Irish experience points to an ‘over’ play

July 31, 2001 4:55 AM
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Here are a few gilt-edged propositions for the coming football season.

The over/under for the number of games the St. Louis Rams will win is 11. Take the over. There’s never been any question about the potency of the team’s offense but for this year the defense has been almost completely retooled, being younger, faster, more aggressive.

The over/under for Notre Dame is seven games. Again, take the over. The Irish, 9-3 a year ago, return 49 letter winners, including 14 starters with all accept one (tight end) of the skill positions.

Tiger Rag

Too often, and much too soon, the media and the fans are prone to proclaim some sports performer who’s having a sensational year or string of great seasons as the best ever at whatever he (or she) is doing. So it is with Tiger Woods. After he won the Masters earlier this year ”” his sixth major — it was freely opinioned that he was the greatest golfer ever and that Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major triumphs would soon be passed. The U.S. Open and the British Open have put an end to that talk, at least temporarily. Woods is the best golfer in the world right now but whether he is the greatest ever is yet to be determined. It took Nicklaus many years to achieve his record and the young Woods has plenty of years ahead. So let’s back off, give him some breathing room and time to fulfill his destiny.

The Bonds Market

It wasn’t too long ago when Barry Bonds was hitting home runs at a prolific rate. Stats freaks projecting a season of more than 80 round-trippers have made that talk meaningless. And we added that Bonds would not break Mark McGwire’s single-season record of 70 because he would draw an inordinate number of walks. That observation seems to be coming true. Bonds already has more than 100 walks and might well approach the major league record 170 set by Babe Ruth in 1923. Bonds’ failure to surpass McGwire’s record doesn’t detract from his overall greatness and he will eventually be a first-ballot Hall of Fame selection. McGwire too, is a future Hall of Famer. Hitting 70 homers in a season was a gargantuan feat, not likely to be topped for a long time.

Man Bites Dog

In an era which television seems to control everything concerning sports events — start times, timeouts, on-field intrusions — the NCAA football rules committee took a gigantic step when it voted to eliminate television timeouts during overtime periods. Committee chairman Max Urick, director of athletics at Kansas State, said the action was taken so as not to interrupt the flow of the game. He said, “Once the overtime starts and the excitement builds, any extended breaks not related to normal game activity are detrimental to most parties involved, especially the team and spectators.”

The NCAA action means henceforth, at least in the most exciting part of a college football game, the contest itself will take precedence over the telecast. Spectators at the game won’t have to sit around while during idle moments around the field. Viewers at home won’t be bombarded with sales pitches for patent medicines, fast foods and promos of upcoming programs.

Metropolitan Rhubarb

The partnership of the New York Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday, each of whom own 50 percent of the club, has reached the breaking point. Wilpon wants a new venue to replace Shea Stadium and claims to be moving ahead on gaining financial support. Doubleday just wants to renovate Shea and might push to gain control of the club. He told the New York Times, “I think it has to be needed, for the best interests of baseball and the franchise. If he doesn’t come up with the money or a deal, I’d buy him out.”

Racing Note

Point Given, the winner of the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, is slated to make his mark Aug. 5 in the Haskell Invitational Handicap at Monmouth Park. Trainer Bob Baffert has not yet announced any future plans for his other 3-year-old, Congaree, recent winner of the Swaps takes at Hollywood Park, but the Jim Dandy Stakes on Aug. 4 at Saratoga is a possibility.