SAD DAY IN JAPAN
A serious and depressing scandal has hit baseball in Japan, where it is the national pastime. Masayuki Nagayasu, a pitcher with the Nishitetsu Lions, has been accused by the owner and president of his team of fixing ball games. The pitcher denied the accusation but otherwise said little, declaring, "If I say anything, people won't believe me, so what's the use?"
But the pitcher was linked to hoodlum elements heavily involved with gambling, and he has been charged not only with fixing games himself but with persuading other players to go along. Two of his teammates who supposedly worked with him have turned state's evidence.
No specific instances of fixed games were disclosed (one official said it was impossible to determine the exact number, but "there were several"), yet there was an immediate and unquestioned acceptance of the charges by Japanese fans, probably because gambling on baseball has long been intensive in certain areas. Predictably, after the scandal was revealed spectators jeered and hissed the players and shouted things like "No fixing!" and "Play seriously!"
The threat to baseball's paramount position in the Japanese sporting scene is very real since, like all sports, its dramatic appeal rests on public confidence. As Akiko Santo, movie actress and a baseball fan, said, "Sumo lost popularity because of fixing, and the same thing may happen to baseball."
BIG STEVE AND MEAN GREENE
Steve Van Buren, the best running back in pro football 20 years ago when he played for the Philadelphia Eagles, was talking to Author Myron Cope (SI, Oct. 13 and 20) about modern-day players. The name of Mean Joe Greene, the defensive tackle of the Pittsburgh Steelers, came up and Van Buren said, "He's not only the best rookie tackle I've ever seen—he's the best tackle I've ever seen, period." Cope said, "Well, surely he still has a lot to learn." Van Buren answered, "If he learns anything more, he'll kill somebody."
This, of course, brought up the incident in the Steeler-Giant game a couple of Sundays ago when Greene was thrown out late in the game for clobbering Fran Tarkenton. Van Buren insisted that if Greene had remained in the game the final score would have been 7-7, instead of 10-7, Giants. "The Giants would never have penetrated far enough to kick the winning field goal," Van Buren said. And he added, "If I owned the Steelers, I'd have fined Greene $2,000 for getting himself thrown out."
Commerce and reporting are in constant—if sometimes casual—struggle on radio and TV, at least in the area of sport. On the Sunday of the second game of the World Series, Van Patrick was doing the Detroit Lions-Green Bay Packers game over radio station WXYZ in Detroit. His broadcasting partner, Bob Reynolds, came back from a brief visit to the press box and said, over the air, "Van, Jerry Koosman his a no-hitter going into the seventh."
Patrick answered, "Thanks a lot, Bob. We have just lost our audience."
CAMOUFLAGE AND CONCEALMENT
One man's poison is another man's meat. Ten years ago, when the University of Minnesota was struggling through one more dismal losing season, fans were clamoring for the scalp of Murray Warmath, the unlucky head coach. They even dumped garbage on Warmath's lawn.
This year Minnesota fans are furious again—but this time not about a football coach and not because they want someone fired. They are raging instead at Calvin Griffith, owner of the Minnesota Twins, for his dismissal of Manager Billy Martin after Martin had led the Twins to the American League's Western Division championship. Phone calls, some profane, some vulgar, practically all stridently anti-Griffith, have inundated the Metropolitan Stadium switchboard. There have been avalanches of angry letters to newspapers, obscene anti-Griffith buttons, pro-Martin bumper stickers and even a Ballad of Billy Ballyard, as sung by a Minneapolis hippie guitar combo.
Through it all, Murray Warmath has remained serene. His football team, off to a bad year, has yet to win a game (the Gophers lost 34-7 last Saturday to Ohio State), but nobody is talking about Murray at all, let alone dumping garbage on his lawn.
DON'T STAY LOOSE
Dr. James A. Nicholas, team surgeon of the New York Jets, has a theory that human beings are of two physical types: loose and tight. The loose type is more flexible and agile, the tight type is stronger. The loose type is subject to sprained ankles and torn ligaments. The tight type, more resistant, may break a leg before spraining an ankle. On the Jets, according to a report he made to a sports medicine conference of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, there were seven times more ruptures of the knee ligaments among the loose types than the tight types. Joe Namath, for example, is moderately loose, and his three knee operations were predictable.
Dr. Nicholas says his research is still limited, but he holds that people should learn which type they are and either avoid activities for which they are not suited or take necessary precautions. For instance, a loose child who plays basketball should have his ankles wrapped or wear corrective shoes. An extra-loose type should not play basketball at all. (As for Namath, Dr. Nicholas says, "He is a great athlete. He can do what he wants to do with full knowledge of his medical deficiencies.")
There are five tests to determine if you are loose: 1) bend over and touch palms to floor; 2) bend knee the wrong way more than 20 degrees; 3) hold arms out straight with palms up so that the little fingers are higher than the thumbs; 4) turn feet out 90 degrees in the Charlie Chaplin stance: 5) sit comfortably in the lotus position. If you can do these things easily, you're loose, baby.
The doctor thinks that physicians and trainers should develop exercises according to body type in order to improve deficiencies and prevent injuries. He feels that certain traditional exercises are detrimental. For instance, the old duck waddle so popular with football coaches can actually contribute to damage to cartilages in the knee.
END OF AN ERA NOTE
The shotput has been practically an American monopoly since the day back in 1909 when Ralph Rose stunned the world of track and field by putting the iron ball 51' (no one before him had even reached 50 feet). Rose was followed through the years by such stalwarts as Pat McDonald, John Kuck, Leo Sexton, Jack Torrance, Chuck Fonville, Jim Fuchs, Parry O'Brien, Bill Nieder, Dallas Long and Randy Matson—and it was assumed that some beefy young fellow would be along any minute to take up where Matson left off. But now it appears that the long American reign may be over. Six of the top 10 shotputters in the world this year are Germans (five are East Germans). They creamed the U.S. entries in the Europe-vs.-America meet this summer and, while none has threatened Matson's world record (71'5½") or even reached 70 feet, they are taking dead aim on the gold medal—and maybe the silver and bronze, too—at the Munich Olympics in 1972.
MAN, THAT'S RECRUITING
Jim Stangeland, head football coach of California State College at Long Beach, was complaining about Jack Curtice, head coach of the University of California at Santa Barbara, even though Long Beach had beaten Santa Barbara 32-16.
"Jack actually has his quarterback living with him in his own home," Stangeland said. "He and his wife fix all the kid's meals and they loan him the family car any time he asks for it. In fact, Curtice buys the boy all his clothes and pays all his bills, and he has supported him like that for years—long before the kid even entered college."
Before the NCAA begins screeching and tearing its hair in horror, it should be reported that Stangeland spoke with tongue in cheek. Jack Curtice's quarterback at Santa Barbara is his 22-year-old son Jim.
AND SO IT GOES
Here are a couple of cheerful notes from the conservation front. A Department of the Interior report says that water pollution killed more than 15 million fish last year and comments that the death rate is a "macabre reminder that our rivers, lakes and streams are being poisoned by many highly toxic and dangerous substances." There is little encouragement given that water pollution will stop in the near future. Earlier research warned that the continuing practice of dumping raw sewage into the nearest available water could pose an even greater menace than the death of fish. Scientists found in one case that fish caught in polluted waters contained antibodies against human diseases like typhoid fever, dysentery and tuberculosis—though there is no evidence that the diseases could be transmitted to human beings.
Meanwhile, the Detroit Smoked Fish Company has filed a federal court suit challenging the constitutionality of the Food and Drug Administration's temporary ruling on the "safe" level of DDT in fish. The FDA says that five parts of DDT per million is the maximum level permissible, but the fish company contends that this is "unreasonable, arbitrary and confiscatory." The FDA recently seized 800 pounds of Lake Michigan chub that had been shipped by the Detroit firm to Pennsylvania. The fish reportedly contained between six and seven parts per million of DDT.
HIT THEM WHERE THEY ARE NOT
Will nothing be left to us of the world we once knew? Old buildings are torn down to make room for parking lots, lovely fields become housing developments, Bach has been electronicized, and now a man comes along and claims that nobody ever said, "I'd die for dear old Rutgers." Peter Tamony of San Francisco, etymologist and Encyclopaedia Britannica authority on words and phrases, insists that what the storied Frank (Pop) Burns really said, as he was being removed from the field on a stretcher after breaking his leg, was, "I'd die for a drink of water."
The future is bleak. Soon someone will reveal that as Shoeless Joe Jackson left the hearings investigating the Black Sox scandal a ragged urchin cried, "Say, mister, where do I catch the F bus?" And that George Gipp whispered to Knute Rockne, "Tell the boys the Gipper said hello."
France, land of diplomats, is using the direct approach to clamp down on the rowdyism that has been cluttering up Rugby, a major sport in France. First, one player was suspended indefinitely for knocking out an opponent in the first game of the season. Then, after another brawl a week or two ago, the player who started it was kicked out of Rugby for life, a second man was suspended for three weeks and the captain of the offending team was suspended for not being able to control his players. Further, the entire team was put on probation for one full season; if anyone gets out-of-hand again, the team will be ruled off until next autumn.
The National Hockey League might make a note of this.
THEY SAID IT
•Pete Weeks, Memphis State placekicker, on why he was so calm after kicking a 36-yard field goal to beat North Texas State with 36 seconds to play: "Actually, I didn't realize it was so crucial until I had trouble getting back to the bench because of all the players jumping on me."
•Tommy Young, a new basketball coach at The American University, asked if he was optimistic about inheriting nine lettermen from last year's team: "You can't be optimistic. When you're four and 19, and everybody's back, you're in trouble."
•Steve Spurrier, former Florida and current 49er quarterback, on Florida sophomore star John Reaves: "It was all right for him to break all my old records, but I thought he'd do it gradually—not all in one afternoon."