The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on October 8, 1996 · Page 11
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 11

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Salina, Kansas
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Tuesday, October 8, 1996
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Page 11
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IDAY VsVl THE SALJN& JOURNAL Sports SOCCER/B3 BASEBALL/B4 CLASSIFIEDS / B4 B V COMMENT T PRO FOOTBALL BOB KRAVITZ Scripps Howard News Senice Steelers stop Chiefs, 17-7 Baseball needs to improve its playoff system Thoughts, myths and half- truths for a weekday morning: • Excerpts From Robbie Alomar's book, How To Be A Major Leaguer: "When hocking a loogie at an ump, make sure first to consider wind direction and other climatic factors." • The sooner the Lords of Baseball fix this playoff system, the better. The sad truth is, San Diego played L.A. the final day of the season, and there was next to nothing on the line. By losing, Los Angeles got an extra day off and a chance to start its series with the first pair at Dodger Stadium. And Cleveland? Win the division by a country mile and end up playing the first pair in the wild card's yard. The one thing baseball always has had on its sporting brethren, its regular season meant everything. With the system now in place, it diminishes the importance of winning a division. Either make the first-round series best-of-seven, or play four of the five games in the home park of the top-ranked divisional champ when it plays the wildcard club. This isn't rocket science. Really. • Tell me Brady Anderson's forearms aren't corked. • Baseball deserved to have Alomar emerge as the hero in Game 4 ofthe Cleveland-Baltimore series. It's kind of like he spat in the sport's face a second time. • • I could have sworn I saw a playoff game on the Food Network. • The Baseball Network: R.I.P. • So I guess we can assume Tony La Russa figured that whole double-switch thing out pretty well, no? • Excerpts From Robbie Alomar's book, How To Be A Major Leaguer: "Kids, always chew lots of gum during a game. You never know when you're going to need excess saliva." • The next time the NFL's basic agreement comes up for renewal, the players have to stand firm on a resolution to ban artificial turf, except for domed stadiums. Aaron Graver was bitten by the turf bug — you have to walk on that Cinergy Field turf to see it, but the seams could swallow up Rhode Island — and Rodney Peete's knee turned to spaghetti without so much as a shove on Philly's painted concrete. • Give the Broncos credit: Unlike so many other teams that view kickers as spare parts, they signed Jason Elam to a lucrative, long-term contract. • I was just wondering, who schedules those TNT Sunday night matchups, Jane Fonda? • Excerpts From Robbie Alomar's book, How To Be A Major Leaguer: "When in doubt, appeal. Unless the appeal threatens to get you in more hot water." • It just doesn't seem right to have the NHL season start without one ofthe game's great friends, the late Tom Mees. • My only question is, who'll rip whom first, Brett Hull or ! Mike Keenan? • With all due respect to one of the game's great people and certainly its greatest player, Wayne Gretzky is no longer worth the kind of money the Rangers are throwing at him. • A lot ofthe Eastern-based media are picking the Rangers to take the Stanley Cup, which should come as no surprise. I've got news: If the Avalanche doesn't win it, look out for Pittsburgh orPhilly. • Excerpts From Robbie Alomar's book, How To Be A Major Leaguer: "Remember, kids, no matter how lousy a human being you are — see Albert Belle — your hometown fans will always love you as long as you can hit and turn the pivot on the double play." • News: Michael Irvin is back. Views: What a thrill. • All of those who feel real bad about Oklahoma football's recent tough times, raise your hands. »I say we put the WAC and the Big 12 in a. room and, you know, see what happens. Loss Kansas City's first in 12 regular-season home games since '94 By DAVE GOLDBERG The Associated Press KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mike Tomczak has become the antithesis of Neil O'Donnell, who led the Pittsburgh Steelers to last year's Super Bowl. Tomczak doesn't make $25 million like O'Donnell does, nor does he play for a winless team like O'Donnell does. Instead, Tomczak demonstrates how the Steelers plug in new players for old ones and keep on winning. With Tomczak throwing for 338 yards and Jerome Bettis, another M newcomer, NFL gaining Steelers 17 100 yards Chiefs 7 for • the fourth straight game, the Steelers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 17-7 Monday night. "My hat's off to him," said Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher, the man who keeps pushing the right buttons. "Tomczak played one great game. "I.guess that the temperature was right tonight for the ball to fly down the field," quipped the 33- year-old veteran of four NFL teams and 12 seasons. It was the fourth straight win for last year's AFC champions after an opening-day loss in Jacksonville and the first loss for the Chiefs in their last 12 regular-season games at Arrowhead Stadium dating to Dec. 4,1994. It was also Kansas City's second straight loss after starting the season with four wins, and left them a game behind Denver in the AFC West. Tomczak replaced O'Donnell, who signed a $25 million, five-year deal with the 0-6 New York Jets. O'Donnell is currently sidelined with a separated right shoulder and Tomczak, 20-of-32 Monday T HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL The Associated Press Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis is stopped by Kansas City Chiefs safety Brian Washington (right) as cornerback Dale Carter (left) strips Bettis of the ball in the first quarter of Monday night's game. The Chiefs recovered. night, is thriving in Pittsburgh. "We knew they were going to try to stop and make Mike Tomczak beat them," Bettis said. "He did that today. He made some big plays, some critical plays, especially on third down." "A lot people say this guy can't do it," Kansas City's Joe Phillips said of Tomczak. "He sure showed tonight that he can do it in this league. He did it against us and I feel we're a good defense. "It's frustrating to put them in third and long and then have them convert. You have to give Tomczak the credit. He's the one who sat back there and executed." He had plenty of help. Bettis, acquired in a draft-day trade with the Rams, gained 103 yards on 27 carries and scored Pittsburgh's only touchdown, a 6- yard run with 2:41 left in the third quarter. The offensive line allowed only one sack and that was debatable — it came on what might have been a bootleg attempt by Kordell Stewart near the goal line. Charles Johnson caught six passes for 125 yards and the Pittsburgh defense, minus injured linebacker Greg Lloyd, limited Kansas City to only one trip inside its 20 — the second-quarter drive on which Marcus Allen's 6-yard TD run gave the Chiefs a 7-0 lead. It was the 107th rushing TD of Allen's career, putting him one ahead of Jim Brown and three be- hind Walter Payton on the career list. Allen also passed Tony Dorsett for second place behind Payton on the all-purpose yardage list. : But that was the lone bright spot for the Chiefs. "We'd like to be 6-0 but we're not," Kansas City coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "If you begin to look at each game like it's the end, you're crazy. You have to look at the whole picture. The whole picture is 16 games." Waconda East passes tough test at Hillerest Vikings strike through the air in 40-34 victory; move to 5-0 and into rankings By ARNE GREEN The Salina Journal For four weeks, Waconda East had run over its opponents on the way to a 4-0 start. But when state-ranked Hillerest took away the ground game Friday, Trevor Linton was more than happy to unveil another dimension to the Viking attack. Linton, a 6-foot-2, 175-pound senior, riddled Hillcrest's defense for 297 yards passing as the Vikings remained unbeaten and climbed into the Journal's Eight- Man I rankings at No. 9 with a 4034 road victory. "All the other games, we just kept it on the ground and nobody could stop us," said Linton, who completed 18 of 34 passes with three touchdowns. "Hillerest was sticking the run, so we went to the passing game and it went pretty good. "The first play we ran a pass and it went for about 30 yards. I thought from then on that it would probably go." That the Vikings had the ability to strike through the air should come as no surprise. As a junior last year, Linton led the Pike Trail League in passing and has completed 50 percent of his attempts this season for 711 yards and nine touchdowns. "He's been real consistent," Waconda East coach Keith Kresin said of Linton. "We've played a couple of opponents where we haven't needed to throw the ball, but throwing it is probably his best game. He's extremely accurate and he's a good leader." Linton had gladly guided a more conservative Viking .offense through the first month ofthe season, but when it was .time to air it out he couldn't have been happier. "It was a blast," he said. "(Passing) is what people know me for. Our offensive line really stepped up in that game and gave me time to throw. "Not to take anything away from (the previous four opponents), but it's a lot more interesting to see "They've met and exceeded my expectations at this point in the season. We've really kept improving game by game." Keith Kresin Waconda East coach • State rankings/ Page B3 what we can do and can't do. Hopefully this will keep people thinking that if they stop the run we can throw the ball, too." Linton's found three different receivers — Terry Cunningham, Kam Gaston and Nick Fraenza — with his touchdown passes against Hillcrest and also ran for two scores. The top rusher has been junior running back Todd Herringsen with 580 yards and 18 touchdowns, including a 5-yarder against Hillerest. Cunningham, a senior linebacker, leads the defense with 52 tackles, five quarterback sacks and two fumble recoveries. "They've met and exceeded my expectations at this point in the season," Kresin said of his team, which returned four starters on each side of the ball from last year's 6-3 team. "I felt we started out on a good note, but we've really kept improving game by game. "Everybody's been really consistent, which is what we need to compete with Mankato and Pike Valley (in district play). The Hillcrest game was a very emotional win. We needed'a win like that." Against Hillerest, the Vikings trailed 16-6 early and 22-20 at halftime. They scored the winning touchdown with 4:47 left on a Linton pass to Fraenza. "I think it helped out a lot, knowing we could beat a team like that," Linton said. "Coach likes to say we keep building for next week, but I know in everybody's minds we're getting ready for Mankato and Pike Valley." T BASEBALL PLAYOFFS O's, Yankees set to battle Top two teams from East division meet to determine AL champ By The Associated Press NEW YORK —For the first time, two teams from the same division are playing for the pennant. The Yankees' four-game lead is gone, forgotten in the age of wild-card baseball. "I was an advocate for the wild card, anyway," Cal Ripken said , . : , ... Monday as Tnnidht 7 the Baltimore HJIIIHIH, / orioles pre NBl» • pared for • tonight's start of the AL championship series against New York. "There were times under the old system when teams won over 100 games and one could not go to the playoffs." New York, starting Andy Pet- titte over David Cone in the opener against Scott Erickson, went 10-3 against the Orioles during the regular season and held off the September challenge to its AL East lead. But Baltimore became the first wild-card team to advance The Associated Press New York Yankees manager Joe Torre ponders a question Monday while being Interviewed during his team's practice for the American League Championship Series. The Yankees' best-of- seven series with the Baltimore Orioles starts tonight. in the playoffs when it clipped Cleveland, so the Yankees and Orioles are back at it, this time in a best-of-7 series with a World Series berth at stake. "Whatever happened is in the past. Now everybody is at the same level," said Baltimore's Roberto Alomar, who's likely to be booed loudly at Yankee Stadi- um for spitting at an umpire on Sept. 27. Though Alomar apologized, and the umpire, John Hirschbeck, said he was willing to put the episode behind him, the fans aren't likely to let go so soon. See PLAYOFFS, Page B4 Cardinals' Lankford will start St. Louis center fielder to return after injuring throwing shoulder By The Associated Press ST. LOUIS — Reports of Ray Lankford's demise were way off. Eleven days after he tore the rotator cuff on his throwing shoulder, he'll be back in the starting lineup Wednesday night when the St. Louis Cardinals open their NL playoff with the Atlanta Braves. "It's not going to be 100 per- LANKFORD cent the rest ofthe year," Lankford said Monday. "It's still going to bother me, but I can play through it." Lankford was injured making a diving catch in center field Sept. 27, and the initial prognosis was grim since his injury was to the throwing shoulder. Two days after the injury, he couldn't lift his shoulder. But there he was a few days later, flipping the ball and taking batting practice. And in Game 3 of the Cardinals' first- round playoff sweep of San Diego, he entered as a pinch hitter and defensive replacement in the fifth inning. , Now he's back, or close enough to being back for the Cardinals, who return 37-year- old Willie McGee to the bench. "There are certain things you can do, depending on how severe the injury," manager Tony La Russa said. "It was just a matter of how quickly the pain would become tolerable. "His attitude is right. No doubt, Ray will play." Left fielder Ron Gant missed only three games when he tore his rotator cuff in late August, but not to his throwing shoulder. He's somewhat surprised to see Lankford, who batted .275 with 21 home runs and 86 RBIs, batting in front of him again. "I thought it was going to take longer," Gant said. "If you tear the rotator cuff completely it's a real serious injury. Luckily; both of us came out on the good end of that", SUGGESTIONS? CALL BOB DAVIDSON, SPORTS EDITOR, AT (913) 823-6363 OR 1-800-827-6363

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