Another McEnroe to watch; Giant travel costs; baseball rookies
Los Angeles — Putting one little word after another and whatever became of tennis star Butch Buchholz? ... ... Wimbledon and US Open champion John McEnroe, mindful of the pressure that comes with too much media exposure, reportedly has told friends that he will make only general statements concerning the tennis playing ability of his talented brother Patrick.
The younger McEnroe, an 18-year-old freshman at Stanford, makes his collegiate debut Oct. 25-28 as part of a field of 32 players in the sixth annual Volvo All-American Tennis Tournament at UCLA.
What can the world of high-visibility yellow tennis balls and graphite rackets expect from Patrick?
''It's a shame this kid can't play under another banner for a while because there is still so much room for growth in his game,'' someone close to the tennis scene told me. ''If he makes it past the second round at UCLA I'll be surprised.
''In maybe two years I think you might be able to tell whether Patrick has a future as a pro, but in the meantime his claim to fame will come mostly from being John's brother.'' Less tennis appeals to Connors
Jimmy Connors is still at the top of his game, as evidenced by his victory over Ivan Lendl Sunday in the final of a $375,000 Grand Prix tournament in Tokyo. But Jimmy is worried that tennis burnout, which he considers more mental than physical, could happen to him if he isn't careful. That's why he has already decided to cut back on his overall appearance schedule - perhaps by as much as 20 percent.
Financially, with career earnings of more than $7 million, Jimmy could quit right now. What has kept him going is pride, plus a wife who was willing to travel with their small son to almost all of the 14 Grand Prix tournaments he played in this year. However, Connors says he is tired of remembering everything in terms of tennis, such as his son getting his first tooth during the Masters in New York, rolling over for the first time during a tournment in Hong Kong, and taking his first steps at the French Open! Improved Giants travel at great cost
''We're a better team but we still are not where I'd like us to be,'' explained vice-president and secretary Ray Walsh of pro football's New York Giants, who are now 4-4. ''Specifically we are protecting our passer (QB Phil Simms) a lot better than we have in the past, and I attribute most of that to our rookie linemen, who at times have been outstanding.''
Asked if he saw any trends in pro football, Walsh replied: ''Teams are passing more than ever for the simple reason that they are having more success moving the ball through the air than on the ground. Part of that, of course, is because today's rules protect the receiver from some of the heavy contact he used to get from the defense.''
Walsh also revealed that the Giants' first West Coast trip this year to play the Los Angeles Rams cost the club almost $100,000 in expenses. ''About 80 percent of that figure went for the airline charter; the remainder for hotels, meals, and ground transportation,'' Ray explained. A pro team's traveling entourage these days, especially if several of the brass come along to join players, coaches, trainers, equipment men, and PR people, can easily number 75. Baseball rookies stood out; Kareem to retire?
* In case anyone missed it, 1984 was a tremendous year for rookies in both the National and American Leagues. The best overall probably was 19-year-old Dwight Gooden of the New York Mets, who set an all-time record for rookie pitchers with 276 strikeouts. Gooden, in addition to going 17-9, walked just 73 batters in 218 innings of pitching. However Orel Hershiser of the Los Angeles Dodgers won the NL earned-run crown with a mark of 2.66. Over in the American League, rookie Mark Langston of the Seattle Mariners led in strikeouts with 204 while winning 17 games for a team that finished 15 games under .500. The Mariners also got 27 home runs and 116 RBIs from rookie first baseman Alvin Davis.
* Although he says he doesn't need the money or the traveling, 7 ft. 2 in. center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of the Los Angeles Lakers, the National Basketball Association's all-time leading scorer, is having some second thoughts about retiring at the end of the 1984-85 season. He is serious enough about possibly playing a 17th pro season to reportedly have asked the Lakers' front office to notify opponents not to promote any ''farewell nights'' for him his first time around the NBA circuit this season.