'Non-PC' Series Fades, But Caricatures Remain

NOW that the Politically Incorrect World Series has ended, maybe fans of the Atlanta Braves will bury the tomahawk-chop chant. On the other hand, they might be as determined to keep it as the Cleveland Indians were to retain their toothy Indian caricature. When the Indians moved into Jacobs Field last year, they had an opportunity to make a clean break with the past. Instead, the club felt too much tradition was wrapped up in its Indian associations.

Actually, the team went through a number of nicknames - Spiders, Blues, and Naps, among others - before settling on Indians in 1915. A fan who wished to pay tribute to baseball's first native American player, Louis Sockalexis, suggested the name ''Indians.'' Sockalexis was born in Maine but played three years in Cleveland.

Some other thoughts as the Series recedes in consciousness:

If there was a broadcasting star during the games, it was NBC analyst and former all-star second baseman Joe Morgan. He may not possess quite the gift for gab that colleagues Bob Costas and Bob Uecker do, but his comments were consistently insightful, fresh, and well timed.

While millions of TV viewers were introduced to Cleveland's beautiful new ballpark, what they didn't see was one of the concession items that makes the park special - peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (for children only).

The World Series should be the logical time for advertisers to use baseball players as pitchmen. Instead, Miami Dolphins' quarterback Dan Marino was probably the most prominent sports figure on commercials run during the Series. That says a lot about baseball's current marketability.

A Game 6 TV interview with Braves fan Jimmy Carter, who sat in a box seat, was a reminder that baseball must still resolve its labor-management differences. The interviewer asked the former president if he might be willing to help negotiate a settlement. Only if asked, was his reply.

Given the late-October ending of the baseball season, some have suggested converting the World Series into a neutral, warm-weather event like the Super Bowl. That would obviously rob the Series of one of its major strengths: local enthusiasm. A better solution would simply be to start the postseason earlier, possibly by compacting the regular season with more doubleheaders.

Touching other bases

* Pop quiz: Name the only player ever to lead the National Basketball Association in scoring and assists (passes that lead directly to baskets) in the same season. (Answer at end.)

* The National Football League season is only half over, and already the expansion franchises have left their mark. The Jacksonville Jaguars are 3-6 and the Carolina Panthers 3-5. Winning even a single game is not a given for a new team. To wit, the Dallas Cowboys were 0-11-1 in 1960 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 0-14 in 1976.

* Quiz answer: Nate (Tiny) Archibald. Playing for the Kansas City/Omaha Kings in 1972-73, he dished out 910 assists and averaged 34 points per game, both league-leading marks.

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