Putting one little word after another and whatever became of pitcher Van Lingle Mungo? ... When your mouth functions as easily as Howard Cosell's, it's not easy to stop talking - especially when they give you scads of money for simply doing what comes naturally. The thing you have to remember, I think, is that it was not some producer but Cosell himself who decided he would bow out of the ABC Monday Night Football program with which he had been associated since its inception in 1970 (his spot is being taken by O. J. Simpson).
If, at some point in the future, Howard wants to come back, it might take no more than making his wishes known to the network. Meanwhile, he will continue to host ABC's SportsBeat, and occasionally do some major league baseball.
Years ago I asked Cosell why his sports interviews are often so meaningful, and got this reply: ''You are forgetting something when you ask that question. You are forgetting that I am a trained lawyer - that I took courses in journalism and communications, and that people are my main interest. I have been trained to interrogate, which is why my interviews are so good. Journalism has never been a popularity contest, and sports broadcasting shouldn't be either. I am doing the best job of anybody in the business. I have made it with minority groups and educated people. Actually, I never wanted to be a lawyer in the first place. However, I am a dutiful son of Jewish parents and I wanted to please my mother. She wanted to be able to say: 'This is Howard, my son, the lawyer.' So I let her!''
Houston's Big O
NBA scouts say that if the mental toughness is there, 6 ft. 10 in. rookie center Akeem Olajuwon will make a playoff team this year of the Houston Rockets. That means at least 10 more wins than the 29-53 record the Rockets posted last season. What Olajuwon lacks most right now is experience. But the tentative footwork that sometimes got Akeem in trouble on defense in college is getting special attention at Pete Newell's summer camp for big men at Loyola-Marymount in Inglewood, Calif.
At Houston, Olajuwon will play on a front line with 7-4 Ralph Sampson, last season's NBA Rookie of the Year, and 6-9 Rodney McCray. Having two players the size of Olajuwon and Sampson on the court at the same time is not an NBA first. Back in 1963-64 the old San Francisco Warriors, with 7-2 Wilt Chamberlain at center and 7-footer Nate Thurmond at forward, won the NBA West with a 48-32 record. However, the Warriors were beaten in five games by the Boston Celtics in the league's championship series when 6-4 Frank Ramsey did a remarkable job of keeping Thurmond off the defensive board.
On Olympic stars
Asked after her college career is over at Southern Cal if she would like to try out with a National Basketball Association team, Cheryl Miller replied: ''I really don't think so. I know that doesn't sound anything like me, but I've already played some exhibition games against men and there is no way women can compete with them. They are just too strong physically.'' However, if there is a female pro league operating at the time Miller graduates, the star of this year's US Olympic women's basketball team should be able to buy a small island with her signing bonus alone.
One reason that the world's media is down on Carl Lewis, who won four Olympic track and field gold medals, is the short amount of time he gives pool reporters after his victories. For the unitiated, a pool reporter is a well regarded newspaperman who carries his colleague's questions to the winner after an event is finished. He does that as a courtesy to someone like Lewis, so that Carl won't have to deal with 300 or 400 reporters at a time in a space maybe the size of a two-car garage.