Bill Kwon

Sports Watch

By Bill Kwon

Tuesday, July 27, 1999

Umps’ actions sure
make you wonder

THIS and that to chew on, although sometimes it's awfully hard to swallow:

Didn't the major league umpires say they were going to resign?

Now, two weeks later, they've turned around and are suing major league baseball for the right to rescind their resignations.

If nothing else, it's certainly an example of the instability of the men in blue. It kind of makes you wonder if their calls aren't as forthright as well.

What's funnier is that the umps are protesting over unfair labor practices and lack of support by the baseball owners in their disputes with the ballplayers.

One of their gripes stemmed from the spitting incident by Roberto Alomar three years ago. They were upset that Alomar was suspended for only five games.

Then, earlier this month, umpire Tom Hallion was given a three-day suspension for bumping a player - a baseball first.

The nerve, what unmitigated gall. The umps felt like Rodney Dangerfield - they had no respect.

Never mind that respect is something you've got to earn. It's not a right that the umps have, especially since they've been as confrontational as the players.

Interestingly, 23 of the 32 American League umpires changed their minds and decided not to resign after all. And, mind you, Alomar spat an an AL umpire.

So, you wonder, what's the beef?

THEN there's the case of Donovan McNabb, the No. 2 NFL draft pick who's holding out on the Philadelphia Eagles.

Here's a guy who's supposed to be leading the Eagles out of their franchise doldrums. Well, maybe not right away. Maybe in a year or two. Instead, McNabb joins a list of first-round NFL draft picks who are AWOL.

At last count, 19 of the 31 first-round picks have yet to be signed, and training camps have already started.

Other than Tim Couch, the Cleveland Browns' No. 1 pick out of Kentucky, the four other quarterbacks taken in the first round have yet to sign.

So McNabb's in some pretty good company that includes Chicago Bears' rookie holdout Cade McNown, the former UCLA whiz.

Aren't these the guys who said they were thrilled to be selected on draft day? And that they can't wait to show what they can do in the NFL?

McNabb has already forgotten that he had been booed by Philly fans for not being Ricky Williams, whom the Eagles passed up in favor of the Syracuse standout.

It's reported that McNabb's agent is holding out until he can find out what kind of money Leigh Steinberg can pry out of the Cincinnati Bengals for his client, Akili Smith of Oregon, who was drafted third.

THAT'S why you've got to root for Ricky Williams to do well with the New Orleans Saints this season.

Williams, the Heisman Trophy winner from Texas, signed a no-nonsense contract loaded with incentives. Except for an $8.8 million signing bonus, he will be making the league minimum if he doesn't achieve certain goals.

Ricky isn't worried.

"The thing about my contract is that I have a nice bonus up front. The rest of it I have to work for. That's the way it should be," he said.

His attitude is in stark contrast with that of McNabb's agent, Fletcher Smith.

When told that the Eagles would reward McNabb amply if he performs well, Smith replied, "I can't take that chance."

Whatever happened to the old-fashioned way of doing things? Namely, earning it.

Bill Kwon has been writing
about sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1959.

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