SAD DAY IN JAPAN
A serious and depressing scandal has hit baseball in Japan, where it is the national pastime. Masayuki Nagayasu, a pitcher with the Nishitetsu Lions, has been accused by the owner and president of his team of fixing ball games. The pitcher denied the accusation but otherwise said little, declaring, "If I say anything, people won't believe me, so what's the use?"
But the pitcher was linked to hoodlum elements heavily involved with gambling, and he has been charged not only with fixing games himself but with persuading other players to go along. Two of his teammates who supposedly worked with him have turned state's evidence.
No specific instances of fixed games were disclosed (one official said it was impossible to determine the exact number, but "there were several"), yet there was an immediate and unquestioned acceptance of the charges by Japanese fans, probably because gambling on baseball has long been intensive in certain areas. Predictably, after the scandal was revealed spectators jeered and hissed the players and shouted things like "No fixing!" and "Play seriously!"
The threat to baseball's paramount position in the Japanese sporting scene is very real since, like all sports, its dramatic appeal rests on public confidence. As Akiko Santo, movie actress and a baseball fan, said, "Sumo lost popularity because of fixing, and the same thing may happen to baseball."
BIG STEVE AND MEAN GREENE
Steve Van Buren, the best running back in pro football 20 years ago when he played for the Philadelphia Eagles, was talking to Author Myron Cope (SI, Oct. 13 and 20) about modern-day players. The name of Mean Joe Greene, the defensive tackle of the Pittsburgh Steelers, came up and Van Buren said, "He's not only the best rookie tackle I've ever seen—he's the best tackle I've ever seen, period." Cope said, "Well, surely he still has a lot to learn." Van Buren answered, "If he learns anything more, he'll kill somebody."
This, of course, brought up the incident in the Steeler-Giant game a couple of Sundays ago when Greene was thrown out late in the game for clobbering Fran Tarkenton. Van Buren insisted that if Greene had remained in the game the final score would have been 7-7, instead of 10-7, Giants. "The Giants would never have penetrated far enough to kick the winning field goal," Van Buren said. And he added, "If I owned the Steelers, I'd have fined Greene $2,000 for getting himself thrown out."
Commerce and reporting are in constant—if sometimes casual—struggle on radio and TV, at least in the area of sport. On the Sunday of the second game of the World Series, Van Patrick was doing the Detroit Lions- Green Bay Packers game over radio station WXYZ in Detroit. His broadcasting partner, Bob Reynolds, came back from a brief visit to the press box and said, over the air, "Van, Jerry Koosman his a no-hitter going into the seventh."