CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds was fined $250 for his part in baseball's great playoff fight. Bud Harrelson of the New York Mets was fined only $100 for his part. An also-ran in the melee, Pedro Borbon of the Reds, got a $150 jolt. Other participants were given a free ride.
All right. That's done and done. But a question remains. Why has Charles Stoneham Feeney, president of the National League, not fined the New York. Met front office, which failed so miserably to control the obscene element among its fans, in the stands during the game as well as on the field after it, despite a previous history of bad behavior? The fight between the players was a minor incident compared to the near riot after the final out of the playoffs.
A new football phrase has originated in the Southwest: a "powder burn" letter-man, a new breed of football player rising from a loophole in the freshman eligibility rule that the NCAA passed in 1972. Players have four years of eligibility, but if a man fails to compete on the varsity as a freshman he has only three seasons of eligibility remaining. What is happening now is that coaches are giving some players game experience as freshmen and then holding them out—redshirting is the old phrase—as sophomores. When they come back to the fray as mature juniors, they still have three seasons of eligibility left. Fifth-year seniors are going to be more commonplace.
The term "powder burn"? Well, that's because the letter-winning freshmen are usually sent into the game in the waning moments and are on the field when the final gun sounds.
THE HAMBO MOVES
The Hambletonian Society voted last week to move its famous trotting race from rural Du Quoin, Ill. to Philadelphia for three years, starting in 1975. Arguments for the move centered primarily on the expectation that more people would attend the race in Philadelphia than in Du Quoin, and that they would be able to bet on the event, as they had not been in Du Quoin.
We believe the Society has made a serious error in judgment. The move destroys the unique rural character of a traditional event, and demeans it by putting it on the auction block to the highest bidder every few years. It lets the commercial imperative override all sporting considerations, joining a trend that has proved ruinous in other areas, and turns a genuine classic event into just another $100,000 race.
Finally, on the personal level, it is indeed a cynical reward to the Hayes family of Du Quoin for many years of devoted effort in presenting the Hambletonian in an appropriate and graceful setting. All in all, this is a distressing episode in the long history of the sport.
DOWN UNDER COMING UP
Just to alert all you America's Cup fans: Australia's challenger for next year's competition off Newport is to the testing stage. The yacht Australis is at Yanchep, a stretch of scrubby beach 35 miles north of Perth on the west coast of the island continent. Australis belongs to 35-year-old Alan Bond, a former Englishman who is now one of Australia's most successful businessmen. Bond made a great deal of money in land, is in the process of gaining control of a big iron-ore mine, and—in partnership with Japan's Tokyu Corporation—is planning a huge holiday resort and retirement village at Yanchep, but at the moment he is concentrating on winning the cup.
Two of the previous Australian challengers, Gretel I and Gretel II, are riding at anchor off Yanchep waiting to race Australis, which was built 2,100 miles away in a windowless shed in Sydney. The boat was shipped across the continent wrapped in aluminum foil to, well, foil infrared cameras wielded by spies in the employ of either the U.S., the perennial cup holder, or France, another challenger.
Bond, who has carpeting on both the floor and ceiling of his office in Perth, is leaving as little as possible to chance. He has an Olympic gold-medal yachtsman on his staff, as well as the skipper of Gretel II. And he is planning to take a lawyer along to the races at Newport next summer, along with a videotape camera to provide pictorial evidence of the inevitable protests. You may recall the disputes when Gretel II raced. These Australians never quit.
THE CSONKA TAPES
People have been picking on pro football lately the way they used to nag big-league baseball—and maybe they have a point. After a recent Miami Dolphin game, Fullback Larry Csonka complained, "They tell me I'm subject to a $500 fine—or at least the club is—if I have tape on my shoes that is not the same color as the shoes or the uniform." Apparently, it's true. If a player tightens the fit of a shoe with white adhesive tape, the trainer has to give it a squirt of paint to keep it in tune with the times. The new ruling is one more concession to television, part of a general clean-up edict that frowns on bad-image things like loose chin straps, hanging shirttails, and so on.
"Damn it," said Csonka, "I need tape on my shoes to help my feet. Who cares what color it is? Today I went out on the field and then I had to go back to the sidelines and get my tape sprayed. How I look doesn't matter. If you get 40 players who look good and can't play, what good are they?
"All this kid stuff is starting to interfere with my concentration. It seems to me that some of the rules we have now must have been made by someone far away from the game."
Tearing down goalposts is fun for victorious fans but an expense and a nuisance for the teams, especially when the posts go down before a game is over. Even metal goalposts, which have replaced wood in many places, are destroyed. This season Stanford University tried STP on its posts, the idea being that a fan grabbing an STP'd goalpost would have no more success than Rocky Marciano did when Andy Granatelli challenged him to pick up a slicked screwdriver in that old TV commercial.
ONE TWO THREE FOUR
Bill van Breda Kolff, the genial, even-tempered coach of the American Basketball Association's Memphis Tams, was tagged with four technical fouls in one game last week. When you consider that two technicals mean automatic dismissal from the arena, you realize that this was no mean feat. How did van Breda Kolff do it? He incurred the first one more or less routinely for becoming, as he said afterward, "a little excited." Later, possibly depressed by the game, which Memphis was losing big to San Diego, he withdrew to a seat in the stands beyond the Tams' basket.
"I was just sitting there minding my own business," he complained, but Referee Jess Kersey, citing an ABA rule that says a coach must remain "in the vicinity" of his team's bench, called another technical and ejected him from the court. Van Breda Kolff was slow to eject. He stalked out of the stands, went to the press section, asked for a rule book and sat on the press table while he thumbed through it, muttering, "Where does it say where I have to be?" The second official, Referee Ed Rush, told the timekeeper to set the time-out clock at 20 seconds. "Every 20 seconds he's still here is another technical," the referee declared. Twenty seconds passed as V.B.K. thumbed and muttered, and Rush gave him the third technical.
Finally, the coach left for the dressing room, just as a San Diego player took the first of the free throws his club had been awarded because of van Breda Kolff's behavior. The shot missed, and the ball caromed directly to the departing coach. Instead of ignoring the ball or simply tossing it back to the foul line, van Breda Kolff took the ball and with great dignity marched across the floor, bowed deeply and presented it to the referee. Bingo! No. 4.
There is an automatic fine of $50 for the first technical, but the bite jumps to $100 for the second and to $150 for the third and subsequent offenses, which means that van Breda Kolff's evening of fun cost him $450. It was one of the most impressive performances by a Memphis Tarn this season.
Grambling, the Louisiana college that fields such fine football teams and sends so many superior players to the pros, is the biggest name in black football. If you want proof, go check with the folks at Houston's Astrodome, where Grambling recently played Texas Southern. As a competitive show it did not seem much of an attraction; Texas Southern had only two victories in 1973 and Grambling had won the last seven games between the two schools. Yet paid attendance was 53,859, the largest ever to see a football game in the Astrodome and the third largest crowd ever (56,000 saw Sandy Koufax pitch his last major league game there in 1966, and 60,000 assembled in 1965 for a Billy Graham religious crusade). Texas Southern upset Grambling 35-21, but gross receipts were more than $300,000. Grambling publicity man Collie Nicholson said, "Coach Eddie Robinson admitted it was good business, losing, but he said he didn't want it to happen too often."
THE KING IS DEAD, ETC.
When last we left Gustav Th√∂ni, it was spring and that handsome, acrobatic Italian had become world ski champion for a record third straight year. And now that winter and a new racing season are nigh, the safest early prediction seems to be that there is no way, but none, that Th√∂ni can repeat. World Cup commissioners have fixed all that. In fact, if one were a reckless handicapper, one might say that this is the year an American could win the title.
Such hopeful talk is plainly far out, but the revised World Cup scoring system was deliberately rigged to stop Th√∂ni—or any racer who persists in specializing. Despite the fact that the Italian's three consecutive titles eclipsed records set by Jean-Claude Killy (1967-68) and Karl Schranz (1969-70), commissioners felt that Th√∂ni was not a true champ. Where Killy and Karli had excelled in all Alpine disciplines, slalom, giant slalom and downhill, Th√∂ni entered few downhills the last two seasons and didn't score a single World Cup point in that event last year. Th√∂ni ran up his tally in the slaloms, where his dramatic, swiveling style is a joy to behold.
But the new rule, called the "weekend double," provides that if a racer scores points in both a downhill and a slalom in the same weekend meet (the top 10 finishers are scored), his point total will be doubled. Thus, a skier who could hammer out, say, a second in downhill (20 points) could still finish as far back as 10th in slalom (one point) and have his points doubled to 42.
The new rule favors, among others, Bob Cochran, now the top-ranked American in all three events. Cochran has an impressive eighth seed in downhill, is a solid fourth in slalom and 25th in giant slalom. Thus he could win it all by doing well in downhills and simply keeping Th√∂ni in sight on the slaloms.
So much for the men. With the women racers, all bets are off as long as Austrian supergirl Annemarie Proell wants to race. Proell falls down a lot in slalom, but she is tough in giant slalom and absolutely out of sight in downhill, winning every race last season. Weekend doubles or not, nobody beats Annemarie.
THEY SAID IT
•Lamar Hunt, owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, after a three-game sequence in which Kansas City lost two and tied one game: "They keep saying balance is a great thing for pro football, but I wonder if I'm going to like it."
•Mark Donohue, 1972 Indianapolis 500 winner, on why he is retiring in the face of offers to go into Formula I Grand Prix competition: "I'll be 37 next year, and I'd be 40 before I could hope to win regularly in that game. I'm not saying I'm an old man, but time ran out on me."
•Barry Switzer, Oklahoma coach, asked why a certain player had left school: "It was like a heart transplant. We tried to implant college in him, but his head rejected it."