THE MURDOCH CASE
NHL President John Ziegler's suspension of New York Ranger Forward Don Murdoch (SCORECARD, Aug. 7) was warranted. Given the nature of the drug involved (cocaine) and its appeal to many young NHL fans, Ziegler had no choice but to take a strong stand or run the risk of condoning drug use by players through his silence. As we are all aware, fines and suspensions are as much public-relations devices as they are disciplinary actions.
What bugs me—scares me—is that SI could make a passing statement—"The use of cocaine is fairly widespread among young professional athletes." You also state that possession of cocaine is a "victimless crime." From the most simplistic of views, that is true. But it is not true from any other viewpoint.
CHARLES P. PATE
I find John Ziegler's decision to suspend Don Murdoch for at least half of next season very ironic. In the past, NHL officials have pleaded to people like Ontario Attorney General Roy McMurtry that the NHL should police itself. Now Ziegler steps in and punishes Murdoch for an act that has nothing to do with the NHL. I'm afraid Ziegler has blown it again.
I was impressed by SI's candid analysis of the controversy surrounding Don Murdoch and John Ziegler. As a Canadian citizen, Murdoch has a responsibility to obey the laws of his country or suffer the consequences. As a player in the NHL, he is also subject to a number of rules and regulations regarding his on-ice behavior. But it is inconceivable that the NHL, and specifically Ziegler, should be allowed to act as both judge and jury in an incident completely unrelated to the sport of hockey.
What is particularly distressing about this matter is that the player representatives have unanimously supported Ziegler's verdict, thus blocking Murdoch's only route of appeal. By upholding Murdoch's suspension they have permitted the NHL to judge—and, in essence, to dictate—a player's life-style.
Coming on the heels of SI's investigation of the effects of money on sports (July 17 et seq.), Pete Rose's 44-game hitting streak (Doing Much...and Much Ado, Aug. 7) was immensely satisfying in its simplicity, its sincerity and its implications. I am positive that the money Rose makes is mere gravy to Pete. This sportsman gets his meat and potatoes on the ball field—as it should be.
For six weeks I lived and died with Pete Rose. I read the papers every day and marveled at what a battler he is. Then what happens? The streak ends and he says he can't believe Atlanta's Gene Garber pitched him like it was the seventh game of the World Series (SCORECARD, Aug. 14). How sad that the best thing to happen in baseball this year, by a class guy, ended in an unclassy way.
Pete Rose is one heck of a ballplayer, but he is also a jerk.
JOHN J. GRIMES
Thanks to Curry Kirkpatrick for the amusing piece on Bill Lee of the Red Sox (In an Orbit All His Own, Aug. 7). No wonder Lee considers the Cincinnati Reds a "drill team." They "drilled" him out of the box in the final game of the 1975 World Series. Even Taiwanese Little Leaguers could have hit the bloopers he was throwing.
Bill Lee gives us what we want when we go to the ball park: fun. During the break between games of a recent doubleheader in Cleveland, in which the Red Sox swept the Indians, the Spaceman drew the appreciative roars of many of the 42,000 fans by hitting towering fly balls to himself in the outfield and then catching them behind his back and while sliding on the grass. We Tribe fans are starving, but that was enjoyable.