THE ABA'S DAY ON COURT
The NBA may have the most exciting league in the history of sports, but you've made it even better by allowing Curry Kirkpatrick to tell us about it (They Came to Play, Nov. 15). He can certainly turn a phrase. In fact, his account registered a heavy 9.2 on the Curry Kirkpatrick WOW scale.
Democrat and Chronicle
The NBAers, like the members of the National Football League in the 1960s, are quickly learning that their newest acquisitions can beat them at their own game.
PETER D. KIRLES
Your great picture of David Thompson proved it. He and the Denver Nuggets are head and shoulders above the rest.
Somehow I got the impression from the article that you feel the ABA teams acquired in the merger gave the NBA an added touch of class. The facts don't quite bear this out.
When I read my morning paper on Nov. 12, I noticed that the Denver Nuggets had lost a game to Buffalo. Of the 10 teams other than Denver that had won at least half the games they had played, not one had come from the ABA. The New York Nets were in last place in the Atlantic Division; San Antonio was in last place in the Central Division; Denver was in first place and Indiana in fourth place in the Midwest Division. I realize that it is too early to draw any conclusions, but I don't think the old NBA clubs were all that bad.
HARRY B. MERICAN
How can Curry Kirkpatrick term Don Chaney a "former ABA" player? That's like calling Larry Csonka a former WFL player.
F. JULES LUND JR.
Curry Kirkpatrick called the Spirits of St. Louis a last-place team. The Virginia Squires finished last both years the Spirits existed, and the Squires have even more former players in the NBA than the Spirits: Julius Erving, Charlie Scott, George Gervin, Swen Nater, Mike Green, Mack Calvin, Jan Van Breda Kolff, Ticky Burden, Mel Bennett, Darrell Elston, Willie Wise, Roland (Fatty) Taylor, Dave Twardzik, Marv Roberts and Johnny Neumann.
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
A year ago I was the broadcaster for the Utah Stars. Curry Kirkpatrick mentioned that eight members of the Spirits of St. Louis are now playing in the NBA. I think it's interesting that no less than five members of last year's Utah team are now in the league: Ron Boone of Kansas City, Moses Malone and Goo Kennedy of Houston, Steve Green of Indiana and Randy Denton of Atlanta. For that matter, both Utah coaches (Tom Nissalke and Del Harris) are now working for Houston. Add Willie Wise of Denver, who played several years in Utah, and the total is six. It shows how balanced the ABA was and that a team like Utah, which went out of business early in the 1975-76 season, might have been competitive in the NBA.
Radio Station WELI
New Haven, Conn.
INFAMY OR FAME?
The jinx strikes again! First Julius Erving was traded, then Dave Cowens decided to quit. Your pro basketball preview cover (Oct. 25) was lethal.
So much for the infamous SI cover jinx. The weekend after you put Tony Dorsett on your cover, Michigan lost to Purdue, permitting the Pitt Panthers to become No. 1.
LAWRENCE C. RUFFNER
I must congratulate Larry Keith on his article Michigan Chokes on a Boilermaker (Nov. 15). Choke is the only word for it. Given a disgracefully easy schedule, the Wolverines should have been undefeated at least until they went to Columbus. It is sometimes hard to believe that teams can be voted No. 1 with such soft schedules.
It is heartening to see that the Purdue "Spoilermakers" are still kicking.
HOWARD D. DERMAN
West Lafayette, Ind.
A lost fumble. A missed field goal. A mentally down day. An inspired, go-for-broke Purdue team. And Michigan comes up short, 16-14. So what happens? The polls no longer rate the best team in the country No. 1. Instead, Michigan is dropped to No. 4. I hope the polls will someday rate teams by their seasons, not by their weak moments. I am one Spoilermaker fan who votes for Michigan.
WILLIAM J. CALDWELL
West Lafayette, Ind.
HOPE FOR FLORIDA
Thank you for your honest and sincere account of the Florida-Georgia game (Florida Gets a Slice, Georgia the Loaf, Nov. 15). It is awfully tempting to blow Florida's inability to win the big game out of proportion. Being a UF alumnus, I have had occasion lately to question my loyalty. It seems as though Florida always has a good team, but just not good enough.
On the other hand, Florida had never beaten Auburn in Auburn until three years ago, but now the Gators have defeated the Tigers four years in a row. Maybe there is hope for Florida yet.
THE JONES BOY
Thanks to Robert F. Jones for a super article on Bert Jones (Setting His Sights on the Super Bowl, Nov. 15). The Colts have proved that their 1975 season was no fluke.
There was Johnny Unitas and now there is Bert Jones, the two greatest quarterbacks ever to play football. How lucky can those Baltimore Colt fans be?
As a newcomer to Monroe, La. I have come to realize that the northern part of the state along Interstate 20 is quarterback country. I refer to Terry Bradshaw of Shreveport, Bert Jones of Ruston and James Harris of Monroe. The leading candidate for NFL Rookie of the Year, Sammie White of the Vikings, also hails from Monroe.
There is only one choice for Sportsman of the Year: Julius Erving. In the past year he has inspired players, spectators and corporate executives to fits of both ecstasy and despair.
John Havlicek, who last June helped the Boston Celtics win their 13th NBA championship and who can break the alltime record for games played (1,122) on Nov. 23 in Philadelphia.
Let's try to remember way back to Super Bowl X and the greatest display of athletic ability ever shown. The MVP award is not enough to give Lynn Swann for what he contributed to that game.
New York City
Mount Zion, Ill.
The Cincinnati Reds.
ROBERT E. ROBARGE
North Providence, R.I.
Mark Fidrych. His statistics even impressed my mom!
Ben Crenshaw and Judy Rankin.
Sparrow Bush, N.Y.
Gordie Howe, the most durable athlete in the country (if not the world).
DENNIS (DIETZ) HENDLEY
University of North Carolina Basketball Coach Dean Smith, who brought Olympic gold back to the U.S. Smith is proof that a man does not have to sacrifice sportsmanship and integrity to produce winners.
MARK VAN BRENNER
Chapel Hill, N.C.
Nothing has been as exciting as Franz Klammer's sensational downhill.
Fort Smith, Ark.
Rosi Mittermaier √ºber alles.
Sioux Falls, S. Dak.
It would be a crying shame not to mention Muhammad Ali.
Smokin' Joe Frazier.
Johnny Bench truly deserved the MVP award for his great performance in the World Series. An unheralded fact is that he accomplished something that has been done only nine times before in World Series history: he achieved a slugging average (total bases divided by times at bat) of 1.000 or better. Restricting the list to players having at least 10 at bats in a Series, the top sluggers read as
Here's hoping that someday Bench will join Ruth and Gehrig with a second appearance on this list.
DONN B. KIRK
Los Altos, Calif.
It rankles me that you feel you have come up with something quite clever in determining runs produced by combining runs scored with those driven in and then subtracting home runs from this figure (SCORECARD, Oct. 25). According to your system, when a run is driven in by any means other than a home run, that run is worth two points—one for the scorer and one for the player driving him in—whereas a home run, for some illogical reason, is worth only one point to the person producing it. For example, let us say Joe Morgan gets three singles to drive in Ken Griffey three times in a game. Each player winds up with three runs produced, whereas if Morgan hits three solo home runs in a game, he still receives credit for only three runs produced, even though he has generated the entire offense by himself. If you want to figure runs produced in a reasonable manner, just add the runs scored with those driven in and you'll have a meaningful statistic.
The runs-produced theory does not take into consideration the player's team. For instance, Pete Rose, as great as he is, would not lead the league in runs scored if he led off for the Mets. Would this make him less of a leadoff man? John Mayberry, with his meager batting average and home-run total, would not have knocked in more than 90 runs had not George Brett and Hal McRae been consistently on base. Conversely, a Dave Kingman, playing for the Mets, can hit 37 home runs and not have 100 RBIs, simply because of a lack of men on base. Statistics, as they say, can be misleading, especially in baseball.
I found it interesting that of the top 21 run producers you listed, the National Leaguers, without benefit of the designated-hitter rule, clearly had the higher figures. Joe Morgan, with 197 RPs, seems to be in a class by himself, just three short of the 200 mark. By the way, who holds the record in this category?
•There are no official records, but take a look at the statistics for 1930, a year in which the entire National League batted .303 (with six of the eight clubs hitting over .300) and the American League average was .288. Al Simmons of the Philadelphia Athletics had 152 runs, 165 RBIs and 36 homers for 281 RPs. Hack Wilson of the Chicago Cubs scored 146 runs, batted in 190 and hit 56 homers for 280. Lou Gehrig chalked up 276 RPs, as did Kiki Cuyler, and Babe Ruth's RP total was 254.—ED.
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