Alphabet soup

July 24, 2001 1:26 AM
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Have you ever heard of Peter Wolfe or Wes Colley? Probably not, unless you are a family member or part of the circle of friends. Wolfe is a mathematician at UCLA and Colley is an astrophysicist at MIT. Both undoubtedly rank high in the world of academia but as far as can be determined, neither has any credentials pertaining to college football. Nevertheless, they have been chosen by the nabobs of the Bowl Championship Series to manage two of the eight computerized rankings used by the BCS, Wolfe and Colley replace the Dunkel Index and the New York Times power rankings.

It is part of the agenda to avoid the embarrassment of last season when Florida State was picked over Miami to play for the BCS version of the national championship. Even though the Hurricanes had defeated the Seminoles during the regular season, the computers ruled against that and sent FSU to the Orange Bowl where it turned out a miserable performance.

Under the revised scheme, the two computer entities will not consider the margin of victory in ranking teams and the four that do will have that component reduced. Also, teams will be rewarded with bonus points on a sliding scale for “quality wins,” defined as victories over teams that finish in the top 15 of the final BCS standings.

The two major polls, the writers and the coaches, will continue to carry the most weight in determining the final rankings. It would seem that as long as rankings will select the BCS participants, the polls alone can do the job. The computers are just window dressing to fool the gullible into believing that something objective is in place.

There is, of course, a solution to this charade ”” a genuine playoff system. But don’t hold your breath until that happens.

Locked In

Question: Which major league manager has the highest degree of job security? Answer: Tony LaRussa of the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals, an overwhelming preseason favorite to win the NL Central Division, are thus far one of the season’s biggest disappointments. St. Louis media people and fans have expressed mucho disgruntlement over LaRussa’s handling of the team. Yet, the prep school society guys who own the club are enamored with LaRussa and have publicly stated that his job is secure.

Wizardry

As he continues to work out, it is becoming increasing evident that Michael Jordan, part owner of the NBA Washington Wizards, would like to resume his playing career as a member of the team. Whether he will actually do so is his decision. If he feels good enough, he will. Could Jordan help the team? Absolutely. In fact, almost anyone would help the Wizards as they finished last season with a 19-63 record. Can Jordan lift the Wizards to championship contention? No way, any more than the brilliant Mario Lemieux could carry the NHL Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup last season. The future of the Wizards lies not with Jordan but with Kwame Brown, the high schooler who was the first pick overall in the recent NBA draft.

Olympian Outrage

The International Olympic Committee’s decision to bypass Toronto as the site of the 2008 Games engenders disappointment and disgust. Our friendly northern neighbors are a great people and deserve the games. Giving the honor to Beijing is a case of rewarding oppression, the worst move made by the IOC since it bestowed its blessing for 1936 upon Hitler’s Germany.

The Spa

The best thing happening this week is that they’re off and running at Saratoga. It’s the way that horse racing ought to be. Red Smith put it best when he wrote, “Drive 150 miles north of New York City, turn left on Union Avenue and go back 100 years in time.” For those who love racing, a pilgrimage to Saratoga is like Catholics going to Rome or Moslems going to Mecca.

Judgment Brewing

The lawsuit of the family of the late baseball star Roger Maris against brewing colossus Anheuser-Busch has been going on for more than 13 weeks but is expected to conclude early next month. The Marises are suing the brewery for $300 million, alleging that the brewery wrongfully terminated the family’s wholesale contract in 1997, thus ending a 30-year relationship.

Anheuser-Busch contends the contract was terminated because the Marises violated the company’s standards for a distributor and were selling some state beer. The original distributorship came about when Roger Maris ended his active playing career as a St. Lois Cardinal at the time when the brewery owned the team. The case is being carefully monitored throughout the brewing industry as it could have ramifications regarding future relationships between a brewery and its distributors. It is being tried in a state court in Greenville, Fla. The Maris family previously lost to Anheuser-Busch in federal court.