A few nights ago I was barely able to pick up a Detroit station and hear the Tigers snuff out a ninth-inning Oakland rally. Earlier in the afternoon I had seen Dick Allen, against the Yankees, hit a towering home run into the center-field bleachers of White Sox Park that almost decapitated Harry Caray, who was broadcasting out there. With the A's loss, the Sox took over first place.
The next morning I read William Leggett's article about the excitement filling the South Side of Chicago (Happy Days Are There Again, Aug. 28). The cause of the excitement is simple. The Sox organization has brought us Chuck Tanner, a man who respects every individual player on his team and who loves the fans. The Sox have brought us Johnny Sain, who in turn has brought Wilbur Wood to a 20-game-winner status by letting him throw the pitch he has mastered. They have brought us Dick Allen, who has helped attract one million pennant-hungry fans to the gate so far this year. And, finally, they have brought us P.M.A.—positive mental attitude—which has all Sox fans believing the elusive pennant can be ours, and that we may even lay claim to a World Series title.
Yes, it is true, the Chicago White Sox are alive and well and challenging in the American League West. William Leggett's article gives the Sox credit that they well deserve. There are not many teams that have come from last place to pennant contention in two years. But then, how can they lose with a scoreboard that has eyes?
I think Wilbur Wood deserves the Cy Young Award. Dick Allen should be the Most Valuable Player and Chuck Tanner is the only man deserving of Manager of the Year. Everyone now knows the White Sox are the first team in the Second City.
In reference to Dick Allen hitting all his homers before nine p.m., he broke the spell by hitting one in White Sox Park Tuesday, Aug. 22 at 9:48 p.m. before a crowd of 43,433 that gave him a standing ovation.
East Chicago, Ind.
While it would be foolish to ignore the great individual contributions of Manager Chuck Tanner and his superstars (Allen, Carlos May and Wood), I feel quite certain that the latter would be the first to acknowledge the input of their less publicized teammates—Pitching Coach Johnny Sain, the yeomen of the bullpen, supersub Eddie Spiezio, Pat Kelly and all the others who have helped move the White Sox out of the doldrums. The '72 White Sox are winning games not because of a magical scoreboard in center field, as is often alleged, but because of a genuine team spirit that is the hallmark of the major league winner.
JOHN N. COLAS
The White Sox are chasing a pennant, and Allen and Wood are cinches to win the MVP and Cy Young awards. But William Leggett is way out in left field when he says, "The only place you'll find a genuine Cub fan is under a rock."
There are no rocks in the stands at Wrigley Field (although the Cubs have pulled more than a few in the field) and yet the Cubs' paid home attendance exceeded the White Sox' attendance 1,041,990 to 1,016,828 as of Aug. 24.
More significantly, these figures are for 54 White Sox home dates compared to only 51 Cub home games. And let's not forget that the Cubs still play only day games, have had only two home doubleheaders and play in a much smaller Park.
The White Sox may have a winner but the Cubs have real fans.
ROBERT J. BREGENZER
Arlington Heights, Ill.
Congratulations on a fine article on the White Sox. However, the constant suggestion that no one in the American League East wants first place is uncalled for. The fact that the top four teams in the division are all just a few games over .500 leads me to the conclusion that it is a very well-balanced division.
If only 3½ games separated the first four teams in either division of the National League, the race would be called the most exciting in baseball—no matter what the percentages.
New York City
According to your weekly baseball section the Detroit Tigers have been in first place in the American League East 12 out of the 18 weeks since the deferred opening of the baseball season. During this period you have featured major stories on the Athletics (2), Pirates (2), Mets (2), White Sox (2), Dodgers, Indians, Astros, Yankees, Reds and Orioles. On the cover have been members of the White Sox, Cardinals, Dodgers, Mets, Pirates and Yankees. Your coverage of the league-leading Tigers has been limited to a small article on our great shortstop and third-base combination of Eddie Brinkman and Aurelio Rodriguez.
My point is not that Detroit is anywhere near to being the "best damn team in baseball." Regrettably, the Tigers have had their troubles this year. Nevertheless, their presence at the top of the American League East is certainly established, and SI's feat of all but totally ignoring them is remarkable, not to say incomprehensible and loathsome to Detroit fans.
In Philadelphia the 76ers are depressed, the Flyers are threatened, the Blazers are involved in lawsuits, the Eagles are losing (already), the Phillies are forgotten and Steve Carlton is winning (Imagination, It's Funny, Aug. 21).
Billy Cunningham has a new home, Bobby Clarke and Doug Favell must draw the fans, Derek Sanderson and John McKenzie must win in court, the Eagles must learn to play football, the Phils' front office is dead, and Steve Carlton is still winning.
Jack Ramsay has left, Fred Shero doesn't have good players, John McKenzie may be lost, Ed Khayat is questionable, Frank Lucchesi is lost, Paul Owens should get lost, and Steve Carlton goes on winning.
Can a winner among all those losers win the Cy Young and MVP awards?
Thank you for recognizing this brilliant pitcher in time. Maybe there is hope in Philadelphia, for one man at least.
Congratulations on your Aug. 28 issue, one of the finest I have ever read. The article about driving to Munich (Going From Bad to Wurst) was as funny as the one you printed before the Mexico City Olympics on the same subject, and the other Olympic coverage was great.
Why do you keep doing it? Telling people not to drive in Europe. Jonathan Rhoades' is one of the worst, if not the worst, of such stories.
Last September I drove almost 4,000 miles in a little stick-shift Opel Kadett, made most of the major passes in the Alps and drove down one side of Italy and up the other. I also drove around in Rome. It was easy and fun. This being my first trip to Europe, and since I was going alone, I studied maps and signs before leaving home.
I am 56, and my few gray hairs were not acquired in Europe. Everyone was kind and helpful. I spoke only English, drank tap water, ate everything and thoroughly enjoyed the whole five-week trip.
I have logged more than 20,000 miles as a driver and passenger while visiting each country upon which Jonathan Rhoades has so whimsically passed judgment. The qualifications of the author are left to the reader's imagination. Never in my travels have I been cursed, beaten or forced from the road onto an Alpine precipice by the irate driver of a slower vehicle, nor brought to a screeching halt by a goatherd and his charges or a country bumpkin straddling the center stripe.
Under the thin and tasteless cloak of humor, with a modicum of questionable statistics simmered in a stew of thirdhand hearsay evidence, Mr. Rhoades has concocted a rather crude affront to an entire continent.
BRIAN M. BYRNE
I returned recently from more than 30 months in Europe (courtesy of the U.S. Army) and more than 60,000 miles of driving. Jonathan Rhoades' article brought back many nightmarish experiences that I thought I had forgotten. My VW looked like a St. Christopher memorial, until he went out of vogue. I fared better than most, though—nary a scratch. But my hair needs a tint to hide the gray, my ulcers act up at the mention of Autobahn, and my pacemaker skips a little when I see flashing headlights—and I'm only 25.
JOHN C. OGLIORE
May I offer my congratulations to Jonathan Rhoades for having survived the world's ultimate test of manhood (or womanhood)—driving through Europe, and specifically in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. I lived in Bavaria for 3½ years and I am proud to say that I came through it with two dented fenders and only minor emotional trauma. I can substantiate almost every tale housed in Rhoades' report. But I am surprised he neglected to mention one of the European motorist's most fiendish road foes: the infamous "honeywagon."
These relatively innocent-looking wagons, with their long wooden tanks filled with liquid fertilizer, prowl the roads in Bavaria at all hours. Usually piloted by some crusty old farmer (or the crusty old farmer's crusty old wife), they can be easily detected by the alert driver because of the telltale trail they leave behind.
Perhaps the most horrid accident I ever witnessed came one fine spring afternoon when a Volkswagen bus loaded with nuns from a nearby convent plowed into the rear of one of these loaded vehicles. Luckily, no one was injured, but I heard later that it took six months to fumigate the bus and its occupants.
Germans traveling the roads from "Bad to Wurst" know that right-of-way privileges are written into Mercedes-Benz sales contracts.
LEON T. MEUWISSEN
I must extend a most sincere thanks to Hugh Whall for the great article on drag racing (200 Plus on the Lone Prairie, Aug. 21). Although more people come out to see the Funny Cars than the Top Fuelers, I still agree with Mr. Whall's statement, "Everyone in drag racing knows that the odds of winning the world title are tough, no matter what the division."
Hugh Whall must have come straight from Hoboken, N.J. to write the article on the National Hot Rod Association's Western Conference meeting in Albuquerque. After reading his description of the setting for the races, I felt as if Billy the Kid was about to come riding up that "lone dirt road" any second and tie his horse to the grandstand. It was obvious Mr. Whall came into town, did the article and left without even seeing this "Cowboy Movie Classic" of a town. It just proves you can't believe anything you read anymore.
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