THE MURDOCH CASE
NHL President John Ziegler's suspension of New York Ranger Forward Don Murdoch (SCORECARD, Aug. 7) was warranted. Given the nature of the drug involved (cocaine) and its appeal to many young NHL fans, Ziegler had no choice but to take a strong stand or run the risk of condoning drug use by players through his silence. As we are all aware, fines and suspensions are as much public-relations devices as they are disciplinary actions.
What bugs me—scares me—is that SI could make a passing statement—"The use of cocaine is fairly widespread among young professional athletes." You also state that possession of cocaine is a "victimless crime." From the most simplistic of views, that is true. But it is not true from any other viewpoint.
CHARLES P. PATE
I find John Ziegler's decision to suspend Don Murdoch for at least half of next season very ironic. In the past, NHL officials have pleaded to people like Ontario Attorney General Roy McMurtry that the NHL should police itself. Now Ziegler steps in and punishes Murdoch for an act that has nothing to do with the NHL. I'm afraid Ziegler has blown it again.
I was impressed by SI's candid analysis of the controversy surrounding Don Murdoch and John Ziegler. As a Canadian citizen, Murdoch has a responsibility to obey the laws of his country or suffer the consequences. As a player in the NHL, he is also subject to a number of rules and regulations regarding his on-ice behavior. But it is inconceivable that the NHL, and specifically Ziegler, should be allowed to act as both judge and jury in an incident completely unrelated to the sport of hockey.
August 20, 1978
What is particularly distressing about this matter is that the player representatives have unanimously supported Ziegler's verdict, thus blocking Murdoch's only route of appeal. By upholding Murdoch's suspension they have permitted the NHL to judge—and, in essence, to dictate—a player's life-style.
Coming on the heels of SI's investigation of the effects of money on sports (July 17 et seq.), Pete Rose's 44-game hitting streak (Doing Much...and Much Ado, Aug. 7) was immensely satisfying in its simplicity, its sincerity and its implications. I am positive that the money Rose makes is mere gravy to Pete. This sportsman gets his meat and potatoes on the ball field—as it should be.
For six weeks I lived and died with Pete Rose. I read the papers every day and marveled at what a battler he is. Then what happens? The streak ends and he says he can't believe Atlanta's Gene Garber pitched him like it was the seventh game of the World Series (SCORECARD, Aug. 14). How sad that the best thing to happen in baseball this year, by a class guy, ended in an unclassy way.
Pete Rose is one heck of a ballplayer, but he is also a jerk.
JOHN J. GRIMES
Thanks to Curry Kirkpatrick for the amusing piece on Bill Lee of the Red Sox (In an Orbit All His Own, Aug. 7). No wonder Lee considers the Cincinnati Reds a "drill team." They "drilled" him out of the box in the final game of the 1975 World Series. Even Taiwanese Little Leaguers could have hit the bloopers he was throwing.
Bill Lee gives us what we want when we go to the ball park: fun. During the break between games of a recent doubleheader in Cleveland, in which the Red Sox swept the Indians, the Spaceman drew the appreciative roars of many of the 42,000 fans by hitting towering fly balls to himself in the outfield and then catching them behind his back and while sliding on the grass. We Tribe fans are starving, but that was enjoyable.
I don't know if I love Bill Lee or hate him, but one thing's for sure—he's interesting!
Bill Lee is not only a proven pitcher but he also does an excellent job as a substitute host for various Boston-area radio talk shows. I think Lee is a better host than his loudest critics, Clif Keane and Larry Claflin. Some of their criticism may be jealousy.
ATHLETES AND PRESIDENTS
When reader Saul Behar asked, "Do David Thompson, O. J. Simpson or Larry Hisle deserve to earn more than Jimmy Carter?" (19TH HOLE, Aug. 7), he inspired me to poll 100 people in the Tuscaloosa (Ala.) area. The results: 64 said yes, they do; 24 thought anyone deserved to earn more than Carter; and 12 thought Bear Bryant was President.
I am reminded of Babe Ruth's reputed answer when someone asked him if he deserved to be making more than President Herbert Hoover: "Why not? I had a better year than he did."
DAVID A. SMITH
The letter from John Kelly Karasek (19TH HOLE, Aug. 7) is a classic example of what happens when a man's education exceeds his intelligence. He chose to ridicule the assertion that Busch Stadium's artificial turf could cause baseballs to "accelerate after they hit the ground." He is, of course, correct in thinking that there are laws of physics that pertain to conservation of energy. But he neglected to remember that a bat striking a ball might impart an energy of rotation as well as energy of translation to the ball. This is especially true of a ground ball, which very well might have been topped by the bat. So it is entirely possible that a ground ball would be accelerated upon contact with the synthetic turf by conversion of some of the energy of rotation into energy of translation. The learned Mr. Karasek owes an apology to the St. Louis scorers, who use their eyes to watch baseballs bouncing rather than to read only half of their physics books.
In response to your article A Bonny Victory (July 24), I should like to point out that although the British and American press emphasized the toll the Road Hole exacted from the likes of Arnold Palmer, Severiano Ballesteros, Tsuneyuki Nakajima, Simon Owen and others during the British Open, they did not report on "Rocky Thompson's Revenge." Thompson, a longtime bit player on the U.S. tour, holed out in seven on the Road Hole on Saturday morning. He proceeded to the 18th tee, but then returned to the 17th green, the Road Hole, and, using his putter as a simulated machine gun, sprayed the green with "bullets" for at least half a minute, wreaking sweet revenge. The huge crowd at the 17th green reacted with stunned silence, then laughed in communal sympathy.
RUSSELL C. PALMER
West Hartford, Conn.
THE CHAMP (CONT.)
Bruce Newman's article on Leon Spinks was the most objective piece yet printed about the champion (Sometimes a Guy's Gotta Swoop, July 24).
Followers of Spinks know of his recurring problems with the law. Newman did not trample the subject, but rather let Spinks try to explain his urges to "swoop" and "boogie-woogie-oogie."
Who are we to judge what Leon Spinks does with his money? Why is he a lesser champion because he has flirtations with women other than his wife? Spinks came from a disadvantaged environment and, at an age when even highly educated men are struggling with life's decisions, had international celebrity thrust upon him. Why should a 24-year-old be held accountable for his every action?
I am an average sports fan. I am not an intellectual who tries to dig deeply into the guts of American sport. For those reasons I applaud Newman's treatment of Spinks. Let us judge Spinks the boxer. I for one am inspired by what he has done in the ring. And that is how it should be.
Leon Spinks' life-style, as described by Bruce Newman, is not much different from mine, except that I do my drinking and carousing on a much smaller income. In this respect Leon is no different from many young, affluent kids, and Newman's account of his carousing made enjoyable reading until I remembered that Spinks is the heavyweight champion. That's why it was refreshing to turn the page and read about a true champion, the Phillies' Larry Bowa (The Little Big Man for the Phillies).
Union City, Tenn.
Thank you for your fine article on the proposed Carlos Palomino-Pipino Cuevas welterweight bout (A Welter of Welters, July 31). It is indeed unfortunate that two such gifted fighters are going begging for a televised title match. A purse of $500,000 is paltry in comparison to the extravagant sums paid to heavyweights. Networks seem misguided in their willingness to pay for poundage rather than for skill.
I am disgusted that you have written an article suggesting pairing Pipino Cuevas (WBA champ) and Carlos Palomino (WBC champ) before either has met Pete Ranzany. Ranzany has been one of the top contenders in the welterweight class for the past two or three years. Palomino and his people have been avoiding Ranzany even though he has proved himself worthy time and again. Ranzany is not just a hurdle for Cuevas or Palomino or anyone. He will beat Cuevas, and then maybe Palomino will have to fight our man from Sacramento.
MICHAEL V. RUSSELL
Rancho Cordova, Calif.
Speaking of interesting trades (19TH HOLE, July 24), wouldn't Rollie Fingers for Jim Palmer be a handy deal? The Pirates would get burned in a Candelaria-Eastwick deal, and Mickey Rivers and Henry Cruz should be shipped to the Mariners.
Atlanta's Pat Rockett should have been shot over to the Houston Astros instead of to Richmond, and Ted Turner may want to move Rowland Office from centerfield to ticket manager.
The Reds should flag down Frank White and Vida Blue, and Ivan DeJesus should wing his way to the Angels.
The Cubs should pick up Doug Bair from Cincinnati, and they'd better hang on to Dennis Lamp since Wrigley Field has no lights. Because everyone says Jose Cardenal is a hot dog, shouldn't he play for Chicago Manager Herman Franks?
Green Bay, Wis.
Would sending Dave Kingman to the Royals be a crowning success? Wouldn't Glenn Abbott be a natural on the Padres? What about Barry Foote going to the White Sox? Wouldn't Jim Kaat be a winner with the Tigers? Perhaps. But in this day and age, the best way to get a Champion (San Diego) is to use Money (Milwaukee).
•Oops! All trades off. Champion was sent down to the minors on June 6.—ED.
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