METSOMANIA IS SUCH FUN
The vulgar and brutal behavior of spectators at Shea Stadium in New York before and after the Mets defeated the Cincinnati Reds in the final game of the championship playoff last week has been roundly condemned in New York as well as in the rest of the country, but condemnation is not enough. The Met management piously wrung its hands and tsk-tsked, as if to say what could it do? But much the same riotous display happened four years earlier when the Mets won the pennant in 1969. In fact, it happened twice that year—first after the pennant was won and again after the final game of the World Series.
The truth is, the Met management, wallowing in its huge home-attendance figures, not only does little or nothing to stop such lunatic behavior, it actually condones it. The day before the pennant-winning game a handful of so-called Met fans paraded through the grandstand carrying obscene and disgusting banners directed at Pete Rose while uniformed ushers and guards watched tolerantly. And small segments of the crowd chanted equally lovely thoughts, serene in the realization that no one was even going to suggest that they stop. The riot that followed the clincher was no surprise to anyone who had seen Shea's finest in action before.
The responsibility for ending such behavior lies squarely with the ball club. The Mets' management is as much of a disgrace as the fans who caused the trouble.
October 21, 1973
THE FOREST'S PRIME EVIL
Zoning laws are being extended into the wilderness, at least in the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire, where the U.S. Forest Service is expected to restrict snowmobiles to certain designated areas. Right now, all but a handful of the White Mountain National Forest's 700,000 acres are open to snow-mobilers, but opposition to such unrestricted use is widespread. The three main complaints against snowmobiles have to do with noise, the smell of burning fuel and the inevitable destruction of forest paths and trails. Steve Maddock, an associate director of the Appalachian Mountain Club, said his organization endorsed the confinement of snowmobiles to zoned areas in order that campers and hikers could continue to move along forest trails on foot, "as originally intended." J. Leland Sosman, a vice-president of the U.S. Ski Association, said that restriction of snowmobiles was necessary, as far as skiers were concerned, because "it is totally incompatible to have the two operations together."
The restraint on the snowmobiles will probably go into effect in December.
The Soviet Union's abrupt decision to cancel the proposed visit of two of its hockey teams to the U.S., where they were to play eight games against National Hockey League clubs, had no relationship to the Middle East war, as some people surmised. Rather, it had to do with money and amateur eligibility. The Russians were supposed to receive $25,000 a game in the U.S., or $200,000 in all. But when foreign teams or individuals not under the cultural exchange program earn money in the U.S. they are subject to tax, ordinarily a flat rate of about 30%. The Russians did not like the idea at all. The problem did not arise last year in the Soviet Union-Team Canada matches because that was a home-and-home arrangement, with Canada keeping the money earned in Canada, the Russians that earned in Russia—a considerable amount because of television revenue.
Beyond the tax question was the matter of sanction from the International Ice Hockey Federation, which governs world amateur hockey. The Russian players are technically amateur, which means they are subject to IIHF discipline. Last year plans for the Team Canada matches were made without consulting the IIHF, whose president, John F. (Bunny) Ahearne, said, after the fact. "I approve." But this time Ahearne told Clarence Campbell, president of the NHL, that he would not sanction the matches unless the IIHF was given 10% of the television revenue from the games (last year the Canadians supposedly gave the Russians $20,000 to cover any IIHF demands, but whether it was actually paid to the IIHF is not known). Campbell said the professional NHL would never agree to play any matches under the amateur IIHF sanction and would never give away any part of its North American television rights. Ahearne therefore refused to sanction the matches, and the Russians, fearful that they would be subsequently barred from international competition, including the Olympics, called the whole thing off.
Football Coach Billy Joe of Cheyney State College in Pennsylvania does not have the problems that beset a Darrell Royal or a John McKay, but then Royal and McKay don't have the problems that beset a Billy Joe. Earlier this season Joe began to load his team and its gear onto a bus for the 250-mile trip to California, Pa. for a game with California State College. The coach had expected a 52-seat bus, but the company sent a 46-seater. It was too late to get a bigger bus, and the coach had to lop six men from the traveling squad, which did nothing for team morale. En route, the bus caught fire. The driver pulled off the highway and put out the fire with an extinguisher, but the vehicle was no longer operable. The driver hitchhiked back to the bus depot and after a two-hour delay a replacement bus arrived to pick up the team. Ten minutes before the sorry troupe reached California State, the door of the second bus fell off. In the game Cheyney was hit with 12 penalties, missed a field goal and was beaten 3-0 when a California State kicker booted the school's first field goal in 35 years.
"We know we're not Ohio State," said a disconsolate Joe. "We're used to our downtrodden situation and we try to deal with it. But what are you going to do?"
NEVER MESS WITH VERMONT
The citizens of Burlington, Vt. have won their battle with the Montreal Canadiens (SCORECARD, Oct. 15). Despite the Canadiens' objections that Burlington telecasts of Boston Bruin games violated Montreal's territorial rights, 25 Bruin games, plus the Stanley Cup playoffs if the Bruins are involved, will be televised in the Vermont city. This is eight games fewer than last year, but at the rate of about one a week perfectly satisfactory to Burlington. A motor cavalcade scheduled to carry a 3,000-signature petition of protest against cancellation of the broadcasts to the border between Vermont and Quebec was called off by the jubilant Vermonters. "What it boils down to," said one Burlington resident, "is that we wanted the right to watch what we want to and not what some outside power decrees."
The first news break came from the world of finance: the strictly profit-conscious board of STP had deposed Andy Granatelli, its chairman and one of the most flamboyant figures in auto racing. Hardly had that shock settled when the next item came from London: world driving champion Jackie Stewart had decided to retire. Both departures, for better or worse, will affect the game of motor sports for some time to come.
There was, sadly, a tendency among some U.S. racing officials to smirk when Granatelli was ousted; after all, he was hyperflashy, and his penchant for getting publicity sometimes irritated people. But sober second-thinkers could not help but realize that STP under Andy poured an estimated $20 million a year into auto racing, spreading it around lavishly in a manner that benefited drivers and fans alike. Granatelli's innovative cars and promotions brought vibrancy to the sport. The STP board will be much more conservative in racing budgets.
Stewart's retirement, on the other hand, marks the end of a different sort of era. The diminutive Scot won a record 27 Grand Prix races and three world titles during his career, displaying through it all a charm and élan that made him one of the gentlemen of the game. But he had lost a number of close friends in racing cars, and the death of teammate Fran√ßois Cevert two weeks ago at Watkins Glen seemed to mark the breaking point.
Both men hope to remain on the sidelines of racing. Stewart is a TV commentator and writer. Granatelli will pop up, although he is not sure himself just where. Their opposing styles do not matter; introspective gentleman and slam-bang salesman—both would be missed if they went away. Racing has room and a need for them both.
THIS WAY TO THE GREEN
Few sports come up with as many odd new products as golf (the number of weird putters alone is astronomical). But one of the newest, not really a product but a publication, seems pretty terrific, at least to duffers who have long envied the way the Nicklauses check distances to the pin against notes they carry with them. It is called Par-Guide, and it is a compact little booklet that contains aerial photographs of each of the 18 holes of the course you are playing. On the photographs are superimposed yardage markers from the pin back up the fairway toward the tee. In other words, Par-Guide shows how far you are from the hole after each shot. The markers are not just superimposed on the fairway part of the photograph but on the adjacent rough at either side, which is thoughtful if not complimentary. And along with the usual information about each hole (No. 7, 511 yards, par 5, blue tees 521 yards, red tees 490), it includes a succinct bit of advice for the fair-to-middling golfer (Place tee shot left of the fairway oak, second shot to the center of the fairway. Green slopes right).
It may not turn you into a par golfer, but for the hacker who doesn't know for sure whether he should use a four-wood or a seven-iron (we have that trouble from time to time), it should make the game a lot more fun.
THE NEW HOLDOUTS
Next winter, when a baseball player holds out and neither he nor the team shows any sign of giving in, a new system of arbitration will go into effect. Under it, management cannot say, "Take it or leave it," and a player agreeing to arbitration cannot continue to hold out. The club must make its first offer to the player by Dec. 20. If the player (who must have at least two major league seasons behind him) refuses the contract and an impasse results, either he or the club can call for arbitration by Feb. 1. The arbitrator, selected from a 15-man panel, will hear the dispute between Feb. 10 and Feb. 20 and will have his decision ready three days after he hears the final arguments. He is not allowed to take into consideration the financial position of either the player or the club and should ignore comment and opinion in the press while weighing things like the player's overall performance, his physical and mental abilities, his qualities of leadership, his public appeal and the length and consistency of his performance as a professional. When he makes up his mind the arbitrator then must select the "last best offer," which means either the player's last demand or the club's last offer. And that will be it.
THEY SAID IT
•Mark Duncan, director of player personnel for the Los Angeles Rams: "Ohio State is loaded this year. They're so good they could even finish third or fourth in the Big Eight."
•Willie J. Parker, top Federal wildlife enforcement agent in Maryland, on the deteriorating image of hunters in the face of concern over ecology and a rising tide of anti-gun sentiment: "Hunting may well be in its last century."
•Samantha White, 8-year-old from Steilacoom, Wash., youngest known person to have climbed 19,340-foot Mt. Kilimanjaro: "It was a long hike. I hope it will earn me a Girl Scout merit badge."
•Len Dawson, the Kansas City Chiefs' 38-year-old quarterback, on the speed he displayed in scrambling for 21 yards in two carries against Denver: "I may be faster. I'm more frightened than I used to be."