The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 14, 1997 · Page 21
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 21

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Salina, Kansas
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Wednesday, May 14, 1997
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Page 21
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WEDNESDAY MAY 14, 1997 THE SALINA JOURNAL Sports SCOREBOARD / D2 NBA / D3 INDY 500 / D4 D COMMENT T MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL STEVE BAILEY Scripps Howard News Service Belcher shuts out Red Sox BIRD Coach Bird will earn his wings "NAPLES, Fla. — It's not going to be easy to get used to, that's for sure. It sounds awkward the way it rolls off the tongue and lips and just hangs there, seemingly waiting for a punch line. But this is no laughing matter. Just the opposite in fact. Go ahead. Say it. Let your mouth form the phrase and listen as first the ear and then the brain struggle to make sense of the two simple words, thrust together for the first time in the most delicious combination since peanut butter was smeared onto a piece of bread with a glop of jelly. Coach Bird. Sounds a little strange, doesn't it? Call him Larry. Call him Larry Legend. Call him No. 33. Call him "The Hick From French Lick." Call him the greatest player in the history of the NBA's most storied franchise. Call him one of basketball's top three all-time players. Those sound perfect. Natural even. Coach Bird, however, just doesn't seem right. Yet. On Monday, Bird was introduced as the new coach of the Indiana Pacers. The prodigal son returned home after a stellar 13- year career with the Boston Celtics and five years of self-imposed retirement because of a chronically aching back. The most revered player in the history of a state that, treats its basketball more like religion than sport, Bird's return to Indiana surely will fill the rafters at Market Square Arena. ; It also will make the Pacers a better team in a hurry. No disrespect to Larry Brown, who led Indiana into the Eastern Conference finals on two separate occasions and twice won a franchise- record 52 games before the bottom dropped out last season, but Bird has just the win-at-all-cost fire in his belly to toughen up a squad softer than a feather landing on a down comforter. ; Critics will make much of the fact Bird has no coaching experience at any level. So what. The 12-time NBA All-Star had more control over his Celtics teammates and what they did on the floor than Bill Fitch, K.C. Jones dr any other Boston coach and the team won three championships in six years. More than that, Bird brings a knowledge, instinct and competitive drive for the game unmatched by any other player. Ever. Those traits don't guarantee he'll make the right call when the Pacers trail by two and have the ball with 3.2 ticks remaining on the clock. His team, however, will be scrappy, relentless and driven to _win like no Indiana team since ihe Pacers were the kings of the ABA in the early '70s. Bet the house on it. How many players do you think Bird will motivate simply by thrashing them in a little 3- point contest during a game-day shootaround? How many will dare ask Bird — who continued to amaze during the latter part of his career despite playing in excruciating pain — for a little time off because of a sore hammy or quad? The Pacers know they made a mistake the last time they passed on Bird. That was way back in 1978, when the hometown hero was available but not drafted by the hometown team. He went on to become rookie of the year in 1980, league Most Valuable Player three times and playoff MVP twice, averaging more than 24 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists a game over his 13 seasons. The Pacers weren't about to make the same mistake again. * During his Hall of Fame career, Bird guaranteed success on the basketball court and backed UP every boast with his incredible talent and even bigger heart. Why should we think it will be any different when he's on the sidelines? Kansas City hurler lowers AL-best ERA to 1.72, scoreless innings streak to 19 By DOUG TUCKER The Associated Press KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After retiring the first 15 batters, Tim Belcher started thinking about a no-hitter. He didn't get one, but he came close. Belcher pitched a two-hitter Tuesday night as the Kansas City Royals routed the slumping Boston Red Sox 9-0. "I think guys are lying when they get through four or five innings and nobody's reached base and they say they didn't think about it," said Belcher, who has three complete games in his last four starts. "Of course you think about it." Belcher (5-3), who stretched his scoreless inning streak to 19, didn't allow a runner until John Valentin grounded a single into left leading off .-, T - the sixth. He wound up facing just three batters over the minimum and Red Sox Royal* lowered his ERA to a league-best 1.72. "I'm almost fearful of talking too much about it. I'm in such a good groove, I don't want to jinx it," said the nine-year veteran, who struck out four, walked two and hit a batter. It was the fifth straight loss for the Red Sox, who have dropped nine of their last 10. "There have been some games where the starters haven't done it. Then there have been games where the starters did it and the bullpen doesn't do it," said Boston manager Jimy Williams. "Tonight, it was Belcher. I think the easiest way to look at it was what wasn't working for him. Everything was working for him." Johnny Damon and Tom Goodwin each had three hits for the Royals. Williams released Reliever Mitch Williams, trying to resurrect a career that went into a nosedive when he gave up Joe Carter's T PRO BASKETBALL deciding home run in the 1993 World Series, was given his unconditional release Tuesday by the Kansas City Royals. The left-hander, who set single-season save records with two National League teams, was 0-1 with a 10.80 ERA in seven appearances with Kansas City. The Royals replaced him with left- hander Allen McDill, who was calted up from Triple-A Omaha. ', * Williams was invited to the Royals' spring camp and started the season in Omaha. He was given word of his release before coming to the park Tuesday. . •, The Associated Press Tiger Woods talks to reporters Tuesday In preparation for this week's Byron Nelson Classic. Tiger's back Tiger Woods returns to competitive golf this week By RON SIRAK The Associated Press IRVING, Texas — A year ago Tiger Woods was a college sophomore getting ready for the NCAA tournament. Now he is the Masters champion caught in a racial flap with another player and feeling haughty enough to take on the president. And he feels just fine with it all. Make no mistake about it: He is Tiger Woods. "I'm comfortable with who I am," Woods said Tuesday as he prepared for the Byron Nelson Classic, his first competitive event since winning the Masters in April. "I'm comfortable with people taking shots at me and I'm comfortable with people saying nice things about me." Since his record-setting victory at Augusta, Woods has had to take a little bit of the bad with the overwhelming amount of good that has gone his way. Now, after a four-week vacation, he returns to competition — and to the questions about the controversies that swirl around him. There were the comments by Fuzzy Zoeller and Woods' slow acceptance of Zoeller's apology. He took a little heat for turning down President Clinton's invitation to join him in honoring Jackie Robinson. And there is the fact that he now has enough celebrity status to be considered fair game for the supermarket tabloids. Woods made several things clear Tuesday: • Zoeller wasn't kidding. • Clinton had political motives. • His personal life is his personal life. Woods said he has yet to speak with Zoeller about the fried chicken and collard greens remarks, but he wants to "talk one-on-one and find out what he was thinking." Zoeller, who may cross paths with Woods next week at the Colonial, said he was joking and apologized. Woods waited nearly four days and then accepted the apology. But it is clear he has some questions. When Zoeller made his initial remark about Woods serving fried chicken at the Masters champions dinner next year, he started to walk away, stopped and added, "and collard greens or whatever it is they serve." "I have a problem with that," Woods said. Woods was among many who noticed a nonjoking edge in Zoeller's voice. "I'm very good at knowing where people are coming from," said Woods, suggesting he is not all that certain Zoeller was coming from a good place. Woods, who was quoted in GQ magazine telling jokes about blacks and lesbians, sees a big difference between what he did and what Zoeller did. "I said it just joking, talking to a limo driver who was black," Woods said about the comments overheard by a reporter. "There's a difference there," he said. "A big difference." As for the president, well, Woods questions the motives there as well. The day after the Masters, Clinton invited Woods to join him at Shea Stadium in New York to mark the 50th anniversary of Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball. Woods declined. "I had planned my vacation already," Woods said. "Why didn't Mr. Clinton invite me before I won the Masters? It would have been better if he asked me before." Bulls advance to East finals Rodman sparks Chicago past Atlanta in GameS, 107-92 By The Associated Press CHICAGO — Dennis Rodman swished 3-pointers, made a no-look pass, blocked Dikembe Mutombo's shot and rebounded like a demon. By the 1 time his inevitable ejection came, Rodman had already energized the Chicago Bulls into the Eastern Conference finals. Rodman, who had become a non- factor in the playoffs because of his overly aggressive play and the apparent overzealousness of referees, upstaged even Michael Jordan as the defending NBA champions won 107-92 Tuesday night to eliminate the Atlanta Hawks in five games. Of course, Dennis the Menace couldn't stay completely out of trouble, drawing two technical fouls with 2:44 to play after a scrap with Mutombo. He was ejected for the third time in the playoffs and picked up his 10th and llth techni- cals, but by the time it happened the outcome had already been decided. After averaging 17 minutes, one point and four rebounds in the first four games of the series, the flamboyant six-time NBA rebounding leader had 12 points and nine rebounds in 33 minutes Tuesday. Jordan scored 24 points for the Bulls, who next play either New York or Miami. When he entered midway through the first quarter, Rodman — usually cheered loudly at the United Center — received the silent treatment from fans who apparently had grown tired of a playoff act that has featured 33 fouls in eight games. But he quickly got his 36th birthday celebration rocking and brought the 24,544 fans to their feet by making a 3-pointer. Soon, the Bulls were rolling toward the conference finals for the seventh time in the last nine years. Chicago went on to win titles in 1991,1992,1993 and 1996 — Jordan's last four full seasons. Christian Laettner had 23 points T COLLEGE BASEBALL Monday's QOTMM T,,V New York 89, Miami 76, New Yorjs^ leads series 3-1 ""<!• Utah 98, LA Lakers 93 OT, Utah winKl' series 4-1 "-: Tuesday's Qwvw* ; V J Seattle 100, Houston 94, Houston*'; leads series 3-2 ''' : - Chteago 107, Atlanta 92, Chicago wh# «« series 4-1 jiV'. • Today's Guneis '"'•y, New York at Miami, 7 p.m., Knlcks teatf^ series 3-1 }. and Mookie Blaylock 20 for itie Hawks, who caused panic on the streets of Chicago by winnitig Game 2 here before losing twice at home. Atlanta has advanced to the second round of the playoffs nine' times since moving from St. Louis in 1968 but has lost each time. Sonics 100, Rockets 94 ' HOUSTON — The Seattle Super- Sonics figured out a way to halt Houston's 3-point proficiency and gained another chance to stay alive in their series. Seattle made a key defensives; switch, putting Gary Payton -.okis; Matt Maloney, and the Sonics held the Rockets to a 5-for-27 effort from 3-point range in a victory in Game 5. It cut the Sonics' deficit to 3-2 «i the best-of-7 series, with Game 6. set for Thursday. : • : "We didn't get close to the looks that we needed," Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "It's a human game, guys have great games and guys have games where the ball doesn't go in." Hersey Hawkins scored 23 points, including four 3-pointers, Payton scored 21 points and Shawn Kemp added 20 for the Sonics, who are seeking to become the sixth team in NBA history to successfully come back from a 3-1 deficit. Seattle outshot Houston 48 per-, cent to 39 percent and withstood-? 31-point, 16-rebound performance by Hakeem Olajuwon and a 26-point effort from Clyde Drexler. Fort Hays State opens;; play in regional Friday Fornelli never expected 46 wins last July when he became head coach By BOB DAVIDSON The Salina Journal Bob Fornelli knew he had inherited a good team when he was named Fort Hays State's baseball coach last July. "I thought we would be able to find a way to get into the (NCAA Division II) regionals," Fornelli said. "To go 46 and 13, I didn't know if we could do that." "Do that" they did. The Tigers play Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference-rival Mesa State (Colo.) at 3 p.m. (CDT) Friday in the opening game of the West Regional Tournament in Chico, Calif. Fort Hays State, which won last weekend's RMAC Tournament, is the No. 2 seed in the three-team regional. Mesa State (41-15) is seeded third and Chico State (41-10), the No. 2-ranked team in the country, No. 1. Chico State plays the Fort HajiS' Mesa loser at 9 p.m. Friday afld the Fort Hays-Mesa winner at;3 p.m. Saturday. The tournament continues at 9 p.m. Saturday. An ; other championship game is slat" ed for 3 p.m. Sunday,, if necessary* "They had a lot of junior college players (at Fort Hays State) and>I knew a lot of them," Fornelli said: "I'd been at Butler County (Community College) for five years afld we'd played against a lot of theji the previous two years. ~* "I knew who they were. I ju«t didn't know personalities. It tocSk time for them to adapt to me afld for me to adapt to them." ~ But not too long. ;. The Tigers sprinted from tjie gate, winning 13 of their first 17 games. Qn April 25 they were 37J8 and had won 24 of their last £f» games. ^ That preceded the season's lo«( point, a three-game losing streak at the. hands of Mesa State, ^Jl three games were played in tjje thin Rocky Mountain air of Grand See FHS, Page D4 SUGGESTIONS? CALL BOB DAVIDSON, SPORTS EDITOR, AT (913) ,823-6363 OR 1-800-827-6363 OR E-MAIL AT s]news@/*ljournal.com

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