Congratulations to Mark Mulvoy on his analysis of the new season (Hockey 1973-74, Oct. 22). I was very happy to sec that we agree on the best team. The report on the Montreal Canadiens should set the Boston and New York hopefuls back where they belong. Even with the loss of three superstars, the Habs are still No. 1. Thanks for straightening things out.
Buffalo and Detroit in a battle for fifth place? Toronto and Detroit maybe, but not Buffalo. The Sabres are going to be No. 1 this year, and their only battle will be fighting off the fans after they win the Stanley Cup. Toronto is improved, but not enough. The Maple Leafs will have to go a lot farther than Sweden to find a goalie as good as overweight Roger Crozier or a line as good as the French Connection. You're going to cat your words about the Sabres, believe me.
Shame on Mark Mulvoy! His article on Bobby Clarke was most interesting and his predictions may be right, but let's give credit where credit is due. In analyzing the Buffalo Sabres, Mulvoy makes no mention of Don Luce, who is one of the hardest workers on the team and centers one of the most effective checking lines in the NHL—Luce, Craig Ramsey and Larry Mickey (now injured). They certainly were part of the reason Buffalo had the third-fewest goals-against last year.
R. R. BEDNAREK
Thanks for the tine articles on Bobby Clarke and the Flyers. Finally the Western Division teams arc challenging the East for the treasured Stanley Cup. The Broad Street Bullies arc off to a superb start toward establishing themselves as a top contender for the cup. The goals arc pouring in and the defense has been almost impenetrable.
STEPHEN D. HALLOWELL
Let's have some stories (or at least one) on the amazing Atlanta Flames. They have beaten Boston and Montreal. This year or next they will take it all.
John Underwood's article And the Meek Shall Inherit...(Oct. 22) was terrific. I am glad that someone finally has pointed out the power of Missouri, although its upsets of SMU and Nebraska, along with its 6-0 record, speak for themselves. Al Onofrio has done a good job of building Missouri into a powerhouse, in the Big Eight and in the country.
It came as a welcome surprise to read in SI of the magnificent job Pete Elliott has done in bringing Miami swiftly to the top. While in junior high school I was fortunate enough to be associated with Mr. Elliott, playing on the local football team with one of his sons. I heartily agree that he has "a touch of class."
PETER B. FOX
Menlo Park, Calif.
In reference to the remarks about Miami Fullback Woody Thompson in John Underwood's excellent article, my son played against Woody in high school in Erie, Pa. Woody weighed 215 pounds at the time, and Pat 185. Pat successfully blocked Woody, who was then playing tackle, three out of four times, but Woody creamed Pat on the fourth. In response to an inquiry from his coach, Pat was unknowingly prophetic when he said, "Against him, Coach, three out of four isn't bad. Play the films of the first three very slowly."
Miami came up with a fortunate victory over Texas, but the Hurricanes ran into trouble when they faced a tough Houston team. The Cougars beat them decisively 30-7. Watch for Houston on Jan. 1.
THE SECOND TEN
Week after week you print articles about college football teams and yet you continue to overlook the best team in the nation. Ohio State is rated No. 1. Ohio State also has Archie Griffin, the most consistent runner on any winning high-ranked team. He presently is listed among the top five in the nation in rushing.
It was refreshing to read the quote from Mark Duncan in "They Said It": "Ohio State is...so good this year they could even finish third or fourth in the Big Eight" (SCORECARD, Oct. 22). Ohio State and Michigan play a one-game schedule—each other—and the winner travels to the Rose Bowl to be beaten by the Pacific Eight champion. Over the past 10 years the very best Big Ten team would have been hard pressed to crack the top three in the Big Eight or the top two in the Pacific Eight.
It is difficult for anything but an exceptional Big Eight team to win a national championship because of the rigors of Big Eight schedules, whereas teams from the Big Ten (and Notre Dame) play nonentities most of the year, although the rest of the country doesn't find out until the bowl games that they are second-rate. Last year's Notre Dame team speaks for itself. It was ranked high in the polls all year, yet played essentially a three-game schedule; a so-so Missouri team beat it, Southern California trounced it and Nebraska embarrassed it 40-6. If it were not for the Big Ten-Notre Dame myth (perhaps a fond reminiscence from their youth for most pollsters), the rankings of these schools in the national polls would reflect their weak schedules, and like Arizona State, which wins every week playing nobodies, Ohio State and Michigan would properly be ranked in the second 10.
Come on, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, drop your phony veneer about "sportsmanship." I have been reading your magazine for two years now, and inconsistencies keep cropping up. In SCORECARD you tell us about the terrible behavior of Met fans, the shocking morals of certain baseball pitchers, the greed of team owners, etc., etc. Tsk, tsk. And yet, scattered throughout your articles we see evidence of a disease we all seem susceptible to—i.e., the belief that superstars can do no wrong. Written lightly and with a touch of humor, your Oct. 22 article on Bobby Clarke (The Flyer from Flin Flon) tells of his rescuing Team Canada from Russia by deliberately taking out the Soviets' best player. "It's not something I was really proud of, but I honestly can't say I was ashamed to do it," says good of Bobby. He also did a great job of lip service about overpaid athletes. Unfortunately it sounded as though he was saying, "O.K., now that Eve got my million, you other guys stop being so greedy."
Sport is all business now, and the superstars of the major sports are no more classy than the stars of the Soap Box Derby. Sportsmanship is an endangered commodity, and what is left of it seems to apply only to some people and not to others.
Grant Park, Ill.
The criticism of the Met fans and management in your Oct. 22 SCORECARD ("Metsomania Is Such Fun") smacks of the same lack of responsibility that you charge was shown by the "vulgar and brutal" fans of New York. In your efforts to present a stimulating column you have ignored some of the more compelling facts of the case. The behavior of the Met fans toward Pete Rose was a reaction to what they had seen on the baseball field. It seems to me quite a perversion of justice that Bowie Kuhn, a man who did not hesitate earlier in the season to entangle himself in the private affairs of two other New York ballplayers, would remain silent this time about the behavior of professionals on the field. Perhaps one might argue that the scene on the field was merely the natural emotional reaction of athletes under pressure. Recall, however, that these men are professionals and are, in a sense, responsible to the fans, who expect them to behave in a reasonable way. Then again, with professionals like Sparky Anderson, M. Donald Grant and Bowie Kuhn running the show, I guess the people of New York are getting what they deserve.
After reading "Metsomania Is Such Fun" I hope that the conduct of Met fans on Oct. 17 will receive the same amount of coverage. That night Rusty Staub was 4 for 4 with five RBIs, and Jon Matlack allowed no earned runs. Yet the biggest hand of the evening went to Oakland's Mike Andrews. He received not only one, but two standing ovations.
I am not condoning the actions that some Met fans directed at Pete Rose. I agree that it was disgusting and uncalled-for and deserved condemnation. Yet those who threw garbage and shouted obscenities were in the minority. Those who cheered for Mike Andrews were not. Please let the rest of the nation know that Met fans have another side.
Franklin Square, N.Y.
I have just finished reading the story on Charlie Justice by Ron Fimrite (A Long Locomotive for Choo Choo, Oct. 15), and I must compliment you for printing such an inspiring article about one of the nation's truly remarkable men. If only the daily newspapers could print something like this occasionally, young people might be able to see both sides for a change, and probably they would be impressed in a positive manner.
GEORGE ROBERT FARRIS
West Hartford, Conn.
My cheers are still ringing for Ron Fimrite. What a marvelous writer! What a sensitive, exciting, nostalgic, romantic tale of a folk hero of my time.
Your article on Charlie (Choo Choo) Justice was beautiful. I only wish I had been born in time to see him run for Carolina.
The article on Choo Choo Justice certainly took me back. I was a teammate of Charlie's on the undefeated service championship team at Bainbridge Naval Training Station and, believe me, he was something special! I do not want to detract from his prowess in the least, but I have to mention that we had some outstanding talent besides Charlie: Harry (Hippity) Hopp (Lions); Dante Magnani (Bears); Red Hickey (Rams); Buster Ramsey and Harvey (Stud) Johnson (both from William& Mary); Zyggy Czarobski and Lou Rymkus (both from Notre Dame); Bill DeCorrevont (Northwestern); Joe Lokanc (Cards); Joe Thomas (row of the Colts but then an end from Ohio Northern); Don Durdan (Oregon State—and one of the best backs I've over seen); Lloyd (Upan') Cheatham (Auburn); and many others. Joe Maniaci (Bears) was the coach and, as I recall, we ran a lot of fullback plays until Sid Luckman gave us the rest of the Bears' T formation one weekend in Baltimore.
The team was undefeated and was scored upon only once by the Naval Academy, which at the time (1943) was ranked No. 2 in the nation behind Army. Incidently, Choo Choo scored three touchdowns, and afterward in the locker room Captain Billick Welchel, the Navy coach, came in and, on locating Choo Choo, made him an offer to attend the Academy. Charlie refused as "he didn't think they were so hot."
It was a memorable day. I have often wondered what has happened to all those great guys and can only hope that life has been kind to them.
TOM (KNOBBY) NOBLE
It was with a great deal of pleasure that I read Ron Fimrite's warm article on Charlie Justice. Justice, Doak Walker, Charley Trippi, Dick Kazmaier of Princeton and Hank Lauricella of Tennessee were the last of a unique breed, the versatile single-wing tailback. What these guys couldn't do with a football!
With every professional football team today operating out of virtually the same offensive formation and with the sophisticated defenses honed to near perfection, it is not surprising that there are complaints about boring, low-scoring games and constant suggestions for rule changes to liven things up. Pro football doesn't need any rule changes. All it really needs is to use more variety in the offense and to bring back some of those great old formations like the single wing and the double wing. The only trouble is there are no Justices, Walkers, Trippis, Kazmaiers or Lauricellas around to make them go. And it's a pity.
Redwood City, Calif.
UNEVEN TIE BREAKER?
While I have not read the NCAA's new tie-breaking rule for small-college tournaments (SCORECARD, Oct. 15), it seems not only ridiculous but extremely inequitable for the team that loses the coin toss to get the ball on the oilier 15-yard line.
I propose: 1) that the referees be given the task of choosing which end of the field to utilize, taking into consideration the field and wind conditions and 2) that the ball remain at that end of the field for at least an equal number of attempts from the same 15-yard line. This would save time in marching up and down the field and allow teams to operate under the same conditions, thereby avoiding any protests on this score. It also would save wear and tear on players already dogged after a full game.
However, lest the fans at the unused end feel slighted, this proposal could be modified to allow each team two attempts at the first end chosen, a brief five-minute intermission, then two more attempts at the other end.
One can sympathize with reader Tom Shelton's resentment (Oct. 15), although his arithmetic is open to question. He claims that by paying rising taxes to support land development (At the Rate We're Going, Goodby Fish, Sept. 24) and simultaneously subsidizing farmers to refrain from producing, he is "being billed twice for the same goods."
It should be apparent, and even more disturbing, that what we are paying twice for is no goods at all. Our return would seem in fact to be purely negative—decrements in both environmental quality and the amount of available foodstuffs. Alternatively, Shelton may reflect on the resultant trend of his recent grocery bills and conclude that he is being billed three times for the goods he does get.
D. B. ECKERT
The retirement of Willie Mays and the recollection in SCORECARD (Oct. 1) of Willie's first home run for the New York Giants 22 years ago against Warren Spahn brought other memories. There was a game 12 years later when the San Francisco Giants faced the Milwaukee Braves in Candlestick Park on the night of July 2, 1963. Some 22 or 23 players participated, but the unfolding drama involved only three: Spahn, Juan Marichal and Mays. In this game all of the other ballplayers were merely window dressing, part of the blurred, windswept background.
Everyone has heard about the penetrating winds and biting cold that used to prevail in Candlestick Park on San Francisco Bay. Well, that evening's weather has to rank with the most penetrating and biting in which baseball ever was played. It was too cold for football. It was too cold for hockey or even sled racing, for that matter. We were forewarned, and brought every hotel blanket we could get our hands on. Life-saving firewater was freely imbibed.
The game itself produced one of the greatest pitching duels in history—the veteran southpaw Spahn against the younger but already established Marichal. It was a scoreless performance for 15½ innings. There were thrills aplenty along the way, of course, including some patented running breadbasket catches and line throws to the infield by Mays. The fielding of wind-buffeted flyballs and the competition with blown paper were spectacles in themselves.
The Braves went out in order in the top of the 16th inning. Spahn retired the first batter in the bottom half, bringing up Mays. On the second pitch Willie sent the ball on a line to left center. It cleared the fence by a considerable margin. Spahn walked slowly off the mound, head down, shoulders hunched, once more Mays' victim as Willie circled the bases for the only run of the game.
ALEX H. WINSBERG
The best defenseman in the history of pro football was discovered purely by accident. It happened during the reign of a 6'8", 405-pound offensive guard called (for unknown reasons) Yellow Fingers. Coaches tried to beat him with every defensive stunt in the book, using such greats as Alex Karras, Dick Butkus and Bubba Smith, but to no avail. Well, as the story continues, it was the 10th game of the season and the Minnesota Vikings were the week's underdogs. The conservative Viking coach, Bud Grant, decided against risking his regular defensive tackle and replaced him with the fast, then unknown, average-sized Alan Page. Surprisingly enough, on the first play of the game Page walked right through Yellow Fingers and made the tackle. This continued throughout most of the game, which ended in a Viking victory. After the game, while talking to some reporters, Grant commented, "The way to beat this team is to let your Page do the walking through Yellow Fingers."
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