The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 12, 2001 · Page 23
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 23

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Salina, Kansas
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Thursday, April 12, 2001
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Page 23
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THURSDAY APRIL 12. 2001 THE SALIN/V JOURNAL Sports COLLEGE BASKETBALL / D3 AL ROUNDUP/D4 NL ROUNDUP/D4 • COMMENT T ROYALS DAVID LASSEN Venlum (Calif.) County Star Yanks to KG: Thanks for playing Rodriguez seems to have right attitude ANAHEIM, Calif. — OK, so it's a given: no one is really worth that kind of money, especially for skills involving the manipulation of a piece of a dead tree and the skin of an unfortunate cow. But if someone (Thomas 0. Hicks, to be precise) was going to find a reason to ignore fiscal sanity as people without chauffeurs know it, he could have made a far worse choice for the recipient of quarter of a billion dollars than Alex Rodriguez. This has nothing to do with what Rodriguez may or may not do in his first season as shortstop for the Texas Rangers. The guy has already made an out —19 of 'em, in fact, in Texas' first seven games — so the 1.000 batting average which might have quieted a few of the fiscally incensed is out of reach. No, this has to do with how he handles the weight of being The Man With The Contract. The BiU Gates of the Athletically Inclined came to town on Tuesday and spent $719.18 of his time in a little sit-down with the media before the Rangers played the Angels in Anaheim's season opener With The Devil Incarnate sitting quietly in the back of the conference room — you know him as agent Scott Boras, who negotiated The Contract; those in high positions in major league baseball know him by terms too harsh for a Tarentino film — Rodriguez spent those 15 minutes musing about questions on baseball, dealing with being the walking representation of the net worth of Belize, and the relationship between the two. And as much as you might like to consider him the uniformed equivalent of the stock-market crash, or think that his $155,555.56 per-game income single-handedly represents about $4 of the cost of your $16.50 field-box seat'at The People Who Brought You The Energy Crisis Field, when you listen to Rodriguez, it's hard not to start thinking: ' Well, if somebody was going to single-handedly lead to a new press run of thousand-dollar bills, at least it's a guy who seems to have the right attitude. "I'm 25 years old, and I have so much to work on in this game," said GoldenRod, "that I'm in love with this game. • And I feel that if 1 get an opportunity to play for another 15 years, I'm going to be the luckiest man in the world. I don't want that love to be tainted by the financial side of it. I have Scott and Mr. Hicks, and they can talk about that all they want, but my love of the game is what I'm about." Love of the game was Rodriguez' theme more than once, and amazingly enough, he was able to make it sound both refreshing and genuine. " How, he was asked, did he think he was viewed by the minimum-wage players of the game ("minimum" being a relative term in major-league baseball) when they looked across the field at the guy with a Bat Valet, rather than a batboy? (OK, not really But you get the idea.) "I can't say what they think about me," he said. "I can say what I would think If I was them, what I did think when I was a rookie. I looked at guys like Cal Ripken and Barry Bonds and used it as a motivating factor. ... "If you go back to loving the game and playing it well, and go back to fundamentals, I think the financial resources are there that you're going to get rewarded." : And the most rewarded man !of all (at least for now) was lasked if he thought it would [ever be possible again that he ;would just be thought of as a See LASSEN, Page D3 New York continues its mastery of Royals, completing season sweep with an 8-5 victory By DOUG TUCKER The Associated Press KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The New York Yankees played their entire season series against Kansas City short-hand- . ^, ed. Not that the Royals Yankees 8 even noticed. Alfonso So- Royals riano and Paul O'Neill had three RBIs apiece as the New York Yankees completed a sweep of the six- game season series against Kansas City with an 8-5 win Wednesday After sweeping the Royals with­ out All-Star Derek Jeter to open the season, the Yankees won three straight in Kansas City without All-star Bernie Williams. "I'm sure they're glad we're leaving," said Todd Williams (1-0), who pitched 2% innings of relief for the win. "But those guys are still tough. They came out of spring playing great and we were just the opposite." It's the second time in Yankees' history they have swept a season series of more than three games in any non-abbreviated season. The other time was 1998 when they were 10-0 against Kansas City j 'nn sure they're glad we're leaving. - Todd Williams Yankees pitcher ^ ^ Since 1997, the Yankees are 28-7 against the team they met four times in the playoffs between 1976-80. "For sure, it's not a level play­ ing field," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. Times and payrolls have changed since the late '70s. The Yankees with a payroll of $109.8 million outscored the Royals' $35.6 million lineup 46-19 in the six games. "You're facing four guys who have a chance to be No. 1 starters on almost any team," Royals third baseman Joe Randa said. "There's a reason those guys make the money they do. They've been doing it year in and year out, most of them for about 10 years See SWEEP, Page D4 Buck-ing Bronco T CAGERZ AP file photo Quarterback Brian Griese, shown during a team practice Aug. 9 in Greeley, Colo., signed a six-year contract to stay with the Broncos on Wednesday. The deal is reportedly worth nearly $40 million. Story, page D3. Flax not wasting anytime Coach in scranrible mode as opening of camp approaches By BOB DAVIDSON TlieSalina Journal The cellular phone on Francis Flax's desk rang, interrupting him in mid-sentence. The caller's name wasn't familiar, but his profession was — a sports agent looking for a team for two of his clients, one with minimal NBA experience, the other a for- T MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL Twins: First is better than worst After eight straight losing seasons, Twins like view from top By DAVE CAMPBELL The Associated Press MINNEAPOLIS — Being in first place 10 days into the season means nothing — except to the Minnesota Twins. After eight straight losing seasons, the Twins (5-2) entered Wednesday in first place in the AL Central. Buoyed by a solid starting rotation and progress from a handful of young hitters, the Twins have optimism that hasn't been seen in Minnesota since they won the 1991 World Series. "We're happy," reliever Eddie Guardado said Wednesday. "We had a great spring training. And right now, it's carrying T COLLEGE BASKETBALL AP file photo The Twins' Brian Buchanan (center) is congratulated by teammates Luis RIvas (2) and David Ortiz (27) after a three-run home run Tuesday against Detroit. over to the season." "We try to do the best we can Manager Tom Kelly was a bit each day," Kelly said. "We want more careful. to keep improving, clean up some things we're doing wrong, practice hard, play hard and come out and just do the best we can." Before anyone starts hunting for the Homer Hankies of the World Series years, let's put this into perspective. Yes, the Twins have won often so far, but four of the wins have come against the inept Detroit Tigers. In a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals last weekend, another club not expected to contend, Minnesota lost twice. When pitching-rich teams like the New York Yankees start appearing on the schedule, things will get tougher for the Twins. Contending over the long haul in the Central with Cleveland and the Chicago White Sox is probably unrealistic. „ See TWINS, Page D5 NCAA rejects appeal from Texas Tech Red Raiders' bid to regain scholarships doesn't come through By PAM EASTON The Associated Press LUBBOCK, Texas — An NCAA subcommittee denied Texas Tech's appeal of a rule that limits basketball coach Bob Knight to recruiting five scholarship players this yean The school was trying to regain two scholarships. "We thought we had a very strong case," associate athletic director Shane Lyons said Wednesday. "We weren't requesting anything that we didn't think was due to us." Knight will have no more than nine scholarship players on his team next season, one less than Tech played with during its worst year of three years of NCAA sanctions that began in 1998. In 1999, the Red Raiders played with 10 scholarship players. The school limited itself to 11 players in 1998 and 2000 after the athletic department was cited for NCAA violations, including unethical conduct. The men's basketball program was cited for noncertification. The NCAA allows schools to play with no more than 13 scholarship players. A new rule that takes effect in August limits universities to recruiting no more than eight players over' any given two-year period. The NCAA administrative review subcommittee rejected the school's request to restore the scholarships as stipulated by the infractions committee at the end of the penalty phase. NCAA spokeswoman Jane Jankowski said the new rule has been put in place in an effort to promote better recruiting decisions, reduce attrition rates and transfer rates, and to maintain consistency within Division I programs. The rule also attempts to help student- athletes maintain their scholarships throughout their collegiate careers, she said. Tech would have returned to the full 13 scholarship players next season — its first without NCAA sanctions. But Knight kicked three scholarship players off the team a week after becoming the school's 12th head coach. A fourth player, Ronald Hobbs, asked to be released from his scholarship. The dismissals diminished Tech's scholarship players to four. m e r NCAA scoring champion, albeit six years and several pounds ago. "I had 15 messages like that on my (answering) machine this morning," Flax said Wednesday afternoon during an interview in the Kansas Cagerz's new office location at 252 South Santa Fe. With the helter-skelter minor league basketball season winding down and the NBA season in the home stretch, agents are busy seeking new opportunities for players seeking to prove they are the next Michael Jordan. Or at least Vince Carter. A marker board above Flax's desk lists several names of potential players for the Cagerz, who open training camp in 10 days and begin their third season in Salina in 18 days. Flax, the team's first-year general manager and head coach, was still beaming about his first United States Basketball League draft held on Tuesday, one that saw him land the two players he wanted with his first two picks — guards Darren Kelly of Texas and Tory Walker of New Orleans. "I like who we got," Flax said. "We've got a chance to have most of them at least come in and give it a try" Flax said he talked earlier in the day Wednesday with Baylor guard DeMarcus Minor, the team's fifth-round draft pick. Minor's interest in playing for the Cagerz was in question Tuesday after the draft. A similar situation exits with fourth- round pick Tajudeen Soyoye, a 6-foot-9 center from Missouri. Soyoye is a pre-med student and reportedly wants to give up playing to pursue his degree. He is a native of Nigeria. "Tony Harvey (Missouri assistant coach) is trying to nail down what he wants to do," Flax said. "I think we've got a better chance of getting (Minor) in here now than we did last night. "I do know this much — Eric Carter (sixth round pick) wUl be here in camp; Tory Walker (second) wiU be in camp; Craig Rodgers (third) will be in camp; Darren Kelly (first) will be in camp." Flax defended the selection of Rodgers, who at 6-11 and 250 pounds has the body for the pro game, but whose numbers were lacking last season. He averaged 6.8 points and 3.8 rebounds for Toledo. "He has good hands and he's See CAGERZ, Page D2 SUGGESTIONS? CALL BOB DAVIDSON, SPORTS EDITOR, AT 823-6363 OR 1-800-827-6363 OR E-MAIL AT sjbdavidson@saljournal.com

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