TRAVESTY: PART II
While agents of the Department of Justice move about the American League quizzing team owners, it is becoming clear that opposition to the CBS purchase of the New York Yankees is much more profound than had been expected by those owners and baseball officials who so blandly acquiesced to it. Some National League owners, for example, are known to be bitter about the deal but are reluctant to discuss it on the ground that it is an American League matter.
Perhaps, but it is primarily a baseball matter. The leagues will hold meetings, separately, at World Series time, and the deal is then bound to be topic A. A certain informal interchange of comment between owners in the two organizations may be expected. It may even be possible—one hopes—that some American owners who voted for the deal originally in a hurry-up telephone-telegraph poll will have second thoughts once the opposition has a chance, hitherto denied, to discuss it with them.
Certainly, the opposition has not quit. And, certainly, the National League must be permitted a say about anything that so deeply affects the game. The chances are it will, though it is now being discreet.
"You must remember that this does not become final until November 2," said Roy Hofheinz, owner of the Houston Colt .45s. "So we are going to await developments until after the American League meeting in September."
The right developments would make National League action unnecessary.
If proof is needed that basketball coaches should not be permitted to pick the officials who serve the game, consider what has happened to Charley Eckman and Lou Bello, two of the most able officials in the Southern Conference and, for that matter, in ail basketball. They have been fired, though not officially notified of it. Eckman, more widely known than Bello, had no difficulty in finding a new spot. He just quit the whole college game and went back to the National Basketball Association. Bello is understandably bewildered. Last March he had been considered good enough to be selected by the Southern Conference as its representative referee in the NCAA championships.
It takes a two-thirds vote for the coaches of the Southern Conference to blackball an official, so that at least six of the nine conference coaches must have voted against these two. The votes are confidential, and therefore individual blame cannot be assessed. But it is clearly widespread.
What can be assessed is that college basketball needs to reevaluate its system of choosing officials, who should never be beholden to the teams that control their employment. Professional baseball understands the need for this precaution. Neither Yogi Berra nor Casey Stengel has a say in the selection of umpires in their respective leagues. If they did, they might be much more effective when they stand eyeball to eyeball with an umpire to jaw about a decision. The suspicion is that basketball coaches are quite often effective when they protest a decision. After all, they have the right to hire and fire.