LET'S SHOOT POLITICIANS, TOO
We live in an era when entrepreneurs of professional sports like to elongate their seasons to the point of both conflict and boredom. One of the newest schemes is that of New Jersey politicians who want to stretch the thoroughbred season at the state's three tracks—Garden State, Monmouth and Atlantic City—to bring the year's total racing dates to 300, which virtually amounts to year-round racing.
If the proposal is passed it will, of course, be fine for the track operators, the state treasury, bookmakers and a handful of successful bettors, owners, trainers and jockeys. What it will do for overworked racehorses is something else again. Horsemen tend, often against their better judgment, to race their horses if the opportunity is there. The more that horses run (particularly the slowly maturing two-year-olds) the less likely they are to develop the durability so necessary at three or four.
Over-racing of young stock is one reason why the handicap division is more depleted annually. A few years ago Southern California, which needed them badly, was granted additional racing days and its two major tracks, Santa Anita and Hollywood Park, used them beneficially; many of the dates were used to build up the handicap division to a point where Santa Anita could offer such a star-studded handicap as last week's mile-and-three-quarters San Juan Capistrano. Eastern horsemen, with year-round targets to aim at in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and in New England outposts, do not need any more racing dates. And certainly not at Garden State, Monmouth or Atlantic City, no matter what the operators and the politicians say.
The Dallas Cowboys and Houston Oilers got together for a little game of basketball in Houston one night last week. Some of the results:
•Seventy fouls were called.
•Six players fouled out.
•Three more players were ejected for fighting.
•Ron Widby of the Cowboys spent the night in a hospital with a broken nose.
•Teammate Walt Garrison had his eye blackened.
•Another Cowboy, Dennis Homan, suffered a groin injury.
•Houston won 86-84.
•The Cowboys did not show up for a second game scheduled to be played in Freeport the following night.
JOGGING ON THE GRASS, ALAS
President Nixon's crusade for law and order in the District of Columbia, noble in motive, is beginning to show results. Not so much in the way of curbing mugging, but it is having a noticeable effect on jogging.
Take the case of Jerry Wright, a San Francisco lawyer and notorious jogger. He has written for The Runner's World (formerly Distance Running News) an account of a serious confrontation with the law he had while brazenly jogging in Washington during a law conference he attended there.
"After passing the White House [note the cheeky insolence involved here] I went into the park area...and was enjoying running on the large grassy area," he wrote. "I approached Constitution Avenue, which cuts this grassy area in half. When traffic had completely cleared I crossed the avenue and made my way several hundred yards more up to the Washington Monument. At this time I heard the roar of a motorcycle behind and a gruff voice saying, 'Hey, buddy, come on over here.' It was a member of the elite park police of Washington, D.C."
The cop, writing a ticket for jaywalking, learned that Wright was from San Francisco and, says Wright, "with concealed glee, said, 'We're going to take you in.' " Not one but two patrol cars arrived to escort the miscreant to a police station, where he was told that bail would be $5. In a T shirt and running shorts, Wright had no money on him. Two patrolmen escorted him to court in a Black Maria. There he was put into a holding cell.
In due course, court opened and Wright pleaded guilty. He had, after all, been caught in the act. A lenient judge imposed neither fine nor sentence. But Wright had no taxi fare back to his hotel. He couldn't very well jog. A fellow attorney lent him a couple of dollars.
SO MUCH FOR TEACHER
Before a recent exhibition game in Florida, Ted Williams was lecturing his Senator infielders on how essential it is to grip the ball across the seams when they throw it in order to prevent its taking off. Ted noticed Bill Mazeroski of the Pirates standing nearby. Pointing to him, Ted said, "Here's one of the greatest second basemen in history. He'll tell you how necessary it is to grip the ball properly. Maz, how do you grip the ball?"
Replied Mazeroski, "Any way I can grab it," thereby ending the instruction.
EVALUATION OF A CHAMP
The practice of bringing up young prizefighters by matching them against has-beens and never-will-bes in the early stages of their development is universal. It can be defended as necessary to give a young boxer self-confidence and a chance to learn the skills of a professional. It can also be carried too far.
José Manuel Ibar, now known simply as Urtain, once lifted a rock weighing 188 kilograms (413.6 pounds) and thus became a champion of this Spanish Basque sport. Last Friday night in Madrid, in the biggest heist of his 20-month boxing career, Urtain continued his meteoric climb through mediocrity by knocking out Peter Weiland, a bald, pudgy West German, and became the European heavyweight champion.
Though Urtain floored Weiland in each of the first three rounds before stopping him in the seventh, the German never seemed any more shaky than he had been when he climbed into the ring. Lifting rocks gave Urtain admirable muscular development across the shoulders but this seems to have made it impossible for him to throw a right—his best punch—without drawing his arm far back. This leaves his already suspect chin open to a left hand. But Weiland, a southpaw, never seized the opportunity. Once, in the third round, Weiland slapped Urtain's face and then, looking apologetic, backed into a corner, where he meekly took a couple of punches and fell down. Weiland never did follow up an opportunity and in the seventh, after taking a flurry of punches, backed to the ropes, sat on the bottom strand, took the count of ten, then jumped lightly to his feet.
For his first fight, at a San Sebastian soccer field, Urtain drew a crowd of 20,000. He has been selling out bullrings ever since. Spain is not a wealthy country, but ringside tickets to the Weiland fight cost $100. Now it would appear that Urtain may be as big a hero as El Cordobés.
But not to all. The greatest Basque heavyweight in history, Paulino Uzcudun, 37 years ago held the title Urtain now has. Asked what he thought of his campesino, he made a telltale face, then added a diplomatic "So-so."
HOW TO MAKE CHESS POPULAR
Vernon Parton, a 72-year-old retired schoolteacher of Liverpool, England, has written a booklet called Challenge and Delight of Chessical and Decimal, which tells how to play 14 chess games Mr. Parton has invented. He uses ordinary chessmen (with some imaginative additions) and a chessboard made up of a hundred squares in place of the standard 64-square board.
His games suggest an eerie combination of the art of ancient war, from which chess derives, and modern psychological, scientific and guerrilla warfare. In what he calls Chimaera Chess, there are two new chessmen whose strength is the power of illusion. Along with the traditional king, queen, bishops, knights and rooks, there are two chimaera—Parton calls them monsters—on each side. They move like the queen, but they cannot capture anything. On the other hand, they cannot be captured. But when they range up to a hostile piece which they would be able to capture (if they could capture anything) that enemy piece must move to the space the monster occupied while the monster merely takes over the space it vacated. The possibilities of drawing away the king's protection in pursuit of the chimaera are obvious. (Aren't they?)
Then there is Chess Tweedle, in which both players have two kings and two queens. And Gorgona Chess, named for the Greek monster that petrified victims by its gaze. (A gorgon cannot capture anything, either, but when it bears directly on an enemy piece that piece cannot move.) Mr. Parton presents his new chess games modestly as "a kind of relaxation" and says he believes that chess players of any degree of skill can readily master them. He seems to have overestimated the powers of concentration of ordinary chess players in that respect, but his book nevertheless accomplishes something long thought to be impossible. Try playing over his games, and plain old-fashioned chess seems easy.
ASKING FOR TROUBLE
By order of Sean O'Geary, officer of the World Marbles Board of Control, women are barred from the world championships at Tinsley Green, England.
"They look ridiculous when they crouch," O'Geary explained somberly and judiciously. "Miniskirts are a disaster for marbles. Even in trousers or maxiskirts their bottoms are not suitable for the game. And we couldn't limit the championships to women with size-34 hips or less."
You'll be hearing from the Women's Liberation Movement, O'Geary.
THE EQUAL OPEN
Young golfers on the pro tour have been grousing that the Palmers, Caspers and Beards enjoy advantages not available to younger, less affluent players. They can, for instance, afford to hire a full-time caddie to do everything from checking each golf course in advance to driving the car from city to city. Gene Sarazen says, "They have a good gripe." PGA Commissioner Joe Dey is listening to the complaints. And, during the Greensboro Open, Bert Yancey sat down to write out his thoughts on the matter:
"There seems to be a group of younger players on the tour who would be the first entries in a tournament I shall call the Equal Open. This tournament would be held sometime in the not-too-distant future on a glass-covered golf course so there would be no effects of wind and rain. There would be no qualifying for this tournament, so everyone can play. Each person would play by himself at the same hour using the same caddie.
"It will be necessary to arrive at this tournament by walking from a previously determined site, at which all players will be billeted for a period of two weeks to get over the effects of driving aches from a 1959 car and earaches from cabin pressure of Lear jets.
"All players will be required to eat the same foods for this period of two weeks and will not be allowed to do any additional exercises they may wish to do on their own. Practice will be limited to one hour a day. Once play has begun, with all players using the same clubs and balls, galleries will be required to clap only for shots within two feet of the cup and putts holed over 40 feet."
As for the Equal Open's prize money, the way Yancey sees it everyone will get the same amount.
THEY SAID IT
•Alex Karras, Detroit Lions tackle who was once suspended for an entire season for betting, dourly on Denny McLain's half-season suspension for a book-making try: "I must have been a bad, bad boy in 1963. What's this mean, anyway? If you can win 40 games can you kill somebody?"
•Bob Lanier Sr., more than moderately gratified by his son's $1,200,000 contract with the Detroit Pistons: "It's nice to have a million-dollar baby."
•Bill Kilmer, New Orleans quarterback, on being at first flattered by a "Kilmer for Mayor" sign in the stands: "Then I realized the mayor is the only person in New Orleans who is booed more than me."