Joseph Heller's Catch-22 said there was no way you could win. John McEnroe seems to have come up with the reverse. Last July, you may recall, McEnroe was fined $10,000 (later reduced to $5,000) by the Men's International Professional Tennis Council because of his obstreperous behavior at Wimbledon. McEnroe appealed the decision, and in accordance with its rules the MIPTC set up a three-man panel to decide whether McEnroe should indeed be fined. The panel was selected from a list of about 20 prominent tennis people from around the world. The MIPTC picked one member. McEnroe, as the accused, picked another. Those two selected the third.
The other day the panel handed down its decision. McEnroe was absolved and the fine rescinded. The vote was 2-1 against him.
Against him? Yes. McEnroe's choice, Harry Hopman, once McEnroe's coach, voted for McEnroe. The other two panelists, Bob Kelleher, former USTA president, and Lawrence Krieger, a New York lawyer, voted against him.
Then how come McEnroe won? Because under MIPTC rules, a player's appeal can be denied only if the decision against him is unanimous.
Let's get this straight. You mean, the accused gets to appoint one of his judges, and if that judge votes for him, he can't be found-guilty?
Well, yes. And, no, Lewis Carroll didn't make this up, although he must be gimbling in his wabe because he didn't.
It should be noted that the rule has now been changed. The MIPTC did smell a rat in there somewhere, and henceforth a simple majority will be sufficient.
Too late! John's away! With Alice in Wonderland.
Mike Flanagan, the Baltimore Orioles' pitcher, couldn't reach agreement on a new contract with Hank Peters, the club's general manager, so last week they went to arbitration, in which each party submits a salary figure and the arbitrator picks the one he deems the more reasonable. It turned out that Flanagan asked for a lower salary ($485,000) than the one offered by the Orioles ($500,000), only the second time this has happened since arbitration in its present form became a part of baseball in 1976. The incident, which ended in effect with the arbitration being called off and Flanagan getting the $500,000, probably serves to prove that not all players are greedy. Or that not all clubs are stingy. Or perhaps only that Flanagan and Peters would be pigeons playing poker.