LOGIC BY THE BAY
It appears there will be two major league baseball clubs in the Bay Area again this season, which is at least one more than common sense or economics would seem to dictate. For a while it looked as though the Oakland A's would move to Denver, but owner Charles Finley received a setback last week in his efforts to break his 20-year lease with the Oakland Coliseum and sell out to Colorado oilman Marvin Davis.
The Oakland politicos who run the stadium were willing to let Finley off the hook only if the San Francisco Giants agreed to change the name of the team to something more ecumenical—like the Bay Area Giants—and play half their schedule in Oakland. But San Francisco Mayor George Moscone feels that San Francisco Giants has a certain ring to it and he consented to no more than 20 to 30 Giant games being played in Oakland. Even this much may have seemed magnanimous: Moscone's city, after all, has a team that wants to stay; Oakland's team wants to go.
Yet if logic prevailed—and it is usually the first casualty in the impassioned Oakland-San Francisco civic rivalry—San Franciscans would swallow hard and admit what has long been obvious. Candlestick Park, the Giants' home, has artificial turf (objectionable to baseball purists), is all but inaccessible by public transportation and is too windblown and cold for baseball. Oakland's ball park has real grass, enjoys more favorable weather and—because it is served by BART, the local rapid-transit system—is more convenient than Candlestick even for many San Franciscans. A strong case could be made for the Bay Area's surviving ball club—whatever they call it—to play all its games in Oakland.
February 20, 1978
DON'T FORGET THE SKEWERS
How do you get Sammy Davis Jr., Eydie Gormè, Steve Lawrence, Bud Wilkinson, Muhammad Ali, Jimmy Connors, Paul Hornung, Jack Nicklaus, Cloris Leachman, Paul Anka, Bob Griese, Don Shula, Pancho Gonzales, Reggie Jackson, Telly Savalas and Gerald Ford to attend a $150-a-plate University of Miami athletic fund-raising dinner?
You roast Woody Hayes. Those celebrities, no doubt drawn by the opportunity to get in some licks at the Ohio State coach, are scheduled to be on hand Feb. 23 for the dinner at Miami's Omni International Hotel. Conspicuously missing from the list—so far, anyway—is Michigan Coach Bo Schembechler. After trying to reach Bo for two weeks, roast organizers finally contacted Mrs. Schembechler, who wasn't much help. "If you reach him, please tell him to call home," she said. Bo was out recruiting, trying to get at Woody in another way.
CAN YOU TOP THIS?
Three weeks had gone by since the roof of the Hartford (Conn.) Civic Center Coliseum collapsed under a weighty accumulation of snow and ice, forcing the World Hockey Association's New England Whalers to move to Springfield, Mass., 24 miles away (SI, Jan. 30). Last week, in the aftermath of a fresh 20-inch snowfall, intrepid Hartfordites trudged into the Civic Center's adjacent—and intact—exposition hall to attend something called the Contractors Remodeling Trade Show. Among the exhibits were several featuring methods and materials for repairing roofs.
LET 'ER RIP
Earl Campbell rushed for 1,744 yards and scored 19 touchdowns on his way to the Heisman Trophy last season, but there is one vital Campbell stat that has been largely overlooked: he also went through 90 tearaway jerseys. University of Texas equipment manager Bubba Simpson says the cost of tearaways was $720 for Campbell—and about $2,000 for all Longhorn ballcarriers and quarterbacks. Campbell was given one of his torn jerseys as a keepsake and the rest were donated to charities to auction off.
BOUND AND DETERMINED
More than a decade ago that notorious referee baiter, Bones McKinney, then the basketball coach at Wake Forest, attempted to curb his sideline outbursts for one game by strapping himself to the bench with an automobile seat belt. Other tempestuous basketball coaches have occasionally tried—or at least talked about trying—seat belts, too. But nobody has buckled up more tightly than Jerry Carr, coach at Lincoln High School in Portland, Ore. And everybody at Lincoln is satisfied that equipping this Carr with a seat belt was a good idea.
The need for restraint became evident last season, Carr's first as Lincoln coach, when he spent a lot of time stalking the sidelines and raging at officials. This earned Carr a total of seven technicals, which the Cardinals could ill afford as they struggled to an 8-14 record. One of the technicals came with less than two minutes to go against David Douglas High. David Douglas was awarded two free throws, hit them both and then scored on the inbounds play, winning 53-52. Carr apologized to his team after that one.
During the off-season Carr got to complaining about the refs, saying, "They might as well strap us to our chairs." To Assistant Coach John Quiggle, who doubles as a shop teacher, the words were pure inspiration. With Carr's blessings, Quiggle arranged for a seat belt to be bolted to the head coach's spot on the bench in the school gym.
Despite a won-lost record even worse than last year's (3-15), this season Carr has stood up at home games only during time-outs. At away games Carr has had to get along without a seat belt, but he remains benchbound. "It's a conditioned reflex," he explains. "I've learned to sit." Carr has picked up a meager two technicals so far this season, each from a sitting position.
SOMETHING TO PROVE
The people who pay Seattle Slew's feed bills say he will race again, but what should be joyous news has a slightly melancholy ring to it. The truth is that Slew's owners, Mickey and Karen Taylor and Sally and Jim Hill, have decided to campaign the Triple Crown winner as a 4-year-old only after meeting some difficulties in their efforts to send him off to the breeding shed.
Slew's course has been less than smooth ever since July 3, when he ran for the last time and suffered his only loss in 10 career starts. Following his defeat by J. O. Tobin at Santa Anita, he was shipped to New York and then to Florida for winter competition. He was training extremely well until he contracted a severe infection that could have killed him. When Slew regained his health, his owners tried to syndicate him, but several factors worked against them. With the breeding season only a few weeks off, Slew had yet to take a fertility test and the top broodmares had long since been booked to other stallions. Some potential breeders were anxious about Slew's illness and his long layoff. Slew's owners also demanded a large say in the breeding operation and some people wanted no part of that because they look upon the owners as "amateurs."
Then there was the question of money. Guessing at the true dollar value of a stallion at time of syndication is a bit like estimating salaries paid Las Vegas entertainers: what you read is seldom what they get. While Slew's owners reckoned his worth to be as high as $15 million, others thought that figure excessive. They put Slew's value closer to $9 million, and while that is still a staggering sum, well, $6 million is a considerable difference of opinion.
Plans now call for Seattle Slew to return to New York in April in hopes that he can run again come May. His next race may well be his most important. A lot of people can question his health or his value, but only he can deliver the answer.
LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP
In a dual swimming meet at the University of Miami, the Hurricanes were trailing favored Florida 54-52 going into the final event, the 400-yard freestyle relay. When the Miami anchor man hit the wall in 3:06.05, narrowly touching out his Gator rival (3:06.17), the Hurricanes apparently picked up seven points to win the meet 59-54. Several Miami swimmers, some wearing sweats and sneakers, plunged into the pool to celebrate.
It was only then that somebody noticed that the anchor man on Florida's hopelessly outmanned B relay team—Miami had not entered a B team—was still poking along in the water. When the laggard finally finished, in 3:31.45, the home crowd's rejoicing turned to shock. Because its people had gone into the water while a race was technically still in progress, Miami's relay team was disqualified and the seven points went to Florida. So did the meet—61-52.
Premature splash parties have caused other disqualifications. In the 1964 AAU championships, a victory by the Santa Clara swim club in the 400-meter medley relay was wiped out when Gary Ilman, who had swum the butterfly on the relay, dived back in before everybody had finished. Indiana's 800-yard freestyle relay was disqualified at the 1971 NCAA championships when relay members John Kinsella and Mark Spitz reentered the pool too soon. And at the AAU championships in 1973, breaststroker John Hencken was too quick to return to the water, disqualifying another victorious Santa Clara 400-medley relay team.
The overexuberant lads who cost Miami the meet against Florida could take comfort that at least they were in good company: Ilman, Kinsella, Spitz and Hencken were all past or future Olympic gold medalists.
UNCERTAINTY IN QUEBEC
The ruling Parti Quèbècois, which wants to make Quebec an independent country, has given sports only cursory attention during its 15 months in power. Sports Minister Claude Charron, whose duties include running Montreal's Olympic Stadium, engaged in some hard talk—but little more than that—during lease negotiations with the Montreal Expos, the stadium's principal tenant. Other Parti Quèbècois officials have suggested that Claude Mouton, the Forum's bilingual public-address man, ought to dispense with English at Montreal Canadien games. For now, however, Mouton continues to announce in both French and English.
But what will happen if Quebec secedes from Canada? In their zeal to establish national identity, leaders of a fledgling republic of Quebec may well pamper such visible adornments as the Expos, Canadiens, Montreal Alouettes and Quebec Nordiques. But there is reason for apprehension. Given the passions that secession would unavoidably arouse, could the Canadiens, those fabled Flying Frenchmen, safely skate onto the ice in Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens? Would free agents journey into the political and economic unknown to sign long-term contracts with the Expos? And could the Alouettes remain in what is, after all, the Canadian Football League?
About the only certainty is that a newly independent Quebec would move quickly to field its own Olympic team. This prospect divides Canada's athletes—just as the separatism issue cleaves Canadians generally. "If Quebec separates, I'll go home and compete for Canada," vows Olympic shotputter Bishop Dolegiewicz, an Ontario-born anglais who now lives in Montreal. But Olympic high jumper Robert Forget, a French-speaking Montrealer, says, "I would proudly compete for Quebec to show the world that it is a true country."
HIS AND HERS
Kuwait, the oil-rich country on the Persian Gulf where the summertime temperature is normally 120°—and occasionally reaches 165°—has awarded a French company a contract to build a $10 million ice skating complex with two rinks—one for men, one for women.
THEY SAID IT
•Bear Bryant, divulging his favorite play: "It's the one where the player pitches the ball back to the official after scoring a touchdown."
•Don Cherry, Boston Bruins coach, whose team has never lost to the Washington Capitals: "Next time we play them we should wear five-pound weights on our skates."
•Tom McVie, Washington Capitals coach, informed of Cherry's remark: "He's got a lot of class. If he had to start over with an expansion team, he'd be back selling cars in Rochester within a year."