Hockey is one game that hardly seems in need of speeding up. Nevertheless, the sport last week was awash with plans for streamlining.
In Indianapolis the World Hockey Association decided to experiment with eliminating the center red line during exhibition games this fall. If a majority of the league trustees approves, the WHA will play the season without the line. The change is drastic. It means that a team will be able to pass the puck from behind its own net to a player at the other team's blue line, who then can go man-on-man with the goalie. The new rule, proponents say, will lead to more continuous action since there will be fewer icing calls, and it will encourage the spectacular breakaway play. They claim, too, that it will increase scoring only a mite, but can you imagine Bobby Hull descending on goal with no defensemen to impede him? The guess is that the WHA will decide that too much speed is a dangerous thing.
More workable, it would seem, are two experimental changes adopted in Toronto by the National Hockey League, which is upset that a quarter of its games last season went over three hours. One, designed to discourage stalling by players who fall on the puck around the crease whenever play gets hot, will award a free shot to the opponent when this occurs, with the puck being placed at the faceoff dot on either side of the net. The goalie must remain in the crease and his teammates outside the outer circle until the whistle blows. The shooter cannot pass off and he must keep his stick on the ice, meaning he can get off only a wrist shot. And he had better fire in a hurry. The other side can go all out at the whistle. With the bad angle, not many shooters will score, but the nightmare of rebounds should make a speedster out of the most dilatory goaltender.
The real time-saver, though, is a rule that would permit substitutions only on the fly. Lately, every time the whistle blew, coaches used the opportunity to juggle their lines, matching them with the other team's. No more. Both rules will be tried in exhibition games, and a vote taken on Oct. 1 will decide whether they are for real. Earlier this summer the NHL outlawed visits to the bench by goalies during play stoppages and slapped a two-minute penalty on players who argued penalties. A fast game is growing faster.
The University of Redlands, a small denominational institution outside Los Angeles that has had some fine track and field athletes, is embarking on a unique program. It has hired Chi Cheng, the former holder of six sprint and hurdles world records, and her husband, Vince Reel, to coach men and women. If women can make the grade, they will compete with men in dual meets. Chi Cheng will train the sprinters and hurdlers, her husband the distance runners and weight-persons. Mohinder Gill, a ranking triple jumper from India, will handle the jumpers and, hopefully, the men and women of Redlands the competition.
A SAD LOSS
Last Thursday night Rocky Mount (N.C.) Pitcher Murray Gage-Cole sent a short fly to right. Second Baseman Pablo Cruz of the Salem (Va.) Pirates drifted back to field it while Outfielder Alfredo Edmead came charging in. Just as Cruz made the catch Edmead dived for the ball. Cruz' knee struck him in the head and he crumpled on the field in a pool of blood. On the way to the hospital Alfredo Edmead died from a massive skull fracture. As far as can be determined, the fatality was the first in organized baseball since Cleveland's Ray Chapman was beaned by a Carl Mays pitch in 1920.
Edmead was no ordinary ballplayer. Cruz, 27, had scouted him in their native Santo Domingo and got him to sign for the largest bonus ever given by Pittsburgh to a player from the Dominican Republic. The day before the accident the 18-year-old rookie outfielder had been named to the Class A Carolina League All-Star team. After 119 games, he was batting .319 with seven homers, 59 RBIs and 59 stolen bases. He was not yet a Roberto Clemente, but the promise was there.
DEAR MOM, SEND BONE
The wonder is that no one had thought of the idea before, but it was left to a young New York entrepreneur named Ron de Strulle to discover that there was, if not a gold mine, at least a comfortable living in a camp for dogs. The 24-year-old de Strulle, reports The New York Times, got the idea one day when he had to go out of town and the only places in Manhattan he could find to bunk down his brace of Austrian huskies offered cages filled with lice and fleas. Ergo, Campo Lindo—Spanish for beautiful field—on a 75-acre rented farm in the Catskills 160 miles north of the city.
De Strulle has developed a whole new way of life for dogs. His campers—always called that—are picked up in a white van at the "parents' " house. The cost is $40 a week or $150 a month. For $1 a day extra, campers receive "in-house" treatment, which means they get to sleep at the foot of a counselor's bed. The carefree days are taken up with nature hikes in the woods, dips in a pond on the property and sometimes treasure hunts in which the campers search for buried bones.
A typical day's schedule, posted on a wall, reads: nine a.m., feed and water campers; 9:30, check all campers for fleas and ticks and give each a good scratching; 10, exercise and play period with group activities and training lessons; 11, fresh water; noon, swimming and group activities; two p.m., rest period and fresh water; four, play period and training period; five, dinner and fresh water; 8:30, bed check (campers sleep outdoors in red doghouses) and fresh water; 11:30, final inspection. Sundays there is a barbecue with hot dogs and hamburgers and a campfire, all watched over by de Strulle and nine counselors, mostly high school and college students whose only qualification is that they like dogs.
If this all seems too decadent, says Mr. de Strulle, there is more to come: winter camp, with campers sleeping in the farm's heated barn. "In winter we can give the dogs rides on sleds," de Strulle says. "We also hope to install whirlpool baths."
Saturday ended what must have been one of the rowdiest meetings in Saratoga history. No fewer than 13 jockeys were grounded. There were the customary penalties for rough and careless riding—an area where New York stewards have, rightfully, always been stricter than their colleagues in other states—but not all the action took place on the famous old racing surface or even in the heated-up atmosphere of the jocks' room. Two riders, Sandino Hernandez and Miguel Rujano, were given days for battling one another in the parking lot, and then there was the redoubtable Eddie Belmonte, to whom trouble is no stranger.
Earlier in the year Belmonte whipped out a gun and shot his wife—fortunately not dead—and it look four cops to subdue him. Cleared by the courts, he seemed to take a new lease on life until two weeks ago, when he sallied forth as a shortstop for the jocks against a team of turf writers. The trouble began when Bill Nack of Long Island's Newsday, about twice Belmonte's size, bumped into him on the base path. Belmonte came back like a bushel of red peppers and demanded an apology. Getting none, he held his counsel, if not his temper, until after the game, when he went for Nack with a bat. He got him on the hand and seemed bent on further damage when he was stopped. Not for long, however. Belmonte followed Nack to the parking lot and punched him in the mouth.
For his Nack whacking Belmonte was given 20 days by the stewards, who later amended the punishment to 10 days, ample time, some wits thought, to brush up on his play in the infield. The only person who has had it worse this year than Belmonte or his victims is a brother in Puerto Rico. He shot his wife, too, only he killed her.
VIEW AT THE TOP
Lord Killanin, president of the International Olympic Committee, wrote a letter to President Gerald Ford shortly after he took office, expressing considerable concern that the Amateur Athletic Act (Bill S-3500), proposed by Senator James Pearson and passed in the Senate this summer (SCORECARD, July 22), would run afoul of Olympic Committee rules. He warned, in essence, that if the act became law and the five-man committee it proposes to establish meddled with U.S. sports federations affiliated with governing international bodies, the U.S. could be excluded from all international competition inside and outside the country. The IOC and international federations, wrote Lord Killanin, "always welcome and encourage government assistance to amateur sport...but they would certainly object to government interference with the autonomy of National Sports Federations or National Olympic Committees."
President Ford, who expressed his own strong reservations about the AA Act in this magazine (July 8), reportedly reviewed Lord Killanin's letter with his staff. He has evinced interest in playing a role in resolving the AAU-NCAA impasse, and most likely will take a direct hand in shaping a bill to his taste, something probably along the lines of Bob Mathias' bill in the House that would set up compulsory arbitration. But that may still be a while off. It is doubtful that the AA Act, which was referred to a special Subcommittee on Education, will make it to the floor before this session of Congress plans to wind up on Oct. 15.
Good news from the sea otter, and high time. For some while it appeared that the 59 specimens transplanted in 1969 and 1970 from the Aleutian Islands to the coast of Washington would go the way of their ancestors, who were clubbed almost into extinction by Russian and American sailors during the last century. Most of the sightings after the '69 planting were of dead otters destroyed by rifle fire on the Olympic beaches.
But two weeks ago the Washington Department of Game reported that 13 of the amiable rascals were alive and wallowing between Point Grenville and Cape Alava and, furthermore, that the group included pups, confirming that they are reproducing.
A stiff game law that makes the shooting of any sea mammal a federal offense, with fines of up to $10,000, is credited with saving the sea otter. Now fishermen, who used the excuse that the otters dined on salmon to shoot at them, have finally gotten the smarts. The diet of the omnivorous creatures, which feed in shallow water but have been known to dive 180 feet in pursuit of a morsel, mainly consists of sea urchins, crustaceans, mussels, snails and limpets, with only an incidental amount offish. This is one time a little learning could go a long way.
On hand for the presentation after Drunken Fool won the feature race last week at Cincinnati's River Downs was the 405 Club, an Alcoholics Anonymous group. The message might have been a lot more effective had Drunken Fool come in dead last.
THEY SAID IT
•Lee Corso, Indiana University coach, on a freshman quarterback prospect who did not report for practice because he was making too much money back home: "I've lost guys because I couldn't get them jobs. Now I lose one because I did."
•Billy Cunningham, embroiled in a struggle between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Spirits of St. Louis: "Friday I got sued twice, and I didn't even leave the house. I had the flu."
•Dave Stockton, explaining why he thinks he is a better golfer than when he won the 1970 PGA: "Attitude. It's a lot more fun to walk along and laugh and talk with people than to trudge down the fairway with your head down, looking at the worms."
•Woody Hayes, on President Ford: "He deserves some blocking when he carries the ball. I just hope he keeps it on the ground."