ANIMAL ACT ON ICE
With many of its finest players involved in the Stanley Cup playoffs, Canada has been ill-represented in the world hockey championships in Vienna. Returning to the eight-nation tournament after a seven-year absence, Team Canada fielded a lineup of NHL also-rans and retreads, which partially explains last week's 11-1 defeat by the Russians—Canada's most humiliating hockey loss ever.
Team Canada's lack of talent can be blamed on unfortunate timing, but the manner in which it comported itself on the ice can only be blamed on itself. In their frustration, some of the Canadian professionals resorted to high sticking, slashing and other forms of thuggery. Wilf Paiement of the Colorado Rockies, who incurred a major penalty for high sticking and three minors for slashing, was Canada's most flagrant offender against the Russians, although Walt McKechnie of the Detroit Red Wings, who was called for cross-checking with one second left in the game, was almost as bad.
It should be pointed out that the Russians led 3-0 in the first period, before the first penalty was called. Thus the intimidation tactics were not only shoddy sportsmanship, but also stupid.
May 8, 1977
"We come over here and do things we would never do in the National Hockey League," Guy Charron of the Washington Capitols told Red Fisher of The Montreal Star. Charron, who was hurt in the first game and didn't play thereafter, added, "We're never going to win doing things that way. Never. If you're going to do anything at all, make damned sure the whole world doesn't see it. We wait until everybody is watching, and then we do it. It's sad."
And it's not hockey.
GAUNTLET VS. GLOVES
When he isn't castigating Chicago politicians or deflating pompous officials, columnist Mike Royko of the Chicago Daily News serves as manager and pitches for the newspaper's softball team.
Recently the league in which the team plays has evoked Royko's wrath—and a lawsuit—by changing its rules to allow players to wear gloves. The new rule, Royko says, "penalizes those with talent and calloused hands and gives unfair advantage to those with tender and well-manicured hands."
Besides that, Royko says his team can't afford the gloves.
HARD TIMES IN THE SLAMMER
After a five-year struggle against tired blood, calcium deposits and defeat, the McNeil Island (Wash.) Federal Penitentiary will field no baseball team this season. The problem, says Coach and Sports Director William Bowen, has been that "We lose. Some of the visiting teams wouldn't even bring a pitcher half the time. They'd just bring 10 guys, and they would all take turns pitching."
Despite the home-field advantage, Bowen's inmates won only one game—a 9-2 victory two years ago over the prison guards. Yet his team, whose average age is 40, didn't tire of losing so much as the opposition, average age 20, grew weary of winning.
"They would go up to the plate and just keep going and going," Bowen says. "We were weak in hitting, pitching, fielding and throwing, but we had a pretty good catcher."
Bowen says he's now looking for some older competition and he plans to organize prison softball teams this season. "There's no reason," he says, "why we can't compete well against players of our caliber. You know we have all the practice time in the world."
BACK TO YOU, CHRIS...
The following resolution (somewhat abridged) has been sent to committee in the Michigan House of Representatives.
"Whereas, Too often these outstanding marching band performances are obscured, ignored, interrupted and even utterly destroyed by the rampant and repugnant blather spewing from motor-mouthed, self-indulgent sportscasters who apparently feel that the only music worth listening to is that which is uttered from their own plebeian lips as they regurgitate an unending stream of statistical twaddle or recount the results of other games reported by their similarly unsavory peers; and
"Whereas, Such coprophilous driveling during what would otherwise be a truly entertaining and enjoyable half-time show is an affront to the sensibilities of the television audience...therefore be it
"Resolved...That the major television networks provide their sportscasters with a refreshment stipend to be used during football game half-time periods, and be it further
"Resolved, That said sportscasters be required to remove themselves from the announcing booth...and spend said stipend...on sufficient quantities of peanuts, popcorn, hot dogs and other foodstuffs to keep their mouths full and occupied for the duration of all marching band performances...."
GRAND THEFT PRINTOUT
A shoe company computer has predicted that the night of July 21 will mark a milestone for baseball. On that date, says an electronic forecast for the Converse Co., the Cardinals' Lou Brock will steal his 893rd base, thereby breaking the all-time record of 892 held by Ty Cobb. The computer's projection is based on Brock's career average of one stolen base per 2.61 games.
While Brock may be viewing the 21st with anticipation, Joe Ferguson of the Houston Astros may be viewing it with trepidation. St. Louis plays Houston that Thursday night, and Ferguson is the Astros' catcher.
ALL THREE FOR THE MONEY
At a congress of the International Ski Federation in Argentina last week, one of the first items discussed was the paradox that in recent years the men's overall World Cup champion has not been an overall skier, but a specialist. The last time the overall World Cup champion in the men's events was a good all-round skier, i.e., one who competed successfully in all three alpine events—downhill, slalom and giant slalom—was in 1970, when Austria's Karl Schranz won the cup. Since then, Italy's slalom and giant-slalom specialists, Gustavo Thoeni and Piero Gros, who rarely do well in the downhill, and, for the last two seasons, Sweden's Ingemar Stenmark, who does not ski downhill at all, had the highest point totals. Throughout the 1976-77 season Stenmark was challenged most strongly by Austria's Franz Klammer, who has but one specialty, the downhill.
The FIS Technical Committee passed a modification which requires World Cup skiers to take part in all three events if they want to compete for the overall title. Serge Lang, the Swiss journalist who founded the World Cup, said that now the future champion would "come out of the sum total of the three best results in the three specialties. If he does not take part in all three, he will see his chances decline."
With Austria backing the move, it has a good chance of winning the vote of the full congress. Meanwhile, the Swedish delegates are up in arms. Unless Stenmark puts in a lot of overtime in downhill training, he does not stand a chance to win the cup a third time.
Last winter, when Klammer was Stenmark's main competition, Stenmark said, "It would not be right for someone who excels in one event to win the World Cup." It seems that excelling in two events does not make a world champion, either. The new system may produce a champion who doesn't excel in anything.
Elvin Hayes of the Washington Bullets led the NBA in playing time this season. Appearing in all 82 regular-season games, the big forward averaged 41 minutes per contest. But two of Hayes' teammates, Guard Tom Henderson and Forward Leonard Gray, surpassed him by appearing in more games than there are on the schedule. Howzat?
Well, Henderson, who played in 87 games, was in 46 for Atlanta before being traded to Washington, which had played five fewer games than the Hawks at the time. He then appeared in 41 of the Bullets' remaining games.
Gray played in 25 games with Seattle before he was traded to Washington—which had played one less game than the Sonics at the time. Gray appeared in each of the Bullets' remaining 58 games.
Since the NBA expanded its schedule to 82 games for the 1967-68 season, five players have appeared in more games than the schedule called for. The most shell-shocked of them may have been McCoy McLemore, who played in 86 games in 1970-71. McLemore first played 28 games for Milwaukee, which was on its way to the NBA championship that season, then played 58 games for Cleveland, a first-year expansion team headed for the cellar.
HOME LANE ADVANTAGE
Joe Buenrostro was one of 32 amateurs to qualify for the 1977 Bowling Spectacular, a national tournament being held this week in San Antonio. By qualifying, Buenrostro, who is 19, unemployed and helps his ailing mother operate a small sign shop, won an all-expense-paid trip to the tournament.
Unfortunately, for Buenrostro, he lives in San Antonio, about four miles from the tournament site. Now for the good news. The tournament is being held at Wonder Bowl, where Buenrostro averaged 224 in more than 100 league games last year.
Two schools reviving college football on a smaller scale, after a financially induced absence from the game, are the State University of New York at Buffalo and another Buffalo institution, Canisius College.
Buffalo, which dropped the sport after the 1970 season because of a reported $300,000 deficit, will field a team next fall on a budget of $20,000—which is both good news and bad news for Canisius.
Buffalo will play Canisius as one of its four 1977 opponents, and the game should generate some intracity interest. But when Canisius, which dropped football in 1949, revived it as a varsity sport two years ago, Buffalo loaned Canisius some equipment and its practice uniforms. Now Buffalo wants the uniforms back. Quipped Buffalo's new head coach. Bill Dando, to the Canisius athletic department, "Bring them back filled."
THE TILT OF RECREATION
Students unskilled at or uninterested in interscholastic sports at Johnston (Iowa) High School were offered an alternative—trips to the pinball parlor at a local shopping center.
"Pinball offers them a chance to develop hand-and-eye coordination," says phys ed teacher Larry Strickler. "It also offers something that has a carry-over value. On top of that, it was an opportunity to get the kids out of the building."
Unfortunately, when the story of the Johnston High pinballers made the local paper, parents cried, "Tilt," and the program was cancelled after two visits.
"I think some of the parents recalled when pinball machines were in saloons and bowling alleys," Strickler says, "and thought we were taking the students into that kind of atmosphere."
Strickler did receive three letters of support, including one from a Johnston High alumnus who said he thought visits to a pinball parlor might be exciting. The alumnus is a minister.
THEY SAID IT
•Roger McCann, Eastern League basketball official pressed into service during the NBA officials' strike: "I told the NBA people I was only available on days ending in y."
•Frank Robinson, manager of the Cleveland Indians, after rookie Paul Dade, wearing uniform No. 00, was thrown out trying to steal third with one out in a 1-1 game: "I don't know why he wears that number, but when he took off, I said, 'Oh-oh.' "
•Bill Dellinger, University of Oregon track coach, emerging from the steeplechase water jump in which his team had dunked him after beating Arizona State by one point: "My team has class. They took my wallet and pen out of my pockets before throwing me in."