Thursday, October 12, 2006

Old S.I. Review (December 8, 1980)

Decided to go a little bit older for this week's S.I. review. This one's from December 1980. The coverboy was Vince Ferragamo, the disgruntled (at the time) QB of the Rams, in the season after leading L.A. to a Super Bowl loss to the Steelers. Sugar Ray Leonard had just become the welterweight champion of the world, Georgia was ranked #1 in the college football polls, DePaul was the #1 college basketball team in the land & HBO was advertising a brand new concept of "no cut, no commercial" entertainment.

Let's have a look inside...

Booze, Cars & Smokes

The first thing that struck me when I started flipping through this issue, even before any of the sports content, was the ads. And what I couldn't help but notice was that...almost every freaking ad was for a car, booze or cigarettes. And, yeah, you'd kind of expect that I suppose. But I'm talking, you couldn't go three pages without seeing one. So I counted them. And here's the final tally. 15 ads for booze. 10 cigarette ads. 9 for cars. Almost a quarter of the entire magazine was an ad for one of those things.

Scorecard Wrap-up

Lots of good stuff in the Scorecard section in the front of the issue. Some highlights....

-"To tell you the truth, I'm not too thrilled."
-Twins president Calvin Griffith on the prospect of moving into the Metrodome for the 1982 season.

-There's a section on the state of the baseball card market. Here are some of the 1980 quoted prices vs. (in red) current ebay asking prices:

1979 Bob Horner rookie: $2.50 ($2.25)
1979 Willie Wilson rookie: $1.50 ($0.99)
1980 Ricky Henderson rookie: $0.75 ($20-$40 depending on condition)
1975 George Brett rookie: $7 (about $50)
1967 Brooks Robinson: $97 (about $30)

-Described as "the Nevada whiz kid," 19 year-old Greg LeMond got a mention in a bit about the rising fortunes of U.S. cycling. The blurb also claims that Jacques Boyer was set to become the first American to ever ride in the Tour de France in the summer of '81. My question. Is that true? No Americans competed in the Tour de France until 1981?

-Jerry Buss, portrayed as a "celebrated ladies' man," had this to say about the possible effects of pay TV on ticket prices to professional sporting events...

"I think stadiums will eventually become TV studios. Spectators may get in for $1 or so."

You have to admit, Jerry pretty much nailed that one on the head. Ticket prices have definitely gone down in the last 26 years thanks to pay TV.

-"I understand the TV show That's Incredible! has been filming on the USC campus. They shot 12 football players attending class at the same time."
-Washington State hoops coach George Raveling

Ba dum dum! Gotta love a good early 80's zinger. Good work, George.

No mas

The lead story is the Sugar Ray Leonard - Roberto Duran "no mas" fight that tarnished the champ's legacy and re-established Sugar Ray at the top of the boxing world after his '79 loss to Duran. Much is made of Leonard's "fake bolo" punch in the 7th round and Duran's "Latin American machismo," but my favorite part was author William Nack's recap of the pre-fight diets of both fighters (since some claimed stomach cramps, caused by overeating, played a part in Duran's decision to quit). According to Nack, here's what Duran ate on the day of the fight...

Breakfast: Large thermos of consomme, half a thermos of hot tea and an orange.
Lunch: Two T-bone steaks, french fries, four glasses of orange juice, two glasses of water and a glass of tea.
Dinner: Half a steak and tea.

I'm no expert but it does seem like lots of steak and tea was maybe a bad idea before a championship fight. Roberto's camp swore he ate like that before every fight though so who knows?

"Louisville's Living Legend"

My favorite article, by a landslide, was a piece on Utah Jazz rookie guard Darrell "Dr. Dunkenstein" Griffith. Griffith, who would go on to win the Rookie of the Year that season, was hailed for leading Utah to a 13-11 start after a 4-20 start the year before. His game was described as "a little bit of Earl Monroe on David Thompson's legs, with Jerry West's penchant for doing big things late in games."

One highlight for me is the story of Darrell dunking on the Spurs' George Gervin...

Against San Antonio, he helps George Gervin miss 19 of 23 shots, swats two of them away and scores 29 himself. One of his baskets comes on a flying, screaming slam-dunk - the ball triggered from his right ankle - that nearly removes one side of Gervin's face. The play so excites Jazz Guard Billy McKinney that after the game he requests stomach medication.

And another highlight is a story about Griffith dunking over a Belgian player in an exhibition game played in Bulgaria when he was a freshman at Louisville which includes this quote from Griffith regarding his post-game press conference with Eastern bloc reporters...

"I told them it was a God-given talent. That confused them because I don't think they believe in God."

(According to Wikipedia, basically the entire country of Bulgaria are Christians under the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.)

"In your face, Red!"

But the best part of the Griffith article is the utterly misplaced hubris of Jazz announcer Hot Rod Hundley and GM Frank Layden in thinking they had pulled one over on Red Auerbach and the Celts. To wit:

"If you want to name one reason - one reason - why the Jazz are so much better, it's got to be Darrell Griffith," says broadcaster Hot Rod Hundley. "He's great, and I'm the guy who believes there hasn't been a great guard in this league since Oscar, Cousy and West retired. In your face, Red Auerbach!"

(Quick note-Magic Johnson was in his 2nd year in the league at this point. He wasn't a great guard?)

In your face, indeed. The Boston general manager could have had Griffith if he hadn't traded the first pick in the college draft to Golden State for Robert Parish and the Warriors' first-round choice, the third in the draft. Auerbach figured the Warriors would take Purdue's Joe Barry Carroll and that Utah, picking No. 2, would draft Minnesota's Kevin McHale. Cagey Red would then take Griffith. At least this seemed to be what Auerbach wanted when he talked to Jazz General Manager Frank Layden.

"Red kept calling me up, saying, "I know you're going to take McHale. He's terrific. You can't pass up a big center," recalls Layden. "I kept telling him we wanted Griffith, even before Red traded his first pick away. He must have thought I was bluffing. In my wildest dreams I can't see why Boston did not keep the No. 1 choice and take Griffith.

Yeah, you guys really got the better of Red on that one. Parish and McHale never panned out at all.

Ferragamo Quotes

The Ferragamo piece in a nutshell...talented guy having a good season but mad about being underpaid and unappreciated. A few choice quotes from the article...

"Ferragamo throwing the ball is like Mozart working a sheet of music - the performance is classical."

(Looking back, that may have been overstating it a little bit.)

-"I rate myself at the top. I'd like to get paid accordingly. But I'm not writing the check. If they have respect for you, you'll get paid. If things don't work out, we've got Canada or the free agent market."
-Vince on Vince

(And he wasn't kidding about Canada. He ended up signing with Montreal.)

-"I'm like Frankenstein. I've created a monster. Ferragamo believes he's as good as I've been telling him he is. The trouble with Vince is that the last guy who talks to him has his brain. And he hears voices everywhere."
-Vince's former attorney, Paul Caruso

Great Alaskan Strip Joint Review

Finally, in a surprisingly long write-up on the Great Alaska Shootout (won by James Worthy and UNC) is this gem from Louisville's Derek Smith...

When Derek Smith journeyed to Anchorage two years ago with the Louisville Cardinals, he participated in such cross-cultural activities as snowmobiling, dogsledding, ice fishing and bobsledding. "One night we went out looking for hambugers, and I ended up in a striptease joint called The Booby Trap," recalls Smith. "I hope it's not closed; I'm looking forward to going back."

1 comment:

MrSimic said...

Notable from this date: former MNF guest John Lennon was killed, and his death was announced on Monday Night Football.