THE BOWIE-MARVIN SHOW
It is possible, even probable, that one or both sides in baseball's labor dispute broke faith in making public the details of their disagreement. It is arguable that one side is absolutely in the wrong and the other just as much in the right, and an impartial study of all the facts might prove this to be so. Nonetheless, both sides should understand something else: the petty dispute about manners and the major dispute about the contract are not entertaining. Bowie Kuhn and Marvin Miller may think of themselves as leading characters in a fascinating human drama, but they are wrong. They are discussing business and, however vital business is, it is dull to a fan seeking fun and entertainment.
It would be so much more sensible if the gentlemen would knock it off and stay in their secluded conference room until things are settled, quietly and quickly. Two months from now, when spring training gets under way, the followers of their once-preeminent sport will want to read about such pleasant trifles as promising rookies and optimistic hopes for a pennant, not about protracted negotiations, generous concessions and broken promises.
Merry Christmas, fellows. And a merry spring, too.
December 25, 1972
WHERE THERE'S SMOKE
Chief Justice Warren Burger handed down an out-of-court decision last week that has cigar and pipe smokers clamoring for an appeal. The Chief Justice wrote a vigorous letter of protest to Secretary of Transportation John Volpe about the cigar and pipe smoke he encountered during a train trip he made between Washington and New York on the Metroliner. Volpe hopped to, and before you could cry "Oyez, Oyez," the smoking of cigars and pipes in Metroliner club cars was banned. But not cigarettes, which raises all sorts of Constitutional and sporting questions. There are more cigarette smokers than cigar and pipe smokers, true, but is it fair that the majority be allowed to spread its smoke while the minority is summarily squelched? You might argue that cigarette smoke is less offensive than cigar and pipe smoke. Not to cigar and pipe smokers, it isn't. The ban is patently a discriminatory one.
Moreover, it strikes a blow at certain smoking traditions in sport. Take, for only one instance, the Boston Celtics' Red Auerbach. Auerbach is famous for his cigars. They are his trademark. Now, when he travels on the Metroliner with his Celtics, must he be banished to a distant men's room while cigarette smokers who never won nine NBA championships in 10 seasons blow rings around Chief Justices?
AS SHE IS SPOKE
During the American League pennant playoff last fall Gonzalo Marquez of the Oakland Athletics produced a game-winning hit. Because Marquez is from Venezuela and his command of English uncertain, the bilingual Bert Campaneris was pressed into service as interpreter.
"Campy, ask him how many pitches he fouled off before he got his hit," a reporter said.
Campaneris turned to Marquez and put the question to him in Spanish. In English, Marquez replied, "I theenk I heet fi o sees."
Campaneris turned to the reporter and said, "He say he theenk he heet fi o sees."
The latest fashion in professional sports commissioners seems to be lawyers—baseball's Bowie Kuhn, the American Basketball Association's Robert Carlson—which makes last week's restructuring of the National Basketball Association's league office all the more interesting. One of three vice-presidents named to assist Commissioner Walter Kennedy is Simon Gourdine, who has been the NBA's in-house counsel for the last 2½ years. In that short period of time Gourdine has made a solid impression, as his advancement attests. Commissioner Kennedy has only three seasons left on his contract, after which he is likely to retire. Gourdine now looms as heir apparent. He is only 32, but then Pete Rozelle was only 33 when he took over the National Football League. Noteworthy, too, is that Gourdine is black, which means basketball may well have a black commissioner before baseball has a black manager or pro football a black head coach.
VROOM WITH A VIEW
It is generally assumed in motor sports circles that the lively Formula I cars used in Grand Prix racing could run circles around our Indianapolis-type racing machines. But Dan Gurney, who has been both Indy and Grand Prix driver, feels that things have changed, and he wants to prove it.
Since Gurney left the cockpits, he has been building cars, and doing well. The Gurney American Eagle has become the Establishment chassis. He has sold 22 of them this year and perhaps half the starting field at Indy next May will be Gurney-built racers.
"Indy cars were once written off as tanks built only to turn left," Gurney says. "Grand Prix cars are built for twisty circuits. But now our cars, while still strong, are fully maneuverable. Maybe it's time to settle the old dispute about which type is better."
A showdown at Indianapolis would not be fair, since a Formula I racer with its 450-475 hp could not come within 25 mph of an 850-hp turbocharged Indy car. Gurney is willing to have the showdown on Grand Prix turf, specifically the tricky N√ºrburgring circuit in Germany. Let someone put up a purse, and let winner take all.
It's a classic slugger vs. boxer match. Both types are about the same length and width and height, but Formula I cars weigh only 1,275 pounds to 1,575 for the Indy type. The Formula I has a five-speed gearbox and can shift like lightning, but then there is that big Indy engine with its awesome turbocharger.
The format for the match would be like a qualifying run—a few warmup laps and then one all-out tour of the circuit for time. Naturally, the Indy car will murder the Formula I on the straightaways and, naturally, be murdered on the turns.
Gurney's challenge has excited widespread interest. Several motor sports figures and an Italian magazine have said they might sponsor the match, and the figure of $100,000 is being bandied about. Gurney has thrown down the driving glove. Gentlemen, start your betting.
The Kansas City Chiefs won only three of the seven NFL games they played this season in their elegant new playpen. Arrowhead Stadium, and a San Diego psychiatrist suggested that the new stadium may be a symptom of the team's decline. Dr. Arnold Mandell, head of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and a football nut, offered his theory as an aspect of the "sociology of institutions." He said, "When an idea or a movement finds realization in a building, its vision is decreased. There are a lot of examples. Scientific institutions, research laboratories, religious movements. Now, maybe football teams." The argument is that the thrust of energy that went into the development of the thing itself is subconsciously diverted into the monumental edifice that houses it.
The Chiefs did not think much of the Mandellian theory. Coach Hank Stram said, "I don't think you can blame the decline on anything other than the way we play." Linebacker Willie Lanier said, "When football gets to the point that you have to think about the psychology of going into a new building, it's really going to be a headache. We've got enough to think about, trying to move the ball and stopping the other side."
Harland Svare, coach of the San Diego Chargers, who beat the Chiefs in Arrowhead, commented, "I was afraid the stadium might intimidate us. Everything else has—why not a stadium?"
SOMETHING FOR THE GIRLS
The women's movement in sport received a big boost at the University of New Mexico, where the athletic council recommended that the budget for women's intercollegiate athletics be jumped from $9,300 to $35,000. The girls compete in basketball, field hockey, golf, gymnastics, swimming, tennis, track and field, wrestling and skiing. University President Ferrell Heady said, "That expenditure is justified. There is an inequity of proportion right now."
Finding the funds for the justified expenditure is another matter. The athletic council stipulated that if the money was not available elsewhere, it should be taken from the budget for the men's program—which is roughly $1.5 million—although it should not come from small-budget sports. That leaves basketball, a moneymaker, and football, which is already running at a deficit.
President Heady, like his counterparts in the Western Athletic Conference, would like the NCAA to return to more economical one-platoon football, but that seems far off. In the meantime, the men are uneasy. Athletic Director Pete McDavid said, "I think it's fine, but I'm going to battle anything that will take money away from our own program." Football Coach Rudy Feldman said, "I'm all for supporting women's athletics, but there must be someplace to draw the line on fiscal responsibility."
Basketball Coach Norm Ellenberger was more philosophical. "I've had women dipping into my pocket ever since I learned about them on a farm in Indiana," he said, "so I'm not surprised. But I've always been in favor of women and we should do everything we can to keep them happy. Where the funds will come from is a mystery to me, but then it's always a problem to satisfy a woman's wants."
THEY SAID IT IN 1972
Here is a Christmas pudding of quotes culled from the more memorable comments that appeared in this space during the past 12 months:
•Mrs. Laura Quilici, hearing that her son Frank had been made manager of the Minnesota Twins: "Oh, the poor kid."
•Abe Lemons, Oklahoma City University basketball coach, on football coaches apologizing for running up high scores: "I thought that's what they were supposed to do. When players shave points, they wind up in jail."
•Spiro Agnew, after he was grazed by a tennis ball hit by his partner in a doubles match: "They never tell about it when I get hit."
•Karl Schranz, Austrian skier who reputedly makes $50,000 a year, on his disqualification from the Winter Olympics for commercialism: "I think the Olympics should be a contest for all sportsmen regardless of color, race or wealth."
•Father Daniel Berrigan, after serving a prison term for anti-war activity: "If the FBI went back far enough, I was always suspect. I never liked football."
•Colonel Edmund Edmondson, executive director of the U.S. Chess Federation, on the rule allowing each player in the Fischer-Spassky matches three delays for illness: "Bobby Fischer's opponents usually get ill."
•Jack Kent Cooke, on the disappointing crowds at games of his National Hockey League Los Angeles Kings: "There are 800,000 Canadians living in the Los Angeles area, and I've just learned why they left Canada. They hate hockey."
•Jerry Kramer, former Green Bay Packer: "The TV football widow complained to her husband, "You love football more than me.' He said, 'Yes, but I love you more than basketball.' "
•Jerry McGee, pro golfer, on the cutoff figure for 1973 player exemptions: "It will take approximately $41,394.11. But that's just approximately."
•Johnny Peirson, former NHL star, on the opening game 7-3 defeat of Team Canada by the Russians: "It's nice to be in on history, but I didn't think it would be Dunkirk."
•Chris Evert, 17-year-old tennis star, asked if she was tired of all the emphasis on her youth: "It would be nice if some writer would get around to describing me as sexy."
•Dr. Karl Kapp, at a conference on the quality of life: "Had there been a computer in 1872, it would probably have predicted that by now there would be so many horse-drawn vehicles, it would be impossible to clear up all the manure."