The Tip-off

By Kevin Rothbauer

• Michael Jordan made sense. Wayne Gretzky made sense. John Elway made sense. Barry Sanders retiring? Doesn’t make sense. Sanders called it quits about half a season before becoming the all-time rushing leader because his team wouldn’t make the right moves to win a championship. Sanders is perfectly healthy and could easily play for a few more years, but he won’t stick it out. He should look at Ray Bourque. The Bruin captain is almost 40 and he’s entering his 21st season in the nhl. How many Stanley Cups has he won? Zero. Will the Bruins win next year? No. Both Sanders and Bourque are go-to guys on their respective teams. Both have taken a lot of punishment from other players and from the media. A spot in the hall of fame was reserved for both and a championship wasn’t going to make a difference I imagine Sanders will still end up in the hall, but he shouldn’t have cut short his career. On that note, Sanders has yet to file his retirement papers with the NFL office

It looked like last year was the Year of Mark McGwire, but he won’t go away this year. He won’t hit 70 home runs this year, but 60 (still remarkable, no?) is a definite possibility, maybe even a probability. Lately he has been in the spotlight for hitting his 500th career home run. Now people are talking about McGwire taking a shot at Hank Aaron’s career record. Until this year, Ken Griffey, Jr. had been touted as the only one likely to pass Aaron. If McGwire can stay off andro and still hit 50–60 a year, it won’t take him long to reach 755.

• Still on the topic of baseball: If you didn’t spend the last week lost in the Maryland woods, you probably know that Wade Boggs and Tony Gwynn broke the 3000 career hit mark. Sadly, Boggs did it in the uniform of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Sure, Tampa is his hometown, but the Devil Rays are a sorry lot, as are all teams from that part of Florida. Gwynn, on the other hand, has toiled for years, consistently hitting among the sport’s best averages, but he has struggled to achieve the level of fame of many of his colleagues, most of whom are younger than him. It was nice to see him in the headlines, even if just for a week. Still approaching 3000 hits is Cal Ripken, Jr. Ripken is about a month away from the milestone, assuming he stays healthy. He hasn’t been receiving as much media attention since The Streak ended, but he does get a mention in The Blair Witch Project, which is just as good.

• I can’t claim to be a Toronto Blue Jays fan, but, as a Canadian, I’m not going to complain if they make it to the playoffs. A lot of people gave up on the Jays when they traded Roger Clemens to what was already the best team in their own division, but it looks like they’ll probably capture the American League wild card spot. Boston still remains in the hunt, as do the Oakland A’s, which no one would have expected in May. John Jaha, Matt Stairs and Tony Phillips deserve a lot of credit, as does Tim Raines, who recently went down for the season with lupus. The future looks bright for the A’s, especially if Ben Grieve can recover from this year’s performance.

• University of Calgary wrestler David Kooperberg will be representing Canada in the 69 kg class at the World Junior Wrestling Championships in Sydney, Australia, later this month. At 20 years of age, Kooperberg, who will be joined by U of C head coach Mitch Ostberg, is competing in his first and last world junior tournament. At the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union championships in March, Kooperberg won a silver medal in the 72 kg class. Kooperberg will be joined on the team by Peter de Jong, who competes as a member of the Dinosaurs club. De Jong will be Canada’s representative in the 54 kg division.

• Also on the world junior scene: Dinos volleyball stars Jeremy Wilcox and Bill Byma will be members of Canada’s team at the Junior World Volleyball Championships. The championships, which are held biannually, will take place in Ubon Ratchathani and Sisaket, Thailand beginning Aug. 21. Both Wilcox and Byma, valuable members of the U of C team that went to the CIAU tournament in March, will be starters for the national team. In 1998/99, Wilcox was a second team All-Canadian, while Byma received an honorary mention. Last month, both participated in the World University Games in Spain. Canada’s pool in Thailand will include Italy, Venezuela and Chinese Taipei.

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