Cal Griffith of the Twins is the only owner in the majors who has always derived his income solely from the operation of his club. Although Griffith has a reputation as a penny pincher, he talks as if he can compete with richer owners and make Minnesota a profitable organization that can support him as well as two brothers, a sister, a son and three nephews who also work for the club.
In the last two years Griffith has lost three of his top players—Bill Campbell, Larry Hisle and Lyman Bostock—in the free-agent draft, and it now looks as if he is going to lose Rod Carew, six-time American League batting champion. Relations with Carew, who doubts Griffith can pay him what he wants when his contract expires this year, have been up and down. Carew has said Griffith would be better off trading him, but Griffith says he is going to try to sign him. Last week Griffith and Twins Manager Gene Mauch, who tried to get out of his contract after last season so he could go to the Angels, had differences about veteran reliever Mike Marshall. Mauch wanted the Twins to sign Marshall after he looked good in a tryout, but Griffith refused, prompting Carew to state he was "going to stick it to Calvin" by playing out his option and then vetoing any trade Griffith proposed. At week's end Griffith reversed himself and announced he would sign Marshall.
It will take more than Marshall to rescue the Twins, now in last place and hurting in attendance. Last week the Minneapolis Tribune offered prizes to readers who come closest to predicting the day the Twins will be eliminated from the AL West pennant race. First prize is two box seats for the final home game. Second prize is four box seats.
Abe Pollin, the owner of the NHL's disappointing Washington Capitals, is promising fans a better hockey team next season, and he's doing that because he hopes to boost season-ticket sales from 4,800 to 10,000. So what else is new? It's this. Anyone who shells out $380 for a ticket to all 40 home games and doesn't like the way the Caps perform can get back 20% of his money, $76, by asking for it at the end of the season. The ticket buyer will be the sole judge of whether or not Pollin has lived up to his promise to deliver a better team. As Pollin has written to fans, "I am prepared to put my money where my mouth is to prove to you that I mean business."
IF AT FIRST
The wonder of the America's Cup is not that the U.S. wins, but that the foreigners keep coming back for more. Last week the New York Yacht Club, the custodian of the cup, announced that a record six challenges have been received for 1980.
France has mounted two. Baron Marcel Bich, the pen tycoon, will be risking more red ink with his fourth try and a new boat, France 3. The other challenge comes from La Sociètè des Règates Rochelaises, whose members doubt Bich can ever succeed. The new group plans to launch Marianne, to be designed by Philippe Briand, who collaborated in building Sweden's Sverige.
Sverige will be back from the Royal Yacht Club in Gothenburg with Pelle Petterson again at the helm. This time, however, Petterson will have more dependable masts; Sverige was dismasted twice during her last campaign. Britain's prestigious Royal Southern Yacht Club is also challenging. Club members include Prince Philip and ex-Prime Minister Edward Heath, although neither is part of the syndicate that will foot the bill.
The perpetually hopeful Australians will mount two challenges. The Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron will be making its sixth. Its first came in 1962 when press lord Sir Frank Packer came closer to winning than any other modern challenger, with Gretel. Naval architect Alan Payne, designer of the esteemed Gretel II, which gave our Intrepid fits in 1970, will build two identical 12-meter yachts to be named Gretel HI and Gretel IV. Most challengers have suffered from a lack of intense American-style pre-cup competition. Evidently the Sydney group intends to minimize that disadvantage by pitting the two new Gretels against each other.
Finally, the Royal Perth Yacht Club will make another challenge. Alan Bond, the man behind the challengers Southern Cross in 1974 and Australia in 1977, is out; another real-estate tycoon, Keith Turner, is putting up the money. Turner, who has no background in yachting, has commissioned a local naval architect to design a boat.
Does your cat have halitosis? Is your dog's bite worse than his bark? A lot of present-day pets have these problems, says Dr. Donald Ross of Houston, a prime mover in the formation of the new American Veterinary Dental Society who routinely does root canal therapy on cats and puts braces on dogs. Dr. Ross got involved in animal dental work 11 years ago when as an Air Force veterinarian he found that a number of German shepherds trained for service duty had trouble with their choppers. Upon leaving the Air Force, he studied at the University of Texas dental school and then opened his practice, specializing in animal dentistry.
Cats get bad breath when food debris gets stuck in their teeth and causes gum diseases. "Soft foods for cats don't provide the exercise or stimulation necessary to keep tissues healthy," says Ross, "and cats can wind up losing their teeth. I prefer to see cats on dry food. We used to think that the teeth of cats and dogs resisted bacterial decay. They do on the crown, but they can get decay lesions under the gum margin, affecting the root structure."
A soft-food diet can also play havoc with a dog's teeth. "It's O.K. to feed a dog a soft diet," Ross says, "but a dog should get hard, chewy foods to go with it." And the soft diet is only one factor. "Genetics are even more of a problem," says Ross. "With the increased popularity of dogs over the last 30 years, we've saved and salvaged a lot of defective genetic material, and so we render dogs susceptible to genetic abnormalities, such as extra teeth. Genetically you can reduce the size of a dog far easier than you can the size of his teeth and, in general, the smaller the breed, the more problems. It's not unusual to see a five-pound poodle with the teeth of a 10-pound dog."
IN THE HOLE
Six years ago the voters of Pontiac, Mich. approved a bond issue for the construction of a $55 million stadium, later named the Silverdome. Its boosters said it would not only house the Detroit Lions, it would also end the suburb's fiscal decline. Now Pontiac is in a financial hole that promises to become deeper. The city will end this fiscal year $3.1 million in debt. Next year the debt is expected to jump to $4.5 million. Pontiac simply does not have sufficient income to run the city and pay the $2 million-a-year interest and principal on the 30-year stadium bonds, and as a result local pols are now talking of belt-tightening and increasing the tax on property owners.
State Representative Dennis Hertel of Detroit, who is seeking to end the state's annual $800,000 subsidy for the Silverdome, says, "A millionaire [William Clay Ford, owner of the Lions] is making a profit while the people of Pontiac and the state of Michigan are getting it in the ear." The Detroit Free Press chortles, "When we ponder all the fuzzy-minded thinking that was involved in the Silver-dome's current financial debacle, we are inclined to think that there is no fundamental explanation except belief in a great myth: that Detroit was going under, major league sports and other big events must go to the suburbs and after that everything would be nifty."
Since announcing that they planned to draft Earl Campbell, the Houston Oilers have sold 5,036 season tickets, upping the total to 36,500, a team record. At an average price of $122 per, the extra tickets will pay for almost half of Campbell's six-year $1.4 million contract. With Campbell's gate appeal, Houston could make up the rest of it on the road, where the Oilers' share is 40% of the gate.
CHANGE OF SEASONS
Indiana University is going to propose to the Big Ten this week that the NCAA abolish spring football practice in exchange for an extra 10 days of preseason work in August with a practice game. The idea comes from Coach Lee Corso, who says, "I brought this up in 1973 and the coaches were unanimous. They all just laughed. I hadn't won enough games to be taken seriously."
But now times have changed, and Corso, who would like to see his plan adopted for 1979, says, "I think if they'd give it a year, they'd see how much good it would do for the game. Spring practices are outmoded and a waste of time. Spring practices came about originally because teams were so big. They had 125 to 150 guys to weed out. Now we've got 63, and about 17 of them are walk-ons. If they give us more time before the actual season with our entire program, we can provide a better product, and isn't that the objective?
"You're not giving up anything. You're just transferring the same amount of practice time to a different time of the year. You would have the same practice routine in the fall as you have in the spring, but you wouldn't have to worry about guys being late for a chem lab. You've got 'em. It would be nothing but me, them and football."
Attention, trivia buffs, here's a new way to waste time creatively, courtesy of Dr. William H.B. Howard, a mild-mannered Baltimore surgeon by day and a closet sportswriter by night, who churns out a weekly column under the pen name of The Road Runner for the Aegis in Bel Air, Md.
Recently, while browsing through The Baseball Encyclopedia, Howard was delighted to note that the 1940 St. Louis Browns had a catcher named Bob Swift and a pitcher named Bill Trotter. Swift-Trotter! Anyone else would have turned off the lights and gone to bed, but the gag inspired Howard to devise a new game of trivia. "The rules are simple," he writes. "Take any major league catcher and pitcher, not necessarily from the same team, and form batteries you would like to see in action." So far, Howard has put together the following combinations:
For furniture lovers, there is Maple-Dresser, Stone-Bench and Foote-Locker. For the medically minded, Blue-Shields, Lansing-Boyle and Bare-Cheek. For the gourmet, French-Frey, Hamm-Berger and Hash-Brown. For the clothes conscious, Long-Johns, Blue-Jeanes and Swett-Pence. For the job conscious, Hogg-Farmer, Wiley-Crooks, Streit-Walker and Trout-Fisher.
Then there's a grab-bag of combinations, such as Grey-Beard, Green-Horne, Bare-Hug, Upp-Towne, Main-Street, Inks-Potts, Swift-Hooker, Crouch-Lowe, Land-Luebber, May-Pole, Mack-Trucks, Wood-Plank, Grasso-Hopper and Gross-Burpo.
As the doctor might say, follow his Golden-Ruel for Bass-Ball and try to fill up a Blank-Page Dooin-Good by tying up Loos-Knotts to show other buffs you're Fuller-Malarkey. Or, to put it simply, get a charge out of your own batteries.
THEY SAID IT
•Brendon Coe, 10-year-old pitcher, when, to promote dental care, Little League officials in Mill Valley, Calif. began serving kumquats, sesame crunch and apple-boysenberry juice at the refreshment stands instead of soft drinks and candy: "Yecch!"
•Labron Harris Jr., PGA tournament official, on the rescheduling of the Bob Hope Desert Classic from February to January: "We think it has a much better chance to be as good as always."
•Darryl Dawkins, Philadelphia 76er center, just before he took a vow of silence with sportswriters: "Nothing means nothing, but it isn't really nothing because nothing is something that isn't."
•Rich Makoff, basketball coach of the Crossroads School in Santa Monica, Calif., on the selection of Donald McCleary, a junior, to a high school All-America team: "He's only five-eleven, but he outjumped guys six feet tall all year long."