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Keeping Score

By Cindy Luis

Wednesday, July 12, 2000

Midsummer of
missed opportunities

REGRETS? Not to start sounding like Frank Sinatra, but there's been a few.

One regret concerns baseball's Midsummer Classic. There was a chance to go to the All-Star Game a few years ago when it was played in San Diego and I blew it by not pursuing tickets while there on vacation.

But that wasn't as bad as whiffing at the chance of getting Don Larsen's autograph during the All-Star FanFair, which is held in conjunction with the game and is similar to the Pro Bowl Experience. Especially after coming home and being reminded by my mother that Larsen and my late father had gone to high school together.

There was no line. There still is no excuse.

It's one of those nagging things that makes an appearance every year about this time.

Yesterday, that memory strode into the on-deck circle along with David Wells. The Toronto pitcher also attended the same high school as Larsen and my dad: Point Loma.

Despite Bob Costas' comments, I was rooting for Wells to get an at-bat. It would have been fun to see him get a hit, and get back at Sports Illustrated for making him look like an extra in a Gas-X commercial on last week's magazine cover.

It also was enjoyable yesterday to take in a live ballgame, although I was in my living room and not in Atlanta. The game could have done without the 30 minutes of introductions, but it was a nice touch for the players to have their kids out on the field.

And it was heartwarming to see the reception for Andres Galarraga. If anyone had an excuse to be a no-show, it was the Braves' first baseman.

This time last year, Galarraga was undergoing chemotherapy for the non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in his back. He lost his hair but never his smile, or his courage.

He tipped his batting helmet to the crowd before his first at-bat yesterday. But it was Galarraga who deserved the tip of the cap for making it back to the game he loves.


SPEAKING of someone who loves his sport, Pete Newell will be back next month for his annual Big Man's Camp. The developmental camp is scheduled for Aug. 14-18 at Kamehameha's Kekuhaupio Gym and will feature pro and collegiate players.

Newell was particularly pleased that five of last year's college players who attended the camp were drafted by NBA teams last month.

Yesterday's phone call to his Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., home was just supposed to confirm some camp details.

But it turned into 45 minutes of discussing everything from the NBA draft and Larry Bird's retirement to who would be the next coach at North Carolina. (Just as Newell said "Matt Doherty,'' the news came across the Associated Press wire).

We both agree that the NBA needs a farm system similar to that of Major League Baseball.

Newell's idea would be for several NBA teams to form a partnership with a CBA team. The former Cal coach said he would have NBA teams have a roster of 14 players, four of which would be placed on the CBA team.

"Instead of a kid sitting on the bench, you want them to develop as a player,'' he said. If you had the ability to send players down, recall them, it would be the impetus for happier -- and better -- players.

"More and more younger players are coming into the league. This would give them a place to grow and develop, both in talent and maturity.''

Newell has always been a visionary. This sounds like another plan whose time has come.

Cindy Luis is Star-Bulletin sports editor.
Her column appears weekly.

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