IN SEARCH OF SANCTUARY
The Carter Administration announced last week that it would allow drilling for oil and gas on the Georges Bank off Cape Cod, one of the world's richest fishing grounds. The decision was a defeat for environmentalists and fishermen who wanted Georges Bank declared a marine sanctuary, a designation that would have prevented oil exploration. Backers of sanctuary status noted that the world suffers a shortage of protein as well as oil and that Georges Bank is the source of 17% of the annual U.S. commercial catch of such bottom-feeding species as cod, haddock and hake. And they expressed concern that drilling would endanger the fishes' habitat.
The decision to allow exploration was defended by Richard A. Frank, director of the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees marine sanctuaries and which reached agreement with the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency on the proposed drilling. Frank conceded that "the risks of oil drilling on Georges Bank should not be underestimated; they are serious." But he added, "We intend to take all action we can to protect this rich ecosystem."
There was reason to wonder what action Frank could have in mind. Dr. Howard Sanders, a marine biologist at the Woods Hole (Mass.) Oceanographic Institution who has studied the effects of oil drilling on bottom-feeding fish, says, "There is inevitable, chronic low level pollution caused by leakage as a result of drilling. There is no known technology for preventing it. Over a period of time there can be severe environmental damage. Because of drilling and related disruption, the density of certain kinds of animal life is often very low. And that doesn't even consider the damage that would be caused by a blowout."
September 30, 1979
Sanders stops short of opposing offshore drilling everywhere, choosing instead to emphasize the uniqueness of Georges Bank. He and other environmentalists are alarmed by the Administration's decision. As Sarah M. Bates, a lawyer for the Conservation Law Foundation of New England, puts it, "If the Commerce Department is unwilling to take on the Georges Bank with all its fishery resources as a sanctuary, it seems inconceivable it would take on other valuable areas."
STEELING FOR THE EXPOS
The hometown Pirates were again in the thick of the National League East race (page 18), but you wouldn't have known it at two of Pittsburgh's favorite watering holes, the Jamestown and the Living Room. Patrons at both establishments crowded the bar to watch the Monday-night telecast of the Washington Redskins' 27-0 rout of the Giants. The Pirates were meanwhile beating the Expos 2-1 in Montreal on another channel, but the viewers were content to let the bartender periodically—and briefly—switch to that baseball showdown. In Steeler country, the NFL apparently can dominate the market even with a one-sided early-season game between two out-of-town teams.
The situation aggrieves the Pirates, who last year fell just short of overtaking the Phillies for the division title, yet drew only 964,106 fans to finish 11th in attendance among the 12 National League teams. Attendance is higher this season—1,202,848 through last week—but the advance sale for this week's crucial four-game series with the Expos at Three Rivers Stadium was disconcertingly slow. Tacitly acknowledging their place in Pittsburgh's athletic peeking order, the Pirates were reduced to asking Steelers Rocky Bleier and John Banaszak to give attendance for the big series a lift. Bleier and Banaszak obliged by appearing last week in TV commercials in which they urged Pittsburgh fans to support their pennant-contending baseball team.
BATTLE OF THE BIG BROWNS
A dispute is raging among sport fishing cognoscenti over the rod-and-reel record for brown trout. For more than a century that record was credited to a certain W. Muir, who supposedly caught a brown weighing 39½ pounds in Scotland's Loch Awe in 1866. Among those who accepted Muir's catch as authentic was Field & Stream, long this country's most trusted custodian of game fishing records. To readers of that magazine's annual compilation of records, W. Muir was the Babe Ruth of brown trout anglers.
But then the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, Wis. began keeping its own records, including in its listings a great many categories that Field & Stream didn't deem worthy of consideration. In the course of compiling its records, the Hall of Fame learned that the British National Anglers' Council never had recognized Muir's feat, having concluded that his big trout had been snagged, jigged by hand or caught by some other unacceptable means. The Hall of Fame reached the same conclusion and bestowed the record on Bob Bringhurst, who caught a 33-pound, 10-ounce brown trout in Utah's Flaming Gorge Reservoir in 1977. Field & Stream meanwhile conducted its own investigation. After uncovering one report that Muir's fish was a salmon, it, too, discredited Muir's record. But instead of Bringhurst, it recognized Eugenio Cavaglia, who purportedly caught a brown weighing 35 pounds, 15 ounces in Argentina in 1952.
The disagreement over the brown trout record is one of many that exist between the Hall of Fame and the Florida-based International Game Fish Association, which last year took over the task of maintaining Field & Stream's listings. Of the Cavaglia catch, an association spokesman says, "It's well documented. We have no doubts about it." But the Hall of Fame calls documentation it has seen inadequate and sticks with Bringhurst. In a dispute similar to the one between the WBA and WBC over the recognition of boxing champions, the longtime Babe Ruth of brown trout fishermen has, for now anyway, been replaced by two claimants to the title.
A QUESTION OF NOMENCLATURE
A study by the Manhattan ad agency Benton & Bowles finds that 48.6% of all tennis players, 44.3% of downhill skiers, 39.4% of backpackers and 36.2% of squash players are women. And a survey by the National Organization for Women reveals that 33% of high school athletes are girls, an increase of 15% since 1972. But NOW says that girls still make up only 15% of high school athletes in Alabama, where things have not gone so well for the women's movement. Holly Knox, director of NOW's Project on Equal Education Rights, notes that the University of Alabama offers partial ($150 a semester) athletic scholarships to women for the entertainment of male athletes the school wants to recruit. The University calls these coeds "hostesses," but Knox says, "Our dictionary has another name for them."
Pro athletes were talking a lot last week about their right to do just that—talk. Several New York Jet players complained when Coach Walt Michaels released Linebacker Bob Martin, who had been engaged in a contract dispute, after Martin openly criticized the team. Reggie Jackson leveled a blast or two at owner George Steinbrenner over a variety of grievances, whereupon Manager Billy Martin threatened to punish Jackson by keeping him on the bench next season. And Montreal Pitcher Bill Lee was joined by officials of the American Civil Liberties Union at a press conference called to protest a $250 fine that Commissioner Bowie Kuhn levied against him last spring for publicly admitting that he had used marijuana.
Michaels has every right to release a player, and the Yankee brass can threaten to bench anybody it chooses, but it should be noted that both actions produced more acrimony than they stopped. As for the Lee case, because possession of marijuana is a crime in all 50 states—and, yes, in Quebec—it is perhaps understandable that Kuhn might have deemed Lee's remarks detrimental to baseball. Yet, Kuhn, too, was only inviting trouble. At his press conference Lee, who believes that refined sugar and caffeine are more dangerous to one's health than Acapulco Gold, wondered why Steve Garvey had not been fined for appearing in Coca-Cola ads. (In fact, the soft drink Garvey plugs is Pepsi-Cola.) And when a reporter asked what would happen if Kuhn levied a $250 fine against every ballplayer who used marijuana, Lee mischievously replied, "He'd be a very rich man."
The motives of sports officials who try to silence athletes should always be questioned, especially when they are strangely selective in doing so. For example, it remains a mystery why Kuhn didn't fine Cardinal Shortstop Garry Templeton for declaring during a spring-training contract dispute that he wasn't going to try very hard this season. Templeton later said he didn't mean it, but that kind of remark is potentially far more damaging to baseball than Lee's admission that he sprinkled marijuana on his "buckwheat pancakes and other health foods."
AD INFINITUM, AD NAUSEAM
Pitcher Bob Kammeyer, who had a 16-8 record and an earned run average of 3.93 this season with Columbus of the International League, was called up last week by the Yankees and appeared in relief two days later in Cleveland. Brought in with the Indians leading the Yankees 4-0 in the fourth inning, Kammeyer gave up seven hits and hit one batter as Cleveland scored eight times on its way to a 16-3 victory. When Manager Billy Martin finally removed him, Kammeyer still hadn't gotten anybody out, thus making it impossible to compute an earned run average for him. As a result, his ERA appeared in the statistics as INF—for infinity.
Other pitchers have briefly had ERAs of infinity—for example, after giving up one or two runs at the start of a season without retiring anybody—but no one can recall a pitcher yielding eight runs in a debut without getting an out. Kammeyer, who had a 5.73 ERA in seven appearances with the Yankees last year, was a math major for a while at Stanford, so he well understood what his shelling meant arithmetically. "It hurts to see that INF next to my name, but it may be worse when I finally get somebody out," he said. "It'll take a lot of pitching to get my earned run average down."
Kammeyer was right. If he plays again this season—he sat out the five games following his shellacking—and retires the next batter he faces, he will have an ERA of 216.00.
FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD
Lake Placid, the little (pop. 2,800) Adirondack town that is staging the 1980 Winter Olympics, last week unveiled its $16 million arena for figure skating and hockey, a hulking, spider-legged structure that looks as if it's going to leap into the air at any moment. The occasion was the Norton Flaming Leaves Invitational tournament, which attracted 65 figure skaters from 16 countries. Although most nations sent only "B" teams, the Saturday night finale drew a near-capacity turnout of 7,916, the largest crowd ever to attend any kind of event in the town—including the 1932 Olympics.
Before the night's skating, Lake Placid's restaurants were packed to the doors and beyond, a disquieting omen for next February's Olympics, when the local eateries will have to feed the exactly 51,700 spectators who will be allowed into town each day. While endless lines of sad-eyed visitors waited for a meal of any kind, some of the Lake Placid area's two dozen restaurants were busily pre-selling their tables for February—which will effectively shut out any drop-in trade. After the Olympics, when the snow melts, the town's streets probably will be littered with the bones of those who perished while looking for a bite to eat.
THEY SAID IT
•Weeb Ewbank, former Jet coach, asked to assess Joe Namath's performance in a stage production of Picnic: "I'll have to wait until I see the films."
•Bill Torrey, New York Islander general manager, on scoring sensation Mike Bossy's new contract: "I'm going to break with tradition to give you details. It's a multiyear contract and for more money than I wanted to pay."
•Ron Meyer, SMU coach, on Rice's 6'8" tight end, Robert Hubble: "When he's covered, he's open."