Amid the turmoil of the contract discussions between owners and players in major league baseball and professional football there has persisted a feeling that when things are settled peace and serenity will reign in the world of sport. Andy Robustelli, the staunchly conservative director of operations for the New York Giants, disagrees.
"People keep hoping we'll settle with the players and get on with the games so that they won't have to hear about our labor troubles anymore," says Robustelli. "Well, things aren't going to happen that way. The old days are gone. From now on the players are always going to find something they want changed. The present era of confusion and acrimony in football and baseball isn't something crazy between two eras of peace and quiet. This is the normal way now."
April 5, 1976
Even though the National and American Leagues are integral parts of the same sport, they disagree on such things as interleague play, the designated hitter rule, umpiring methods. Last Friday a more serious rift developed when the American League, operating independently, beat the National into the lucrative territory of Toronto by awarding a 1977 expansion franchise to that city. The National League, planning to meet this past Monday to consider expanding into Toronto itself, was miffed, but to whom could it protest? Theoretically, organized baseball is a unit headed by a commissioner to whom the two leagues are subordinate. But the owners in both leagues have been undercutting the commissioner's power for years, and the authority he once held is gone. He had no say in the Toronto matter. His opinion was not sought and he was not informed of what the American League had done until after it had taken place.
The owners, who talk of the need for discipline among the players but do not care for it themselves, see no danger in not having a strong central authority. But what if a grave disagreement develops between the leagues—on such matters as Toronto, for example, or network television contracts or the proper approach to the players on the reserve-clause problem? How long will it take for the rift to develop into open war, one circuit bidding against the other for players or threatening not to play the World Series if certain conditions are not met?
Farfetched? Perhaps. But by acting independently the leagues are moving baseball back to where it was 60 years ago, before Judge Landis, the game's first commissioner, brought order and direction to a chaotic situation.
ONE HAND WASHETH THE OTHER
In the spring, want ads in The Atlanta Journal and Constitution not so lightly turn to thoughts of Masters tickets. With golf's first major tournament of the year fast approaching (page 32), appeals such as "Need Masters Tickets" and "Any Masters Tickets For Sale?" and even "Desperately Need 4 Tickets To Masters" appear regularly in the personals columns. One day a Masters ad was followed, perhaps significantly, by a message from a religious group declaring "God Answers Prayer." But a little farther down the page another ticket seeker, eschewing prayer for the moment, took a more practical approach. His message read, "Will Trade 2 good Kentucky Derby Seats on May 1 for 2 Masters Tickets April 9 and 10." Now that is ecumenism.
SIZING THEM UP
Anthropologists may question his findings, but Bud Moore, football coach at the University of Kansas, says body types vary according to the section of the country you are in.
"It's kind of strange," he admits, while declaring that he has noticed a different physical pattern in each of the four conferences in which he has coached: Southwest, Atlantic Coast, Southeastern and Big Eight. "Players in the Southwest Conference are generally taller and rangier," he says. "In the Atlantic Coast they are stronger but not as tall, not as quick and speedy. In the Southeastern they're smaller and quicker, though they're bigger than they used to be. In the Big Eight we have both size and speed. Maybe that explains our winning record against non-conference opponents."
Moore has no theories to explain the differences. "I guess it's just the way folks grow," he says. "Maybe it's something in the soil."
Hockey players are tough. Some professional athletes baby themselves when they are hurt, but injured hockey players seem interested only in how quickly they can return to action.
"I'm convinced hockey players have a little more guts than other athletes," says Peter Demers, trainer of the Los Angeles Kings. "They're always playing bruised. They play when other athletes wouldn't. Stitches don't even count. They consider cuts merely nuisances."
Demers keeps track of his players' injuries and ailments in a notebook. Here is the 1974-75 rundown on Defenseman Bob Murdoch:
Nov. 2. Flu virus, did not practice.
Nov. 3. Better today but has sore throat and mouth sores.
Nov. 5. Slight contusion left quad. in game at St. Louis.
Nov. 19. Cordran Lotion for rash.
Dec. 14. Laceration (puck) left side of jaw. Cut to the bone. Sutured by doctor in New York.
Dec. 20. Given medication (tablets) for rash.
Jan. 4. Twisted left knee. Sprained medial collateral ligament. Iced. Examined by Dr. Lombardo.
Jan. 6. Knee X-rayed.
Jan. 9. Knee still sore. Heat before game. Ice after.
Jan. 19. Laceration left side of nose sutured by doctor in Montreal.
Jan. 26. Sutures removed.
Feb. 13. Sprained right wrist. Taped for practice.
Feb. 22. Fractured nose (fight). Examined by Dr. Carter. Sent to hospital. Fracture reduced by specialist. Cast applied to nose. O.K. to play with cast.
Mar. 3. Examined by specialist. Nose looks pretty good. Should wear protective shield while playing (2 more weeks).
Mar. 20. Shield removed from helmet.
Mar. 28. Laceration left eyebrow. Sutured in Vancouver.
Apr. 1. Sprained ligament left elbow. Examined by doctor in K.C. Ice.
Apr. 6. Laceration on forehead. Sutured by doctor in Oakland.
Apr. 7. Has headache and swelling at laceration. Seen by Dr. Kerlan.
Apr. 10. Sprain right shoulder. Ice. Painful. Checked by Dr. Lombardo.
Murdoch didn't miss a game.
STATUS (OUCH) QUO
The National Football League has declined to make the rules protecting quarterbacks more stringent, declaring that films showing quarterbacks being injured reveal no infractions of current regulations that prohibit the quarterback from being hit by a defensive player after he has thrown the ball.
John Madden, coach of the Oakland Raiders, was among those asking for a stricter rule. "What I am asking," said Madden, "is that officials give the quarterback, who is so vulnerable to injury, more protection once he has released the ball. Something like the protection given the punter. My God, a quarterback has to almost be killed before anyone gets penalized for hitting him. Remember Terry Bradshaw in the Super Bowl? He hit Lynn Swann with the winning touchdown pass and doesn't even remember it. He never saw the ball caught because he was flat on his butt."
Madden said he was not trying to keep linemen away from a quarterback when he is preparing to throw, or when he is rolling out or running with the ball.
"My only thought is to protect him after he has released the ball," the Oakland coach said. "That's when he is most vulnerable to injury. He has no protection when he is all stretched out in the throwing position. It's terrible. You always see the poor guy lying there looking at the game through the earhole in his helmet."
Repeat: the National Football League has declined to make the rules protecting quarterbacks more stringent, declaring that films showing quarterbacks being injured reveal no infractions of current regulations....
One peculiar strain of the virus known as Bicentennial fever provokes its victims into attempting all sorts of cross-country endeavors—running, bike riding, maybe even pushing a peanut by nose from coast to coast. President Ford has suggested no vaccine to cope with it, so we might as well report on The Great American Horse Race, in which some 150 riders will leave Saratoga Springs, N.Y. on Memorial Day and race more than 3,000 miles across the U.S. to Sacramento, arriving in September.
One of the entrants in the $50,000 race is Eva Taylor of Discovery Bay, Wash., who is in the contest to win and to promote mules. Eva proposes to ride a mule—or, really, two mules, since each rider is allowed two mounts. Her favorite is Hugo, with whom she has won endurance races against horses. Eva says mules have harder feet than horses, can cope with heat better and are generally tougher. The standard gait in endurance races is a trot, and Eva's "seat" for this gait is odd. She stands up in the stirrups for 10 to 12 miles at a stretch. "If anything gets blisters," she explains, "it'll be the balls of my feet."
The youngest person to make a hole in one in 1975 was 8-year-old Bradley Johnson, a talented youngster from Dayton, Ohio who stroked the ball into the cup on the eighth hole at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Bradley got his name in the papers (got it in some magazines, too, obviously), which isn't surprising, since most people who shoot a hole in one are written up somewhere. What is surprising is that a hole in one is still an occasion for surprise and comment. Golf Digest, which keeps track of this sort of thing, reports that in 1975 there were 26,267 of them. That works out to about 505 a week, 72 a day. If you figure that golf can be played only about 12 hours a day in most places, that means there is an ace somewhere every 10 minutes. What else is news?
Along the coast of eastern Africa some adventurous divers like to hunt out octopuses. They sometimes subdue the creature by reaching into its mantle and pulling it inside out—with a whomp. Scuba divers in the American Northwest also consider it sport to wrestle octopuses, which can weigh up to 100 pounds. The divers lure their well-armed opponents from crannies with chemicals that sometimes kill.
The Washington State Fisheries Department, noting that the octopus population in certain areas of Puget Sound is being reduced, has issued a stern warning that wrestling octopuses will no longer be tolerated. Said a spokesman from the American Museum of Natural History when he heard of the activity, "This is sport?"
The New York Knickerbockers have Earl (the Pearl) Monroe, whose distinctive nickname is responsible for the one given to a star of the Wayland (Texas) Baptist Flying Queens who reached the semifinals of the AIAW basketball championship (page 50). She's known as Pearl (the Earl) Worrell.
THEY SAID IT
•Gaius Maecenas, Roman statesman (70-8 B.C.), on the Olympic Games: "Cities should not waste their resources on expenditure for a large number and variety of Games, lest they exhaust themselves in futile exertion and quarrel over unreasonable desire for glory."
•Major General Roland Reid, military coordinator for the Montreal Olympics: "The only way to get 100% security is to have everybody stay home."
•Barry Switzer, football coach at Oklahoma, asked whether he will stick with the wishbone: "Well, since we're 54-3-1 with it, I suppose we will."