The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on December 9, 1976 · Page 177
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 177

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Thursday, December 9, 1976
Page 177
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Garo Rebounds From Kicking Misery ,m. V y , lb i ic Chuck Otterson Sports Writer MIAMI Last week was one of the most miserable in Garo Yepremian's life. "All week Twas embarrassed because of my performance at Cleveland," the Miami Dolphins' veteran placekicker said. "Every time I went shopping I was afraid people would give me funny looks." He didn't get any funny looks, but he still felt miserable. "The people have been so great to me," the 32-year-old Yepremian said. "Instead of giving me funny looks, they were asking me for autographs. "But I really felt bad. I felt like I had let everybody down." Yepremian's miserable week really lasted almost two weeks. It began about midnight Nov. 22, with 12 seconds remaining in the Dolphins' game with the Baltimore Colts at the Orange Bowl. Benny Malone had just dived across the goal line from three yards out to pull Miami within a point of the Colts at 17-16. All the Dolphins needed was an extra point to send the game into overtime. And Yepremian hadn't missed a conversion attempt all season. But, as someone once said, all good things must come to an end. Baltimore's Mike Barnes, a defensive tackle from the University of Miami, blocked Yepremian's kick and the Colts won. "I hit it pretty good but if it doesn't go through, I guess it wasn't good enough," Yepremian said after the game. "It's a bad feeling when you lose a game like that. Everybody's worked so hard and all you have to do is go out and kick an extra point and you don't make it. "I'm very disappointed." But every kicker has one blocked once in a while. Head coach Don Shula and the rest of the Dolphins figured the 5-foot-8, 175-pound Yepremian would redeem himself the following Sunday against the Browns at Cleveland. Turn to OTTERSON, D2 Garo Yepremian . . . rough times The Palm Beach Post Clipboard, D8 Spor S k D THURSDAY, DECEMBER 9, 1976 SECTION Finley Takes Rip at Commissioner Oakland Owner Says He's Ruined k vm.v 'Baseball has no leadership and that's why we are in the predicament we are in today. There is one individual who calls himself the commissioner of baseball who has single-handedly destroyed the Oakland baseball club and potentially destroyed baseball in its entirety.' Charles 0. Finley those players who became free agents at the end of the season," he said. "Had I been able to do that, the Oakland A's would have been a stronger ball club than they ever were." Finley said at last half the teams in the major leagues, if not more, are fighting for survival. He included himself in that group. "Baseball has no leadership and that's why we are in the predicament we are in today," he said. "There is one individual who calls himself the commissioner of baseball who has single-handedly destroyed the Oakland . baseball club and potentially destroyed baseball in its entirety." Inasmuch as his case against Kuhn now is in the process of adjudication, Finley said it would be improper for him to answer any questions regarding those proceedings. But he added he was "enthusiastic of our chances of winning that decision." "Right at this moment I'd like to say I do not blame the players at all for the money they are receiving," the A's owner said. "If I were one of the players, I'd do the same thing. There are two things wrong with baseball today. One, there's no leadership; and two, is the stupidity on the part of the owners. "The handwriting is on the wall. There's going to be a day of reckoning and that day is not tomorrow, it was yesterday and today." Finley said there is talk now of the government regulating all sports. Ironically, he made his comment as a House select committee in Washington is on the verge of recommending to Congress that baseball's anti-trust exemptions be eliminated. Turn to FINLEY, D2 LOS ANGELES (UPI) In calm, cold, unemotional tones, Charles 0. Finley pointedly accused Commissioner Bowie Kuhn yesterday of providing baseball with "no leadership" and destroying his once world champion Oakland A's. He also said his fellow owners were destroying the game because of their profligate reckless spending on free-agent ball players. Finley was never more articulate in his 17 years in baseball as he addressed a room packed to capacity with newsmen covering the winter baseball meetings. "As much as I love the game of baseball," Finley said, "I simply can't hack it. What I'm thinking of doing now is going public." Finley didn't hide a thing. He astonished his listeners by providing them with a detailed breakdown on the salary figures of all six of his Oakland players he has lost this year because they played out their options. The six he lost were Sal Bando, Joe Rudi, Don Baylor, Gene Tenace, Rollie Fingers and Bert Campaneris. Finley, whose case against Kuhn comes up in federal court in Chicago next week over whether or not the commissioner had any right to keep him from selling Vida Blue, Rudi and Fingers for $3.5 million early last season, defended his aborted sale of those players by explaining he only was attempting to sell them so he could actually improve his club. "My plans at the time were to take that $3.5 million and position myself to be able to buy the contracts of l&lw" ' 'V. , ...Aid i niMfi'r vm Jrhmm AP Wiriphoto Del Rio Has Winning Flair mmammmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmammmmmmfm'mm$r 1 mm wn urn m mm i 11 i f - - 3. ' ( ' '-A V- , ' ' ' "Quickness is most important, and Del Rio is very quick. "His style comes to him naturally. He's also one of the quickest thinkers you'll see. He has that sixth sense which allows him to know when his opponent is going one way so he can throw the pelota (Spanish for "ball") the other way." Del Rio, the third of four children, has managed to get home each year, but he still grows homesick now and then. He's a bachelor, although Elordi quickly points out, "maybe not for long." Del Rio simply smiles at that. "The season is long and I like to relax as much as possible," Del Rio said. "I think I have adjusted to the American way of life pretty well. I like to watch TV and go to the movies. "The people here have been very good to me, so right now, all I'm thinking about is play-, ing jai-alai." According to his manager, Del Rio's popularity extends to the other players on the 44-man roster. "Del Rio gets along very well with the other players," Elordi said. "They respect him and you never, never see him complain about a call. Plus, he is very steady. He does not easily get depressed." The depression belongs primarily to those who must face Del Rio and his repertoire of shots. ciate his efforts, both vocally and at the pari-mutuel windows. However, Del Rio's aggressiveness on the court does not carry over into self -evaluation. '"Yes, my style is very aggressive and I'm always looking to make the point," Del Rio said. "I do not know how good I can be, I just try to do my best each time. "But, yes, I hear the crowd. It's always good to hear the cheers, and you learn to live with the boos." Pedro Elordi, the players' manager at West Palm Beach for the last eight years, realizes Del Rio is potentially one of the game's finest players. "Del Rio has all the potential to be one of the really good ones," Elordi said. "He still has time to learn, he's healthy and he's strong. How far he goes is up to him. "He came over here as a young kid, but in his second year he started showing up real good. He's proved he can do a lot of things, and yes, he's a crowd pleaser." Del Rio finished first in singles victories and second in overall wins in the recently completed season at Newport, R.I. He's a front-court player because "I'm too small to play the backcourt." Del Rio's lack of size hasn't held him back, though. "Size doesn't mean that much," Elordi said. Related Story, Bl By JOE HART Pott Sports Writer Jesus Del Rio says it's in his blood. If that's the case, more than a few jai-alai players may be asking him for a transfusion before too many more seasons go by. At 5-foot-5 and 150 pounds, Del Rio hardly appears to be one of the game's most dynamic personalities. But anyone who has seen him perform at the West Palm Beach Fronton knows one thing: This shy, quiet man of 22 plays the game with a flair few players can match. "My father says it (jai-alai) is in my blood," Del Rio said yesterday afternoon before one of his final practice sessions in preparation for the season's opening session at 7:30 tonight. Del Rio has been playing professionally for seven years, but he's far from your average jai-alai player. He's from the Zaragoza region ol Spain. The majority of players are from the Basque region, which has four provinces in Spain and three in France. Del Rio's game is distinguished by his natural tendency to go for "winners" whenever possible. The word "conservative" is not in his vocabulary, and the crowds always seems to appre Stall Photo By Gtorg fttdding Del Rio Displays His Powerful Return . . ."in ii Tri m Oakland's Propriety Seems As Apparent as Its Pride 3 .ymn l ' consciously gone through the motions for a limited television audience. But under the national glare of the Monday night game, the Raiders have no place to hide. They did not dare go through the motions not after all the whispers, not with the pro football public and their peers, including the Steelers, watching every block and tackle. Subconsciously at least, the Raiders had - been conned by the Steelers into adding propriety to their motto. Not that the Steelers will necessarily meet the Raiders in another AFC championship game. On the premise that the Steelers and the Baltimore Colts will win their final regular-season games this weekend, they would collide at Baltimore in the first round of the playoffs while the Raiders go against the New England Patriots in Oakland. "The Steelers and the Colts," Al Davis has said. "That's like the Russians and the Chinese fightin'." If the Steelers and the Raiders survive, they will meet in Oakland on Dec. 26 for the AFC title and a trip to the Super Bowl game in Pasadena, Calif., next month. The Steelers want to become the first team to win the Super Bowl three consecutive years. The Raiders hope to win the Super Bowl for the first time. Among the Raiders eager for a game with the Steelers is George Atkinson, the strongside safety. "To be the champs," George Atkinson was saying Monday night, "you got to beat the champs." Atkinson already has sued the champs. He has filed a $3 million slander and libel suit against the Steelers and their coach, Chuck Noll, and The Oakland Tribune. Noll was quoted as having said that Atkinson leveled Lynn Swann, the Steelers' wide receiver, "with intent to maim" when the Raiders won the season opener, 31-28. Noll also linked Atkinson with a "criminal element" in pro football. Turn to RAIDERS, D2 By DAVE ANDERSON (c) Now York Timti OAKLAND Ever since Al Davis took command of the Oakland Raiders' organization, their motto has been "pride and poise." Add propriety. Throughout the National Football League in recent weeks, cynics, including some employed by the Pittsburgh Steelers, had wondered about the Raiders' propriety. The theory was that the Raiders, perhaps subconsciously, would surrender to the temptation of eliminating the Steelers, their recent postseason executioners, from the American Conference playoffs by losing to the Cincinnati Bongals Monday night. Not even the district attorney would have been alarmed because the Raiders have a history of losing enough big games on merit to be above suspicion. Only once have the Raiders qualified for the Super Bowl game and they lost. Since then, they also have lost the AFC championship game six times, twice to the Steelers in the last two years. No grand jury could possibly indict the Raiders for losing a big game. But with the Steelers conning the Raiders into accepting a possible challenge in the playoffs, the Raiders finally won a big game big. The Raiders saved the Steelers, silenced the cynics and subdued the Bengals, 35-20, on Ken Stabler's four touchdown passes. To qualify for the playoffs as the Central Division champion, all the Steelers have to do now is conquer the Oilers in Houston on Saturday for their ninth consecutive triumph. "Do you think," John Madden was asked, "that the Steelers conned your team into playing such a good game?" "No," the Raiders' coach said.N"If football was that simple, I'd hire them to do it for us every week." But by wondering out loud, the Steelers had created an issue that the Raiders could not escape. Perhaps on a quiet Sunday somewhere, the Raiders might have sub AP Wlrtohoto STICKY - Gille Marotte (left) of the St. tional Hockey League game in New York. Louis Blues stick checks Phil Esposito of the The 9am ent,ed in a 4-4 tie. New York Rangers during last night's Na- Story, D2

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