Your line articles on baseball 1974 (April 8) were well thought out. However, your choice of Pete Rose to fill your cover and symbolize the game this year was not quite as good. Who had the best season in the majors last year? Who led the National League in home runs, RBIs, doubles and slugging percentage and batted .299? Who is playing on a team you pick to win the most interesting division in baseball? Who is a perennial All-Star outfielder? Who has been the most consistently good ballplayer the last three years and showed every indication that he will continue his supremacy by his spectacular spring performance in exhibition games? He is the same man who should have been on your cover: Willie Stargell of the Pirates.
Whoever chose the cover photo for your April 8 issue certainly did a bum job. He should have used the inside picture showing Rose starting the fight with Bud Harrelson in last year's playoff. It would have shown what a "big" man Pete Rose is.
When Gertrude Stein said, a "rose is a rose is a rose is a rose," it is obvious that she didn't know Pete.
As a sports enthusiast in general and a baseball fan in particular, I would have preferred seeing a five-page pictorial account of Pete Rose playing baseball, rather than Pete Rose wrestling with Bud Harrelson.
The intensity with which Rose plays the game sets him apart from many of today's businessman-athletes, who seem more interested in their personal finances than their professional performances. Rose is a throwback to yesterday's athlete who, driven by personal pride, not money, participated in sports the way they were meant to be participated in—passionately.
There is nothing as purely exciting—or as excitingly pure—as watching a fiercely proud man compete. In today's commercialized world of sports there is nothing as rare.
According to publicized comments made by Gary Davidson, the World Football League president, the April 15 cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED was all set to feature the WFL (No Longer Such a Small World). With all due respect to Henry Aaron's 715th home run, just what exactly did you have in mind?
New York City
PICTURES AND WORDS
Neil Leifer deserves credit for a terrific photo of Ken Norton on his way down (Buenas Noches, Senor, April 8). Both feet are still on the mat, knees straight, arms upward, unable to break his fall. Occasionally, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED comes out with a picture that tells a story all by itself. This one shows Norton at his worst, George Foreman at his awesome best and Howard Co-sell with his mouth open—as usual.
G. CRAIG BOLDEN
Tex Maule's vivid article made it quite clear that George Foreman is still the heavyweight champion of the world.
University Park, Pa.
When are you going to stop glorifying the heavyweights, the least active and least talented division in boxing?
You gave the Foreman-Norton fight four pages, while one of the best fights I have seen in a while, the Roberto Duran-Esteban De Jesus lightweight title bout, received only brief notice in FOR THE RECORD (March 25).
The smaller fighters are much quicker, punch faster and keep up a much brisker pace than heavyweights. I wish you would judge a fighter's importance by how good he is, not by how big he is.
Thank you very much for spotlighting the career of Moses Malone (Not Quire Wholly Moses, April 8). His years at Petersburg (Va.) High School have been years of grand accomplishment. The 50-game winning streak was all the more remarkable in that he was not "played up to"; the team played its own game and Moses took the shots any other center would have taken. He simply put guile a few more in the basket.
You stated in the article that Moses was considering North Carolina State, Maryland, Detroit and Houston as potential choices for his college years. You did not mention Virginia Commonwealth University as a member of this select group, yet Moses has many friends here at VCU and we are all hoping he will decide to say no to the Goliaths of the super-big, super-rich Atlantic Coast Conference el al. and lead an unknown school such as Virginia Commonwealth into the limelight.
Your article praising Moses Malone was very accurate and informative, but you should have waited one more week. In the Dapper Dan Roundball Classic in Pittsburgh, big Mo proved to be overwhelmingly dominant. He scored 31 points, including the game-winning dunk with eight seconds left that gave his team a one-point victory, and pulled down 20 rebounds. He was elected the game's MVP, one of the most coveted high school awards in the country.
March 22 of this year was designated Moses Malone Day in Petersburg, Va., where, after a breakfast for Mo and the team at a local motel, the number 24 was retired at a school assembly, which, in turn, was followed by an ovation from the more than 1,800 students in attendance.
Al McGuire's proposal of outlawing the tip-in to "lessen the advantage of the big man" (SCORECARD, April 8) and all the other anti-size ideas that abound (rebound?) in basketball Fully miss the point. Who cares how it can be done: Why should anyone want to legislate against the dominance of height? Exploitation of a physical gift is at the very heart of any organized sport, and the use of height is one of the greatest thrills basketball offers.
If the big man is going to be restricted, athletes born with other advantages ought to have them "lessened," too. Top percentage shooters could be brought under control by, say, counting only every other one of their shots. Playmakers who shamelessly exploit their speed could be required to run backward whenever they have the ball. For strong rebounders, the entire offensive zone might be placed under the three-second rule. Or, to fall back on McGuire's idea of borrowing from pick-up basketball, simply let the players call their own fouls.
Physical advantage is inseparable from sport. One of sport's great delights is that everybody does the same job, but everybody is put together differently and does the job differently. Even the carbon-copy countries of the Communist world, where people are supposed to think and act the same, don't make their athletes pretend they are the same size. If Al McGuire is serious about lessening physical advantage, let him experiment on himself. Let's see him coach a game gagged.
GREGG E. EASTERBROOK
Your recent article Our Finny Friends are Junkies (April 8) was particularly interesting, for it reminded me of our attempt to make a man-made reef. Although there are many reefs suitable for snorkeling near our island in Honduras, we felt it would be enjoyable to have one even closer by. Unfortunately, the sandy areas were not conducive to tropical fish. About a year and a half ago we dumped zinc roofing material in 10 feet of water and later covered it with a ton of dead coral and shells.
Within a few days tropical fish began to make it their home. As the weeks progressed the number and size of fish increased. Soon other types of fauna, such as octopus and lobster, appeared. In two months live coral began growing, although it is an enormously slow process (approximately one inch per year).
Although the building of reefs is a commendable project, as noted in the article, it may have an adverse effect on the oceans. As in the use of rubber tires, all we are really doing is shifting the junk from one place to another. Before very long the oceans will become so junked up that we will no doubt have to move all those rubber tires once again.
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
I was appalled to read Slaughter on South Island (March 18). Robert F. Jones apparently felt he had to resort to exaggeration and half-truths to write an article concerning a subject in which the simple facts are stranger than his fiction. Several important facts must be pointed out.
The national parks of New Zealand, including Fiordland National Park, were created for the preservation of native fauna and flora. The whole purpose of their creation is in jeopardy due to the tremendous amounts of damage done to the vegetation by animals, particularly the imported red deer. The vegetation is highly susceptible to damage, because it evolved in the absence of browsing and grazing mammals. Further, one of the world's most endangered birds, the takahe, barely survives in a small area of Fiordland National Park. Its population is declining rapidly due in large part to competition for food by red deer.
This in itself is sufficient reason for the complete elimination of all exotic animals from the national park area. Millions of acres of New Zealand would still be left with more than enough deer to satisfy the genuine hunter. Granted, the days when anyone with a rifle could slaughter 20 or 30 deer are gone, but since when have these people been called hunters?
The behavior of the venison-recovery crews is prompted by greed rather than common sense. The same overexploitation occurs whenever there is a demand for a commodity that is to be found in the wild. Nonetheless, if one is able to tolerate the antics of the helicopter operators, one must give them due credit. They have utilized a valuable resource that was previously wasted, with many deer dying of starvation (similarly, in many parts of the U.S. does are left to die in the name of conservation and game management, while only bucks are shot). The financial return from the operation is obviously sufficient to make this commercial recovery profitable, although in terms of boosting New Zealand's "struggling" agrarian economy I would argue that the $8 million or so is but a drop in the bucket for a country at present one of the most financially stable in the world.
I must assure you that there is still, and always will be, more than enough deer and other game for the skilled hunter. If he has to work a little harder for it, he will appreciate it all the more, but he will still get his trophy.
By the way, I am a "Kiwi" and have considerable personal knowledge of deer management in New Zealand. I am currently studying for a Ph.D. in ecology at the University of California, Davis.
MICHAEL E. R. GODFREY
PIPING UP (CONT.)
Bil Gilbert's article on the Alaska pipeline (Power and Light on a Lonely Land, March 25) is exceedingly perceptive and sensitive. He is to be heartily commended. His sense of the land and the people involved in this massive operation surely facilitates a better understanding of the dilemma for those of us ensconced in comparatively warm homes and apartments in cities and suburbs.
It seems unfortunate, however, that given Mr. Gilbert's perception and sensitivity, he did not give us his opinions on those sticky value questions. This, of course, would mean a departure from objective, "just the facts" journalism, but in this case that might be forgiven.
Cheap energy and its usage in our economic and technological development have brought us a long way, and we environmentalists must not forget that. Needless to say, people in the developing countries of the third world will not forget it as they demand their piece of the finite energy pie.
The necessity for Americans to pay higher prices for their energy, not for the "energy men" to line their pockets with, but so that environmental needs can be met, seems just. As a nation we enjoy one of the highest per-capita incomes in the world, use more energy than any other nation, pay less for that energy and produce incredibly more pollution than any other nation. It seems long overdue that we should begin to share our wealth with the rest of the world, especially when much of that wealth is extracted from places where people starve, suffer and die from causes long since eradicated from our shores. If we do not begin to share with others willingly, they might decide not to wait patiently but rather to demand their due. And that might be somewhat of a problem.
Bil Gilbert makes the statement that we do not know what man should be. Granted that he doesn't, how can he presume to speak for any of the rest of mankind? If he accepts his own statement that all statements about values can be reduced to "prejudice and personal interest" (by which he means that they are arbitrary and pointless), why does he then proceed to make a statement about values? His position is one that may be termed "self-erasing." He has, in effect, said nothing. At the very least, he has said nothing original. At the worst, he has said something false.
Philosophically speaking, in terms of knowledge that exists and is available to all men (regardless of how many actually learn it), we do know what man should be. Anyone interested can check this statement by reading Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. If you want to know why man needs oil, why man should be in Central Park—in short, why man should live on earth—it is possible to learn it. If, in reading about the pipeline controversy, you get the feeling that man is in a hopeless mess, you can find out that it doesn't have to be that way.
The most abused species in the world is man. If you want to defend him, you must learn to defend his values. It can be—and is being—done.
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