I enjoyed your excellent preview of the forthcoming baseball season in the April 13 issue. However, the caption on the cover is incorrect. Instead of reading "The Mets Against the World" it should read "The World Against the Mets." Last season the Mets were against the world. But they have conquered it and are now on top.
How could you possibly pick Houston by using the number of games they won on AstroTurf as the main criterion? You imply that since San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Cincinnati are just getting "rugs," Houston will have an advantage over them. Balk! The other teams have played in Houston and they know what it's like. Also, three of the five parks will not be opening until midseason or later. Most likely, Houston will miss six games in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, possibly more. So the maximum they could play in the East on the new surface is 12 games. In the West, Houston very likely will miss six games in Cincinnati's park. Thus they will only play in 12 rug-surfaced games in the West away from home.
Consequently they will play a maximum of 24 games outside their park on a rug. If you assume that last year's winning percentage at home, 52-29, or .642, will apply to their road games this year, there will be a maximum of 15 more wins on the road. Considering all the psychological and physical barriers a team has to overcome in order to win on the road, a more realistic figure would be five to 10 extra victories. Tack this figure onto last year's record, and they still have only 86 to 91 victories, short of the number needed to win a pennant. You also failed to mention that San Francisco also had a 52-29 home record last year.
It will be a rugged task for Houston to win.
Bowling Green, Ohio
Congratulations on having featured Rico Petrocelli's fielding in your Boston scouting report. Every fan worthy of the name knows Rico hit 40 homers last year—though not everyone knows he was second in the league in slugging, ahead of such heroes as Killebrew, Howard and Powell. But few outside Boston know how superb he can be afield. We take this as your tacit admission (belated, but nonetheless graceful) that you blundered last year in calling what's-his-name from Baltimore the best shortstop in the league.
for The Americo Petrocelli Fan
Club of Western Pennsylvania Pittsburgh
2,302 FEET MAKE 26 MILES
We would like to reassure Hal Higdon that he needn't be disturbed about being beaten in the Boston Marathon by a runner from Tufts University (The Marathon and Me, April 6). Tufts has always been a center for road runners, including marathoners. One of the greatest American marathoners, Ted Vogel, who had to give up the pastime (because of business) long before he came close to his peak, ran for Tufts. As a matter of fact, while he was still a college student at Tufts, Vogel finished second in the marathon and ahead of the Olympic marathon team—this, at what amounts to the age of preadolescence as most marathoners go.
WALTER H. BRENT
Hal Higdon mentioned that anyone falling in the Boston Marathon would feel the weight of 2,304 rubber-soled shoes on his back. In the previous paragraph he had mentioned the fact that there were 1,152 entrants (1,152 x 2 = 2,304; brilliant, Hal). But the fact is that he would not feel the weight of his own feet. So, in correcting his error, I would like to tell Mr. Higdon that he can rest more easily; if he had fallen, only 2,302 feet would have trampled him.
Last month I watched on TV the Jacksonville Open golf tournament at the Hidden Hills CC. The announcer mentioned several times that Hidden Hills was one of the few courses in Florida that has hills. Despite Florida's having a 12-month golf season and a large population, one has to look hard to find any truly great golfers who grew up in that state. How many Florida products have ever won one of the big four titles? Contrast the Florida record with that of Texas or California.
I believe that the failure of Florida-produced golfers to don the mantle of greatness is due mainly to the flat courses prevalent in that state. Through the years all golfing immortals have had to prove themselves repeatedly on hilly fairways. Florida youngsters miss the challenge of learning to play hilly courses. I have a suggestion that might help to remedy the situation.
The American solid-waste-disposal problem has reached nightmare proportions and is rapidly growing worse. I suggest that solid-sanitary-waste hills be started outside Miami and Tampa. They would be completed as hilly golf courses. These courses would be designed and sculpted exactly to the architect's desired contour. In some cases great golf holes of the world could be duplicated as if poured from a matrix. Florida youngsters, developing their game on such courses, would eventually reach the heights of the Texas and California golfing greats.
AUSTIN C. DALEY
Division of Air Pollution Control
State of Rhode Island
Concerning Joseph M. O'Loughlin's letter on the intentional pass (19TH HOLE, April 13) and his Catcher's Rule 1970, may I suggest that SI urge its readers to submit changes in existing rules that would enliven the Grand Old Game. For openers, I suggest any one or all three of Reeves Rules: 1) Any runner in scoring position shall advance one base if a batter is walked; 2) A pitcher is allowed only one throw to first in an effort to hold a runner. If a second attempted pick-off is unsuccessful the runner advances; 3) Any pitcher must retire one batter before he is replaced.
MARTIN M. REEVES, M.D.
Re the intentional base on balls: in 1969 there were 768 intentional passes in the National League and 668 intentional passes in the American League (total: 1,436). There were 973 games played in each league, for a total of 1,946. Thus we had .738 intentional passes per game, or one intentional pass for every 1.35 games.
Since there were 148,198 appearances at the plate in both leagues during the 1969 season, this means that the percentage of batters who were intentionally walked was .0097—or less than 1%.
Office of the Baseball Commissioner
New York City
Frank Deford's article about the competition between the ABA and the NBA and about the signing of Pete Maravich (Merger, Madness and Maravich, April 6) was excellent and much appreciated. It is this type of article that sets SI apart from other sports magazines.
Pistol Pete to his father after signing that contract: "Thanks a million, Dad!"
The recent expulsion of Pete Maravich from LSU, along with the sudden departure from Purdue of Rick Mount (after the completion of the basketball seasons, of course), strikes me as being potentially disastrous for college athletes. Judging from your special on him last fall, Pete Maravich is a self-made player, and I respect him for that. Yet toleration by these universities of total disregard by athletes of their educational programs is an example of the professionalism now rampant in many colleges. Students wishing to pursue an education as well as a sport find it impossible to compete with these professionals. Although the natural ability and initiative of the student-athlete might compare favorably to the natural abilities of such stars as Maravich, the total immersion of the star athlete into sport relegates the student-athlete to intramural status. Leave professionalism to the professionals. College athletes are skillful enough to do justice to their competitiveness and to the spectators.
I also hope these institutions have not given up the idea of educating their star athletes. Perhaps Walter Byers would better serve his organization (NCAA) by investigating these postseason expulsions and dropouts instead of driving out such devilish and immoral disobedients as that well-known athletic factory at Yale.
New Haven, Conn.
The boys at the gym here got a big laugh reading your article on Joe Weider (Be a Take-Charge Blaster! April 6). Anyone with a grade-school education can tell by reading his ads that Weider appeals to the fringe that gives bodybuilding a bad image in the eyes of the public. When Bob Hoffman, who has trained most of the 29 Mr. Americas, including myself, says, "They want to look like self-propelled triangles," he is referring to the gullible slobs who spend most of their waking hours working out and thinking about supermuscles. Hoffman has always advocated balanced training, giving equal emphasis to weight lifting and bodybuilding, and the pursuit of other wholesome interests in order to realize a very worthwhile goal: a sound mind in a sound body.
Mr. America, 1945
I thought your article was excellent. I don't classify myself as a weakling, but wish I could "rip tennis balls asunder."
Who says those musclebound men appeal to girls? A man has to be really bad off in the male ego department if he wants to make his body more deformed than Quasimodo's! I wish that Joe Weider would give up his little project to make the men in the U.S. look like freaks in a sideshow! I wasn't a bit impressed by your article.
Harvey Aronson's article, Clancy's Gym is Danny's Turf (March 23), is noteworthy in several respects. Aside from the brief, well-written biographical sketch of Danny Andrews, the story clearly depicts the man behind the scenes, one who has never made it big for one reason or another—not a great man but a good man. As a onetime boxing novice and a boxing enthusiast since the early days of Floyd Patterson, I can appreciate the long and seemingly fruitless hours of hard work and dedication this young man has gone through.
Boxing's fortunes, like Danny's, have not been the brightest in the spotlight of professional sport and I thank you for this article about a sport most others have forgotten.
S. K. HEARD
Camp Beard, Korea
As a former resident of Doc Holliday's "New England," which the Ohio suburbs are called in the article on Dean Chance and his latest ventures into prizefight promotions (Chancey Games in Ohio, March 30), I wish to thank Myron Cope for his comic-sensitive approach to industrial Ohio. Bars, boxing, road shows and Smucker's franchises unknowingly contribute to Ohio's passionate concern for the ordinary. Cope's appreciation and affection ("I found it delicious to imagine him advancing on Shaker Heights") come on strong, as does his subject.
BLAKE H. SKINNER
Colorado Springs, Colo.
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