"Boat speed" is a term America's Cup yachtsmen have been using a lot this summer. When a sailor says this 12-meter has more "boat speed" than that one, he seems to imply something more complicated than that one boat goes faster than another, although it is not clear exactly what. Last week The New York Times was explaining why the Giants had cut Lineman Al Simpson. He may have been too slow, but you couldn't be sure. The reason Simpson was let go, the Times reported, was that he lacked "foot speed." At this rate, horses may soon be winning races with "hoof speed" and pitchers will soon be striking out batters with "ball speed." Hey, it might even replace "velocity."
The city of Los Angeles has released a survey showing that 70% of those interviewed in L.A. County favor holding the 1984 Olympics there. A survey to measure local support, or the lack of it, is required by the U.S. Olympic Committee, as a result of the rejection of the 1976 Winter Olympics by Denver voters. But the L.A. survey revealed taxpayers are concerned. If city and county funds are needed to put on the Games, only 35% of those interviewed want them.
The lively baseball may be even livelier than SI's tests indicated (June 13). According to Robert H. Kingsley of the Kingsley Baseball Service in Rockville, Md., home-run production in the major leagues through Sept. 9 was up a whopping 51% over last season. The American League's is higher (55.5%) than the National's (46.5%). The former not only has two expansion teams, but also their parks, the Kingdome in Seattle and Exhibition Stadium in Toronto, are relatively conducive to homers. In contrast to last year, the National League now has three parks that are tougher—Olympic Stadium in Montreal, the Astrodome, which has moved back its fences, and Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis, where the temporary center-field fence was removed.
Last year 2,235 homers were hit in the majors, an average of 93.1 per team. Kingsley calculates that by the end of the season the team average will be 138, which is just dandy for him. Some years ago he figured out that a team average of 135 homers would be "best for baseball from all points of view." Says Kingsley, "We are happy to see the home run come back to its rightful place."
ROYAL AND BROYLES
What happens to former college football coaches when a new season begins? In the case of Darrell Royal of Texas and Frank Broyles of Arkansas, both of whom retired after last season, they were able to get a good night's sleep before last Saturday's opening games.
Broyles, who is the athletic director at Arkansas, spent Saturday playing nine holes of golf and then attended a fashion show with his wife Barbara. That evening in Fayetteville, the Broyles and their twin daughters, who are freshmen at Arkansas, watched the Razorbacks wallop New Mexico State 53-10. It was the first time in 30 years that Broyles and his wife saw a game together in which they had a real rooting interest. Says Broyles of the day, "It was like a spring game—when you want everything to go right, but don't have to make any decisions."
Over in Austin, Royal was surprised to find himself "really keyed up" about the game with Boston College when he awoke at 7:30 on Saturday. The athletic director at Texas, Royal went to his office in Memorial Stadium to pick up some tickets and ran into Fred Akers, his successor as coach. "His jaws were real tight," says Royal. "I know the feeling." After attending a reception for House Speaker Tip O'Neill, a Boston College alumnus, Royal went to his press-box seat in the stadium, and there his anxiety vanished as Texas built a 23-0 halftime lead. "They've got a good passing game going," he said. "They're looking great." Royal was also impressed by the Texas band. "I've always said the Longhorn band was outstanding, but I said it largely on blind faith. Now, after seeing them at halftime, I know it's true."
O.K., folks, get ready. Southern California has come up with a new fad. Or rather revived an old one. It's roller skating, using skates with polyurethane wheels just like those that revived skateboarding. But unlike skateboarding, which is dominated by kids, roller skating attracts everyone from toddlers to grandparents who just like it for relaxation.
The place for roller skaters is Ocean Front Walk, an asphalt promenade in Venice. From dawn to dusk and even later on nights when there is a full moon, hundreds of skaters roll along. The rage to skate began last year after Jeff Rosenberg, a bearded 23-year-old, chucked his job in a used-clothes store in Hollywood, bought 20 pairs of skates and headed for Venice, where he rented them from a van. "In two months things were going so good I opened my store," he says. The store is called Cheapskates, and Rosenberg rents skates for $1 an hour (75¢ on Sundays) and sells new ones for $69.50 a pair. Another store, the Venice Precision Roller Works, has opened two blocks away. A couple of gypsy renters work out of vans, and there are other rental operators along the 19 miles between Santa Monica and Redondo Beach.
IN THE MIDDLE
When the NCAA put the University of Nevada, Las Vegas on probation for two years for alleged violations in its highly successful basketball program, it ordered the school to take disciplinary action against Coach Jerry Tarkanian or face further penalties (SCORECARD, Sept. 5). Last week Las Vegas suspended Tarkanian from his job as coach, reluctantly, according to campus talk. But with the NCAA looking over its shoulder, the university had little choice. Moreover, Las Vegas hopes to join the Western Athletic Conference in 1979, and if the NCAA were to extend the probationary period, Las Vegas' chances would be zilch.
No sooner had the university acted than Tarkanian, claiming that his constitutional right to due process had been violated, went into Clark County District Court, where he won a temporary restraining order prohibiting his suspension. Next week the court will hear his request for a permanent injunction. Tarkanian's case is directed against Las Vegas, but his real target is the NCAA. In his suit he charges that it used improper investigative tactics and disregarded an investigation by the Nevada Attorney General's office that concluded he was not guilty of the alleged NCAA violations. Tarkanian also maintains that NCAA investigator David Berst conducted a campaign to discredit him, and that Berst "offered and intimidated several parties into giving 'right' answers to questions which would help bury Tarkanian and the UNLV program." Tarkanian also contends that Berst and the NCAA have been out to "get" him since he left Long Beach State in the wake of recruiting violations there that resulted in NCAA probation for that school.
Whatever the merits of Tarkanian's charges, they have made Las Vegas a strange bedfellow of the NCAA. "We are now in the position of having to accept the NCAA findings as facts," says Las Vegas President Donald Baepler. "We are now going to pursue this case [opposing Tarkanian] vigorously through the courts."
Shepherd Mead, who wrote the best-selling How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, has a new book entitled How to Succeed in Tennis Without Really Trying. The contents do not exactly agree with the title. Mead advises the reader to run at least three miles a day, do 20 minutes of calisthenics, practice half an hour on the backboard and play at least two hours.
Old books on dogs are undergoing a boom. Ten years ago there were two out-of-print-book sellers in the U.S. who specialized in dogs; now there are a dozen. The boom undoubtedly reflects the increased registration of purebred dogs by the American Kennel Club during the last decade. According to Carol Butcher, a bookseller in Youngstown, Ohio, interest is especially strong in books about Newfoundlands, bull terriers, borzois, Irish setters, Great Pyrenees, mastiffs and bull mastiffs.
Nevin E. Lyon, who sells dog books, paintings, prints and bronzes in North Hollywood, Calif., has noted the strong interest in the borzoi. A very fine copy of Observations on Borzoi by Joseph B. Thomas that was published in the U.S. in 1912 sells for $50 to $75, while one of Lord George Scott and Sir John Middleton's The Labrador Dog, Its Home and History, London, 1936, fetches (get it, retriever buffs?) $125 or more. "People who are seriously involved in their dogs are going back into history," says Lyon. "Yes, this is very much the Roots kind of thing, although this began before Roots. Everyone wants to know the history of his breed, to be able to say that his dog was known in the days of the pharaohs."
But not every dog is having its day. Mrs. Butcher reports that "Books on poodles, boxers and Boston terriers do not move," probably because so many books have been written about these breeds, and Lyon notes a swift decline of interest in books about the golden retriever, with President Ford out of office.
The most costly books are English. A very fine copy of Vero Shaw's Illustrated Book of the Dog, published in London in 1881, goes for about $400. Ten years ago a similar copy would have sold for $150. Edward Ash's two-volume study, Dogs: Their History and Development, London, 1927, brings $175 to $275 depending on condition, and Hutchinson's Dog Encyclopedia, three volumes, London, 1935-37, goes for between $350 and $400. Don't be fooled by Frank Forester's The Dog, first published in the U.S. in 1857. Unless it is a superb copy of the first edition, which may be of interest to a Forester fan, the book is worth $12.50 at best. It is, well, a dog.
Every morning a U.S. Postal Service truck drops off hundreds of old tennis shoes at a building in San Jose, Calif. The building is not a Salvation Army depot but the headquarters of Tred 2, an unusual company that started with an investment of $37 in 1972 and now grosses $6 million annually.
Tred 2 is the brainchild of Rory Fuerst, who was thinking of going into the fast-food business until he happened to notice how many people were wearing tennis shoes in need of new soles. He gathered up some old tennis shoes and used his mother's oven to heat the soles to 375° so he could remove them. When the odor permeated the substantial family residence, Fuerst took over a guesthouse and used infrared lamps to loosen the soles from the shoes, which he had hung on ski poles. When he ran an ad in a tennis magazine, 1,900 old shoes poured in, and he founded Tred 2.
Today, the privately held company, which also makes its own line of footwear, is prepared to resole any brand of tennis or athletic shoes at a cost of $13 a pair. More than 100 employees work a four-day week on a computer-controlled assembly line handling up to 600 pairs of resoles daily. The computer keeps track of a customer's shoes from the moment they arrive until they are repacked fully repaired several weeks later. A first-time customer gets a new pair of socks free. There is a big repeat business because people just love their old tennis shoes. So far, one customer has had his resoled nine times.
THEY SAID IT
•Don Zimmer, Red Sox manager, asked why he arrives at Fenway Park as early as 1:30 p.m. for a 7:30 game: "I want to make sure nobody's in my uniform."
•Lee Rose, basketball coach at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte: "I would like to deny the statement that I think basketball is a matter of life and death. I feel it's much more important than that."
•Bill Lee, Red Sox pitcher who wears No. 37, asked about Detroit Tiger Pitcher Mark Fidrych, who wears No. 20: "We're on a first-number basis. He calls me 3 and I call him 2."