Notebook > Sports



Issue: "Ronald Reagan: In memoriam," June 19, 2004

Brother act

It's easy to miss major-league baseball's amateur draft. Not only are the players selected at the beginning of June typically unlikely to make it to the big leagues, ESPN doesn't broadcast the baseball draft live. As much of a brotherly story line this year's NFL draft had with Peyton Manning's younger brother Eli selected No. 1 overall, this year's baseball draft may have had even more sibling intrigue. And while Peyton Manning's success in the NFL helped his younger brother move up the draft board, major-leaguers Jeff Weaver and J.D. Drew could have hurt their little brothers.

Jered Weaver should have been the first player taken in the draft. But the younger Weaver chose his older brother's agent, Scott Boras, who insisted that the Long Beach State pitcher is the next Mark Prior. And Mr. Weaver was also reportedly asking for a $10.5 million contract, way too much for most teams to risk on an unproven player. So the right-hander slipped all the way to the Anaheim Angels with the 12th pick. J.D. Drew's younger brother, Stephen, slipped to the 15th pick overall when Arizona selected him. Some teams feared they might hit a roadblock signing the younger Mr. Drew after his older brother turned down a $3 million signing bonus offer and went back to school.

A new ice age

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Lord Stanley's cup should enjoy a warm summer and perhaps an extended stay in the south. Tampa Bay captain Dave Andreychuk hoisted the huge trophy above his head after he and his Lightning won their first Stanley Cup, proving yet again that high-salary superstars don't guarantee championships. But there was bad news also for the National Hockey League: Television ratings for this year's Stanley Cup Finals between the Bolts and the Calgary Flames (another low-budget franchise) were staggeringly low. Games broadcast on ESPN drew the worst ratings for finals games since 1990. Games on ABC drew only slightly better results. Even worse news: With the impending labor struggle, no one knows when the puck will drop for the next NHL game.

Even as the Lightning players and ownership began to celebrate, team owners started to coalesce behind a planned lockout that some say will bring radical change to the NHL. The current collective-bargaining agreement expires on Sept. 15. What's the impasse about? Many hockey franchises are bleeding money. While NFL teams average $77 million a year on TV deals, hockey teams only bring in about $2 million, even as the players average $1.8 million in salary.

Efforts to make the game more "fan friendly" have failed to generate higher gate receipts and better ratings; at the same time, the league risks irritating its small, but devoted, fan base. Something's got to give. Owners are determined that it will be the players. It could be a long, cold winter

Around the horn

Could it be Detroit would like to take a mulligan on their 2003 draft? The Pistons selected Darko Milicic who, though he's years away from a high-impact career in the NBA, still takes a spot on Detroit's playoff roster. Wouldn't Carmelo Anthony or Dwayne Wade have been more helpful to the Pistons in this year's finals? After all, when Richard Hamilton goes into a shooting funk, all Darko can do is cheer him on.

Famed broadcaster and former NFL kicker Pat Summerall had recovered enough from a liver transplant more than two months ago to attend the first day of the Dallas Cowboys minicamp. The trip, though not far from his North Texas home, was his first time out on his own since the surgery. Mr. Summerall received his new liver on April 10 after destroying his original through years of heavy drinking.

A day after D-Day commemorations in France, Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells's mind was on World War II's Pacific theater. Like many older coaches, Mr. Parcells found himself in the middle of controversy after using a colloquialism he thought harmless. Mr. Parcells was speaking about how coaches always try to surprise one another. "No disrespect for the Orientals, but what we call Jap plays. OK. Surprise things," he said, apparently referring to Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in 1942. He later apologized.


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