- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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One of the problems that will confront athletes preparing for the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City is the effect of high altitude (7,800 feet) on their performances. This month some effort to analyze the problem is being made in Leadville, Colo., a little mining town which, apart from being the home of the unsinkable Molly Brown, has the distinction of being—at 10,190 feet—the highest incorporated city in North America. For three weeks prior to a June 27 dual meet between Leadville and Lexington (Ky.) high school track teams, athletes from both squads have been undergoing endurance and stamina tests calculated to determine a) how the Leadville boys' hearts and lungs utilize oxygen, and b) if the Lexington boys utilize it differently, whether their ability will change over the acclimatization period in Leadville and, if so, how and how much.
The Leadville experiment is the second half of one started in April, when the Leadville team journeyed to Lexington for a dual meet and was defeated handily. (Actually, say the researchers, the Leadville team is not in the same league with the Lexington boys.) But the meet turned up one unexpected bit of information that has the researchers excited. Although he lost his event, one Leadville trackman broke the "world record" for efficiency in utilizing oxygen, a record set by Don Lash, marathon runner, when he was tested some years ago by the Harvard University fatigue laboratory.
What can simple, unscientific coaches learn from all the experimentation? The Lexington meet suggests that physical capacity of the most critical sort—oxygen utilization—may in fact be less critical than other factors that, put together, make up what is called ability.
THE FACELESS MEN
In the new, briefer and less informative box scores adopted last week by Associated Press and United Press International, the deeds of certain players (pinch hitters, pinch runners) not charged with a time at bat go unmentioned. That does not bother us too much, but two other omissions do. Had this box score been in use in the old days, one never would have heard of Tinker or Evers or Chance, nor would Franklin P. Adams have written Baseball's Sad Lexicon, in which they were immortalized. The new box score simply lists double plays by the number made and ignores who made them. Thus, when T., E. and C. had one of their great days it would have been noted thus: Chicago 3.
Even worse, perhaps, is that umpires' names also go unmentioned. They are now unidentified, unsung and unloved. Well, they have never been sung or loved, one supposes, but they were certainly identified, and rightly. This is a cry for the return of the names of the umps. Let the bums stand up and be counted.
THE TRIUMPH OF WRETCHED MESS
A periodical largely devoted to fishing in Montana, The Wretched Mess News, is published in West Yellowstone, Mont., a town of 300 residents in winter, 8,000 in summer. Its editor is Dave Bascom, who signs his business letters (typed on filling-station washroom towels) with the name of Milford Poltroon. Aside from fishing news, the publication carries frantic advertisements: "Greedy, money-hungry boy wanted to sell Wretched Mess News...." A subscription will set you back $1.50, not too high a price for a paper whose slogan boasts that it is " America's last stronghold of fearless yellow journalism."
One thing The Wretched Mess News can get serious about is conservation. Last January it gave much of its space to an open letter to Montana's Governor Tim Babcock. "The prime example of Montana Fish & Game knotheadedness," it thundered, "is the opening of the famous Madison River to year-round fishing." The Mess took the stand that out-of-state fishermen (about 45,000 a year) came to Montana not just to catch fish, but in hope of catching a big fish. Unless the river was closed in low water and during rainbow and brown spawning season, the only fish in the Madison, it argued, would be like those in streams near New York and San Francisco—"little, naive, innocent plant trout, fresh from the fishcradle."
"Your Fish & Game Commission reasons that if a stream is stocked frequently and heavily, fishing pressures don't matter," the Mess went on. "Of course they're right. A cubic foot of water can support only so much fish—let's say one 5 lb. trout or five 1 lb. trout. Your Fish & Gamebrains feel it makes no difference."