TARGET OF OPPORTUNITY
There seems little chance that the politicians will let up on sport before the 1972 elections are over. It's hard to blame them. Few subjects give a Congressman a better chance for instant ink than a blast at the evils of baseball or football or basketball, although most of the attacks are of the closing-the-barn-door variety. Politicians tend not to cope with problems until they become insoluble.
The transmigration of the Washington Senators into the Texas Rangers is a current case in point. Congressmen have beaten their breasts to a pulp deploring this insult to the nation's capital and vowing all sorts of punitive legislation to bring 1) baseball to its knees and 2) a major league team back to Washington. We did not entirely approve of the move ourselves: we like tradition, and Washington has always been a pan of the major league tapestry. But, really, what is so terrible about shifting the team to Texas? Very few people went to the ball games in Washington, including the tearful Congressmen. It is likely that folks around Dallas and Fort Worth are pleased with their new toy and ready to support it financially. Certainly, the switch to Texas will stimulate the American League and, by extension, all of baseball.
And why must a new team be put into Washington? Congress and baseball appear to agree on the prime reason: the chances of anti-baseball legislation being enacted would be considerably less if major league baseball were restored to the capital city. Now isn't that a laudable argument?
December 13, 1971
Characteristic of this embarrassing rhetoric is the San Diego incident. A local Congressman reacted predictably when he heard rumors that the woebegone Padres might move to Washington. He became a gallant, highly publicized defender of San Diego's inalienable right to major league baseball. E. J. (Buzzie) Bavasi, president of the Padres, who will need more than speeches to keep his attendance-poor club alive, wrote the Congressman a thank-you note and added that he was enclosing an application for season tickets to Padre home games. The Congressman had to put his money where his mouth was. It they had done that in Washington, the Senators would still be there.
Rather interesting, this report published by The Morton Research Corporation. Not so much the contents, which consist of a "marketing, economic and financial investigation" into the sporting goods and equipment industry (sales of sporting goods are expected to reach $1.5 billion in 1975), it's the price. Only 65 pages long and spiral-hound, the booklet sells for $50 a copy.
Florida, winning 45-8 in the closing minutes of its last game of the season, deliberately let rival Miami score (SI. Dec. 6) so that it could regain possession of the ball and give Quarterback John Reaves one more chance to break Jim Plunkett's collegiate record for career passing yardage. Reaves did and Florida celebrated—and woke up next morning with a had taste in its mouth.
What Florida had forgotten is that the lifeblood of sport is competition, real competition, the honest try. Records—making them and breaking them—are part of the fun of sport, but a vital part of that fun is validity. Florida helped establish a contrived record by keeping Reaves and the lust string in the game long before the shameful laydown, even though it was obvious that Miami was hopelessly beaten.
Some Floridians, stung by criticism, have said, "Well, who did it hurt?" Offhand, we would say Miami, a traditional and presumably honored rival, which was humiliated. Football, which was embarrassed by the parody of what the game is supposed to be. The record, which was cheapened. Jim Plunkett, whose yardage was legitimately achieved. And John Reaves, who will be remembered now not as the superb performer he has been for three seasons but as the guy who got the phony record.
WIN ONE FOR THE DELI
Dave & Len's Deli, a restaurant in Buffalo, is a sort of upstate reincarnation of Manhattan's famous Lindy's, except that Fen Levin, the proprietor, likes to pamper his customers once in a while, something that Leo Lindy felt was demeaning both to himself and the customer, he should drop dead first. Levin, who says his place is Buffalo's only New York-style restaurant, is a big sports fan and a relentless follower of Buffalo's pro football Bills and basketball Braves and hockey Sabres. He gives away banners and hats (in New York they'd take away your hat, if you didn't watch it) and promises a special treat for each customer after every Buffalo victory. He also gives away a consoling kosher dill pickle after every loss.
The way the Bills, the Braves and the Sabres have been going this year, the special treat has been no problem. But the pickles—don't ask. The Deli has to send away to Hester Street in New York for them, and it's been a nightmare keeping enough on hand.
Here is another version of the water-protein diet that so many people have tried. After he won the National League's batting championship and Most Valuable Player award, beefy Joe Torre of the St. Louis Cardinals received a lot of publicity about bringing his weight down from 228 to 200. Fans kept asking how he did it. and the Cardinal front office began mailing out copies of the regimen he followed. Now Torre says he gets more requests for the diet than he docs for his autograph.
Torre warns that no one should diet before consulting a doctor and adds that this one should not be followed for more than two weeks at a time. The lineup:
You can have
Steak (trim the fat), chopped steak or chicken—broiled or grilled
Eggs—poached or boiled
Lettuce—Torre used only vinegar on it
Fresca or other sugarless soft drink
Coffee or tea—no sugar
You can't have
Beer, booze, milk, fried foods, vegetables, ice cream, butter, bread, potatoes, desserts, fruit
Drink at least 80 ounces of water a day (the more water you drink, the more weight you will lose).
Salt is O.K.
Sugarless gum and candy are O.K. to chew or nibble while you watch TV.
You don't have to starve. Eat as often as you like.
If you lose weight, you, too, can be an MVP. If you can hit.
The New Yorker magazine, it has told its readers, is not edited for the little old lady in Dubuque. Nor, apparently for the little old football fan west of the Alleghenies. In a football column the other day, The New Yorker said, "Nebraska 35, Oklahoma 31, on a last-minute touchdown as good as Army's—a fitting replacement for the Cornell-Pennsylvania Thanksgiving Day game of so many years...."
In the swirl of news about Bobby Fischer's smashing victory in Argentina (SI, Nov. 8), not much was said about Russia's Boris Spassky, who will defend his world chess championship against Fischer next year. Spassky, 34, is handsome, gregarious and talkative. He knows Fischer—he played and beat him a year or so ago—and likes him. "I understand him," Spassky says. "I know what he went through when he temporarily withdrew from chess."
Spassky, a mod dresser for staid Russia, lives in a comfortable two-room apartment in a VIP building in Moscow with his second wife and their small son. He drives a car he bought with money he won at a tournament in California in 1966, plays bridge, is a gifted mimic and likes to make fun of himself. He has a serious side, too. He was outspokenly critical of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and escaped serious trouble apparently because of the fool's freedom chess masters in Russia traditionally enjoy.
Soviet experts generally feel that Spassky and Fischer are evenly matched, though one Russian authority says flatly that Spassky will lose because "he is lazy."
"I am lazy," Spassky says. "I don't lake months to prepare for a tournament. the way the old chess masters did. But I make up for it by working much harder while the game is in progress. M\ real incentive when I sit down to play is the confidence I have that I will win."
In its six games this year, California's Rialto Junior High was undefeated, untied and unscored on. But wait, there is more. In the six games, Rialto's defensive team gave up a total of eight yards. That averages out to 1.3 yards a game.
And everybody talks about Nebraska's defense.
HOME IN INDIANA
The city of Indianapolis went Christmas shopping recently, saw a tennis stadium it liked in Cleveland and decided to buy it and have it shipped the 300 miles home—6,300 scats, press box, fencing and all.
Cleveland's tennis facility, site of three Davis Cup Challenge Rounds and three Wightman Cup events, had to be sold because it was located on much-needed school-board property. Indianapolis was able to pick up a real bargain—a like-new seven-year-old stadium at one-third the cost of building a new one.
When it is put back together on Indianapolis' north side, the stadium will form the core of a $750,000 tennis complex planned for completion in time for next August's U.S. Clay Court Open. It will seat 8,000, have lights and be second only to Forest Hills in size and style. The new stadium will be surrounded by field courts to accommodate large tournaments, but unlike privately owned Forest Hills it will be strictly a public facility.
Stan Malless, secretary of the USLTA and chairman of the U.S. Clay Court tournament the last three years, hopes to snare the Davis and Wightman Cups, too, and he envisions a series of women's matches with a country "other than Great Britain," presumably Australia.
"Our biggest job will be dismantling this thing in Cleveland, moving it and then reassembling it here in Indianapolis," Malless said. "It's happened so quickly, we have what you might call instant stadium."
Like "great," "classic" is a word badly overused in sport. Properly, it is a "work of the highest order," a truly superior game, for instance. Or it can justly be applied to a famous traditional event. But nowadays every other golf tournament is a "classic." and a basketball get-together that isn't a festival of some sort is classic, too.
Perhaps the trouble comes from sports' close association with the clothing industry, which likes to refer to a classic suit. But a classic suit is nothing special: it is really something standard, even ordinary.
Don't tell sports promoters that. How would you like it if people went around calling your basketball tournament the Mountaineer, Cornhusker, Sunbowl, Bayou, Kentucky, Marshall, Jayhawk, Cowboy, Cable Car, Queen City or Sunshine Ordinary?
THEY SAID IT
•Gary Hammond, SMU's senior quarterback, after his final game: "You start out in college worrying about growing up, and when you finish you're worrying about growing old."
•Frank McGuire, South Carolina basketball coach: "The Cable Car Classic takes us to San Francisco. We've already chartered two jets for the trip. Our kids get to the West Coast, to Chicago twice, to Texas, to New York and to Las Vegas. I'm not running a basketball show. I've got a geography class."
•Bob Cousy, Cincinnati Royal coach, on the sparse crowd of 2,379 that showed up for a recent Cincinnati game in Baltimore: "I looked around and saw a small crowd. I thought we were playing at home."