The stunning rejection of pro football's player draft in federal court last week was a dramatic vindication of Ed Garvey, executive director of the Players Association. Garvey had come under considerable criticism earlier this month (SCORECARD, Sept. 13) for disagreeing with Players Association President Dick Anderson, who wanted to accept the owners' latest contract offer. At the time, Alan Page of the Minnesota Vikings, a Garvey supporter, said criticism of the executive director was unfair, declaring that all Garvey had done was raise "some questions that couldn't be answered." That is why, Page said, the player representatives decided to table the offer.
If the players had overruled Garvey and accepted the contract, under its terms they would have been obliged to join with the owners in any legal defense of it, including an appeal against the court ruling outlawing the draft. They would be fighting against things they previously had been fighting for.
In view of the succession of legal defeats the owners have suffered, it is obvious that they must recast their thinking. Pro football's structure has to be changed, perhaps radically. But surely a system can be worked out that will recognize what the players have won in court and still protect the huge investment the owners have in the game.
September 19, 1976
At Forest Hills, where her frenetic husband Ilie had created controversy on the tennis court (page 10), Dominique Nastase told Tony Kornheiser of The New York Times: "I married two men. There is the man I see at home, and that other man I see on the court. I love the two parts—the good and the bad.... He is like a child, I guess. He just cannot keep it inside him. It must come out when he feels it. I think how many times I want to run on court and say, 'Ilie, come on, shut up.' But he cannot stop, and I cannot stop him. I hear him curse, and I think how many times I say to him, 'Ilie, you speak five other languages—French, Romanian, Italian, Spanish and Russian. Why in America you curse in English?' "
RULES WITH TEETH
A tennis fan's reaction: "O.K., Nastase is wrong. Kodes was wrong when he held up play for five minutes to argue a decision. All these prima donnas are wrong when they curse officials and abuse opponents and antagonize the crowd. But what can tennis do? Throw them out? That's too drastic—it hurts them too much, it diminishes their opponents' accomplishments, it cheats the crowd of a match it came to see. Why not put in a simple system of penalties? Spell out the exact extent to which a player can complain. When he goes past that, call a technical: the point goes to the opponent. More serious violation: game to the opponent. Repeated serious violations: set to the opponent. Do that for a couple of tournaments and you'll see those bad actors shape up in a hurry."
Not for nothing does New York Yankee broadcaster Phil Rizzuto enjoy the reputation of a man who can find something cheery to say about practically any bleak situation. The Scooter added world-class luster to his Pollyanna credentials last Friday night after the telecast of a Yankee game was interrupted briefly for a bulletin saying the TWA jet that had been hijacked had just landed in Montreal. "Well," said Rizzuto on regaining the air, "it's better than Cuba."
When two middle-aged men get together the odds are good that before their conversation ends they'll be telling each other how much weight they've taken off, or intend to take off, or wish they could take off. But Luis Tiant, the portly, venerable pitching star of the Boston Red Sox, goes the other way, as befits a man whose throwing style is to turn his back on the batter. Tiant has let his weight climb to more than 200 pounds this summer, and he says his effectiveness has improved proportionately. After a somewhat desultory early half of the season he spun off seven wins in a row and lifted his record to 18-11. "I lost some weight earlier in the year," Tiant says, "and I didn't have the strength I wanted. Now when I win, no one says a thing. When I lose, they all tell me I'm too fat."
The price of renting camels has risen dramatically. You may think this of no moment, but folks in Virginia City, Nev. would hardly agree. It meant they had to cancel the National Camel and Ostrich races this year.
In 1975 it cost the town $2,000 to rent three camels and three ostriches. This year no ostriches were available and camels alone would cost $3,000. That was the straw that broke the sponsors' back.
The races, designed to focus attention on the town made famous by the rich Comstock Lode, may be revived next year, perhaps in conjunction with old-time mine events like single- and double-jacking and maybe a little mucking.
If not, it's no great loss. Ostriches were about as common as great auks in the Old West, and while camels were used to haul supplies in some mining areas, they weren't much help around Virginia City because the rocks hurt their feet.
The war among the television networks for the sports audience will be fun to watch next winter, when CBS and NBC go head to head in basketball. CBS is pushing the pro game, assuming that the merger, with its addition of such superb players as Julius Erving and David Thompson to the established NBA headliners, will send ratings soaring, maybe to the high levels they reached several years ago. CBS will try for maximum audiences by dividing the country into four areas and stressing regional telecasts.
NBC, on the other hand, is strictly collegiate, and confident—so much so that it is scheduling Sunday afternoon telecasts of college games in direct competition with CBS' pros. NBC did this twice last season and both times outdrew the NBA. College games on Sundays got about 24% of the TV audience during the 1975-76 season compared to about 19% for NBA games. NBC will begin its Sunday college schedule in January and will put games on every week thereafter through the NCAA tournament in March.
These are some of the things that happened to the Hawaii Islanders during the last 20 days of the Pacific Coast League season. They led the league's West division, lost that lead, came back on the last day of the regular season to finish in a tie for first place, flew from Hawaii to Tacoma for a single-game playoff and won it to take the West division title. Their star pitcher, Diego Segui, quit the club before the playoff game and sued for back pay. Two players were receiving unemployment insurance because they were not being paid by the financially distressed club. The business office was padlocked by the Internal Revenue Service over a matter of tax liens. The club was sued by a sporting-goods manufacturer for $7,182 owed for jackets given away in an Islanders promotion. A restaurant named the Columbia Inn said it had already given the Islanders $5,500 toward the cost of the jackets and, hey, what happened to the money? Jack Quinn, part owner, president and general manager of the ball club, said the $5,500 had gone into the general accounting fund, but also revealed that the team's total indebtedness was around $167,000. A finance company went to court over a loan to Quinn. A Waikiki hotel sued for $2,260 in unpaid bills.
In Tacoma, the players celebrated their division-winning triumph with two cases of champagne that Manager Roy Hartsfield bought from the losing team (which had had the bubbly on ice in case it won) for $50—of his own money. In Salt Lake City, Pacific Coast League executives voted to relieve Hawaii of its franchise, which was their way of saying they were kicking the Islanders out of the league. But the Hawaiians, as West division champs, were supposed to play a best-four-of-seven series with Salt Lake City, the East division winners, for the PCL championship. The league decided that would be all right—except make it a best-three-of-five series instead, with all games in Salt Lake City. None of this flying to Honolulu.
The Islanders, still in Tacoma, discovered they were stranded, with neither enough money nor credit to get to Salt Lake City. Or anywhere. The San Diego Padres, who have a working agreement with Hawaii, came to the rescue and paid the transportation costs over the mountains to Utah, where the league said it would foot bills for lodging and meals.
In Salt Lake City the battered but cheerful Islanders ("It took me 16 years," said veteran Eddie Watt, "but I finally got my amateur standing back"), won the first game of the playoffs, lost the next two and then came back to win the final two and the pennant. Again, they had to drink the other team's champagne.
Wade Phillips, who coaches the Houston Oiler linebackers, had no trouble negotiating his contract with the NFL team when he decided this season to shift to Houston from the University of Kansas coaching staff. His father is Bum Phillips, the Oilers' head coach. "I just showed the contract to Wade and said, 'This is it,' " Bum says. "Just like I used to tell him what to eat for breakfast. After all, if he can't trust his old daddy, who can he trust?"
Still, the son is an outspoken assistant coach. "Wade always says what he feels," admits Bum, "even when we don't agree. He's confident; he knows where he stands. He knows if I fire him, I got to fire my wife, my daughter-in-law and my grandchildren, too."
The younger Phillips claims he has a strong protective argument if ever he fouls up in his coaching duties. "If my father asks what went wrong," he says, "I'll plead heredity."
GOT THE HORSE HERE SOMEWHERE
Rick Talley, the Chicago Tribune sports columnist who considers himself something of a master in the subtle art of betting horses, kept telling everyone before The Hambletonian to bet on Billy Haughton's two-horse entry of Steve Lobell and Quick Pay. As you know, Steve Lobell won the Hambo—yet Talley didn't. It's a harrowing tale.
At the track on race day Talley bet the entry at nice odds of 5 to 1 in the first heat of The Hambletonian. Steve Lobell was moving well on the last turn when he lost a shoe, broke stride and ended up 14th behind the victorious Zoot Suit. Quick Pay was fourth.
Undaunted, Talley planned to bet the entry again in the second heat, but he got so involved in a radio broadcast he was doing from the infield that he forgot about placing a wager until it was too late to scramble back across the track to the windows. And, of course, Steve Lobell came strongly through the stretch to win.
Talley did get a bet down in the Hambletonian third heat, but Steve Lobell and Quick Pay were losers again as Armbro Regina won. Talley had only one more chance—the fourth, showdown heat in which Steve Lobell would go against Zoot Suit and Armbro Regina. But in the paddock Talley heard Haughton talking about the colt's weariness and his desire to scratch him from the final (SI, Sept. 13). Craftily, Talley shifted his bet to Zoot Suit. Steve Lobell, who collapsed from exhaustion after the race, trotted home the winner.
The frustrated Talley's only consolation came in the misery-loves-company department. A wealthy friend had been with him at the track. "He bet Zoot Suit, too," said Talley with grim satisfaction. "I think he lost a grain elevator."
THEY SAID IT
•Howard Twilley, veteran Miami Dolphin receiver: "I've got one advantage. When you're as slow as I am, you don't lose any steps as you grow older."
•Doug Peterson of the Seattle Rainiers, on the Northwest League's woman umpire, Christine Wren: "I think she's the most consistent ump in the league this year. But then, they're all bad."
•Isamu Noguchi, renowned sculptor, on the Louisiana Superdome: "It is the greatest piece of sculpture I have ever seen. After this, we sculptors can quit."
•Ira Gordon, waived Tampa Bay guard, after his neck was X-rayed: "It didn't do any good. My neck still hurts."