THE CLEAN AIR ACT, REBORN
On Monday, George Bush finally took a decisive stride toward defining his administration's stance on the environment. On the crucial issue of air quality, he aligned himself with those who say cleaner air is vital and against those who claim that the cleanup—which the EPA estimates will cost $14 billion to $19 billion annually—is too expensive.
Bush said that "over the last decade we have not come far enough" in cutting air pollution. He's right. The Clean Air Act has not been amended in 12 years. Bush's predecessor, Ronald Reagan, stalled efforts to update the landmark 1970 antipollution law. Heeding the recommendations of EPA administrator William Reilly, Bush will send to Congress proposals including the following:
•A 10-million-ton yearly reduction in acid-rain-causing sulfur dioxide emissions from power plants, which currently spew 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide a year, by the year 2000.
•An order for Detroit to start manufacturing one million methanol- or ethanol-fueled cars a year by 1996. As part of his plan to reduce urban smog, the President also wants 40% tighter limits on tail-pipe emissions.
•The use of the "best available" control technology by U.S. industry to reduce the annual emission of 2.7 million pounds of toxic chemicals, many of which are carcinogenic.
Some environmentalists wanted Bush to call for more. Environmental organizations have asked for specific limits on toxic-chemical emissions, and some hoped for an annual maximum of eight million tons on sulfur dioxide. But others in industry and government wanted Bush to propose far less. They've lost this round.
SALE: ONE THIRD OFF!
After Easy Goer's impressive Belmont victory last Saturday, a vendor trying to unload a pile of suddenly devalued Sunday Silence Triple Crown T-shirts was heard shouting at departing spectators, "Two out of three ain't bad!"
Moving is said to be one of life's most traumatic experiences. Let us marvel, then, at the health and happiness of Baltimore Oriole first base coach Johnny Oates, who has moved more than 50 times—he has lost exact count—in his 23 years in professional baseball. "At school the teacher asks about the San Diego Zoo, and one of my kids will say, 'I've been there,' " says Oates, a former catcher. "[The teacher] asks about the Statue of Liberty, and my kid says, 'I've been there.' Disneyland? 'I've been there.' "
The peripatetic Oates, 43, has shuttled back and forth between six major league and six minor league teams as a player, coach and manager. He, his wife of 22 years, Gloria, and their children, Lori, 17, Andy, 13, and Jenny, 10, reside in Chicago but are thinking of moving back to a former home in Colonial Heights, Va. "About the only place we haven't lived for [at least] four or five months is the Northwest," says Oates, who has been with the Orioles, Braves, Phillies, Dodgers, Yankees and Cubs.
The Oateses' greatest concern has been their children, and they have often hired tutors for the kids while sojourning at spring training. "But it's tough to make up a biology lab with a tutor," says Oates. "How do you make up for cutting open a frog?" Lori, who spent time in six different school systems between third grade and eighth, has no complaints. As she recently told her father, "Dad, I think living in one place would be boring."
THE OREGON PLAN
In what may prove to be a landmark step in the nationwide movement toward legalized sports betting, Oregon lottery director Jim Davey will propose to his state's lottery commission later this month that Oregon introduce a pro football lottery in September. Every week during the NFL season the state would sell tickets, each listing 14 games, for $1 apiece. A lottery player would win money if he beat the state's official point spread on four or more games. Davey's office estimates that the football lottery, which has a good chance of commission approval, would net between $3.5 and $9 million in the first year. The state's regular lottery generates more than $60 million in net annual revenue.
Wagering on sports other than dog and horse racing and jai alai is illegal in every state except Nevada. But like other forms of gambling—including lotteries, which are now legal in 32 states and the District of Columbia—sports betting is thriving. Gaming and Wagering Business magazine estimates that Americans illegally bet $19.2 billion on sporting events in 1987. Gaming and Wagering copublisher Bruce Smith says legalized sports wagering has become a hot topic among state officials. "It's going to happen in various forms," says Smith.
The Oregon proposal is being closely watched not only by other states—"Once one state breaks down, everyone will start getting into the act," says Arnold Wexler, executive director of New Jersey's Council on Compulsive Gambling—but also by the NFL, which has opposed any form of legalized betting on pro football. "It would change the complexion of the game," says league spokesman Jim Heffernan. "You could have fans rooting against the home team for the sake of their bets." In the mid-1970s, when Delaware tried a pro football lottery similar to the one under consideration in Oregon, the NFL sued to stop it but was unsuccessful. Delaware dropped the game voluntarily after one season because, among other factors, it wasn't generating enough revenue.
Wexler, a former compulsive gambler, sees a social cost in encouraging sports gambling by legalizing it. His organization has found that as opportunities to gamble multiply, so do the number of gambling addicts. Indeed, as more and more states have approved pari-mutuel betting and lotteries, calls to compulsive-gambling hotlines have rapidly increased.
Proponents of the Oregon football lottery maintain that it would be a mere game of chance, not true sports betting. Presumably to satisfy an Oregon law that bars the state from sponsoring any form of gambling in which skill is required, they claim—rather preposterously—that because each NFL game on the lottery ticket would be handicapped by an oddsmaker, football expertise would be of no help in selecting winners.
By Oregon law, all lottery proceeds must be used to promote economic development in the state, but a bill now under consideration in the legislature would earmark some of the revenue from a football lottery to help fund athletic programs at Oregon's seven state colleges and universities.
Regardless of what happens in Oregon, legalized sports betting will almost surely become widespread in the near future. And the NFL, other leagues, and organizations like Wexler's would be wise to prepare for the consequences.
Former members of the Williams College swimming team recently held a reunion, at which they wore T-shirts bearing this message: THE OLDER WE GET...THE FASTER WE WERE.
RETURN TO GLORY
On June 11, 1955, a Mercedes 300 SLR that was driven by Pierre Levegh of France plowed into the crowd at Le Mans, killing 83 spectators in the worst accident in auto racing history. Mercedes-Benz, which until then had been a powerful presence in the sport, immediately ended its involvement in racing.
Last weekend Mercedes-Benz cars raced the 24 hours of Le Mans for the first time since that accident and finished first, second and fifth. The victorious car, which covered 3,271 miles and was driven by Jochen Mass and Manuel Reuter of West Germany and Stanley Dickens of Sweden, outlasted favored Porsches and Jaguars to win by five laps of the 8.41-mile circuit—more than 40 miles.
The three Mercedes entries ran as part of a joint venture with the Swiss-based Sauber Racing team. But with sales down slightly in the past year, Mercedes will surely take full public credit for its Le Mans success. As if primed for an advertising campaign, its three cars were all painted silver, the traditional German racing color, and bore few commercial markings other than the familiar three-pointed Mercedes star.
A STAMP OF GREATNESS
For the fourth time in its history, the U.S. Postal Service has issued a stamp commemorating a major league baseball player. The Lou Gehrig stamp, designed by artist Bart Forbes, was dedicated by Postmaster General Anthony Frank in Cooperstown, N.Y., last Saturday during the 50th-anniversary ceremonies at the Baseball Hall of Fame. Past stamps have honored Jackie Robinson (1982), Babe Ruth ('83) and Roberto Clemente ('84).
Gehrig seems an apt subject for a philatelic tribute. In playing in a record 2,130 consecutive games, the Yankee first baseman delivered through rain, heat and gloom of—well, night games were rare in his day. Gehrig would have been taken aback, of course, by the 25-cent denomination of his stamp. When he retired in 1939, postage for a letter was three cents.
As a player, Gehrig couldn't be licked.
THEY SAID IT
•Joe Torre, balding California Angels announcer, on his carefully combed hairstyle: "I call it the Watergate. I cover up everything I can."
•Rocky Bridges, manager of the minor league Salem (Va.) Buccaneers baseball team, when asked by a waiter if he wanted escargots—snails—as an appetizer: "I prefer fast food."