MAKING THE NATIONAL League All-Star team is a big thrill for Provo's Vance Law - who will be in the annual mid-season classic tonight in Cincinnati. An even bigger thrill for the veteran ballplayer is that his 6-year-old daughter, Natalie, will be able to watch the game.
It's been nearly two years now since a tumor was discovered near Natalie Law's brain and surgery had to be performed. Vance, who was playing for the Montreal Expos at the time, took off the last two months of the 1986 regular season to see his daughter through the operation and the beginning of the ensuing chemotherapy and radiation treatments.Natalie had to learn a lot of her motor skills all over again - how to walk and run and jump. Now she is a healthy, happy six year old. She just recently went off chemotherapy completely. Her hair is starting to grow back, and while her condition will have to be watched closely for the next few years the prognosis is extremely hopeful.
"She's been an inspiration to me," says Vance. "She's the real all-star."
*** BOOK 'EM: The final pre-tournament Jeremy Ranch Showdown odds, courtesy of the Pahrump (Nev.) Sportsbook:
Bruce Crampton, still a solid 2-1 after a win Sunday in the GTE Northwest Classic in Seattle; defending champion Miller Barber, still 3-1; Moody/Coody, 5-1; Al Geiberger, 5.9-1; Dale Douglass and Peter Thomson, 10-1; Gene Littler, Bobby Nichols and Larry Mowry, 25-1; The Field, 100-1; Sally Field, 101-1; Ex-Jocks (Ralph Terry, Jesse Whittentonn, John Brodie), 102-1; No-Shows (Chi Chi Rodriguez/Gary Player/Billy Casper), off-the-board (contrary to TV ads that say they're coming).
*** ADD JEREMY: Here's a tip for Showdown spectators, who may be unaware that the change this year from late-August to mid-July will mean a horde of new visitors.
Deer flies will be out in droves.
Officially, the deer fly's Wasatch Mountain lifespan is from the middle of June until the middle of August. But it's from approximately the Fourth to the 24th of July that these flies get real hungry.
"There's no spray that's particularly effective, and they should be worse this year, because of the climate," says a source in the U. S. Forest Service office, requesting anonymity.
Still, a strong insect repellent is advised.
*** COME ON TOM, WHAT DO YOU REALLY THINK?: Considering his reaction to the Seattle SuperSonic's trade for forward Michael Cage, it's a good thing ex-University of Utah star Tom Chambers was subsequently traded from Seattle to the Phoenix Suns.
Chambers on Cage, "I'll tell you what, Michael Cage is not what everybody thinks he is. He can't shoot. He can't run. He can't jump. He can't block shots. He has one thing he can do: rebound. Period. People are going to be awfully surprised. I like Michael. He's a good kid and a hard worker. But two years ago, the Clippers were going to cut him. Guys got hurt and he improved through playing time."
*** STILL GOOD SEATS AVAILABLE: Tickets are going fast to the U. S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials scheduled for July 29-Aug. 6 in the Salt Palace, but they're not going that fast.
Rainer Dahl, the president of the Utah Sports Foundation, which is overseeing the Trials, says between 4,000 and 5,000 seats have so far been sold for the event that will be held in an arena that will hold slightly more than 11,000 spectators.
"That's great," says Dahl. "These have all been package deals, good for all six evenings, which is the only way you can buy the tickets. I suspect a lot of people are waiting for individual night tickets to become available. But that won't happen until the Trials begin."
Dahl says the tickets already sold come close to guaranteeing at least a break-even competition financially. So that's no problem. His biggest worry is that there will be too many empty seats to impress the USOC committee members who are expected to be in Salt Lake in force.
"I'm slightly concerned," says Dahl. "We want to make a good impression. We want to let the USOC know that we can stage big events that are well received. We don't want this to hurt our chances for the Winter Olympics later on."
*** COMMENT OF THE WEEK: Rick Morrissey, a sports writer for the Rocky Mountain News, on Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon's latest venture:
"McMahon has taken a job as a weekend sports announcer for a television station in Chicago. According to one of his classmates at Brigham Young University, McMahon slept during the first few weeks of a journalism class and after that never showed up. With those credentials, is an anchor job far behind?"