FOR THE DEFENSE
American League club owners have been roundly criticized for letting Bob Short of the Washington Senators move his moribund franchise to Dallas-Fort Worth. It has been strongly contended that the league should have made Short sell to someone like Joseph Danzansky, the food-store magnate who said he would keep the club in Washington. Or to Bill Veeck, who said his bid to buy the Senators was turned down by Short.
Now Ewing Kauffman, the progressive owner of the Kansas City Royals, has forcefully defended the league's action. Kauffman says Danzansky simply did not have enough money to buy the Senators. He and two associates wanted to put up $2.4 million in cash and arrange a loan of $7 million. From the loan they would pay the balance of the purchase price, meet obligations like the bonus money still due rookie Pete Broberg and the deferred compensation being paid to Frank Howard and, hopefully, have cash for operating expenses. But, says Kauffman, "Danzansky did not have a commitment for a loan. He wanted the league to guarantee the loan first, and then he proposed to go out and negotiate it." In effect, the other teams in the league would be underwriting Danzansky's investment, and few were in a financial position to do so. So they turned Danzansky down. As for Veeck's reported bid, Kauffman says he was not aware of it.
Kauffman adds that he himself urged that the Senators be kept in Washington anyway, with the league taking over the team and operating it. If, in a year's time, a buyer with the financial capability to keep the team in Washington could not be found, then the team could be sold and moved. But it was concluded that the league did not have the financial strength to do this, either. Thus the move to Dallas-Fort Worth, in which Short received an advance of $7.5 million for radio-TV rights over the next decade that allowed him to pay off the massive debts he still had in Washington.
October 10, 1971
Kauffman says Commissioner Bowie Kuhn imposed silence on the owners about the various negotiations because he thought talk of the proposed loan might embarrass Danzansky. "But," says Kauffman, "in view of public criticism and congressional reaction, I think it is important for the public to know that we did everything possible to keep the Senators in Washington. We did not have a firm offer for the team, and we therefore had no choice but to let Short move."
One final note about the departing Senators. During that tumultuous last game in Washington, which the Senators lost by forfeit when a horde of unruly youngsters poured onto the field in the ninth inning, great swirls of confetti kept floating from the stands. Postgame examination disclosed that the confetti consisted principally of torn-up pages of a paperback book that the Senators' management had given away free to spectators entering the park. The book was My Turn at Bat, Ted Williams' autobiography.
ONCE AND FUTURE
One of the axioms of pro football is that the home team has an automatic three-point advantage. Whoever made that up forgot to tell George Allen, the onetime Chicago Bear assistant who made a big splash as head coach of the Los Angeles Rams and who this year is trying to revitalize the Redskins, Washington's only surviving team. Allen likes to say, "You've got to win on the road if you're going to win it all," and at Los Angeles he put his theory to work with a vengeance. From 1961 through 1965, before Allen, the Rams won only six of their 35 road games. But in Allen's last four seasons in Los Angeles the club had 23 wins away from home against three losses and two ties. Redskin publicity picked up on that this year, pointing out, "No other professional coach in the history of the game has ever won 23 road games in four years."
In Washington, Allen has introduced a new slogan: "The Future Is Now." If you go along with his homilies, this means the Redskins had better start winning on the road; over the past 11 years they averaged only two wins a year in alien corn. This season, under Allen—presto!—victories on the road in St. Louis and New York before last Sunday's upset of the Cowboys in Dallas.
History seems to be repeating itself, you might say. Allen would probably counter with "The future has begun."
UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER PAIN
There has been quite a war going on in San Diego between joggers and golfers. Dave Pain, the splendidly named high lama of aging track men, is conducting a running feud (you can't avoid puns in a situation like this) with the city recreation department over his right to work out—jog is a verb Pain does not like to have applied to a serious runner like himself—on city-owned golf courses. Pain, whose U.S. Masters track and field meet in San Diego each summer is the Olympic Games for athletes on the far side of 40, was arrested last January and briefly jailed because of his insistence that he should be allowed on Torrey Pines golf course without benefit of golf bag. After the publicity engendered by that arrest, the city's recreation board yielded and said running on city courses would be allowed from dusk to dawn and, in certain places, until 8 a.m. Rest rooms, locker rooms and restaurant facilities would be open to runners, same as golfers. All you had to do was apply for a free permit.
It seemed a signal triumph for the puff-and-groan set, but Pain, something of a zealot, regards the time restrictions and the permits as utterly unnecessary, calling them job-justifying rules set up by petty functionaries. And the war rumbles on.
Armchair athletes can take satisfaction in an article in a British medical journal that suggests intense participation in sport may cause a "tilt deformity" of the hip joint that can lead to arthritis in later life. Examination of elderly patients with hip arthritis revealed that nearly half had a tilt deformity. Further studies were made of boys between 17 and 21, some from a school that emphasized sports, others from a city school where sports were voluntary and still others who were working in industry after having attended schools where sports were not readily available. The incidence of tilt deformity was 24% higher among boys from the school that encouraged sports.
The article noted that hip arthritis is far more common in countries that emphasize organized sport than in so-called backward countries and advised that more attention be paid to the childish complaint of "growing pains" near the knees or hips. It also suggested that the long-term value of such pastimes as distance running on hard roads be reconsidered.
This is the other end of the year from the Masters golf tournament at Augusta, when the story about Gene Sarazen's double eagle in 1935 is always run out for the folks to marvel at. But Gene, who is 69 now, did something the other day in an informal match at the Charles River Country Club in Newton, Mass. that brought his famous shot vividly to mind. After a good drive on the 456-yard par-5 15th hole, Sarazen took a three-wood and smacked the ball toward the distant green. "It was a perfectly hit shot," he said later with professional objectivity. "It started for the pin the moment it left the club. When we walked up to the green we couldn't find the ball. It was in the cup for a double eagle.
"Even at my age you get a kick out of something like that. I've had four or five holes in one, but this is a greater thrill. After all, a hole in one is only an eagle."
N. T. Bonner, the only aboriginal member of the Australian Parliament, recently asked for tariff protection against cheap American boomerangs that are cutting into the sale of the real thing in Australia. Then Steve Silady, a Yugoslavian immigrant who turns out to be Australia's champion boomerang thrower, stirred up a hornet's nest by opposing Bonner's suggestion with the sacrilegious comment that the American imitations were better than the real thing. He topped his argument with the stinging comment that most Australian makers do not care whether the boomerangs return, just so they look pretty. Noel Appo, head of the Foundation for Aboriginal Affairs, leaped into the fray with: "Our boomerangs do come back. They are still the best in the world. Abo-made boomerangs will make two complete circles before hovering and falling at the feet of the thrower." He challenged American companies to produce one that good.
If you have been doing an excessive amount of twiddling with the tint dial on your color TV this fall in an effort to get the proper hues in the uniforms of the pro football teams you have been watching, maybe it isn't your set at all. The NFL lets the home club decide whether it will wear white or colored jerseys—visitors must wear the opposite—and this year confusion tends to reign, as evidenced by statements in the league's publicity releases. Thus, from the NFC: "Atlanta has decided to switch its home color jersey from black to red. New Orleans and Philadelphia will wear white instead of black and green, respectively. Dallas and Los Angeles will also wear white. St. Louis will wear red, except against Dallas on Nov. 7 and against Philadelphia on Nov. 21, when the Cardinals will wear white.... " As for the AFC, four of its teams, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver and San Diego, will wear white at home, while the other nine will be in living color: three blues, one aqua, two reds, two blacks and one, the New York Jets, in green except when they play Kansas City. What have they got against Kansas City? Do you suppose Pete Rozelle has a color coordinator on his staff?
HOW THE WIND DOTH BLOW
A professor at the University of Manitoba named Gus Bertels is obtaining a patent on an idea for a wind-free football stadium. Basically, the device consists of large plastic deflectors along the upper rim of a stadium on its west, north and east sides. South winds rarely cause distress. Slanted inward, the deflectors operate on what the professor describes as the "backflow" principle, altering the wind's direction to create a bubble effect that causes the wind to lose its velocity. In tests conducted with a scale model in a wind tunnel, winds equivalent to 30 mph were reduced to three mph, and 70 mph gales to seven mph.
One of the system's attractions is its cheapness. Bertels estimates that the expense of installing the equipment would be between $20,000 and $40,000, a tiny fraction of the cost of a domed stadium. He hopes by next year to have his device in Winnipeg Stadium, home of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League. It won't stop rain or snow, and subzero temperatures won't suddenly climb into the 70s, but turning off an icy wind on command is quite a bit in itself.
The professor says his deflectors would even be able to keep excessive wind away from an outdoor skating rink or a neighborhood tennis court, although, he grants, "A tennis club would have to have a fairly large number of courts to justify the investment."
THEY SAID IT
•John McKay, Southern California football coach: "The college game isn't sick. Our season ticket sales will be near the 50,000 mark. Big as pro football has become, the pros still refuse to televise a game live into the city in which it is played. Even the Super Bowl is blacked out. We play UCLA and Notre Dame and draw 80,000 to 90,000 even though the game is being televised live right across the street."