The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 14, 2001 · Page 23
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 23

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Saturday, April 14, 2001
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SATURDAY APRIL 14, 2001 THE SALINAJOURNAL Sports AL, NL ROUNDUPS / D3 GOLF / D3 TENNIS / D3 T COMMENT DAVID STEELE San Francisco Chronicle HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL Wilson stymies Mustangs Air Jordan can save NBA once again • Michael Jordan might be icoming back. Great! It's exactly what the NBA needs. : On the other hand, great. It's exactly what the NBA needs. • The typical NBA fan likely subscribes to the first thought. ;The typical NBA front-office type on Park Avenue in Manhattan has good reason to subscribe to the latter. Both are right. And so, by the way, is Jordan himself, in wanting to come back. So if two wrongs don't make a right, then what do three rights make? It makes for a very twisted, troubled, confused league. If its greatest player is returning to center stage, that means the fans will flock back. But those same fans will only continue to disdain the product the NBA tried to create without that star. And that star, due to his restless, ultra-competitive nature, will do nothing to change that thinking. The paying public has clearly made its choice. On the ballot: Michael or Allen Iverson. Michael or Shaq vs. Kobe. Michael or the Twin Towers. Michael or Grant Hill (in street clothes). Michael or Kevin Garnett (stranded on an ice floe with a gutted, disgraced franchise). Michael or Vinsanity (and his one-and-out Raptors). And maybe most significantly: Michael or Zach Randolph, or Gilbert Arenas, or Tyson Chandler. Don't need a recount for that. No doubt, Michael Jordan will be the best player in the NBA when he returns, if not right away, then by the end of his first full season. He will make the Wizards exponentially better, probably a playoff team, probably a conference semifinalist with maybe one good addition. Preposterous? Without Michael, the Bulls of the 1990s would have been the Hawks or the Bucks. Scottie Pippen would be Derrick McKey. Phil Jackson would be Doug ^Moe. Dennis Rodman would be la fuUtime wrestler. ; Most of all, Jordan will be ;worth the price of admission and more. Attendance will blow up. Ratings will skyrocket. Opponents will again cower in his presence, whether they intend to or not. Even if his Wizards never win a championship, every team that does and every player that leads it there will be eclipsed by Planet MJ. The NBA will be as hot as it was before he left. And at the same time, the league's recovery from the ; post-Michael hangover will be .delayed once again. By the :time he finally goes away for ,good, the NBA will be ready ;for full-blown rehab. The break in continuity af- !ter Jordan's departure has ibeen devastating for the NBA, .maybe more than the depar- ;ture of any other star from •any other sport. The possible ', exception is the NHL, where ; Mario Lemieux's return might serve as the perfect blueprint. ;How phenomenal has it been •to see Lemieux shake off the Irust and dominate the game just as before? Well, how much does his dominance also point out how lame, watered-down and bereft of transcendent talent his league has become? Then again, the NHL never had the kind of run of nationwide (worldwide, in fact) popularity that the NBA did for the 20 years that bridged the primes of Dr. J, Magic, Larry and Michael. Thus, the crash and burn for the NBA has been uglier. And thus, for maybe the first time, its followers have gone into major turn-back-the-clock mode — erasing the one aspect about the league and its fans that set them apart. Baseball lives and breathes nostalgia; until now, no other sport played up its past in favor of its present as blatantly and See STEELE, Page D4 Sophomore throws no-hitter as South sweeps twinbiil By LARRY MORITZ The Salina Journal Salina South pitcher Betsy Wilson was not unlucky, only unhittable on this Friday the 13th. Wilson capped South's Softball doubleheader sweep of Salina Central on Friday at Bill Burke Park, tossing a no-hitter in the Cougars' 7-0 victory in game two. South scored five runs in the seventh to break open the opener on the way to a 7-2 win. "It doesn't really matter who the no-hitter is against, but the Central games are special," Wilson said. "Central is our rival." While South improved to •SSu^ltt&OI t h e Salina Central 2 0 season Salina South 7 7 ^^"^ 2-0 in 1-70 League play, Central was finally getting its season started, seven weeks after the official opening date of spring sports practices. The Mustangs had each of their first three scheduled doubleheaders postponed by weather. "You've got to start somewhere," Central coach Jim LoVuUo said. "You don't know how good you are or aren't until you play those first games and right now I'm not close to being discouraged. We did some good things and when we get some defensive wrinkles fixed we'll be better." Wilson can't get much better. The Cougar sophomore has allowed only four hits in three games, including a one-hitter in her last outing against McPherson. She faced one batter over the minimum against Central. The Mustangs did not have a ball hit out of the in­ field and Wilson played a part in each of the final three outs in the seventh, fielding two ground balls hit back to the pitcher and ending the game by catching a short popout. "Betsy has really been throwing well for us," South coach Daryl Hoelting said. "But everybody made plays behind hen" The South defense did not have an error in the second game and staked Wilson to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first. Kelsey Nordstrom had an RBI single, Erin Hoppock drove in a run with a See SOUTH, Page D3 High & Ught Ttie Associated Press Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa backs up to get away from an inside pitch during the eighth inning Friday at Wrigley Field. Sosa finished the game O-for-4, but the Cubs got a strong pitching performance from starter Jason Bere to beat the Pirates 4-2. Story, page D3. • PRO FOOTBALL Raiders sign running back Garner Eight-year veteran brol<e 1000-yard marl< each of last two seasons for 49ers By The Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. — Charlie Garner, the free-agent running back who has rushed for at least 1,000 yards the past two seasons, signed a four-year contract with the Oakland Raiders on Friday Garner, an eight- year veteran who spent the last two seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, had been courted by several other teams, including the Carolina Panthers and the Kansas City Chiefs, according to his agent, Scott Crawford. . But the 5-foot-9,187-pound Pro Bowl selection was wooed to the Raiders by coach Jon Gruden, who worked with Garner when both were with the Philadelphia Eagles. Garner also liked the idea of staying in the San Francisco Bay area. "I'm a guy who believes in stability," Garner said. "And knowing where you stand, and that you're in a situation where you are wanted, that helps out." Garner rushed 258 times for 1,142 yards last season, his second straight season with 1,000 or more rushing yards. He also ran for a career-high seven touchdowns. Garner will join Oakland's top rusher, Tyrone Wheatley, and a group of talented backs the team referred to last season as "The Committee." Anchored by Wheatley, Napoleon Kaufman and scrambling quarterback Rich Gannon, the Raiders ran for 2,470 yards last season, nearly 1,000 more yards that their opponents. Room was made for Garner with the departure of Kaufman, who retired earlier this week to devote more time to his family and ministry Kaufman was due to mkke $2.5 million for the coming season. Financial terms of Garner's deal with the Raiders were not released. The 49ers, meanwhile, were strapped by the salary cap. Crawford reportedly had sent the 49ers an eight-year, $30 million contract offer that 49ers general manager BiU Walsh said the team was forced to "reject out of hand." Garner holds no ill will. "Obviously I've had two Pro Bowl- caliber years with the 49ers, so that's helped me tremendously," he said. Gruden caUed Garner productive, versatile and tough. He will complement Wheatley, Zack Crockett, Randy Jordan and veteran Terry Kirby, a late addition to the Raiders last season who helped them get to the AFC championship game. Kirby, also a former 49er, was re-signed by the Raiders last month. Chargers sign kicker to offer sheet SAN DIEGO — John Carney's 11- year run as kicker for the San Diego Chargers might be over. The Chargers signed San Francisco 49ers restricted free agent Wade Richey to an offer sheet Friday The 49ers have a week to match the offer or lose Richey If Richey joins the Chargers, he'll supplant Carney, one of the NFL's most accurate kickers. Carney is San Diego's career scoring leader with 1,076 points. It was a 52-yard field goal by Carney that gave the Chargers their only win last season. His kick, with 2:14 left against Kansas City on Nov. 26, gave the Chargers a 17-16 win and ended their 11-game season-opening losing streak. Although he made all 27 PATs last year, Carney made just 18 of 25 field goals and his kickoffs weren't as consistent. Earlier this year, the Chargers pulled off the table a $4.5 million, five- year offer to Carney that included a $750,000 signing bonus and $500,000 salary for 2001. KANSAS CITY 1 TORONTO 2 The Associated Press Blue Jays reliever Billy Koch pumps his fist after closing out the Royals on Friday at SkyDome in Toronto. Kansas City was held to four hits and fell to 2-8 to start the season. Blue Jays shut down Royals IVIichalal^, three relievers, combine for four-hitter; Suppan takes loss for KG By The Associated Press TORONTO — Chris Michalak took advantage of an extra day of rest after his start was postponed because of an accident at SkyDome. Michalak combined with three relievers on a four-hitter to win his second straight start as the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Kansas City Royals 2-1 Friday A mechanical malfunction in the Sky- Dome's retractable roof resulted in one panel crashing into another, postponing Thursday's game. The collision ripped a big hole in the roof and sent huge chunks of debris crashing to the turf, but by Friday's game the hole had been patched with temporary panels. "I was ready to go yesterday but the extra day helped me out physically," Michalak said. "My arm was a little bit rested, and I was a bit sharper." Michalak, considered the fifth starter out of spring training, started instead of Steve Parris, who is 0-2 with 16.88 ERA. Parris was originally scheduled for Friday's start. "They could have just sat me down for five days, so it felt good," Michalak said. "It was a real boost to my confidence that they gave me the ball. I'm grateful that they did." Michalak (2-0), who last pitched in the majors in 1998 with Arizona, allowed just one run and three hits in six innings against Kansas City He struck out five and walked one. "Kansas City really swings the bats well against left-handers, and Chris neutralized their bats all day long with a combination of a sinking fastball and a very good changeup," Toronto manager Buck Martinez said. Brad Fullmer drove in both runs for the Blue Jays, who have won seven of eight games. Mike Sweeney homered for the Royals, who have lost four straight. "Chris threw the ball great against the Yankees and now us," Kansas City starter Jeff Suppan said. "I played with him in Arizona. I'm happy for him, but I wished we would have won." After Suppan (1-2) loaded the bases in the third on two singles and a walk, Fullmer's run-scoring walk gave Toronto a 1-0 lead. After Sweeney homered in the fourth, Fullmer's RBI grounder with the bases loaded in the fifth gave the Blue Jays a 2-1 lead. Suppan gave up two runs and six hits in six innings. He walked five and struck out four. Suppan expected to pitch on Thursday "It was an unfortunate thing with the roof. You never come to a dome thinking you're going to miss a game," Suppan said. Kansas City's Carlos Febles doubled off reliever Paul Quantrill with one out in the eighth, but QuantrUl induced a groundout from Rey Sanchez, and Kelvim Escobar struck out Carlos Beltran swinging to end the threat, Billy Koch, who has struggled recently, worked the ninth for his third save in four opportunities. "I was a little disappointed I couldn't pitch Thursday, but I guess roofs fall down sometimes," Koch said. SUGGESTIONS? CALL BOp DAVIDSON, SPORTS EDITOR, AT 823-6363 OR 1-800-827-6363 OR E-MAIL AT sjbdavid8on@saljournai.com

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