Super Joe's" time in his personal fantasy camp began to run out. He could hit fastballs, but pitchers always adjust. And they began tormenting our hero with offspeed pitches, breaking balls. He batted .252 in July, .205 in August, .214 in September-October. He faded. And McEwing was batting a skimpy .143 this spring. Super Joe fans and I am one didn't want to face the reality. McEwing wasn't going to make the 25-man roster. Jocketty, desperate for a lefty reliever, sent McEwing to the Mets for Jesse Orosco. And McEwing won't break camp with the Mets, either. They plan to send him to Class AAA Norfolk. Orosco, 42, has been around forever or so it seems. While doing some research to see if Orosco had faced Babe Ruth I spotted some stats. Orosco had some minor arm problems in the first half of 1999. But as Orosco got healthy, he started getting his slider down. And after the All-Star break, his ERA was 2.08. Maybe he's still capable of doing a job as a late-inning specialist, tantalizing lefty hitters. I didn't want to admit it at first, but this trade makes sense. Before Super Joe, there was the "Wonder Dog," Rex Hudler. Some day, there will be another "Super Joe." It might even be a spunky Cardinals farmhand named Stubby Clapp. The truth is, there's no shortage of scrappy, hungry, utility players. The Cardinals may have taken his uniform, but after seven years in the bush leagues, McEwing had made it to "The Show." He fulfilled the "Field of Dreams" mythology that baseball fans rush to embrace. And no one can ever take that away 4-from "Super Joe." EAST REGION SECOND ROUND: Florida 93, Illinois 76 DUD i n n n n nnnn aimfflisr quick tamy n. SKlft I ) 0 , irN' '"' ' si--'" "A JLs-. . ' ' ( '': I I'M V?v ' '' rT'infli. m mr.""--rmiiT " "iliiin l n-iw-irmTrTnr'-t"n,i''irTrT-TrnrirmrrTr-T-'-i n "" 1 """ - " .---..L, .- THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Victor Chukwudebe consoles tammate Sergio McClain, who called Illinois' lopsided defeat to Florida "probably the worst loss I have ever felt." Illinois fails to move past second round for 11th year in row By Nick Wishart Of the Post-Dispatch WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. As he staggered off the court Sunday for the final time this season, Illinois junior forward Sergio McClain turned to mush. He had fouled out with 1 minute 9 seconds left to play, and by then his team was down for the count. McClain then stretched his arms around a teammate and buried his head. Myriad thoughts were scrambling his brain. "All those opportunities we had," said McClain, after his team got walloped 93-76 by Florida in the second round of the NCAA Tournament's East Regional. "You keep listening to those other scores from other games. Cincinnati got beat, Temple got beat. You look at that and say, 'Wow, we really have a chance if we get out of this bracket.' "I felt bad for the seniors, and for not doing what we were expected to do in this tournament. And just knowing that I only have one year left. All of that just overwhelmed me. It's a hard feeling. This is probably the worst loss I have ever felt. It hurt." The season-ending loss, played at Lawrence Joel Veter ans Memorial Coliseum, sends Illinois (the fourth seed in the ' East) home with a 22-10 record. It also extends the team's streak of futility in the early rounds of the tournament. Not since 1989 has Illinois advanced past the second round. The fifth-seeded Gators (26-7) move on to play top-seed Duke in the East Regional semifinals, which will be played Friday in Syracuse, N.Y. It's Florida's second consecutive trip to the Sweet 16 under fourth-year coach Billy Donovan. "It was a great win," Donovan said. "I'm so happy for our kids." Illinois coach Lon Kruger, who coached at Florida for six years, wishes he could say the same. But the Illini had a terrible shooting day, and they compounded that by fouling often. Illinois sophomore Cory Bradford scored a game-high 27 points and hit eight of 16 shots from the floor, but the rest of the team flopped. "We shot horrible today," said freshman center Brian Cook, who scored just two points. "We fought our hearts out, and we had some great looks at the basket. They just didn't go in." Illinois shot 39 percent from the field; the Gators shot 48 percent. Each team made nine 3-pointers and 26 baskets in all. But after the Illini dug themselves out of a seven-point hole early in the game by going on a 17-5 run to take a 28-21 advantage with 6:53 to play in the first half they missed their last eight shots of the period. Florida, meanwhile, went on a See Illinois, C4 Sunday's results Inside ' EAST REGIONAL 1 Duke 69, S Kansas 64 5 Florida 93, 4 Illinois 76 3 Ok. St 75, 11 Pepperdine 67 10 Seton Hall 67, 2 Temple 65 SOUTH REGIONAL 8 N.Carolina 60, 1 Stanford 53 4Tenn. 65, S UConn 51 6 Miami 75, 3 Ohio St. 62 7 Tuba 69, 2 Cincinnati 61 Stories, C3-4 WOMEN'S TOURNAMENT Perm State advances to Kansas City for the Sweet 16. C5 MEN'S TOURNAMENT Khalid B-Amin's injured ankle inhibits UConn. C3 P- Fredrik Jonzen carries Oklahoma State to the Sweet 16. C3 ft- Updated bracket C4 Upset Sunday Top-seeded Stanford falls Some said North Carolina did not deserve to make the NCAA tourney. But now the Tar Heels are flying high after knocking off the Cardinal, the nation's top-ranked team for much of the season, in the South Regional in Birmingham, Ala. C3 Second -seeded Temple falls Seton Hall's star guard Shaheen Holloway injured his ankle eight minutes into the game. Backup Ty Shine stepped in and guided the Pirates over the Owls in the East Regional in Buffalo, N.Y. C3 Second-seeded Cincinnati falls The Bearcats were unable to fill the void left by injured Ail-American Kenyon Martin as Tuba got 16 points and 16 rebounds from Eric Coley to beat Cincinnati in the South Regional in Nashville, Tenn. C3 (mi THE ASSOCIATED PRESS North Carolina forward Jason Capel jumps Sunday into the arms of teammate Kris Lang after the Tar Heels upset No. 1 seed Stanford 60-53. ICAA Division I Wrestling Championships Iowa takes team title among throng of winners Sport makes a grand impression with gallant display of emotions By Dan O'Neill Of the Post-Dispatch Three days of grunting, gripping and grappling came to a ceremonious end Saturday at Kiel Center. The University of Iowa, the dominant gene in college wrestling, staged a remarkable rally to win the NCAA Championship, edging rival Iowa State. The Hawkeyes have won 20 NCAA titles in the last 26 years, nine of the last 10. They own college wrestling, have the sales slip and the title to prove it. The team title is part of the unique ambiance and curious ambiguity of this sport. This is, after all, an individual war, a personal quest. The team results speak to the depth of a program, put gloss on the press guide, provide camaraderie and put gas in the recruiting tank. But there are no sacrifice bunts in wrestling, no laterals or alley- oop passes. Eighteen warriors went to the mat on Saturday, hoping to consummate many months of rising, lifting, bruising, bleeding, sweating and crying with a title "the best in the nation." Nine wrestlers accomplished that venerable goal, nine fell one match shy. In most cases, team standings were a secondary concern. The theater provided is unlike any in the amateur or professional domain. Genuine wrestling is not a pretty site. Grace and polish are not a prominent part of the fabric. Subtlety and refinement are not easily identified. The traditional See Wrestling, C7 Woods romps at Bay Hill With The Masters just three weeks away, Tiger Woods began tuning his game for Augusta with a 4-stroke win over Davis Love III at the Bay Hill Invitational in Orlando, Fla. C8 Ward Burton ends his NASCAR drought Ward Burton took the lead with 36 laps remaining in the race then cruised to victory in the Mall.com 400 NASCAR race in Darlington, S.C. It was his first Winston Cup victory since 1995, his only other win. C2 NCAA Divisicih III ?i Women's Tournament .... t- WU claims third straight championship Bears complete 30-0 season with title-game blowout : Washington II. 79, So. Maine 33 : By Kathleen Nelson Of the Post-Dispatch DANBURY, Conn. To the strains of "Simply the Best," the Washington University women's basketball team let out a primal scream, then hugged one another with all their might. Simple. Understated. Typical behavior for the three-time NCAA Division III women's basketball champions. They left the immediate mirth and frivolity to their fans after a 79-33 victory over Southern Maine on Saturday, standing under a shower of Silly String launched from the seats behind the bench. The Bears (30-0) became only the second team in NCAA history to complete successive undefeated seasons. The other was the men's team at UCLA in 1971-72 and 72-73, coached by John Wooden. Coach Nancy Fahey was unaware she had joined Wooden in a circle of two. "He's been giving me the warm fuzzies all year," she said in refer- ence to compliments Wooden paid the Bears when they broke the women's NCAA record for most consecutive victories. The streak stands at 68, and WU is closing in on the NCAA record of 88, held by Wooden's Bruins. "Face it; this is a great bunch of players. I'm lucky to coach them." The observant in the crowd at O'Neill Center could have sensed that the victory was inevitable long before the final buzzer. The first hint was when Fahey cried in practice. It was there in the way the Bears ignored the mean-spirited Huskies fans chanting "Three-peat's over" over and over. It was there when senior center Alia Fischer shed a tear during the national anthem. And it was there in the way the heirs to the program took over when linchpins Fischer and Tasha Rodgers got into foul trouble. Defensive pressure forced two fouls by Rodgers in the first four minutes and a pair on Fischer two minutes later. Rodgers and Fischer sat on the bench the rest of the half. Lindsey Merrill replaced Rodgers; Robin Lehargoue replaced Fischer. It didn't matter. The Bears relied on the outside shooting of Beth Reuther, Sara Ettner and Sue Tucker to extend the lead to 20-5 with 12 minutes 51 seconds remaining in the first half. And the replacements in the middle restored order to the Bears galaxy. Merrill led the team with nine rebounds in the half. Lehargoue shared the lead in scoring with Reuther, with seven points each, as the Bears built a 38-17 halftime lead. Senior Emily Harold scoffed at the notion that the Bears would fold with the second string. "Those guys practice against the best post players every day," she said. "They were ready for anything." , Huskies coach Gary Fifield credited the Bears' perimeter players, calling them, "better than any we played this year. They pass so welL Tonight, they shot so well. And their defense was all over the ball." The Bears smothered Southern Maine (26-6), usually giving the Huskies just one shot often ill-advised, as the shot clock expired that resulted in 22.2 percent field-goal shooting. Rodgers and Fischer returned in the second half, scoring 14 and 13 points, respectively, though they were needed only to take bows. Three-pointers from Merrill and Reuther gave the Bears a 49-20 lead with 14 -minutes remaining. And if they didn't know before then, the Huskies' fans acknowledged defeat with their silence. Shortly thereafter, the Bears and their fans started to squirm in their seats. Fahey showed dramatic timing worthy of Steven Spielberg in spacing the departures of her starters. " "You can't ask to end a season any better or in a more amazing way," Reuther said. "You're going to have memories to carry with you all your life,

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