The possibility that New York and perhaps other states besides Nevada will permit betting on sports such as baseball, football and basketball sometime within the next few years is at least alive. In what he considers to be the best interest of his game, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle has rushed to protest—to be quickly joined in agreement by the commissioners of other major professional sports. Certainly, it may be true that open Off-Stadium Gambling will convert many innocent fans into suspicious betting zealots, but many of the commissioner's arguments are faulty and even, in one sense, hypocritical.
In the first place, Rozelle says, "It is not characteristic for team sports to be involved with gambling," a gee-whizism that flies in the face of the well-known fact that up to 90% of the money placed with bookmakers in this country is on team games. "There is no way to have controls," Rozelle continues, being pessimistic to suit his own argument. In fact, who is the commissioner to suggest gambling controls for a public that wants to gamble? His business is to guard the integrity of football.
Finally, Rozelle declares: "We are a symbol sport. We have heroes. Any legalized betting would raise suspicion about performance." Surely, there is no doubt that legalized gambling will encourage more people to put their money where their heart is, and many of these sore losers will read conspiracy into every missed field goal. Yet, is it possible to argue that legalized gambing will be any more insidious than illegal gambling? By tacitly aligning himself with the bookmakers, Rozelle establishes a bizarre coalition, rather like the preachers and the bootleggers in many Southern states who have often banded together to maintain the dry liquor laws.
Pro football teams are never bashful about urging governments into using public funds to construct huge stadiums for their use and considerable profit. Rozelle should keep this in mind when weighing arguments that football could be utilized in a manner that will produce revenues for the public.
THE OLD HIGH-FLY TRICK
Has anybody ever been clever enough to pull off this play before in the whole history of baseball? It was devised by Frostburg (Md.) State Coach Robert Wells—write that name down, diamond historians—and his team has successfully worked it three times. Most recently it was used when Frostburg was playing Edinboro in the NAIA district playoffs at Indiana, Pa. In the 12th inning of a tie game the Edinboro runner on first attempted a steal. The Frostburg catcher, Mel Bacon, saw he had no chance to make a play on the base runner. So, according to plan, he caught the pitch and lobbed a simulated infield pop fly. Bacon's teammates on the bench did their part and screamed to the runner to get back to first. Confused, the runner figured it was a pop-up, turned around and retreated. The Frostburg in-fielder who caught Bacon's "pop fly" threw to first, and the rattled runner was tagged out on his way back. Frostburg won 10-9 in the 17th inning.
WOULDN'T THIS BE MORE REALISTIC?
The Seattle Concordes.
JOE SAYS IT AIN'T SO
These continue to be rough times for Joe Frazier outside the ring. His singing tour, a flop in the U.S., sank to new depths in Copenhagen last week when a scheduled music hall performance had to be canceled after only 28 tickets to a 3,000-seat hall were sold. In Philadelphia he has come under considerable criticism from the black community for his implied support of Democratic mayoral candidate Frank Rizzo, a tough law-and-order ex-policeman who won the primary recently with virtually no other black support.
In Stockholm last week Frazier somewhat testily denied either that he had heard any complaints about his pro-Rizzo stand or, indeed, that he had "signed anything" endorsing Rizzo. Said Frazier: "Frank Rizzo and I are friends. As a person and a man I know him. I went to a dinner he had because I promised him I'd go. As far as I'm concerned, he's all right with me, he's treated me like a man, but I didn't endorse him. I didn't endorse anybody. I didn't sign nothing."
The upcoming general election pits Rizzo against Thacher Longstreth, the Republican candidate, who also happens to own a large block of shares in Cloverlay, the management concern that directs Frazier. This cuts no new ice with Frazier, though. He says he definitely will not endorse anybody for the Philadelphia mayoralty because, he adds, "I don't know much about politics."
BARBIE GOES PHYS ED
Who says Barbie is just another dumb blonde who only goes to parties? Barbie has turned into a regular little decathlon champ. You can buy the doll in a plaid golf outfit, in ski and skate ensembles, in a wow little tennis dress and in scuba gear, complete with red fins and a snorkel. You can even buy Barbie now in leotards, with barbells (which, as everybody knows, is not only healthy but adds inches to the bustline). Barbie has a horse now, and a camper and a beach buggy.
In fact, Barbie has gotten so healthy they have had to bring out the new Malibu Barbie, which is Barbie with pink sunglasses, sun-bleached hair and the most fabulous suntan you ever saw. And have no fear. Ken, Francie and Skipper also come in a Malibu shade. And they all have their little beach towels, too. Next year we expect Barbie to have her own surfboard and volleyball net—if she doesn't go to Munich.
SIESTA, POR FAVOR
Perhaps sometime before the Belmont this Saturday, Canonero II's handlers will forget false national pride and scratch the horse. We hope so. He is in bad shape and has been for a week. He has a skin disease, his ankles are burned behind (that is, he has "run down" on Belmont's deep track), and he has been suffering from thrush, a painful fungus infection like athlete's foot, found underneath the frog of the hoof (his right hind one).
If there were not the pressures to run for the greater glory of Venezuela and the greater handle of Belmont, Canonero would have been scratched long ago and saved to race when he is fit. To pretend that he is a miracle horse with recuperative powers to match his heart is a whimsy that can only hurt the colt, and his reputation, and the people—bettors and laymen alike—who have come to love him.
For more than 30 years anglers have been fishing for largemouth bass in the experimental Ridge Lake under the scrutiny of scientists from the Illinois Natural History Survey. Now, according to Dr. George Bennett of the Survey, this concentrated fishing has had an impact on the lake's bass population: the dumber fish have been eliminated, leaving what the doctor calls "a race of supersmart bass." Early last year Dr. Bennett drained the lake, counted all the bass and then returned them alive and well. There were a total of 65 three- to eight-pound bass, and not a single one has been caught since. Says Dr. Bennett, "The large ones are so smart now they don't even look at fishermen's bait."
WHO NEEDS PARIS IN THE SPRING?
The Grand Slam in tennis is dead. It has been constituted of the championships of Australia, France, Great Britain and the U.S., but the field that competed in the French Open the last two weeks lacked so many top players—including Laver, Rosewall, Newcombe, Roche, Okker—that to classify it as a "major" tournament is farcical.
The best players do not want to play in France anymore because the purse is low, the French promoters have been consistently rude to professionals, the tournament drags on for two weeks and the matches—on clay, best of five sets, no tie breakers—are more grueling than elsewhere. Also, the French championships (as well as Wimbledon and Forest Hills) are not included in World Championship Tennis' 20-tournament schedule, where the 32 WCT pros pick up points in an attempt to qualify for a $100,000 November playoff.
Already one of the world's top players has said he probably won't bother to enter the two-week Forest Hills grind, either, and for much the same reasons. Money has taken over tennis in a rush. Before long it will be Wimbledon and 51 Tucson Clay-Court Opens.
A survey of graduates of the University of Pittsburgh business school concludes that men over 6 feet make about 10% more in starting salary than those under 6 feet. The disparity is increasing too; in 1967 tall men started off only 4% ahead of the little fellows. Last year the tallest graduate surveyed had the lowest grades but drew the highest salary. For all those little people who always must ask: the weather has never been better up there.
GATOR AID AND GUM SHY
Science marches on, sometimes forward. In an effort to stop poachers, a team of experts at the University of Florida has perfected a way of identifying alligator skins by means of belly prints. Says Dr. George Cornwell, a professor in wildlife ecology, "We've gone to a number of fingerprint experts, and they think it's foolproof. All prior methods of marking have failed. The usual tattooing and marking techniques either come off or can be forged." Hopefully, the method, whereby gator bellies may be photographed and computerized just like the whorls on human fingers, will cut down considerably on poaching of hides and help establish a multimillion-dollar legitimate alligator farming industry in Florida.
A more dubious technological gift to the sporting world is a so-called "audiodontic" device that will allow people—such as quarterbacks—to receive radio messages through their teeth. The thought that Paul Brown will turn to messenger molars instead of messenger guards is frightful to contemplate. Envision a Cincinnati Bengal scouting report: "Prospect is 6'2", 245, with top lateral speed, five fillings, two caps and one sweet tooth that could even pick up the spotter in the press box."
Remember when the Yankees used to shuttle players to the Kansas City A's as if they were a farm team? The same cozy thing has been going on between the Montreal Canadiens and the expansion Minnesota North Stars since the Stars were granted a franchise in 1967. Thirty-three players have been dealt between the two teams. Besides, Montreal gained rights to Minnesota's first draft choices in 1969, 1970, 1971, and it has the 1972 choice in hand. When Claude LaRose went from the Canadiens to the North Stars and became a genuine West Division All-Star, Minnesota then politely returned him to the Canadiens—much as the A's did in the famous Ralph Terry case.
The analogy does not run deep, though. Whereas the Yankees strip-mined the A's in exchange for players of little or no value, Minnesota has judiciously selected the right Montreal leftovers and used them to build the strongest expansion franchise. Wren Blair, the Minnesota general manager, is not the least bit embarrassed at his dependence on Montreal, and the wholesale trading between the two teams can be expected to continue in the future. Blair says that Sam Pollock, the Montreal general manager, usually calls him when a third club is bidding for one of Montreal's players. If Minnesota wants that player, Pollock offers the Stars an opportunity to come up with a better deal.
THEY SAID IT
•John P. Cowan, newly appointed secretary and deputy commissioner of the Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission, after being informed that he cannot associate with undesirable characters: "There go half my friends."
•Pete Retzlaff, Philadelphia Eagle general manager, searching for Greg Barton, who defected to Canada: "If we do sign him, we're thinking of using him at halftime. That's quite a disappearing act he's got."