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In politics, sports it's not over ...


© St. Petersburg Times, published November 12, 2000

Little did we know, Richard Daley, the elder, is alive and retired to Florida, bringing his Chicago backspin to our polling places.

Why am I reminded, as we stalk a definitive/controversial Gore-Bush result, of Munich 1972 and USA-USSR basketball, where the Soviet Olympians got almost as many chances as Darryl Strawberry?

Difference is, in Presidential Games 2000, with no snarling Get the U.S. mentality, like at every Olympics, the deserving party may yet prevail. Even if a Democratic figure-skating judge does keep raising a placard with a degrading "4.5"

You were right, Yogi.

Upon further review ...

It became "The Count of Monty Python." Nowhere more embarrassingly than in Palm Beach and Pinellas counties.

It was too gross to call.

It is over, right? Final answer? Al Gore out of lifelines? W gets the W? Or is the latest score just another misguided network declaration?

Letterman and Leno, understandably, are joking about us Floridians. How excruciating, this fuzzy math of ours.

Across the world, critics yelp, "Florida doesn't add up." Also asking, "How many Floridians does it take to count ballots?" Fill in your own whimsical answer.

We have become FloriDUHHHH.

My theory on the butterfly ballots is that all those people were once fans of Petticoat Junction and intended to vote for EDGAR Buchanan.

Hail to the Chief!

Whomever it's to be.

All of this happens just when Jeb Bush, our guv and bro of W, was considering a hot, new state slogan: "Florida: You Can Count on Us!" Thankfully, we're still college football potent nationally with the 'Canes, 'Noles and Gators.

You wonder, how would we flammable Jockville overreactionaries have reacted if it'd been our games being so nauseatingly affected by such scoreboard shenanigans?

Anybody playing around with a final score, especially on the biggest game of all, would be cause for brawls in sports bars from here to the Klondike. Nevada would be a police state, in a fighting funk at sports books if manipulations were suspected.

Just imagine

What if, at the end of today's Bucs-Packers game or Saturday's volatile FSU-Florida football, a jabber of zebras wound up announcing, "We'll get back to you on the final score."

In the NFL, you'd immediately check to see if the Ray-J ref was again that master of officiating outrage, Phil "Bad" Luckett. If it comes down to a coin flip between Gore and Bush, don't leave it to Luckett.

Oh, this just in from the BCS: with latest returns, Oklahoma is the top-rated school in national championship befuddlements, with the Electoral College having moved up to No. 2, putting heavy queasiness into the hopes of FSU, Miami and Florida.

Serves us right.

This is just another poll and our state has documented a propensity for fumblitis in stuff having anything to do with polls. Potato heads in Idaho are firing insults at us. Canadians are rethinking plans to retire here, saying Florida is a no-count place.

I heard a Mississippian say Floridians must be morons. West Virginians are telling Florida jokes. It's going to take a whopper of a while to overcome this, probably until Chelsea Clinton is running for U.S. senator from New York.

Maybe next time we'll elect, as our president, the New Orleans cook with the Bam! spices, Emeril Lagasse. You do watch the Food Channel, right? Then they could play, Hail to the Chef!

Hey, sports/politics fans, important stuff can take time. I mean, if we're into turnaround talk, remember how Kansas basketball coach Roy Williams wavered, making us think he was "going home" to North Carolina, before remaining a Jayhawk?

Change is ... good?

Bobby Cremins, after celebrated (if somewhat exaggerated) success at Georgia Tech, was all smiles and happy, floppy white hair in accepting a chance to coach hoops at his alma mater, South Carolina, then reneged and went back to a career that faded in Atlanta.

Yogi tried to tell us.

Not over until ...

It wasn't over, despite a healthy Miami Hurricanes lead, as long as Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie had the football.

It wasn't over when Mookie Wilson of the Mets hit a weak grounder to Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner. Wasn't over until Kirk Gibson said so at Dodger Stadium. Or until Frank Reich of the playoff Bills was finished with the Oilers.

Or until Curtis Martin wobbled that September pass to Flashlight Chrebet. Or until Antonio Freeman went from being grounded to Monday night's get-up-and-score Green Bay hero.

Looking at the 1968 Masters scoreboard, everybody figured Roberto de Vicenzo was hot in the green jacket hunt, but then there was a recount.

Like in Florida last week. Roberto's polling place erred, giving him a 4 instead of the 3 he achieved on the next-to-last hole. An error that, upon further review, was caught. Making the champion Bob Goalby.

"What a stupid I am," said the grand Argentine gent. We in the Sunshine Recount State feel your pain, Roberto. That afternoon in Augusta, did CBS ever declare de Vicenzo the winner? I know I did.

Now this.

Here in Florida, we were told on election night our choice was Al Gore, then George W. Bush, then neither. After a long and flabbergasting time, with more recounts than a poker rube nervously fumbling with his stack of chips, a Texan still is looking for a big win to go with his big hat. It's still not over.

Yogi, save us!

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