Bob Short, owner of the Texas Rangers, or whatever he plans to call his refurbished Senators when they move from Washington to Dallas-Fort Worth, was refreshingly candid when he termed himself a failure for the way he ran his baseball operation in the nation's capital. He made one superb move when he hired Ted Williams as manager, but otherwise everything Short did was glaringly inept. He made terrible trades (the Denny McLain thing), spent money foolishly ( Curt Flood) and displayed the optimistic naivet� of a gauche owner in trying to achieve instant success on the field with tired old stars instead of building from the bottom with young players, as the Kansas City Royals are doing so brilliantly, and as even the impatient Charlie Finley has done with his A's.
Result: a dying team and a dead franchise. But a dead baseball city? How can you blame Washington fans or visitors to the District for not breaking down the gates of the stadium, particularly since the price scale for tickets to this inept show was the highest in the league? How can you blame radio-TV for not paying premium fees for the privilege of airing a perennial flop?
No, the fault, as Bob Short says, lies with Bob Short.
Lew Alcindor's decision to follow Cassius Clay's lead and change his name is not causing one-tenth the furor and publicity that accompanied the arrival of " Muhammad Ali" in sporting nomenclature. Alcindor, who is changing his name legally ( Ali has not yet done that), expects a Chicago court to make it official in a few weeks, and the Milwaukee Bucks have said they will refer to their big center as Kareem Abdul Jabbar (page 20). The player indicated that he would not be too upset if for a time newspapers continued to refer to him as Alcindor. "I imagine they might parenthesize 'Alcindor' after 'Jabbar' until January or so, when people will be getting used to it," he says.
Jabbar also says that his new religion is not the same as Ali's. He is a traditional Moslem, whereas Ali is a Black Muslim, a newer sect. "I have no right to criticize them," he says, "and if they accomplish good, then I'm all for them. I just want to make it plain that I do not follow what they follow. I want to state what I am and not have it confused with anyone or anything else."
Bob Kap, kicking scout for the Dallas Cowboys—yes, Virginia, some football teams have kicking scouts, just as some have offensive coordinators—says the conventional head-on, or toe-on, place-kicker will soon be as extinct as leather nose guards. Kap is a former soccer coach who has made several trips to Europe searching for kickers, and he may be prejudiced, but he says that, "In three or four years there will be no more American-style kickers in the NFL. All will be soccer kickers. When men kick with the toe, too small a part of the foot makes contact with the ball. The soccer kicker meets the ball with his whole instep, and the ball goes much truer."
You won't convince George Blanda, but four of the five leading placekickers in the American Conference last year were sidewinders. Never mind that football, son. Dig a soccer ball out of the closet and let's go out on the side lawn a while.