Madonna Rumor Has Suns' Barkley Almost Speechless

Just when you thought you'd heard enough from Sir Charles, along comes some Madonna rumor to focus another spotlight on the Phoenix Suns' MVP.

Charles Barkley says rumors linking him with the Material Girl not only are false, but may have contributed to his mother-in-law's weekend heart attack.

"She has had a lot of stress from the jokes about me and Madonna and has been harassed with people (media) calling the house," Barkley said. "She's not doing well right now and that's a major concern. I only met her (Madonna) one time when she was in Phoenix. We don't date. We don't have a relationship. (Barkley is married, but his wife lives in Philadelphia).

"They should leave my wife and daughter alone. When my wife goes out, they play Madonna songs, they're calling my in-laws. This stuff is ridiculous, unbelievable. Nothing happened. I'm trying to concentrate on the finals, but this is harassment of me and my family."


Dave Dye of the Detroit News, reporting from Denver: "The Colorado Rockies are wondering what will come first - the 4 millionth fan or the 4 millionth run allowed by the home team."

Things can get no lower for the expansion club: John Roper, a rookie Cincinnati pitcher, said, "I've seen lineups better than theirs. For instance, Buffalo and maybe the Nashville Sounds."

But the Rockies, who are adored at home, are on course to break the major-league season record for attendance set last year by Toronto (4,028,318). With crowds averaging 57,082, the Rockies are projected to draw 4.567 million for 80 home dates.

And, based on what has happened so far, they could lose 115 games.


From the Rocky Mountain News comes a reminder that Hall of Fame careers can include some strange detours.

The recently retired Dale Murphy was labeled the next Johnny Bench when he was the fifth player taken in baseball's draft in June 1974.

Murphy was an early flop, first as a catcher and later as a first baseman. He had a mental block when it came to throwing the ball.

As a catcher, most of his attempts to throw out a runner landed in center field. Some didn't make it that far.

"One of my most embarrassing moments came on opening night in Richmond," Murphy recalled. "I tried to throw out a runner at second, and I hit my own pitcher in the butt - while he was sprawled in the grass."

His father once told him, "One thing's for sure, Dale. Nobody will be stealing center field on you."


From the Yogi Berra archives: After seeing his first streaker, Berra was asked if the person was male or female. "Don't know," he replied. "They were wearing a bag over their head."

Compiled by Chuck Ashmun, Times staff.