TIME TO BE FRANK
One theory in the strange, continuing case of Denny McLain suggests that Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn was surprised and hurt by the criticism directed at him after his suspension of McLain last spring. Kuhn, who had a most favorable press through the first year of his reign, was embarrassed then because he appeared to be unaware of McLain's errant ways before the news began to break. His careful, reasoned decision to suspend the pitcher for half a season (a decision approved of by President Nixon, he confided) would, he felt, restore his reputation as a superior administrator. It would be acclaimed as the judgment of a Solomon—not too mild, not too harsh, a punishment that would make clear how serious McLain's fall from grace was but which nonetheless would give that odd young man a merciful chance to salvage his splendid career—and, indeed, his life.
Instead, the decision was laughed at: the punishment did not suit the seriousness of the offense. Kuhn chafed under the scorn of his critics in comparative silence, apparently assuming that time would prove him right. When McLain subsequently doused the two sportswriters with ice water, was suspended by his club and responded with a bitter verbal attack on the club's general manager, Kuhn was shocked. More than that, he was chagrined. How could McLain be so stupid?
To his discredit, the commissioner would not admit his chagrin. He had granted earlier in the summer that he had been "lenient" with McLain, but now, as he suspended the pitcher again, he insisted in an astonishing statement that this punishment had nothing to do with either the earlier suspension or the water-throwing incident in Detroit. Instead, Kuhn attributed it to "new allegations," which he did not disclose, and to reports that McLain had been carrying a gun.
What are the new allegations? Do they really have no connection with McLain's earlier transgressions? Are Denny's differences with the Detroit Tiger management sufficient reason for the commissioner to suspend him? The Detroit News quoted McLain, who does not have a commercial pilot's license, as saying he made money flying people, which would be against FAA regulations. Was this a factor? Is carrying a gun (other ballplayers have been in trouble for carrying guns) in itself that serious an aberration? Was it only a disastrous coincidence that the new allegations and the water-throwing incident erupted at the same time?
Hard to accept, Commish. You're playing games with credibility.
FIRST HE SAID HE WOULD
Another confused young man is Tom McMillen, the 6'11" Pennsylvanian who has been trying since last March to decide which college to bestow his basketball talents upon. In June, despite the well-publicized objections of his mother and father, who wanted him to go to the University of Maryland, he chose North Carolina. That apparently final decision became unstuck, and last week Bill Gibson, basketball coach at the University of Virginia, spent three hopeful days talking to McMillen in his home town. A worried Dean Smith, the North Carolina coach, who was in Europe conducting basketball clinics, phoned McMillen at the beginning of the week and was assured by the boy that he would enroll at Carolina on Friday. Virginia's Gibson, still optimistic, had an appointment for Thursday morning at 10. When he arrived, McMillen had left to matriculate at Maryland, pausing only to wire Smith, "Very very sorry. I'm going to Maryland for reasons you know. Hope you understand."
With the Hawaii Islanders winning their division of the Pacific Coast League and drawing nearly 500,000 fans and sending their manager up to take over the Chicago White Sox, Mayor Frank Fasi of Honolulu feels it's time the major leagues made Hawaii their 25th team. Or, anyway, the 24�th. Fasi thinks one of the big-league clubs on the West Coast should play half its home games in Honolulu. "They ought to consider using two cities as home towns," says Fasi, "playing half their games in one city and half in the other." The mayor has not yet put the idea before anyone in baseball and says he presumes such an arrangement would have to wait until 1973, when the new 50,000-seat Honolulu Stadium is completed. A 50,000-seat stadium—hmmm. Charley Finley is suddenly gazing out at the Pacific, silent (for the moment) upon a peak in Darien. Or Oakland.
Jimmie (The Greek) Snyder says the odds on the NFL divisional races are as follows: