"The fans are the most important group," Piledggi declares. "We have been kicked around enough. It's about time we take a stand."
People who live near airports have long been tortured by the incessant roar of airplanes, and now the nuisance is so bad that it has even bothered people in Post, a small town out in West Texas, miles and miles from the nearest major airport. David Pierce of the town writes, "During the NBC Game of the Week between the Reds and the Mets at Shea Stadium, my father and I counted 43 planes interrupting the telecast's audio portion while landing at La Guardia Airport. Divided into periods of half innings, the top of the fourth had the honor of being the busiest, with five jets and one prop plane. The top of the second and third innings were the slowest, with one each. I must admit that due to an errand we both had to run for my mother, we missed the bottom of the first."
THE MANY AND THE FEW
The National Basketball Association is on the verge of the new season and there still is a question of how the playoffs will work under the new 17-team alignment. The owners met in Chicago a few months ago and reportedly voted 15-2 to have the first- and second-place teams in each of the league's four divisions meet in the postseason free-for-all. Now it is beginning to appear that there are second thoughts. Some of the owners want the top three teams from each division in the playoffs, meaning that after five months of constant competition only five of the 17 teams would be eliminated. And if you assume that the three new expansion clubs, Cleveland, Buffalo and Portland, are sure-pop to be at the bottom of the standings, only two of the 14 old NBA clubs would be missing at playoff time. Irv Kosloff, owner of the Philadelphia 76ers, says, "I'm in favor of the eight-team playoff, even if it means we miss out. I'll vote for anything that gives the regular season more meaning, and I'll encourage others to do the same. If we aren't first or second after 82 games, it's just too bad."
SPY IN THE SKY
It was straight out of a Harold Lloyd football comedy of the 1920s. When the College All-Stars were practicing for their game with the Kansas City Chiefs they held several secret sessions inside a field house at Northwestern University to prepare surprises that might lead to an upset of the Super Bowl champions. One of the devious maneuvers was an out-of-sight kickoff return in which a running back would receive the kick, run straight up into the center of the blocking wedge, suddenly halt and throw a long lateral pass to the left, where another All-Star would catch the ball and, hopefully, go all the way for a touchdown. In the game itself, after a Kansas City score in the second period, the CIA troops who had been trained in the trick return were sent into action. But Jan Stenerud, the Chiefs' kicking specialist, booted a ground ball that confused things and completely upset the maneuver. Because Stenerud usually kicks the ball into the end zone on the fly, and because it was obviously not an onside kick, it was apparent that the Chiefs were on to the All-Stars' secret weapon.
At a party after the game Walt Corey, one of the All-Star coaches, asked Hank Stram, the Kansas City head coach, how he had learned of the Stars' super undercover plan. Stram, not quite twirling a villain's mustache, said, "Remember the guy who was working up in the scaffolding?" Corey thought at first that Stram was kidding, but then he remembered a workman high in the upper reaches of the building. "I wondered about that guy at the time," he said, "because he wasn't changing light bulbs or anything like that. Sure. How else could they have known about our kickoff?"
THERE'LL ALWAYS BE
The British again seem to be retreating into their favorite national pastime, economic crisis, but individual Britons keep charging ahead. One manufacturing firm is offering disposable sleeping bags that are made of paper, are lined with insulating polystyrene and sell for eight shillings (96�) each. The manufacturer says, with disarming honesty, "Although the bags are showerproof, they would not stand up to a real storm. But we figure that in a real downpour the occupant would move to shelter anyway."
And a chap named Arthur Pedrick, a retired printer, has patented both a winged golf ball and a club with a complex face that forms a pocket around the ball after it is hit. (This keeps the ball from sliding across the club face which, as you know, causes it to slice or hook.)
"I'm a bit of a crank, really," says Pedrick, in another engaging demonstration of British candor. "I used to play golf and I know a bit about aerodynamics. I was frustrated with my slicing and hooking, and I spent a lot of time looking for the damn ball in the rough. It was infuriating." Pedrick doesn't know whether the club is remotely practical, much less legal, and is sure that the winged ball is neither. But he doesn't care. He doesn't play golf anymore, anyway. His real fun nowadays comes from filing wild ideas with the patent office. "I drive them mad," he says.