NOT WITH A NIBBLE BUT A GULP
Now who is it who wants to shorten the baseball season, expand the leagues, have interleague play and divisional playoffs? Bill Veeck? Wrong. Some big macher in TV-land? Wrong. Those highflying Baltimore Orioles? Right.
"The season is too long," says Jerry Hoffberger, the Orioles' owner. "It should start later, but not be extended into October as some have suggested. The reason for a late start is valid—poor weather, causing postponements that result in doubleheaders or single games on what were supposed to be rest dates. But a later date without a shorter season isn't worth a hoot."
"It's difficult to maintain interest in baseball over such a long season," says Frank Cashen, the Orioles' executive vice-president. "There is so much for people to do in this day and age. We could easily cut out one game for every team series. We could even cut two games a series, which would reduce the schedule by 18 games."
Cashen believes that much of the attendance lost by eliminating games would be made up by more fans attending the remaining ones. And the Orioles could save a lot of money by not opening the park as frequently—one of the club's biggest expenses.
"The trouble with baseball," Hoffberger concludes, "is that it has nibbled away at its hindquarters but never taken a big bite of the future and tried to digest it. We've got to get away from this traditionalism to some degree. Take the things you know must come—shorter season, additional expansion, interleague play, divisional playoffs at the end of the season—then do them all at once."
WHAT A JUMP!
The event at which public relations people excel is not, as is popularly assumed, the flight of fancy; it is the jump to conclusions.
We are in receipt of a press release from the Illinois Racing Board, which we reprint below, and we congratulate the anonymous press agent who composed it on setting a world record in the jump.
"Francis Crosby, director of the Illinois Bureau of Racetrack Police of the Illinois Racing Board," the handout goes, "proposes as his No. 1 candidate for 'louse of the year' the young man who lifted the wallet of a 92-year-old man at Cahokia Downs racetrack in East St. Louis the other night.
"The pickpocket...got $140 from the old gentleman, perhaps the sum total of his social security pittance and modest pension for many years of honest toil who now derives pleasure from an occasional visit to the race track."
IS PEACE WONDERFUL?
The merger of the NFL and the AFL last week terminated the pro football war, which had always seemed to us to be less a war and more a fairly routine expression of free enterprise, or of Darwinism. However, "war" has only three characters, which endears it to those who write headlines. Ostensibly, what dictated the peace were the terrific bonuses that certain college seniors commanded and the prospect of established pro stars jumping from one league to the other for immoderate sums. (What is rarely acknowledged is that the publicity resulting from the bonuses often more than repaid the clubs that shelled them out, as well as benefiting the whole war-torn sport.) As Ralph Wilson, owner of the Buffalo Bills, put it, "The players had taken over the game. We had to do something."
At any rate, the owners did what they thought would be financially rosiest and legal; and, reputedly, they are willing to spread some of the prospective profit around among the players in the form of higher salaries. That leaves the fans. Will they be better served in peace than they were in war? One immediate advantage is the NFL-AFL championship game, which will be played until 1970, when four seven-team divisions will be established. The fans have been clamoring for that one, though its appeal is lessened now that the AFL no longer has to beat its breast. Then there will undoubtedly be 173 consecutive hours of pro ball on TV each weekend, which ought to please some, at least until it drives them up the walls. Whether live gates in towns like Pittsburgh, where they weren't selling seats in wartime, will be enhanced in peacetime by the prospect of seeing our Steelers playing those rough, tough Denver Broncos remains to be seen. By the way, if you're wondering when the next Grid War will begin, it will be when the new league starts trying to decide what teams go in which division.
DOWN BY THE OLD 5-7720-21680 ETC.
Someday soon a kid will come home with soggy sneakers, wet pants and a couple of sunnies, and his mother will say, "Where have you been?" And the kid will say, "Out." And the mother will say, "Out where?" And the kid will say, "Out fishing in 5-7720-21680-0150-095."
And you better believe it. The Federal Government has been numbering every river, creek, brook and run in the country as part of an antipollution drive. With the ZIP code, the area code and the computerized special checking account number, what did you expect?
The way it works is: the biggest rivers have the smallest numbers, and the smallest brooks have the biggest numbers. For example, the Mississippi is 5, but by the time you get to Bushy Run the number is 5-7720-21680-0130-0120-0250. Which seems to indicate that the water flows from the Mississippi (5) through the Ohio (5-7720), through the Monongahela (5-7720-21680), through Turtle Creek (5-7720-21680-0130), through Bush Creek (5-7720-21680-0130-0120) before emptying into Bushy Run. Or is it vice versa?
Actually, the system is needed because of numerous duplications in the names of streams. In Pennsylvania alone there are 69 Mill Runs, 62 Pine Creeks and 46 Trout Runs, but only one 5-7720-21680-0130-0120-0250.
MAN VS. MACHINE
The feats of computers, with which we are daily impressed, are not, we feel, necessarily cause for rejoicing; indeed, it often seems to us that these machines are getting out of line, as, for example, when they fix someone up with a blind date. In cases like this nothing cheers us more than to hear that the computer has fallen down on the job. Perhaps we are just rooting for the underdog, who in this day and age is evidently the human being.
This is by way of introducing Brian Moniesen of Chicago, who works for Computer Concepts, Inc. and owns and trains harness horses. What Moniesen is up to is handicapping harness races with a computer. Moniesen and his missus do research on various factors—form, consistency, chance to win, speed, class, overall rating and so forth. Then Moniesen transfers the dope to punch cards and tapes. It takes his rented computer 10 seconds to make the picks for the 10 races at Sportsman's Park.
How is the machine doing? Moniesen claims it's been right around 33% of the time. Man, in his sublime ignorance, would have won 39% of his bets playing only favorites at Sportsman's.
However, Moniesen's computer has had a profound effect on the old-fashioned, I'm-only-human newspaper handicapper. Chicago's American is printing the computer's selections, and, apparently, there's nothing like the hot breath of automation on a working stiff's neck. One night last week, Elmer Polzin of the American had seven winners at Sportsman's Park, and the next night he came back with five. Way to go, Elmer. All of us out here in the human race are with you.
Our candidate for Opportunist of the Week is M. R. Rutherford of Memphis, whose property has been stripped of vegetation and thoroughly plowed over as the aftermath of one of the most lurid murder trials in the city's history.
Louis Montesi, a wealthy grocery executive, was convicted of killing his wife. The case involved scarlet women from Boston, Montesi's charge that the crime was committed by another man and a libel suit brought against Montesi by the accused.
After Montesi was sentenced his attorneys claimed to have a lead on the still-undiscovered weapon, a pistol; hence the search of Rutherford's "willows, weeds and water."
It was all fine by Rutherford, who has announced his intention to build a driving range on the cleared land.
THE MEN FROM THE BOYS
At certain horse tracks in Ontario there is no age requirement for betting, a state of affairs that evidently distressed some delegates to a conference of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police last week. The chiefs, mirabile dictu, heard of 9-year-olds getting their bets down, and Chief F. W. Illingworth of Hanover, Ont. told of watching a 12-year-old boy place a $2 bet and, what's more, go back and collect $300 in winnings. "It was ridiculous," said Illingworth. It was not clear what the chief thought ridiculous, the boy betting or the boy winning, or both, but the way we see it, if you're tall enough to reach the $2 window, you're man enough to bet.
DFFRS ND NT APPLY
Exciting opty, plsnt atmos, some exp nec, publ contact, meet celebs, excel fringe bnfts, trvl, 3 day, 15 hr wk, to $32,000. Write Lennie Wirtz, 1172 W. Galbraith, Cincinnati.
"There is a definite shortage of professional lady golfers," Wirtz, who is the director of the LPGA, admitted last week. "As a matter of fact, I have to confess that I overbooked the girls this year. I added several tournaments that I'm afraid will run me a little thin on players."
There are some 60 golfers eligible for the tour, which begins in March and ends in November. However, only about 35 show up for any one tournament. Just four of last year's eight newcomers have survived, and of the nine players who joined the tour this year only Candy Phillips and Penny Zavichas so far have won their LPGA cards—which involves finishing in the top 80% in three of four consecutive tournaments.
Although Kathy Whitworth won $32,327 as the leading LPGA money winner last year, to date Miss Phillips has earned but $50, Miss Zavichas $42; and it has been estimated that it costs a player $165 a week to stay on the tour.
In other words, lrg bnk acct hlpfl.
There's this fellow in England, Edward Links, draftsman by trade, who is going around trying to persuade weekend pilots that swimming pools are an inestimable aid to navigation.
"Nothing," he says, "stands out from the air so well as the blue of a chlorinated swimming pool. It's just a question of getting someone to make a map of all the pools in England."
All very well, Links, but what happens if two or three chaps decide to drain their pools?
LAST AND LEAST
Also in England, we detect a burgeoning preoccupation with the incompetent, which may or may not be symptomatic of these times. For example, the other day the soccer team of Wimborne St. Giles, Dorset, which in 22 games last season allowed 210 goals while scoring 11, won for the second time in a year and plunged its followers into impenetrable gloom. After a 2-0 victory over a team representing London's Natural History Museum—the center forward is an expert on dragonflies, the goalkeeper studies worms—the Dorset club chairman, Charles Hibbard, said, "We're playing far too well this season."
And in Bournemouth, schoolchildren will shortly be viewing a film on how not to ride a bicycle. The identity of its star, an elderly gentleman who is almost totally maladroit on two wheels, is being kept secret. He was discovered wobbling along by Mrs. Barbara Mackie, secretary of the Cycling Proficiency Committee, after she had slyly observed hundreds of Bournemouthians pedaling around town.
THEY SAID IT
•Buzzie Bavasi, Dodger general manager, asked why the Los Angeles pinch-hitting had been so bad: "I know, it's just been terrible—we haven't won a pennant since last October."
•Leo Johnson, referee for the U.S. Track & Field national meet, after Jim Ryun ran his world record half-mile: "You kind of hate to clear your stopwatch after a race like that."