SEEING VS. BELIEVING
When the news became public earlier this year that Jimmy Connors was not really playing winner-take-all tennis against the likes of Nastase and Laver and Newcombe as CBS Sports had led us to believe, CBS hired two outside lawyers to investigate the affair and write a report.
Early last month the lawyers submitted their 61-page report to the FCC and to two congressional committees investigating television sports coverage. According to a story by Neil Amdur in last Sunday's New York Times, the FCC, after a month of deliberation, has decided it is not entirely satisfied with the CBS report and will open an investigation of its own. Citing "FCC sources," the Times said it had learned that the agency was concerned with "inconsistencies in the contents of the CBS report."
That was the news on page 1 of the sports section. Then, with the story continued on page 4, the Times quoted from the report as follows: "In light of the publicity that had surrounded the first three matches, when the financial terms for the Nastase match became known to CBS Sports, steps should promptly have been taken to see to it that persons with publicity and on-air responsibilities were provided with the correct information. Had this been done, the erroneous winner-take-all and other prize money statements would not have been made."
August 14, 1977
Maybe. And then again, maybe not. Our skepticism is based on the fact that as we finished reading the FCC story our eye jumped to an ad for CBS Sports on page 5.
Beside a picture of Connors the copy read, "1:30 pm—Live International Tennis Tournament from Mt. Washington. N.H. Can Jimmy Connors Defend His Title Against the Game's Best?" This is on Sunday, mind you. Connors was knocked out of the tournament by Harold Solomon in the quarterfinals on Friday.
Below the picture of Connors was another picture, of a grinning Lee Trevino. The accompanying text read, "4 pm—Sammy Davis Jr. Greater Hartford Open—Live. Final Round Action as Lee Trevino. Ray Floyd and Other Top Pros Aim for the $42,000 First Prize!"
Well, Lee Trevino shot 66 on Thursday, the first day of the tournament, and was two shots off the pace. But after two more rounds he was tied for 29th and so far out of contention his scores were not even listed in that same Sunday Times sports section. As for Ray Floyd, he did not play at Hartford at all.
Once we had taken this in, we went back to the news story, to the part that quoted the CBS report as saying, "We have found no reason to believe that there was any intentional deception of the public by CBS personnel."
SIDE BY SIDE
The long battle between conservationists and the tuna fishing industry over how best to protect the porpoise from possible extinction was precipitated by the fact that tuna like to swim in the company of certain species of porpoise. Inevitably, when the tuna nets are drawn up porpoises are caught, too, and in their struggles to escape some of them are killed.
Conservationists believed purse-seining should be prohibited to save the porpoises. Tuna people threatened to register their boats under foreign flags if the U.S. Government shackled them with too many regulations. Legislative skirmishes have been won by both sides, and many compromises have been made over the years, but the war drags on.
Lately, however, a phenomenon has been observed that may mean the porpoises are going to resolve the dispute by themselves. Those smart, lovable creatures seem to be avoiding the dangerous company of their old pals, the tuna, at least when the tuna boats are around. Many fewer of them are showing up in the nets this year, according to fishermen and government observers.
One theory has it that certain species have learned to run at the sight of the lethal tuna boats and have been able to pass that knowledge on to their young. Another theory is Darwinian—the survival of the cautious porpoise. As more and more trusting porpoises are caught up in the nets and killed, the porpoise population gradually has come to be dominated by cautious porpoises, which avoid the nets altogether.
Flipper may have beaten the odds.
ONLY A ROSE
Listen to Pete Rose talking to a Philadelphia Bulletin reporter about sliding headfirst. He makes it sound almost reasonable. "It's the easiest way, the safest way and the fastest way. Belly whopping is the wrong term because the only thing you ever hurt is your knees and arms. You slide on your arms. Your elbows have to hit first. If your knees hit first, you're slowing down your momentum.... No one ever taught me how to slide. I've been sliding headfirst since I was eight.... In the Astrodome they wet the field down before the game. They wet it down and you can't slide for diddly. You slide and just stop. One night I slid headfirst in the Astrodome, back when we were wearing the uniforms with the cutout arms. I slid and I got up and the uniform shirt fell off me. The buttons didn't come off—I tore it from armpit to armpit."
For reasons only a trivialist would understand, the NCAA has published a list of its members' team nicknames. The list is predictably heavy in Tigers (28). Bulldogs (18) and Bears (17), but one name that gets the imagination rolling is the Heidelberg (Ohio) College Student Princes. There is probably a certain amount of self-hypnosis involved in thinking of oneself as a wild, ferocious or tenacious animal. But how, one wonders, does the athletic psyche deal with being a Student Prince-of-a-fellow and playing football at the same time? And think of the cheerleaders. How can one exhort a Student Prince to "bust 'em"?
Psychologically speaking, however, there are worse fates than that of the Heidelberg princelings. Consider the handicap borne cheerfully by the University of Akron Zips.
New York Yankee hating is as traditional a summer pastime as drinking lemonade and scratching mosquito bites. But this year, thanks to Reggie Jackson, George Steinbrenner and the nasty odor created by compost heaps of money, anti-Yankee feeling has reached new levels of virulence.
Nowhere is the feeling running higher than in Kansas City. On July 25 the Royals were scheduled to play their last game of the season against the Yankees, a night game in New York. But at 4:30 p.m., the Yankee management called the game because of rain. The game has been rescheduled for the night of Aug. 29, which means that the Royals will not only lose one of their two off days for the month but will also be playing 22 consecutive days.
"In all my years in baseball, never have I seen a game called that early, especially a season's series finale," growled Joe Burke, the Royals' general manager. "Who ever heard of calling a game that early because of a forecast for rain? It didn't rain after 7 o'clock that night. The Yankees just didn't want to play the game that night."
It may be merely coincidence, but by canceling the game, the Yankees gained a two-day rest for Sparky Lyle's worn-out arm, and they were able to save starter Catfish Hunter for the opening game of their series with Eastern Division rival Baltimore.
It was not the first time this season the Yankees have canceled a game under suspicious circumstances. The other was on July 6, when the Yankees, in the midst of the worst of their domestic troubles, were scheduled to play Cleveland at night. The game was called at 5 p.m. of a perfectly playable day because of, according to the Yankees, "rain and poor field conditions."
According to the rules, a team can postpone a game up until the official starting time. After that only the umpires have the power, except in the final month of the season. Then only the umpires can cancel a game on game day.
The Yankees, if they keep it up, are going to be responsible for a rules change that will leave cancellations on game day to the umpires throughout the season.
Joan Joyce, one of the greatest of all female athletes, earned her LPGA player's card a couple of weeks ago with rounds of 75-78-78-76—307 at the Belmont Country Club in Perrysburg, Ohio. It was her second try, but when Joyce makes up her mind to do something, she generally pulls it off. She is 21-3 this season pitching for the Connecticut Falcons of the International Women's Professional Softball Association, and when she is not pitching she plays first base. In her 21-year softball career, much of it with the Raybestos Brakettes, she has thrown 40 perfect games and 138 no-hitters.
Furthermore, Joyce was three times an All-America basketball player in AAU ball and five times in the Women's Basketball Association. She averaged 25 points a game during her nine-year career. And she has a bowling average of 180. When she took up golf in earnest 18 months ago, she was already 35 years old, but at the LPGA school she tied for seventh, five strokes behind Donna Horton White, the 23-year-old U.S. Amateur champion, and six strokes behind Nancy Lopez, 20, the collegiate phenom who has twice finished second in the Women's Open.
The skills it takes to be world class in other sports are not always transferable to golf, but Babe Zaharias did it, and Joan Joyce is an athlete out of the Zaharias mold. It would not do to bet against her.
One Harry Peter Grant was listed among the missing in a recent newsletter mailed to members of the University of Minnesota's class of 1950. The class secretary, obviously not a sports-page reader, appealed to his classmates to help locate Grant.
In a spirit of intermural cooperation, we are happy to volunteer the information that Harry Peter (Bud) Grant has been living and working right there in Bloomington for the last 10 years or so and that he has been a credit to his class.
Greg Sampson, the Houston Oilers' offensive tackle, and Rita, his Labrador retriever, had been fond companions since 1972, Sampson's senior year at Stanford. Rita accompanied Sampson to several training camps, her pups were purchased by other Oilers and she became a sort of unofficial mascot for the team.
Recently Rita came to a swift, sad end. She was swimming with Sampson's wife Kathy, some friends and another Labrador in a Lake Livingston tributary in East Texas when a 10-foot-long alligator suddenly surfaced, snatched Rita and disappeared into the deep.
Grieving Greg was excused from practice the next day by Coach Bum Phillips, who commiserated, "Those alligators are protected, but it seems to me when one of them is big enough to grab a 40-pound dog, man is the endangered species."
THEY SAID IT
•Amos Otis, Kansas City centerfielder, reapplying Joe Adcock's assessment of the batting eye of Henry Aaron to Rod Carew: "Trying to sneak a pitch past him is like trying to sneak the sunrise past a rooster."
•Bruce Jenner, on whether he is the world's greatest athlete: "If you want to use the decathlon as a test of total athletic ability, then I guess I'm the world's greatest athlete. It's as good a test as any, I guess. But that sure doesn't help me when I stand up at a tee and try to hit a golf ball. Then I'm just another guy who can't hit straight."
•Red Auerbach, Boston Celtics president, on why he has not gotten into the free-agent market: "First, these guys are unhappy ballplayers to start with, and I don't want unhappy ballplayers around. Second, they want more money than they are worth. Third, you have to give up too much in compensation to get them."
•Ed Snider, owner of the Philadelphia Flyers, on his team's influence on the city's youth: "Before the Flyers came along, kids in South Philadelphia used to stand on corners having rumbles. Now they play street hockey."