THE NCAA STRIKES OUT...AGAIN
I salute Pat Putnam and SI for their courageous, although probably quixotic, stand against the NCAA ruling that declared the Bruins' premier long jumper, James McAlister, ineligible for the NCAA track and field championships (This One Was for James, June 28). As Track Coach Jim Bush said, "They didn't hurt UCLA; they hurt no one but a fine, decent kid who has worked harder, was more dedicated than any athlete I've ever seen."
The salient point here is the personal injury that such an inane ruling inflicts. Some sort of reform seems necessary within the organization of collegiate athletics and the group that rules it with an iron hand (and, apparently, a cold heart).
I feel the NCAA made a ridiculous decision. If McAlister took the test and passed it legally then I feel he is eligible. It was almost as bad as saying the team attitude is bad if some of the team members have long hair, sideburns or a mustache. To James McAlister I give my condolences and to the UCLA track team I say good effort for a fine young man.
BILLY THE BULLY
Billy Martin states, "The day I start a fight is the day I lose one" (Billy the Kid as Peacemaker, June 28). Baloney. It sure looked like he once started one he didn't lose, and I saw it from a box seat back of third base at Wrigley Field. I refer to the day in August 1960 when he all but ruined Pitcher Jim Brewer. Martin, then with the Cincinnati Reds, claimed Brewer threw at him. So he went to the mound and crushed Brewer's cheekbone. Predictably, the pantywaisted commissioner's office let Martin off with a slap on the wrist when he surely deserved at least a year's suspension and a robust fine. Why no mention of this in your article?
July 11, 1971
A FAN'S LAMENT
If horsemen and the tracks would stop shedding crocodile tears over the OTB money (Putting the Case to Howie the Horse, June 28) and begin thinking about ways to improve racing, perhaps their fiscal worries would come to an end. Both are responsible for lack of progress—horsemen for overbreeding and overracing, and tracks for altitudes that functioned well 30 years ago.
Racing has not changed much. It still is one minute and 10 seconds of action, and 29 minutes of inaction. In today's go-go world it's like driving a Model T on the freeway. The brain trusts at many tracks are overdue for a frontal lobotomy. The color, gaiety and excitement are gone. It's money, money, money, and nobody seems to be making enough: not the states, not the tracks and not the horsemen.
Dick Miles (Exterminating a Ping-Pong Pest, June 28) has shown how to deal with my particular species; however, I must appeal to Mr. Miles to aid us Finks. (A very inappropriate bit of symbolism, I might add.) Now that we are almost "exterminated," Ping-Pong will reach its lowest depths. A Ping-Pong match is certainly no fun to watch when there are two attackers (there is no volleying and the match ends relatively early).
The Fink player adds his own bit of skill to the game. It's not as easy as it seems to be a good blocker. Please, Mr. Miles, how about advice to help us Finks.
MARC A. RUBIN
If Dick Miles went to Red China looking for that "no-man's-land" in the vicinity of the right hips of the Chinese players, he should have been forewarned that it would be harder to find than Oz. A great advantage of the "penholder" grip is that it eliminates the gap between forehand and backhand. Establishment of the superiority of this grip over that of the "shake-hands" nonsense may, in the fullness of time, outweigh the political implications of the famed Ping-Pong junket.
BILL DEMME JR.
American League schedule maker Bob Holbrook's suggested three-league setup as defined in SCORECARD (June 28) is not with-out its salutary aspects. Playing more games with, and being in the same league with, natural rivals would undoubtedly increase interest and attendance. Also it would mean less traveling and decrease transportation costs. His idea of returning to a 154-game schedule is sound. Not only is the season too long at present, but the records and statistics that were based for so many years on the 154-game schedule would not be diluted, as they are now, with asterisks.
But I don't think Holbrook's formula for a three-league round-robin World Series would be feasible. Not only is there a possibility that the Series could go the 11-game limit, which is too long, but the fans are so geared to the traditional two-team, best four-out-of-seven setup they would be reluctant to accept any other postseason playoff system. Also, with the adoption of a new set of records, the fans would be unable to readily compare the various records of the two systems, and a lot would be lost.
New York City
"At first glance" Tom Yawkey likes Bob Holbrook's suggestion for a new, geographically arranged baseball schedule. I might add that I do, too; but what happens when some future Lou Perini or Walter O'Malley decides to move the Montreal or, Heaven forbid, the Pittsburgh franchise to Vancouver or Dallas or some such place?
Of course, implementation of Holbrook's suggestion would make that awful asterisk beside Roger Maris' name more meaningful. On the other hand, an 11-game World Series would spawn a whole new asterisk culture. What's a schedule maker to do?
RICHARD S. WELLS
I think Mr. Holbrook's original intention is to upgrade the American League to the standards of the National. I don't know how you feel, but I think the National League is much superior to the American. I would hate to see the National League ruined just to upgrade the brand of baseball in the American. Mr. Holbrook's idea is foolish, and Tom Yawkey and Joe Cronin are fools for being in favor of it. Why can't they just leave things alone, instead of always wanting to tinker around? I like baseball very much, and if Mr. Holbrook's idea was carried out I think baseball would be ruined (for me anyway).
JAMES R. PARRY
I certainly favor Bob Holbrook's proposal for three major leagues with eight teams each. While the current setup prevents a team from finishing 12th, it also prevents two division winners from playing in the World Series. Furthermore, those natural rivalries would bring back the Subway Series (Yankees-Mets) and initiate the El Series (White Sox-Cubs), the Bay Bridge Series (Giants-Athletics), the Freeway Series (Dodgers-Angels) and the Auto Series (Royals-Cardinals).
WAYNE R. HARRIS
SPIRO STIRS 'EM UP (CONT.)
The self-portrait of our sporting Vice-President in your June 21 issue (Not Infected with the Conceit of Infallibility) brought me closer to the man than has any other output from the mass media. He is awesomely impressive in his prose and in his strength of conviction but awsomely frightening in his eloquent dismissal of those whose differences are intolerable to him.
It should not matter whether one is more impressed by Spiro Agnew's virtues or by his vices: it is foolish to ignore either.
RONALD G. HEYDUK
Ann Arbor, Mich.
A CLOWNING BLOW
I used to be a fan of Lee Trevino (Remember the Bottle of Merion, June 28). However, since he has become so devoted to cracking jokes and clowning (sometimes at the expense of his playing partner), I have dropped him from my list of sports idols. This reached its breaking point when he threw a rubber snake on Jack Nicklaus in the U.S. Open. Jack took the incident in good humor, but I'll bet this really upset him. It's tough enough having to play a course like Merion without having the added pressure of worrying about what some clown is going to do next to get a laugh from the gallery. The USGA should fine Trevino $15,000, withdraw his Open title and suspend him for one year from the tour. Hats off to Jack. Anybody who can shoot a 71 on Merion after the incident on the first tee clearly deserves the title of "Greatest Golfer in the World."
MINOR KEY (CONT.)
I have been waiting for the Pittsburgh Pirates to call up Pitcher Bruce Kison ever since Pat Jordan's article (An Old Hand with a Prospect, June 14), but did not think it would be this soon. Kison's 10-1 record and 2.86 ERA at Charleston certainly put him in an excellent position to temporarily replace Bob Moose, the Pittsburgh starter who went on two-week military duty.
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