Who is Charles O. Finley? What is he like, this man who by the apparently simple act of selling three of his unsigned Oakland ballplayers brought about the biggest crisis in baseball (page 22) since the creation of Judge Landis? Well, this is what he sounds like, or did last week before Commissioner Bowie Kuhn cancelled the sale of Joe Rudi and Rollie Fingers to the Red Sox and Vida Blue to the Yankees. On the day of the sale Finley phoned his Oakland manager, Chuck Tanner, and, according to the Chicago Tribune, carried on the following conversation:
"Who are you pitching, Chuck? Who? Don't you have anyone else?
"We'll rebuild, Chuck. I'm sorry we had to do this today. The big thing, Chuck, as I'm telling the press here, was the agent, Jerry Kapstein. He kept me in the dark continuously, right up to the last minute. Never made one trip to come in to talk to me.
"Is Vida there? I couldn't find him. The damn Yankees released the story on me, and it makes me look bad because I didn't tell him. Joe Rudi said he cried for half an hour. I know he feels bad. Let me talk to them, Chuck. All of them. One at a time.
"Vida? This is Charlie Finley. I know how you feel. The damn Yanks jumped the time on me. They promised they wouldn't make an announcement and then we all heard it on the news.... What do you mean, what announcement? I traded you to the Yankees.... Just you. For money.
"Vida, this will mean an awful lot to you. I've appreciated all you've done to help me and all the contributions you've made.... Well, I appreciate your acceptance of this in a professional manner. I hate to see you go. We couldn't have won three straight world titles without you. I love you, buddy, and believe me when I tell you that. Let me talk to Baylor."
Don Baylor, who came to the A's from the Orioles earlier this year, is still unsigned.
"Don? I don't feel too good, Don. This Jerry Kapstein. I think you fellows have one hell of a lousy agent if he can't represent you face to face. He never came to look me in the eye.
"Is there a chance of signing you, Don? What? But I can't talk to your man. I've invited him to my office, but he wants to do everything over the phone.
"Oh, I don't even want to talk to the son of a bitch. Is there any chance of you and I getting together? Right now. I'll go three years.... You still want that no-cut deal.... No, I'm not threatening you. I don't want to press you into anything. I just hoped I could do something tonight."
Sal Bando, unsigned but still with the team, came on the phone.
"Sal? Sal, I'm so sick of the whole thing I don't want to talk about it."
He switched to another phone and spoke to General Manager Harry Dalton of the California Angels.
"Harry? No, Harry. No way, no way, no way. I told you what the price was and if you don't pay, you don't get him.
"No, I won't change my mind. If you change yours, I'll either be in the office or at home."
Conservationists are high on Jimmy Carter, low on Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan—or, at any rate, that's the way the League of Conservation Voters rates the candidates. The league's rundown on all candidates, including those now fallen by the wayside, goes like this:
George Wallace (Democrat): Hopeless.
Hubert Humphrey (Democrat): Fair.
Frank Church (Democrat): Fair-to-good.
Henry Jackson (Democrat): Fair.
Jerry Brown (Democrat): Good.
Mo Udall (Democrat): Outstanding.
Jimmy Carter (Democrat): Outstanding.
Ronald Reagan (Republican): Bad.
Gerald Ford (Republican): Hopeless.
The league says of Ford, "He has resisted virtually every environmental initiative taken by the Congress and offered none of his own." Of Reagan, it criticizes his antagonism to any sort of planning although it admits that attitude led him to kill several of California's "most costly and destructive" water projects. Of Carter as governor of Georgia, it says, "He was consistently ahead of his state legislature and the bulk of his constituents" in efforts to establish needed environmental programs.
A RINGY-DINGY TO YOU
In case you feel that your phone bill isn't quite as big as it ought to be, you can rectify that soon if an idea that Michigan Bell developed keeps spreading around the country. The Michigan phone company put out a "decorator model" phone in the maize-and-blue colors of the University of Michigan when the Wolverines went to the Orange Bowl last winter. Indiana Bell picked up on the idea after the Indiana University basketball team went through the 1975-76 season unbeaten and took the NCAA championship. The Hoosier phone comes in cream and crimson and also includes a team picture, a university logo and a map of the U.S. with a No. 1 printed on it.
The idea may spread like long-distance calling, and then again it may not. As Jim Mitchell, ad manager for Indiana Bell in Indianapolis, says, "The cost—$54.95—is a pretty good-size chunk of change for a memento of this kind. It's not like a T shirt or a pennant. We haven't set the world on fire with it, but it could work into something. I hear Cincinnati Bell is considering doing a Big Red Machine type of thing."
ANOTHER PART OF THE CAMPUS
Indiana basketball is one thing, Indiana football another. Last fall the Hoosiers played Nebraska in Lincoln, Ohio State in Columbus and Michigan in Ann Arbor before crowds of 76,022, 87,835 and 93,857. Next fall Nebraska, Ohio State and Michigan are scheduled to play Indiana at its stadium in Bloomington. But the Hoosiers have had three straight poor seasons (2-9, 1-10, 2-8-1) and last season drew an average of only 35,331 for five home games. Because of this, says Indiana Athletic Director Paul Dietzel, Nebraska, Ohio State and Michigan have asked Indiana to switch the 1976 games to Lincoln, Columbus and Ann Arbor. Dietzel gave their reasons:
"1. They are very good and draw extremely well at home.
"2. Their fans will support their teams much better [than Indiana fans support theirs].
"3. Their fans have always been loyal, even in lean years.
"4. Our fans will not support the team in Bloomington.
"5. We will not give them a big check.
"6. There is very little doubt that both schools can make lots more money [if the games are switched]."
After stating flatly that the games would not be moved from Bloomington, Dietzel exhorted Indiana fans to "prove to our own team and these three schools that we will support the Hoosiers." Although his words were essentially a sales pitch, they conveyed a warning that has significance for all of college football. If Indiana and other teams at its level cannot draw well at home, they inevitably will have no choice but to go off and play in the big, packed stadiums of the Nebraskas, the Ohio States, the Michigans. And the monolithic situation that already exists at the uppermost level of college football will thus be strengthened and perpetuated.
GROVES OF ACADEME
Critics of college football also complain that too many players fail to complete their education. For example, according to a survey of last season's professional teams by Richard Coleman of Los Angeles, only 30 of 135 Big Eight players in professional football had received degrees (Colorado and Oklahoma State were the worst Big Eight schools in this respect; only three of the 34 pro players from those two institutions of higher learning had graduated). And no major conference could claim that even half its players now in pro ball had completed their college studies.
But there were exceptions. The University of California had 12 players in pro football, and 10 of them had graduated. Boston College had nine graduates among its 11 pros. Standing alone at the top of the academic heap was that infamous football factory in South Bend, Ind. There were 24 Notre Damers in pro football at the time of the survey; every one of them had his degree.
SPECIAL THREE-DAY RATE
Bob Fachet of The Washington Post was assigned to cover the recent AAU track and field championships in Los Angeles. To facilitate communication with his paper back east, Fachet had a telephone installed for his use during the three days of the meet. The first call he received was from a newspaper, but not the Post. It was the circulation department of the Los Angeles Times on the wire, wondering if Fachet would like to take out a subscription.
Ever since a zoo announced early this year that its brand-new baby buffalo would be called Tennial, as in Bison Tennial, these have been times to try men's souls—and publicity people's imaginations. Press releases coming in for the last several months leave the impression that most of the nation is on the move, hurrying from one side of the continent to the other on foot, track shoe, bike, horseback and Conestoga wagon, all bearing the strange device, Bicentennial! If the fictional curmudgeon Philip Nolan were still around he would probably snarl, "Damn the Bicentennial! I wish I may never hear of the Bicentennial again!" We could then confine him to quarters on a spaceship forever circling the moon.
It would have to be a spaceship because the celebration has already spilled into the sea. The sail number of Seymore Sinett's splendid ocean-racing yacht Williwaw is 21776. Outboard motorboat driver Billy Martin plans to make the run between Miami and New York shortly after July 4 and is aiming at a record time of 17 hours and 76 minutes (18:16, if you're being technical). And the unlimited hydroplane affiliate of the American Power Boat Association sums up our vague but patriotic longings by reporting that "The purse for [unlimited hydroplanes in] this Bicentennial season is our biggest ever at $386,776.00, led by The Spirit of Detroit's $76,760.76...."
THEY SAID IT
•Andre (The Giant) Roussinoff, 462-pound wrestler: "I eat about three times as much as the average person. When I go into a restaurant I order three courses, but ask the waiter to stagger the meals so they won't get cold."
•Mark Belanger, Baltimore Oriole shortstop, criticizing Umpire Russ Goetz: "How could he be doing his job when he didn't throw me out of the game after the things I called him?"
•Larry Herndon, San Francisco Giant outfielder, after a ground ball skipped through him for an error in Candlestick Park: "I have a large glove and it's very loose. The winds swirl out there and they closed my glove."