Jack Kent Cooke's pronouncement that he will bring the Washington Senators back to life was nice. But he had no answer to one question: how?
A geography rule would keep the American League out of Washington, so near Baltimore, and the National League hasn't discussed expansion for years.
"There is nothing going on as regards expansion," said Blake Cullen, the NL's director of public relations. "It would have to start with the present owners wanting expansion, and it's not on the agenda. We have 12 teams, which is a very good number. The American League has 14, making for two uneven, seven-team divisions. They've had scheduling problems.
"The National League hasn't talked of expansion since 1976 in New York, when Toronto wanted in."
Several cities lust for baseball. There are domed stadiums built or under way (or without baseball) in Vancouver, Indianapolis and New Orleans. Denver, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Orlando and south Florida also want a team.
"It's terrific there is such interest," Cullen said, "but we don't encourage people to build stadiums thinking they can get a team. Everybody puts the cart before the horse. If there was going to be expansion, the National League would let it be known and then entertain bids. There would be no shortage of cities wanting teams.
"Expansion is way down the road--if ever."
So maybe there won't be expansion. (Cooke might want to test such a restriction in the antitrust courts. Hmmm.)
What about an existing team moving to Washington?
Aren't the San Francisco Giants for sale?
"I'm glad you called," said Bob Lurie, the Giants' owner. "A few years ago, a gentleman went to Washington telling everyone the Giants were for sale and could be moved to your town. He forgot to ask or tell me . . . Nothing is in concrete forever, but the Giants are not for sale. We have no plans or interest in selling."
That "nothing is in concrete" phrase gives Lurie the breathing room any entrepreneur wants. The city of San Francisco is considering building a $100-million domed stadium for the Giants and 49ers.
"The big stumbling block is where the money would come from," Lurie said.
If the stadium is not built, would Lurie look to sell and/or move?
"I've been asked that question a thousand times. My answer is that we have a lease until 1994."
The National Football League Players Association made a mistake in passing Ed Garvey's power to Gene Upshaw, whose idea of negotiating is to recite his height, weight and race . . . Baseball did well handing its labor relations work to Lee MacPhail, the American League president, a common-sense guy who loves the game more than the money it produces. Two weeks from now, however, he might be Bowie Kuhn's successor as commissioner . . . It's good that Abe Pollin and the Bullets haven't bid for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Too much money, too old.
Team America is in good company when critics say they go sleepy-bye watching TA's version of the "modern soccer" system that is defense first and then the counterattack. When Italy began World Cup play last summer, its national coach, Enzo Bearzot, was under fire for the stultifying effects of "modern soccer." Until Italy beat Brazil, 3-2, in a World Cup semifinal that remains one of the thrilling events I've seen, Bearzot's reputation and job security were nil. If he hadn't won the World Cup, Bearzot now might be coaching baseball in Bologna.
A few favorites: Rod Langway skating backward, John Riggins running forward, Jeff Durgan running sideways . . . Patrick Ewing skipping the Pan Am Games to hit the books, Ralph Sampson in his cap and gown . . . Those directional signs to Baltimore's Memorial Stadium . . . Ray Leonard's television spot for the National Spinal Cord Injury Association . . . RFK Stadium last January.
Life would be better without: Pro rasslin' film clips on WRC-TV-4 . . . One more word of psychoanalysis of Billy Martin and John McEnroe . . . The Houston Gamblers, a nickname based on a Kenny Rogers song but full of implications the USFL doesn't need (call 'em the Houston Lucilles).
ABC-TV's self-congratulatory blathering at the U.S. Open golf tournament was too much. Jim McKay bragged that ABC would cover all 18 holes the last round because, to quote him indirectly, you don't pick up a World Series game in the fifth inning.
The U.S. Open is a 72-hole tournament. Covering the last 18 holes, however difficult that is, is the equivalent of covering the last two innings of a World Series game.
And what did the preening peacocks do for Monday's delayed finish? They taped it and played it six hours later.
ABC on Monday first played its game shows, then its soap operas--and only then came the finish of the golf tournament. That seems testimony enough as to what ABC really thought of the U.S. Open.
The MVP in the USFL is Tampa Bay running back Gary Anderson. That's the opinion of Lee Corso, the former Indiana University coach now a color man on ABC-TV's USFL telecasts. "Anderson gets 140 yards a game rushing, he blocks and he plays wideout," Corso said.
Corso thinks the two best players in football next year will be John Elway of the Denver Broncos and Trumaine Johnson of the Chicago Blitz.
Herschel Walker? "He doesn't block, he drops the ball and he isn't tough."
Edward Bennett Williams on the latest Billy & George Show: "I think it's the next-to-last one."