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Robinson's Number to Retire; Will Vaughn Go to New Jersey?

Column by Bo Light
sports columnist

Are you a victim, or do you wish you were one? Are you morally outraged by comic strips? Do you assume that everyone who disagrees with you does so simply because you represent a different (choose one) race/gender/sexual orientation/living group? If so, then DON'T READ THIS, because this is EA Sports, the column that dares to offend.

This week, as always, we bring you news and views from the naturally oppressive world of athletics.

Around the horn

If you don't watch golf (and who does) and don't pay attention to any form of news media, you might not know that 21-year-old Tiger Woods won the Masters last weekend.

Besides becoming the first black player to win a major and the youngest player to win a Green Jacket, Woods also set Masters records for lowest 72-hole score (270), margin of victory (12 strokes), and most Nike logos worn at one time (eight). Kudos to Mr. Woods, who is obviously destined to rule the golfing world.

It's been hard to read a sports section lately without hearing a thing or two about Jackie Robinson.

Robinson is often referred to as the first black man to play Major League Baseball. That honor, in fact, belongs to Moses Fleetwood Walker. Robinson, however, was the first to do so on an everyday basis, and thus is credited with breaking the "color barrier" in professional sports, opening the doors for athletes of all races to showcase their talents.

This is the 50th anniversary of Robinson's first season with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and Major League Baseball has come up with a fitting tribute. Robinson's jersey number, 42, is to be retired. From the entire league.

Players who currently wear the number, such as Boston's Mo Vaughn, will still be able to wear it, but no new player will ever be allowed to wear it. Vaughn wears the number 42 in honor of Robinson, as do many of the players who wear that number.

Now that it has been retired, these players could show a lot of class by giving up their jerseys, just as if their team had retired that number. Can you imagine the fan response in Boston if Vaughn came out one night and suddenly tore off his jersey to reveal a number 77 beneath it? (Note to the clueless: Ray Borque did the same thing when Bobby Orr's number was retired by the Bruins.) Such an act would also be great publicity, something that baseball still sorely needs.

Basketball madness half over

Well, the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament is about a month old now. What have we learned? Well, we learned that 1) a 311 record does not guarantee a national title, 2) Minnesota was not a weak top seed, and 3) Arizona is not, in fact, Arizona.

The Wildcats, picked here to go down in the first round (because they always do), went the distance to capture their first national championship. 'Zona, by the way, is the first team in tournament history to beat three number one seeds in the same tournament.

While we're on the subject of basketball, the NBA season is winding down, and it looks like the playoffs are just a formality before Chicago is awarded their fifth championship this decade.

Is it a done deal, though? Can the Bulls be beaten? The answer is yes. Nonsense, you say? Tune in next week, you faithless goobers, to the EA Sports NBA playoff preview, where we present the keys to running with the Bulls.

Major League Soccer's second season is under way, without as much fanfare as the first season, but with bigger crowds.

Despite being ranked between pro wrestling and tractor pulls in the hierarchy of America's favorite sports, MLS has been successful enough to announce its first expansion; teams have been awarded to Chicago and Miami for next season.

The participation of nearly the entire U.S. National team, as well as strong international players, like Carlos Valderrama and Jorge Campos, are big reasons for the success of the league, and a big plus for the U.S. soccer program.

If you've never caught an MLS game, Sunday might be the perfect day to see your first one. For those who have been living in a lab, the New England Revolution host the Tampa Bay Mutiny at Foxboro Stadium in the Revolution's first home game of the season.

As an added bonus, the game is the second half of a doubleheader. The first game is a World Cup qualifying match between the United States and Mexico. Will our boys take down the Mexican juggernaut? Will Alexi Lalas play in both games? Will Univision announcer Andres Cantor blow out a vocal cord? Come and see.

Finally, something must be said about the Pernell Whitaker-Oscar De La Hoya fight last weekend. Billed as the fight to prove who is "pound for pound" the best fighter in the world (obviously by people who have never seen the Ultimate Fighting Championship), it almost lived up to its name.

Almost, that is, until the decision was handed down, and De La Hoya was pronounced the victor by a landslide. Not that De La Hoya is a bad fighter, but all three judges had awarded him a lopsided victory in a fight that was certainly closer than the score indicated (in fact, several news organizations covering the fight had Whitaker winning).

It was speculated that De La Hoya had an advantage in judging because he was younger, and thus would generate more and larger purses, meaning more money for the World Boxing Council (which makes a percentage of each purse).

Was this a plot by El Hombre (or, perhaps, the LAPD)? Was the fix in? We may never know, at least not until the rematch, which will undoubtedly happen some time next year and make at least $15 million for both boxers. Only in America.

Trivia question

This might be a bad idea, since this column is published sporadically, but here we go. As you no doubt have heard, the Boston Bruins failed to make the playoffs for the first time in 30 years.

In that 30-year span, how many Stanley Cups did they win? Send your answers, along with comments and cartoons featuring offensive depictions of middle-aged, white heterosexual males, to easports@the-tech.mit.edu. Correct answers will be announced in the next column, incorrect answers will be announced during Killian Kick-Off next year. Fan mail will be acknowledged, flames will provide useful fodder for next week's jokes. See you then.