INDY BLOCKS A BLOCK
As feared, directors of the United States Auto Club have further penalized turbine power in the Indianapolis 500 for 1969, and so ends a time of adventure and exciting experiment at the Speedway. Andy Granatelli, the turbine man, swears he will not build to the new rule. No one else seems interested.
In another spasm of rules-fiddling the USAC directors also cut the displacement of supercharged engines of the type that won the 500 this year and increased the size of engines based on stock blocks. But they also decided that Dan Gurney's 1968 second-place finisher was too fancy to be granted the increased displacement awarded to other stock block engines.
It's a strange, strange world USAC lives in.
The psychological trauma resulting from baseball's longest season became all too evident in New York City last week. No hitting and no pennant races have taken their toll on certain chroniclers of the game. In their desire for stability and order, they are rejecting reality in favor of dreams of the past. Under the TV log in its issue of July 22, New York magazine listed:
8:00 (9) Baseball: N.Y. Mets at Boston Braves.
And last Thursday TV Announcer Mel Allen, perhaps taking New York at its word, said, 'Tonight the Mets were beaten by the Boston Braves 4-2."
O.K., fellows, let's dream it up. How about a St. Louis Orioles-Boston Braves series? Maybe on neutral ground? Like Ebbets Field?
It may be true that Big Ten football is slipping but it would be hard to prove on the basis of school tags on National Football League rosters. Among the 700 veteran players in the NFL, 116 played college ball in the Big Ten. Michigan State leads with 17, followed by Illinois, 16; Ohio State, Iowa, Minnesota and Michigan, 11 each; Wisconsin, Purdue and Northwestern, 10 each; and Indiana, 9.
The Southeastern Conference ran second, trailing the Big Ten by 40 with a total of 76. For the first time in four years, Notre Dame relinquished its spot as the individual leader, tying Illinois and Southern California for second with 16.
CHRISTMAS IN JULY
Visions of Yukon dogsleds, Italian bikes, Austrian ski bobs and kangaroo rugs danced in New York heads last week, and much sleep was lost in the process. Dozens of bargain hunters spent a Sunday night in front of the Abercrombie & Fitch Madison Avenue store, the outdoorsman's Tiffany's, in readiness for Abercrombie's first Outrageous Warehouse Sale, which drew the largest sale crowds in the city's history. The big lures were a $4,000 prefab vacation house reduced to $995, and two $249 aluminum boats, a fine bargain at $20 each. The house went to John Taylor Gatto, bearded author of the forthcoming The Adventures of Snyder, the CIA Spider, first in line with wife and coffee thermos at 4 p.m. Sunday, 16 hours before the 8 a.m. Monday opening. Though boats and house were sold in seconds, for hours frantic but late arrivals bypassed elevator lines and raced up eight flights of stairs only to groan and curse at SOLD signs on their dreams. One disappointed house hunter settled for a Speed Yak, once $285 but a bargain at $99.50. "How can I go wrong?" he shrugged. "I don't know what it is, but it's a good buy." Two snowman types flew in from Detroit and stood in line for seven hours to purchase two dogsleds ("I've got a poodle, so why not?" one said), two pairs of snowshoes and two bobsleds. The sleeper, however, proved to be a stuffed fish of uncertain species. "Imagine stuffing it," the ad read. "Someone did." It went in the first two minutes. A real steal at five cents.
The magazine Mexico offers visitors to the Olympic Games the following tips: do not leave your camera in the car; never be on time; always shake hands; it's all right to drink the water; and always sleep with your head pointed south.
THE WELL-STOCKED ARSENAL
Venting his displeasure over the tendency in various legislatures to blame guns alone for growing violence in America, a sportsman in Clarion, Pa. has gone underground. Other weapons are available, too, he discovered, and pointed out the results in a letter to the Law and Order Committee of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, which is studying proposed gun legislation. The letter:
"These items in stock in my basement:
"2 bows and arrows
"1 stick dynamite
"3 hunting knives
"1 axe lge.
"1 axe sm.
"1¼ arsenic [sic]
"1 gal. insecticide
"6 cans Sani-Flush
"12 steak knives
"1 gal. gasoline
"1 set of golf clubs, 3 woods, 5 irons, one putter, 'very deadly'
"1 ball bat
"2 hockey sticks
"1 fishing gaff
"1 carving knife
"If guns are to be registered these should be registered also. I think a $10 fee for each would help Gov. [Raymond P.] Shafer."
AN ASTERISK FOR CAP?
Baseball records, to all but those very ardent fans who memorize them, have always been suspect because field dimensions are not standardized and the ball itself can vary from season to season. Now a new edition of the Encyclopedia of Baseball is under way and some of the oldtime hitting records are coming under very close scrutiny. One example: the records of Adrian (Cap) Anson.
In 1879 Anson was credited with batting .407. Now it is said that he really batted .331 and that a friendly official scorer in the National League office helped him hike his average. His alltime personal high was recorded eight years later as .421. But in those days a base on balls was listed as a hit.
On the other hand, Cap will pick up an undetermined number of hits for eight National League seasons (1876-1883), when the statistics for tie games were not officially included in the records.
Oldtimers may take comfort in the consideration that whether Anson batted .407 or .331 he was still a good deal better than most 1968 hitters.
BUCKING THE BRITISH TIGER
Some of the world's richest men try to get even richer at the no-limit gaming tables of The Clermont Club in London's Berkeley Square, whose 950 members, 250 of them Americans, pay 80 guineas a year in membership dues. The club is run by John Aspinall, who also has a 50-animal private zoo adjoining his 18th century home, Howletts, in Kent.
A couple of years ago two Arab sheiks, soaked in oil, no doubt, gained admittance to the club, gambled for a few nights, and one lost about ¬£120,000, the other about ¬£70,000. Their checks made a slow passage to their Middle Eastern banks and returned swiftly because of insufficient funds.
Word got around and there were rumors that the club was insolvent, and even recently a report of impending bankruptcy appeared in a New York society column. But the Clermont is sturdier than that. Aspinall, a voluble, bouncy, tall blond man of about 40 who wears eye-catching, bushy Edwardian sideburns, covered the losses, and the dice rolled as usual. He is, in fact, planning a rather special gala fall reopening after the usual August vacation. His favorite tiger, Zemo, will be there—caged.
HOME RUNS ITALIAN STYLE
When the Washington Senators' huge Frank Howard was at Ohio State one of his best friends was Steve Molaro, with whom he played baseball. After graduation Steve turned to high school teaching and coaching in Chicago, but during summer vacation he became the jockey of a garbage truck. Howard stayed with the Molaro family when in Chicago and often rode to the ball park in Steve's truck. When he had a bad day his teammates would accuse him of riding in the back; when he had a good day they would say riding in the garbage truck made him stronger.
Well, Frank had some awfully good days in Chicago, and now it turns out that Mama Molaro should be given credit. Howard hit two home runs in one game after eating a record quantity of her "pastafazool." Full of Italian home cooking during another three-game series, Howard had nine hits, including four home runs, and 11 runs batted in. This summer Howard has been even better, leading the major leagues in home runs—and it has to be the cooking. Steve Molaro now drives a truck for a cleaner.
THEY SAID IT
•Dick Williams. Boston Red Sox manager, asked what is the difference between last year's Red Sox and this season's: "The Detroit Tigers."
•Weeb Ewbank, New York Jets coach, when Lee White, his No. 1 draft pick, demanded not only $80,000 but another $20,000 if he makes the 40-man squad: "You'd think that for $80,000 it's reasonable to expect a man will make the squad."
•Lee Trevino, U.S. Open winner, explaining why he may sponsor Arnold Salinas, a Dallas amateur, on the pro tour next year: "Arnold is the greatest putter in the world. He's better than I am—and I'm the best."