YOU'RE THE TOP
A baseball statistic called Runs Produced, which first appeared in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 20 years ago, is based on the premise that runs are what count most in baseball. The figure is arrived at by adding the runs a player scores to the runs he bats in and then subtracting from that amount the number of home runs he hits. Players at or near the top in Runs Produced invariably are the ones who win ball games, those who get on base and score, those who drive other base runners in. For example, last year's Runs Produced leaders were Joe Morgan of Cincinnati in the National League and Fred Lynn of Boston in the American. Not by coincidence, each was voted Most Valuable Player in his league, even though neither finished first in any of the so-called Triple Crown categories—batting average, home runs, runs batted in.
If you are wondering why the Reds are moving away from the pack, or why Texas and Kansas City are running one-two, here are this season's top Run Producers in each league, through games of last Friday:
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]
The bottom line has won out on California's Monterey Peninsula. Macadam cart paths have been laid alongside the fairways of the Pebble Beach Golf Links, one of the five or 10 greatest American golf courses and the site of the 1972 U.S. Open.
Like the other fine old courses, Pebble Beach is an unreproducible combination of unique landscape and inspired architecture, but unlike most of golf's shrines it is operated as part of a profit-making enterprise that includes the Del Monte Lodge and vast real estate holdings. Pebble Beach has shareholders rather than members. Therefore, when the problem of damage to the turf arose, as it always does where golf carts are used and play is heavy, the directors of the corporation chose the path of greatest profit. They retained the golf carts for the sake of their revenue (instead of expanding their caddie program) and installed hard surfaces for them to roll on (instead of, say, decomposed granite) because hard surfaces cost less to maintain.
No matter that hard paths can alter the configuration of a golf shot by causing a ball to ricochet or that they may require drops that can move the ball as much as five club lengths from where it originally came to rest. No matter that the aspect of a hole from its tee is a vital element of the game and was never intended to include a black stripe running up one side.
The deed is done. Perhaps the perpetrators did not understand that they were tampering with a national treasure. As a California observer sputtered the other day, "They had a responsibility that transcended that damn bottom line."
People are forever complaining about rotten shows that TV keeps on the air while it shoots down programs of superior quality. But evidence continues to come along to demonstrate that TV knows what it's doing, however awful that is. Viewers, baby. Ratings. Numbers. For instance, in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago a tasteful telecast of a women's boxing match between Dianne Syverson and Princess Red Star—no, Muhammad Ali hasn't fought either of them yet—boosted ratings on station KCOP substantially and came close to matching the audience for an NBA playoff game on network TV the same night. And you wonder why The Six Million Dollar Man survives.