FOR THE DEFENSE
American League club owners have been roundly criticized for letting Bob Short of the Washington Senators move his moribund franchise to Dallas-Fort Worth. It has been strongly contended that the league should have made Short sell to someone like Joseph Danzansky, the food-store magnate who said he would keep the club in Washington. Or to Bill Veeck, who said his bid to buy the Senators was turned down by Short.
Now Ewing Kauffman, the progressive owner of the Kansas City Royals, has forcefully defended the league's action. Kauffman says Danzansky simply did not have enough money to buy the Senators. He and two associates wanted to put up $2.4 million in cash and arrange a loan of $7 million. From the loan they would pay the balance of the purchase price, meet obligations like the bonus money still due rookie Pete Broberg and the deferred compensation being paid to Frank Howard and, hopefully, have cash for operating expenses. But, says Kauffman, "Danzansky did not have a commitment for a loan. He wanted the league to guarantee the loan first, and then he proposed to go out and negotiate it." In effect, the other teams in the league would be underwriting Danzansky's investment, and few were in a financial position to do so. So they turned Danzansky down. As for Veeck's reported bid, Kauffman says he was not aware of it.
Kauffman adds that he himself urged that the Senators be kept in Washington anyway, with the league taking over the team and operating it. If, in a year's time, a buyer with the financial capability to keep the team in Washington could not be found, then the team could be sold and moved. But it was concluded that the league did not have the financial strength to do this, either. Thus the move to Dallas-Fort Worth, in which Short received an advance of $7.5 million for radio-TV rights over the next decade that allowed him to pay off the massive debts he still had in Washington.
Kauffman says Commissioner Bowie Kuhn imposed silence on the owners about the various negotiations because he thought talk of the proposed loan might embarrass Danzansky. "But," says Kauffman, "in view of public criticism and congressional reaction, I think it is important for the public to know that we did everything possible to keep the Senators in Washington. We did not have a firm offer for the team, and we therefore had no choice but to let Short move."
One final note about the departing Senators. During that tumultuous last game in Washington, which the Senators lost by forfeit when a horde of unruly youngsters poured onto the field in the ninth inning, great swirls of confetti kept floating from the stands. Postgame examination disclosed that the confetti consisted principally of torn-up pages of a paperback book that the Senators' management had given away free to spectators entering the park. The book was My Turn at Bat, Ted Williams' autobiography.
ONCE AND FUTURE
One of the axioms of pro football is that the home team has an automatic three-point advantage. Whoever made that up forgot to tell George Allen, the onetime Chicago Bear assistant who made a big splash as head coach of the Los Angeles Rams and who this year is trying to revitalize the Redskins, Washington's only surviving team. Allen likes to say, "You've got to win on the road if you're going to win it all," and at Los Angeles he put his theory to work with a vengeance. From 1961 through 1965, before Allen, the Rams won only six of their 35 road games. But in Allen's last four seasons in Los Angeles the club had 23 wins away from home against three losses and two ties. Redskin publicity picked up on that this year, pointing out, "No other professional coach in the history of the game has ever won 23 road games in four years."
In Washington, Allen has introduced a new slogan: "The Future Is Now." If you go along with his homilies, this means the Redskins had better start winning on the road; over the past 11 years they averaged only two wins a year in alien corn. This season, under Allen—presto!—victories on the road in St. Louis and New York before last Sunday's upset of the Cowboys in Dallas.
History seems to be repeating itself, you might say. Allen would probably counter with "The future has begun."