MARSHMALLOWS AND PUNCH
All credit to Tex Maule for his story on the Patterson-Chuvalo fight (Okay—but Don't Bring on Clay, Feb. 8). Only such calm analysis by a knowing critic could illuminate the truth of a contest made to seem exciting by the tremendous enthusiasm and response of 19,100 fans (myself included) to the wide-open, free-swinging style of Patterson and the plodding, belly-bruising style of Chuvalo. The two men put on a great show, and boxing can't help but benefit from it. However, as Maule pointed out, neither man showed true championship form in his performance. Maule did, however, make a couple of statements to which I object. First, I cannot for a minute entertain the notion that Floyd Patterson's punches are "made of marshmallow." Too often throughout his long career, especially in his earlier fights, Floyd has proved that he can hit. Against Chuvalo, Floyd was fighting backing up, which is not his usual style. Hence, to throw his left hook (by far his better punch) he had first to stop and plant his feet, and then swing. By doing this, Floyd tipped the punch off and Chuvalo always had his jaw well protected.
I also object to the contention that Patterson would not be able to stand up to the punishment Clay or Liston is capable of inflicting. Liston, yes; Clay, no. Clay is strictly a "headhunter" who docs even less infighting than Patterson, if that is possible. He ties up his man better than Patterson but is strictly defensive inside. This would again benefit Patterson, since his carelessness inside would not hurt him. Thus, I give Floyd a good chance against Cassius, and I am sure no matter who wins, it would be a great, great fight.
Let's see it!
New York City
A point made by Maule that really irritates me is his statement that the fight "failed to live up to its atmosphere of a momentous sporting occasion." I am sure that the people who paid fantastic sums to see the first Patterson-Liston encounter would rather have seen a boxing match like last week's than the joke that they did see.
HENRY W. HOBSON III
Chapel Hill, N.C.
It is true that Patterson was twice beaten badly. But the fact that he has made such a comeback shows that he has courage—and an interest in boxing. He is well off financially and needs nothing from boxing. Rather, boxing needs people like him.
ROMAN MARTINEZ IV
In regard to the U.S. Golf Association's recent changes in the format of the U.S. Open from a 36-hole finish to 18 holes a day for four days, here is one reader who casts his vote with SI and tradition (SCORECARD, Feb. 8 and 15). As you noted, this tournament was more than a test of shotmaking. It was a test of strength and courage and the ability to go on hitting the right shots as the pressure continued to build during the last day. Anyone witnessing this type of championship performance will never forget it. In 1951 I watched Ben Hogan play the 36-hole windup at Oakland Hills, and even though he could hardly walk after completing the morning 18, he still brought "the monster" to its knees with his never-to-be-forgotten final-round 67. Would it have been as memorable a round had it been shot on Sunday after a night's rest? I doubt it. This change is as ridiculous as if they changed the Kentucky Derby from a mile and a quarter to one mile because the horses are getting too tired.
Royal Oak, Mich.
Changing the Amateur from match to medal play is a tragedy. I think it is sad that another competitive sports event is abandoning the excitement and glory of a man-to-man battle for a contest of patient, mechanical skill against the clock, the tape or a stroke counter. How about crowning the World Series champ on the basis of total bases or runs instead of this silly best-of-seven thing?
I remember an Irishman, Ron Delany, who seemed never able to beat a grandfather's clock when he ran against time but somehow managed to trounce everybody in a foot race. I think there's much to be said for the man who can judiciously draw on his supply of adrenaline at the precise moment that separates the winner from the also-rans. Even in chess, that greatest test of steady nerves and constant concentration, the champion is the man who wins the most—or loses the fewest—matches, not the one who uses the fewest moves through the tournament.
The switch from match to medal play will allow the most skillful player to win. In the past, such excellent amateurs as Deane Beman have been eliminated early when they have had an off day or drawn a hot opponent. The switch will help rectify this. As for making the Open easier, when I want to see plain stamina I'll watch a 10,000-meter race. Golf, though it involves stamina, is primarily a game of skill. I would like to see the most talented player win, not the one with the most endurance.
Yes, as Mr. Dey said, the changes are "deplorable as far as tradition is concerned." But if they were the correct thing to do "in the context of the times," then it is also time to change the rules so that all golfers can get some of the spoils. Since the objective of the USGA now is riches, it should also rescind the antiquated Rules of Amateur Status and allow John Brodie to keep his Mustang, allow the winners of the "Beat Bing Contest" to have their free golfing trips and allow all of us "unscrupulous" weekend golfers to win a quarter or two. Is there really some reason for distinguishing between amateur and professional now?
Bay Village, Ohio
As a longtime spectator of high school basketball games, I am heartily in favor of John Nucatola's recommendation (SCORECARD, Feb. 15) that basketball players be allowed to remain in the game after having committed five fouls. The rule change would be particularly welcome in high school games, where the officiating is not of high caliber and the officials are often inconsistent in their calls. I have seen scores of fouls called on high school players that were flagrant errors—either no foul was committed or the referee called the foul on the wrong player. The result is that a player who has actually committed, say, two fouls is charged with five and is ejected from the game. The non-ejection rule would make the officials' errors less calamitous for the players and the teams.
HERE COMES CHRIS
Please tell me what has happened to Chris Blocker, your rookie pro golfer (Rabbits Chase Kings, Jan. 18). I worry about him. Is he still with the tour? Has he made any more money? I study the list of scores but never see his name. Poor Blocker. Take care of him, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. After all, you invented him.
ANGUS O. ADLER JR.
•SI's rabbit is still in there chasing the kings. In the five weeks since the L.A. Open he has 1) tied for 21st at San Diego and won $505, 2) missed the 54-hole cut at the Crosby, 3) failed to qualify, by a single stroke, for the Lucky International, 4) won $78.13 by tying for 20th in the small Hope of Tomorrow at Palm Desert and 5) tied for 25th in the Phoenix Open to win $660.72—ED.
Congratulations on your excellent article about Los Angeles Laker Jerry West, who no doubt is the greatest basketball player West Virginia has ever produced (Smashing Hurrah for the Lakers, Feb. 8). Watching Jerry play his four years at West Virginia University and receive all top basketball awards with unbelievable humility was indeed inspiring to all those who follow in his footsteps. The WVU field house has yet to see as many standing ovations as Jerry received.
Morgantown, W. Va.
While it is comforting to know that young David West considers his father to be "unbelievable," the article does not offer much supporting evidence for this evaluation. We learn that Jerry West, basketball player, has an 81-inch wingspread and the quickest shot in the game. On the basis of these facts John Underwood not only contends that Jerry West rivals the incomparable Oscar Robertson, but he also implies that West may be even better in some respects. One can only conclude that Mr. Underwood is either blind, insane or a victim of the prevalent Western virus known as "Los Angelus Fanaticus," a disease that causes hero-worshipping Angelenos to transform ordinary athletes into superhuman figures. I doubt whether many fans would agree that watching Jerry pump in 25-foot jump shots is more exciting than watching Oscar demonstrate the incredibly varied and refined skills that have made him the best basketball player of all time. And if the "Big O" ever decided to focus exclusively on the basket, instead of feeding his teammates, he would score twice as many points as Jerry West.