Last week in Los Angeles, Chicken Little took up a new cry—The Olympics are leaving! The Olympics are leaving!—and the International Olympic Committee sat up and took notice.
When the IOC rejected L.A.'s proposal that the 1984 Summer Games be run—and financed—by a group of prominent local businessmen, so that the city would be protected from the sort of financial catastrophe that befell Montreal in 1976, Mayor Tom Bradley had heard enough. He sent a letter to his city council requesting it withdraw its bid to host the Olympics. The council rejected that proposal, but Bradley's action gave hope to would-be Olympic hosts from Munich to Mexico City. Montreal said it would stand pat until it had paid off its $900 million debt, but Detroit, Toronto and Spivey's Corner, N.C. stepped forward. Even New York, which lost out to L.A. in the original bidding, responded to Chicken Little's cry, but when Mets owner M. Donald Grant heard of the plans to redesign Shea Stadium so that it could accommodate track and field events, he threatened to move the Mets to another city.
All this ado notwithstanding, the Olympics will be held in Los Angeles. The IOC is intent on proving that the Games can be run without incurring bankruptcy, and L.A., with its existing facilities and Proposition 13-minded organizers, is the ideal spot to demonstrate such proof. The stumbling block is the IOC's now-infamous Rule 4, which states that the host city must assume financial responsibility for the Games. Los Angeles has refused to subject itself to that risk, and shows no signs of backing off.
So in an elephantine effort both to save face and to keep L.A. as host, the IOC has found a way to get around Rule 4—sort of. "The IOC contract must be with the city," says IOC director Monique Berlioux. "It should assume all responsibilities as far as we are concerned. But if it wants to farm things out to a group of prominent businessmen, we have no objection, if the city authorities are satisfied they are dealing with responsible people. We insist that we deal with the city first, and then we may have a meeting with the citizens group afterward."
At week's end the IOC, USOC and Los Angeles were working together to meet the new contract deadline of Aug. 21. As Mme. Berlioux sweetly put it, "We just want to be nice with Los Angeles."
Cam Cottrell is at it again. After researching baseball's Enshrined Nines (SCORECARD, July 24), he has looked into the truth behind a statement that Giant Pitcher John Montefusco made after the team acquired Vida Blue: "There probably hasn't been a staff in history with three no-hit pitchers on it." Montefusco was, er, Counting himself ('76, San Francisco), Blue ('70, Oakland) and Ed Halicki ('75, San Francisco).
Cottrell went to work and discovered 29 staffs that had three or more no-hit pitchers on them. The Giants led with nine, including the 1912 staff that had four pitchers who had thrown no-hitters: Christy Mathewson, Hooks Wiltse, Red Ames and Jeff Tesreau. The 1972 Oakland A's were the only other team with four no-hit pitchers: Blue, Catfish Hunter ('68, Oakland), Ken Holtzman ('69 and '71, Cubs) and Joe Horlen ('67, White Sox). The staff with the most no-hitters—six—however, was that of the 1951 Cleveland Indians: Bob Feller ('40, '46, '51, Cleveland), Bob Lemon ('48, Cleveland) and Johnny Vander Meer, whose back-to-back no-hit games for Cincinnati in 1938 were a major league first and only.
While this year's Giant staff is certainly an exception, the presence of pitchers who have thrown no-hit games does not necessarily mean a brilliant set of arms. Last year's Yankee staff was the first in their history to qualify for Cottrell's elite list, but Holtzman's, Hunter's and Dock Ellis' ('70, Pittsburgh) combined record of 12-13 can hardly be credited with impelling the Yanks to the world championship. In that respect, however, it is difficult to match the 1965 Red Sox, whose no-hit pitchers—Earl Wilson ('62, Boston), Bill Monbouquette ('62, Boston) and Dave Morehead ('65, Boston)—combined for 50 losses, winning but 33.
Houston Oiler Coach Bum Phillips, that big fella underneath the cowboy hat who's always saying funny things for "They Said It," is now wearing funny things. Two of them. 12-Ds. And they will send more people diving for the fine-tuning knobs on their color TVs this fall than Doc (Let's Try More Electric Blue) Severinsen did in his gaudiest hours.
Phillips' penchant for custom made cowboy boots reached its zenith this summer when he ordered a pair of powder-blue anteater boots from Sanders Bootmakers of El Paso. Each boot is made from the hide of one entire pangolin, or scaly anteater, a species found in Africa and Asia.
In all fairness, Bum doesn't actually select the style of his boots; that's left to Sandy Sanders, who has made 14 pairs for the coach in the past three years and has four more on order, including a pair that will probably be made of badger. Sanders' rule of thumb in selecting the models? "Taste comes first," he says.
The anteater boots are considered the Rolls-Royce of footwear, according to Sanders' sales manager. "They're unmistakable if you're familiar with anteater, whose hide has a diamond-shaped pattern to it. Once you see it, you say, 'Wow, that's anteater! That guy just spent $400 on a pair of boots!' It's kind of a status thing."
Sanders has only two complaints about Bum as a client. He won't try rubber golf cleats on the soles ("That's where I draw the line," says Phillips. "No boots on the golf course") and he wants the toes as pointed as possible. "He won't hear of a more rounded toe," laments Sanders. "But I don't blame him. You can't climb fences real fast with a rounded toe, and someday he's gonna be in a hell of a hurry to get out of the Astrodome."
Or just plain out of sight.
For nearly 10 years Dodger Pitcher Don Sutton has been accused of throwing what has variously been called a cut ball, emery ball or scuff ball and has periodically been subjected to on-the-mound searches, all the while reacting with a comic's sense of humor befitting his amazing resemblance to Harpo Marx. He puckishly conceals notes to the examining umpire in his glove or hat, such as "You're getting warmer." But two weeks ago, after the Dodger ace became the first player in the history of the National League to be ejected from a game for throwing a "defaced" baseball, fun time was over. Sutton, who had been going for his 200th major league win, threatened to sue Umpire Doug Harvey—who had announced his intention to clean up the National League starting with Sutton—Harvey's crew and the league.
Last Tuesday night, after Sutton finally picked up his 200th win, he was off celebrating with his wife and a few close friends, while a group of "Lasorda's Boys"—Sutton is an "Alston Boy"—sat around a table in the hotel bar.
"I think he'll go through with the suit," said Catcher Joe Ferguson. "He's got a very good case." But would the players be willing to testify under oath that Sutton does not throw a scuff ball? "I won't perjure myself. I've seen the sandpaper," said one Dodger, who would never allow his image to be defaced. "Plus they've got three balls as evidence. Any jury could convict him on that."
"But no one has seen him do it," countered Ferguson. "He still has not been caught."
And he is not likely to be. Nor is he likely to sue. The Dodgers do not want anything or anyone rocking the boat, and the publicity resulting from a lawsuit would not benefit Sutton's prospective career in broadcasting.
"I doubt you will see the pitch again this season," says Ferguson. "He doesn't need it, he's such a good pitcher. Everyone has lost sight of that fact." Sutton, who will not admit to tampering with the ball—"although I'd like all the batters to think I do"—agrees. Others are not so sure. "He'll break it out the next time he's in a crucial situation," said Pirate Pitching Coach Larry Sherry, whose team Sutton had beaten that Tuesday.
One salutary thing has come out of the situation. When asked how he could possibly testify under oath that Sutton did not scuff the ball, Tom Lasorda replied, "No comment." Someone had finally found a way to render the Dodger manager speechless.
When a three-inch fish called the snail darter brought a halt to the $116 million Tellico Dam project (SCORECARD, June 26, July 10), it set off a backlash that led to the Senate amending last week what has been an enormously effective piece of legislation: The Endangered Species Act. The amendment, sponsored by Senators John Culver of Iowa and Howard Baker Jr. of Tennessee, provides that under certain circumstances a seven-man committee can vote an endangered species into extinction.
It works like this. If projects that threaten endangered species cannot be modified by consultation, they are reviewed by a committee composed of the Secretaries of the Interior, Army and Agriculture, and the heads of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Council on Environmental Quality, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the governor of the state in which the project is to be initiated. Five of the seven votes are required to authorize the extirpation of a species. While the current heads of the EPA, CEQ and NOAA could be expected to vote in favor of endangered wildlife, thereby forestalling the project, those posts are filled by appointment, and the men who fill them are likely to reflect the views of the President. As Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, one of the Culver-Baker Amendment's opponents, points out, "Historically, we haven't had many Presidents who were great environmentalists: Teddy Roosevelt...the list runs out pretty fast."
The unfortunate thing is not so much that Culver-Baker is bad, as that the original act was better. Of the 5,000 or so cases reviewed in the five-year history of the Endangered Species Act, only three failed to be resolved through consultation. Of those, the courts ruled for the developer in one case, for the snail darter in another, and the third was settled out of court when the project's design was modified. The real strength of the law was the consultation process used in the other 4,997 or so cases, and many conservationists fear that proponents of a project threatening an endangered species will now bargain in bad faith, knowing that the issue will be decided by a committee on which they have sympathizers, not the courts. A number of the senators who voted for the amendment have reservations. "There's no question this is a step backward," says Senator John Chafee of Rhode Island.
Ironically, the TVA's Tellico Dam project, which fueled support for the amendment, has since been considered a lemon. By the admission of the TVA's chairman, even if no one had ever heard of the snail darter, it still would be more economical to redesign Tellico. But the furor had arisen nonetheless. Says Senator Nelson, "The worry was that sometime, somewhere, something endangered was going to halt construction on some project of very great importance to the country. It's what they don't know about that frightens them. Now we're in a position where five men can say how important a particular species is. None of us is qualified to make that judgment."
During the NBA playoffs, the Washington Bullets' Elvin Hayes said of Referee Earl Strom, "Everybody knows he favors the visiting teams." Sure enough, statistics compiled by Philadelphia 76er publicist Harvey Pollack show that Strom was indeed the visitors' best friend. In games he officiated last season, visiting teams won 42.9% of the time, against the league average of 32.4%. On the other hand, in games worked by Bernie Fryer, the visitors won only 19.7%, making him the league's No. 1 "homer."
HE SAID IT
•Ilie Nastase, on why he didn't report the loss of his American Express credit card: "Whoever stole it is spending less money than my wife."