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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
Jimmie (The Greek) Snyder says the odds on the NFL divisional races are as follows: