Indy's bizarre finish; 24-hour cycling mark; hockey's Blues in limbo
The Indianapolis 500 is seldom uneventful, and this year's auto race was no exception. Tom Sneva, a three-time runner-up, eventually drove to an 11-second victory over Al Unser Sr., but not until a blocking incident had spiced the day's proceedings.
Using legal, but questionable tactics, rookie Indy driver Al Unser Jr. managed to slip his car in between Sneva's and that of his dad late in the race. For several laps Al Jr., who was five laps behind the leaders, tried to prevent Sneva from passing Al Sr., a three-time Indy winner. The Unsers were driving for different teams, but family ties obviously came into play, as ''little Al'' attempted to run interference.
Al Jr. was given the ''move over flag'' several times, but ignored it since he was under no obligation to obey it. The flag is informational in intent, and not to be construed as a warning, although courtesy would dictate yielding to the faster driver.
Caught in the air turbulence behind little Al's car, Sneva was unable to make his move into the lead until Tom and ''Team Unser'' moved into traffic, spoiling the cat-and-mouse game.
Al Jr. was later penalized two laps, but not because of his screening tactics , but because he had passed illegally with the yellow caution flag out, which requires drivers to slow down and hold their positions. Distance barrier broken
While Tom Sneva was racing 500 miles in Indianapolis, Californian John Howard was pedaling 514 miles in New York to break a world 24-hour cycling record. The race's defending champion averaged better than 2l m.p.h. on the Central Park course, which was pelted by rain early Sunday morning.
Howard just kept on pumping, though, surpassing the old mark of 507 miles set by Englishman Roy Cromack in 1969. Howard stopped once to change his shirt, and seven other times because of flat tires, but he had friends hand him food as he rode, everything from a turkey sandwich to a baked potato.
A three-time Olympian and past winner of the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii, Howard participated in last summer's Great American Bike Race from Los Angeles to New York. Who's got the Blues?
The St. Louis Blues hockey team is in limbo. The National Hockey League has refused to approve the club's sale and transfer to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and is considering buying the team itself until suitable ownership can be found. One NHL source says the league would be ''the brunt of 18,000 jokes'' if it ever let the Blues move to the heart of Canada's prairie provinces. Saskatoon doesn't have a major league arena, but would take steps to build one if the sale were approved.
The Blues' heyday came in the late 1960s and early 1970s when they were NHL attendance leaders and a Stanley Cup finalist on three occasions. The franchise has languished since then.The Ralston Purina Company claims to have lost $19 million since buying the club in 1977.
Lending a sense of urgency to the current situation is next week's NHL draft. There is no front office to make player selections for the Blues at this point. Touching other bases
* If there can be an official Olympic snack, why shouldn't there be an official cleanup crew? After all, somebody has to put things shipshape again when the cheering stops. Realizing this, the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee has named Waste Management Inc. as the official trash collector of the 1984 Summer Games. The selection was not taken lightly. Said LAOOC official Harry Usher, ''Picking up the trash is not really glamorous, but it is one of the most important functions of a modern society and is a good indication of how well an organization is operating.''
* The Toronto Blue Jays, and not the Montreal Expos, are the best baseball team in Canada these days. This situation may not last, but the Blue Jays have shown legitimate signs of strength, posting three straight shutouts at one point last week to move into first place. A perennial doormat since entering the American League seven years ago, Toronto gave some indication of its new direction last season, when it tied Cleveland for sixth place in the A. L. East with a club-best .481 winning percentage. Before that the Blue Jays had always been sole tenants of seventh, or last, place.
* Moses Malone may be the best player to jump directly from high school to pro basketball, but he was not the first. That distinction belongs to 6 ft. 8 in. forward Joe Graboski, who entered the NBA in 1948 at 17. He averaged 11 points in 13 years and played on Philadelphia's 1956 championship team.
* For the Yankees, baseball has become a preliminary to the main event - controversy. The latter surrounds the club and its principal owner George Steinbrenner, who will begin serving a one-week suspension on Friday for a recent tirade against the umpires. In announcing the suspension, president Lee McPhail spoke of the American League's concern and dissatisfaction with the encumbering ''machinations and publicity pronouncements of the owner.''