Call it coincidence, but amateur drafts—or at least actions arising from them—are causing hard feelings right now in three sports. In baseball, the Oakland A's No. 1 choice in last month's draft, Juan Bustabad, a 17-year-old shortstop, says A's owner Charley Finley called and offered him a $25,000 bonus and was annoyed when the Miami native turned it down. Bustabad at first claimed that Finley hung up on him but now says the owner did no such thing. At any rate, noting that some players drafted after him have reportedly signed for far more than $25,000, Bustabad says the A's have not improved on Finley's offer and that he will let his name go back into the pool for the winter draft.
In the NFL, six of the top 13 draft choices remain unsigned and some of them are eyeing the Canadian Football League. They include Tom Cousineau, the NFL's No. 1 overall choice, who has not come to terms with the Buffalo Bills and who huddled recently with the Montreal Alouettes. Why the contract hassles? Apparently because of a hardened take-it-or-leave-it posture on the part of owners.
In the NHL, the annual amateur draft will be held Aug. 9, with the eligible age lowered from 20 to 19. Max McNab, the Washington Capital general manager, claims that by including "underage" players, the NHL is defeating the draft's avowed purpose of helping weaker teams. "Usually the bottom 10 clubs are the ones that really benefit from the draft," McNab explains. "This year, with the inclusion of underage players, even the top teams will get good players. In terms of parity, that's bad."
In all three instances, the hard feelings seem to be justified.
BOOT THAT PIGSKIN
The ostrich-skin cowboy boots Coach Bum Phillips wore along the sidelines at Houston Oiler games last season are out and, apparently, so are the ones in powder-blue anteater hide he sometimes sported. Phillips went shopping in El Paso the other day and picked up a pair of boots in gray crocodile skin, another in blue wild turkey hide and three pairs in eelskin—tan, maroon and brown. He says he wishes he had had the crocodile boots to wear during last season's AFC championship game, in which Pittsburgh beat the Oilers in a rainstorm, 34-5. "Crocodiles like water," Bum explains.
The PGA of America will name the U.S. Ryder Cup team after this week's Western Open, and it appears that for the first time since he became eligible for Cup play in 1969, Jack Nicklaus will not make it (see page 20). Points toward selection to the 12-member squad are awarded on the basis of performances in PGA events, and Nicklaus is currently 21st on the list. Unless he wins next month's PGA championship, and with it an automatic spot on the team, he will have to be content with his role as architect. He was retained to renovate the course at the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va., where the match with a British/European side will be played Sept. 14-16.
Nicklaus' successor as the world's leading golfer may also be absent. Tom Watson has lapped the field of Ryder Cup aspirants—Hubert Green is a distant second—but he and his wife Linda are expecting their first child in early September. Tom has made clear his intention of staying home if she hasn't delivered by Sept. 14.
Jerry Pate is likely to be missing, too. He would have amassed enough points to be No. 2, but only members of the PGA of America are eligible, and Pate didn't get around to applying for membership until it was too late. Like Nicklaus, he can make it only by winning the PGA title.