Met Outfielder Cleon Jones was called a disgrace to baseball after he managed to get arrested for sleeping nude in a van with a woman not his wife on a street in the middle of St. Petersburg, Fla. at 5 a.m. But the man whose behavior in the matter was truly disgraceful was M. Donald Grant, the Mets' general manager.
The indecent exposure charges against Jones were dropped (the police, after all, were the only citizens who bothered to peer into the van), but Grant fined Jones $2,000, four times as much as a Met had ever been assessed before, and then had the temerity to make Jones apologize abjectly in public.
Grant, the picture of self-righteousness, hauled Jones, accompanied by his wife, before a press conference so that Jones could confess his sin. "We have to restore the Mets' image," said Grant, who meanwhile was making quite an image of himself. It seemed appropriate to Grant at one point to tell, in the presence of the chastened Joneses, a story about a man who wanted to have 11 women in one night.
The Joneses should not have been subjected to such treatment. Baseball fans should not have been subjected to such a show. It is now Grant's turn to apologize, if he can do it with dignity.
BUREAUCRACY IN ACTION
This week the spool of red tape goes to the California Interscholastic Federation for allowing a rule to stand that will prevent one of California's best sprinters, Evelyn Ashford of Roseville High School near Sacramento, from competing in the All-State girls' track meet in San Diego next month.
Evelyn, who is 18 and a senior at Roseville, has run the 100 in 10.3, only .3 off the women's world record. Since Roseville does not have a girls' track team, the boys' assistant coach, Don Hicks, invited her to join his team. And that's where the trouble arose. Because she runs with boys, Evelyn is not allowed by the CIF to run against girls, and since her times do not qualify her for the All-State boys' track meet, she is now ineligible to compete for any state high school championship.
There is another Davis, a younger sister, coming along who is said to be even faster than Evelyn. Perhaps by the time she's ready the CIF will be, too.
In Great Britain a person who breaks horses is called a horse "gentler." Henry Blake is a 46-year-old farmer in Wales who, after a lifetime of gentling, has written a book called Talking with Horses. One section is a dictionary of horse English in which Blake has sorted out 47 messages and 57 submessages from snorts, whickers, whinnies, neighs, squeals and screams and a variety of accompanying horsey gestures.
"At first," says Blake, "I concentrated only on the sounds. Then I decided to write down the various messages and work out from observation how a horse conveyed them."
For instance, when a horse rubs you with his nose and whickers gently, or catches your shirt in his mouth and tugs, he is saying "I like you" or "I love you." In fact, according to Blake, horses have 30 different ways of expressing affection, which beats out most humans by at least 25. When two horses meet in a friendly way, "Who are you?" is expressed by a series of sniffs followed by gentle blowing. Harsher blowing means hostility or fear.
Another section of the book is devoted to how to act like a horse. Making a young horse feel secure, says Blake, is accomplished by approaching him slowly, blowing, then gently caressing his side with one's fingertips and, finally, placing one's hand and arm across his back and leaving it there. These movements, he says, simulate the meeting of two horses, their gentle nuzzling and, lastly, the familiar posture when they stand neck over withers.
Like most people who spend their lives near horses, Blake prefers them to humans. "Horses," he says, "are kind, honest, reliable and predictable. None of these virtues are found in human beings."
It was a big week for international displays of bad-tempered tennis. At the British Hardcourt Championships in Bournemouth, Patti Hogan hit a ball over the grandstand roof in anger at a linesman's call. Guillermo Vilas, Argentina's No. 1 player and the tournament's top seed, had to be ordered to finish his opening-round match after protesting a call in the first set. "Our Roger" Taylor, Britain's perennial favorite, walked off the court during a match with Manuel Orantes after three bad calls, and Ilie Nastase was disqualified by head referee Mike Gibson for "persistent arguing" of line calls during his quarterfinal match against Patrick Proisy of France.
Said Nastase, the roaring Rumanian, "I will not accept a bad call no matter how unimportant the point is. We are playing for money these days."
(One imagines Lenin spinning in his tomb.)
The final lecturer at a daylong seminar on sports medicine held at UCLA recently was Mike Marshall, a Ph. D. candidate in kinesiology at Michigan State and, in his other life, the Iron Mike of the Dodgers' pitching staff.
Marshall's topic was "Longitudinal Effects of Adolescent Baseball Throwing Injuries" and his passion was vented at the youth programs that pressure young players into weekly pitching assignments, ever greater speed and breaking pitches.
"Over the past 20 years, by using adult rules in children's baseball programs, we have selectively taken the best arms and ruined them," he said. "There is no way that adolescent injuries can be mended. They are handicaps for life."
If Marshall had his way with Little Leaguers, he would rotate their positions every inning. He would also have them pitch to their own team, with each batter getting only two pitches. That way, Marshall feels, every player would learn control and the mechanics of throwing, and most of the stress would be removed from young arms.
To illustrate his point, Marshall and a fellow Michigan State kinesiologist, Charles Beach, showed X-ray slides of Marshall's elbow and that of a damaged 15-year-old.
"You can see how clean my elbow joint is compared to his garbage dump," fumed Marshall. "This obviously shows that pitching in 106 games last season didn't damage my elbow because I had a good structure to begin with."
Marshall credits his hardy elbow structure to a bank teller in Adrian, Mich. The teller was a standout pitcher on the teams of Marshall's youth and went on to pitch high school, college and a little pro ball before bone chips finally did him in. Thanks to the talented teller, Marshall didn't get around to any real pitching until he was 21.
"And I didn't throw a screwball until I was 24," he says.
EXECUTIVE SWIMMING HOLE
The White House once had a 15' by 50' indoor swimming pool. It was built in 1933 to provide hydrotherapy for Franklin D. Roosevelt with pennies contributed by schoolchildren around the country. In 1969 Richard Nixon had the pool covered over and the space converted into a press room.
Last week, without fanfare, excavation was begun for another White House pool, this one to be 22' by 54' and located on the South Lawn on the site of a mound of earth that was put there by Thomas Jefferson for reasons now lost to history. A swimming pool for President Ford, outdoors but enclosed, was first proposed last fall, but when the cost was estimated at $300,000 he vetoed the project.
This pool, which is supposed to cost $52,417 plus $9,000 for landscaping, will be financed by donations from individuals, none to exceed $1,000, no trade unions or corporations need apply.
"It's not much money when you consider how much we spend on the President's safety," said Assistant Press Secretary Larry Speakes. "And the pool is that important to his health." Ron Nessen added that the pool would be available to future Presidents and their families.
Harvard University has chosen its Class Day speaker. On June 11 in Harvard Yard, Muhammad Ali will address the Class of 1975 on "The Intoxication of Life."
A Penn State physical education professor and former track coach, John Lucas, went for a 12-mile run last Sunday, from University Park over Tussey Mountain to Whipple's Dam Park, about twice the distance of his normal daily outings. Like most serious runners, Dr. Lucas keeps a log, and those dozen miles were special because they brought his lifetime total to 50,000, or, if you like, twice around the earth.
"When I am running on a highway, all I think about is the enemy—those oncoming tractor-trailers," he says. "A half hour passes very quickly when you fear for your life.
"When I run in the woods I just keep my head down and enjoy nature and enjoy the feeling that running gives my body. Indoors is when I think about the speech I have coming up next week, or how I am going to handle a particular problem."
The 50,000 miles began in 1942 when Lucas was a sophomore in high school and broke his leg playing football. It was a serious compound fracture, and while he was in the hospital recuperating he read so many inspirational stories about athletes who had overcome adversity to become champions that he was soon convinced that since he had an adversity to overcome—the broken leg—it followed that he would become a champion. In pursuit of his goal he ran 600 miles that year, 990 when he was a junior and so on. He overcame the adversity all right, but the championships eluded him.
"Persistence is half the battle, but talent is the rest," says Lucas good-naturedly. "You're only as good as your genes and chromosomes. I never had any talent."
Hard to swallow at 15 maybe, or even 25, but at 47, with 50,000 miles in the log, it doesn't seem so sad.
DOWN HOME IN INDIANA
For every decal affixed to the body of an Indy racing machine, some manufacturer has paid dearly. That is how the costly game survives. But on Sunday there is going to be one car in the Indy 500 that will more closely resemble the community bulletin board at your neighborhood A & P than the typical Indy rolling billboard.
Grant King, owner and builder of "The Spirit of Indiana" and an independent, has sold off the surface of his car to anyone who wanted to put a message there. The prices, scaled "to the little guy," range from $20 for approximately 1½ square inches, enough for a name, to $500 for a red star on a big map of Indiana on the nose. The project has been a huge success. Everybody from a class of sixth-graders near Anderson, Ind. to the Paragon Speedway in Bloomington wants on, and so far donations have totaled $15,000.
Just below the left front windshield of The Spirit there is a $250 space that bears the message, "Did you hear the one about the Chinese mechanic and the Polish sponsor?"
"That took up all the room," said Grant King. "I still don't know the punchline."
THEY SAID IT
•Weston W. Adams Jr., president of the Boston Bruins, on why his team is not raising next season's ticket prices: "I think people are paying too much for sports as it is. They know it, but I don't think they think we know it."
•Alex Agase, Purdue football coach, on why he doesn't recruit in California: "Any kid who would leave that wonderful weather is too dumb to play for us."
•Don Brumfield, jockey, when a fan at Keeneland asked him to name a winner: "If I knew what horse would win, I wouldn't be riding. I'd be betting."
•Gordie Howe, asked by a French-Canadian sportswriter if he was bilingual: "All pro athletes are bilingual. They speak English and profanity."