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June 8, 2004

No ringing endorsements for Malone, Payton

From: Chicago Sun Times, IL - Jun 8, 2004


Notes, quotes and antidotes while wondering if these were the best Stanley Cup finals nobody saw: Karl Malone and Gary Payton made their much-heralded moves to the Lakers last summer because they weren't getting any younger and figured it was their last chance for a championship ring. After a total of seven points in Los Angeles' 87-75 loss Sunday night, they might have been wondering what that was all about.

Payton, who was 1-for-4 from the field, took a powder after the game, but Malone, who was 2-for-9 in 44 minutes, took it like a man. ''It starts with me,'' he told reporters after the game. ''When I'm doing the right things, I bring the energy that we feed off of. I've been doing it all playoffs, but I didn't do it tonight.''

The Laker effect: It may have been an awful game, but ABC isn't complaining. The overnight ratings for Sunday's contest were up 43 percent over Game 1 between the Nets and Spurs last year, and better than every other game in that series, as well.

The Smarty Jones Effect: Also smiling was NBC, whose ratings for the Belmont were 29 percent better than last year and the highest the race has received since 1977.

The White Sox' troubles on their West Coast road trip have some observers crunching the numbers, and it's not a pretty picture. Sun-Times colleague Mark Potash notes Ozzie Guillen's team has outscored its opponents 147-97 over the last 27 games but is 13-14 during that span.

And Mark Liptak, who runs the unofficial Sox Web site,, points out that when Billy Koch blew that lead in Seattle on Sunday, it was the seventh time this season the pitching staff has let the opposition catch up or go ahead in the seventh inning or later.

Despite Magglio Ordonez's vehement denials of that recent report out of New York that he and the White Sox are at contract loggerheads, the New York Daily News is now saying a tentative four-year agreement for about $50 million broke down recently when Jerry Reinsdorf wanted to defer much of the money.

Department of incidental intelligence: Did you know Koch weighed only 15 ounces when he was born and spent the first 61/2 weeks of his life in the hospital? Me, neither.

Silent treatment

How are Ken Griffey's teammates reacting to his current homer binge? As if he has the plague. ''They don't really talk to me,'' Griffey, who has had nine homers in the last 14 games, told the Cincinnati Enquirer after his two-homer game brought his career total to 498 Sunday. ''I'm like the guy with a no-hitter. Guys start moving away when you walk into the dugout.'' ... No sooner did Giants general manager Brian Sabean tell the Sun-Times' Joe Goddard he was considering trading away some of his top players than the team went on a 10-game winning streak. Sabean insists he meant it, though, telling reporters, ''I was close to doing something, but they saved themselves from themselves.''

Dogging it

Olympic Terror Update (continued): Athens officials have a new problem confronting them on the security front -- stray dogs. There are so many of them in the city that officials have instituted a program to check their health and tag them with special collars before the Games. ... More than 85 deaf and hard-of-hearing youngsters ages 5 to 25 from around the country will attend Stan Mikita's 31st annual hockey school for the hearing impaired, which runs from June 12-19 at the Seven Bridges Ice Arena in Woodridge. Last year, Team USA, which was composed primarily of players from the school's varsity team, won the bronze medal at the 2003 Deaflympics in Sundsvall, Sweden. ... Eddie Payton hosts the fifth annual Walter Payton Scholarship Celebrity Golf Classic next Monday at Kemper Lakes. Among those scheduled to appear are Marshall Faulk, Richard Dent, Emery Moorehead, Ed "Too Tall'' Jones and Dwight Clark. For information, call (312) 307-3958.

And finally ...

Dontrelle Willis is getting married in the offseason, and with some 200 people on the guest list, it ought to be quite a party. ''I'll have a barbecue,'' Willis says. ''It could turn into something like a football game. A Raiders game.''

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