A TRANQUIL INTERLUDE
The immediate effect of Bowie Kuhn's announcement last week that he was resigning after 14 years as baseball commissioner was to bring the game's 26 usually fractious owners together. Recognizing that his efforts to save his job were doomed, Kuhn decided to spare all concerned further acrimony by stepping aside, a move that brought sighs of relief from the 17 owners who supported him as well as the nine who didn't. Suddenly and blessedly, the owners found themselves speaking with a single voice on these two (count 'em) issues:
1) They unanimously agreed to modernize their procedures so that, in most matters, they'll no longer be voting separately by leagues but by majority rule (although ballots of the 12 National League clubs will be weighted slightly more heavily than those of the 14 American League clubs).
2) Also without dissent, the owners adopted a motion to keep Kuhn in office until Dec. 31 or until a successor is named, whichever comes first.
Those two actions are chronicled here for the sake of posterity. Since only the identity of the commissioner will be changing, not the identities of the fiercely independent owners at whose pleasure he serves, the spirit of unanimity, we promise you, will be shortlived.
THE GREAT KEEL FLAP
The New York Yacht Club has intensified the controversy over the mysterious keel of Australia II, the runaway leader in the trials to select the foreign challenger for the America's Cup, with a letter to the International Yacht Racing Union formally requesting that the boat be remeasured. The letter argues that Australia II wasn't "fairly and equitably" rated when all the Twelves were officially measured before the start of the June trials and thus might not be a legal 12-meter. An irate Alan Bond, head of the Australia II syndicate, replied that he was "amazed at the lengths to which the New York Yacht Club was obviously prepared to go in their endeavours to avoid competing with Australia II."
The determination of what is or isn't a bona fide 12-meter is based on a complicated mathematical equation that takes into account, among other things, length, girth, draft and sail area. In June the IYRU's Measurement Committee, made up of an Englishman, an Australian and an American, measured all 10 of the competing yachts—seven foreign and three American—and certified all of them as Twelves. At Bond's insistence, however, Australia II was measured behind closed doors with armed guards standing watch. Since then, when the boat has been hauled out of the water at night to have its bottom scrubbed, the Aussies have shielded the keel from view.
If Australia II had turned out to be just another boat, the secrecy might have been shrugged off. But Australia II's showing so far in the trials makes it clear she could be a formidable rival to the Americans. In requesting a remeasurement, the New York Yacht Club is within its rights. At the same time, the club, which as holder of the "deed of gift" for the America's Cup has broad powers to set and change the rules for the competition, shouldn't throw its considerable weight around on the matter, as it has sometimes done in past Cup wars. A common correction for boats that are found to exceed the 12-meter rating, one that can be accomplished without chopping hulls to pieces, is a lessening of sail area. Since sails are the engines of a sailboat, this usually means a slower boat. However, it ought to be left up to the IYRU—and the IYRU alone—to determine whether Australia II should be remeasured and, if the boat is found to be misrated, to specify the remedy.
WORSE THAN SPARTAN
The IX Pan American Games are scheduled to begin on Aug. 14 in Caracas, Venezuela. As of Sunday, exactly one week before the opening ceremonies, it was impossible to find a timetable of events or a list of competitors. Officials conceded that electricity and running water would probably be unavailable at some venues. Engineers in Olympic Stadium, site of the track events, were still trying to figure out where to locate finish lines. Meanwhile, in a surprise 11th-hour development, the Pan American Sports Organization took over the games from the Venezuelan government, which earlier had wrested control from local organizers. Terry O'Neil, executive producer of the CBS-TV team that will cover the Pan Am Games, calls arrangements in Caracas "worse than Spartan." Nevertheless, word was that the games would go on.