ROGER AND OUT
I am a lifelong Washington Redskins fan, and the Dallas Cowboys have always been at the top of my football enemies list. But after reading your article Goodby to All That (April 14) on Roger Staubach's retirement, I realized that the man I hated so bitterly last Dec. 16—when the Cowboys beat the Redskins 35-34 to win the NFC's Eastern Division title and a playoff spot—is not only one of the best players in history, but also a person I admire very much. The 1980 season will be missing something without Staubach. After all, what fun is beating Dallas if you haven't beaten No. 12? I guess all that's left to say is, please, Harvey Martin, don't you retire, too.
I would like to congratulate Roger Staubach on his fine career, and I'd also like to yell at him for the times he directed his team to victory over the Redskins—especially when my dad was playing.
I was excited to read an article on Roger Staubach. At last, recognition! I was disappointed, however, upon seeing three pictures showing Roger down or on the sidelines. Why couldn't you present him doing what he does best—passing?
Colts Neck, N.J.
Your photographs of Roger Staubach may very well exemplify the Cowboy situation: down, but far from out!
You blew it! Roger Staubach not only did not make any All-Pro team, but he also didn't make your April 14 cover. I would rather have seen one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history than a fat Ali.
Beaver Dam, Wis.
HOW MANY PINNACLES?
I see a very strong similarity between the subjects of two articles in your April 14 issue: Roger Staubach and Muhammad Ali (The Latest from the Greatest). Each is 38 years old and each has nothing left to prove. Moreover, each has been told that the hits and bumps he has sustained have taken their toll and that any future hard blows may cause permanent injury. Staubach has heeded the warnings and made the tough decision to retire while still on top. Why can't Ali do the same? He has been a great champion, one of the best of all time. Will winning the heavyweight title for the fourth time prove anything? I don't think so. But a loss could do irreparable damage to Ali's physical being and also to his image in the minds of the fans.
I will be rooting for Ali against Weaver or Holmes, but I wish he wouldn't fight either of them.
GARY S. KURKIEWICZ
Angelo Dundee, Ali's trainer, is quoted as saying that he never thought Ali would go back to the mountain to train, that the mountain would have to come to Muhammad before he'd fight again. I beg to differ. The mountain did come to Ali—in the form of $8 million. If that's not a mountain, what is? Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing Ali make a comeback. I have always enjoyed his boxing style.
I have followed golf for many years, particularly the Masters since the Palmer era, and I have been dismayed whenever an "unknown" has won. In my mind, Ed Sneed fit into the unknown category and I was rooting against him in the 1979 Masters.
Myra Gelband's article on Sneed ("Impossible Not To Win," April 14) has changed my mind. Near the end of the article the question of how to accept the defeat was discussed. I think Sneed put it into proper perspective when he said, "Finishing second is an accomplishment, too."
DAVID S. NELSON
Santa Rosa, Calif.
It is fast becoming common knowledge that, as a spectator sport, golf has slipped over the past few years—a fact to which the Nielsen ratings attest—and it certainly isn't going to be saved by filling seven pages in SI with self-serving drivel about last year's bland and boring loser! I strongly urge you to leave the golf writing to Dan Jenkins, who always tells it like it is—not how he wishes it was.
DOUGLAS C. JOHNSON
I thought that with Dan Jenkins and Sarah Pileggi you had the finest contemporary golf writers. But Myra Gelband's piece on Ed Sneed and the '79 Masters ranks with the best of Herbert Warren Wind—and maybe even O. B. Keeler.
Cheers to Joe Marshall for his article on the NCAA swimming and diving championships (Making a Real Splash, April 7). Also, a standing ovation for Rowdy Gaines for telling what swimming is all about. It is one of the hardest sports—if not the hardest sport—to train for. My personal experience with pain in swimming workouts only intensifies my respect for the swimmers at the NCAAs. They are all champions.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
While mentioning the outstanding medley relay splits of SMU's Steve Lundquist, Cal's Par Arvidsson and Auburn's Rowdy Gaines. Joe Marshall failed to note that Texas' medley relay team of Clay Britt (50.04), Scott Spann (54.09), William Paulus (47.59) and Kris Kirchner (42.87) won the race in 3:14.59 and set pool, U.S. Open, meet and American records in the process.
Assistant Swim Coach
University of Texas
Joe Marshall and other observers may have found it surprising that the University of California won its second straight NCAA swimming title, but they should have taken into account that Cal has superior coaching—why wasn't Nort Thornton mentioned?—as well as depth. Cal is on the move again in all sports. It's enough to make your staffer, Ron Fimrite, proud (Homecoming, Oct. 22).
WILLIAM D. SOMMER
In an otherwise superb article about the NCAA championships you may have misled some readers by stating that shaving "increases speed by decreasing resistance." As a swimmer, I can assure you that in many cases the drag caused by one's body hair is almost nonexistent. But shaving one's body is nonetheless a smart thing to do, because it tremendously increases one's sensitivity to the water. Increased sensitivity means more efficient muscular action. In the words of Charles E. (Red) Silvia, one of swimming's great coaches, who is now director of the Pine Knoll Swim School in Springfield, Mass., "The quality of sensory input determines the quality of motor output."
Garden City, N.Y.
My congratulations to Ambrose (Rowdy) Gaines for his victories in the NCAA swimming championships. But how about his Auburn teammates buying him an electric razor?
TIMOTHY X. SOKAS
THE NUMBERS GAME
Reed Browning's piece on Career Average Margins (These Numbers Don't Lie, April 7) will start some arguments. To list the "10 Best Hitters" and ignore Ruth, Gehrig, Aaron, Musial, DiMaggio and Mays is to leave out hitting with power, hitting in the clutch and on-base percentages.
What statistic could show superiority more than Ruth's 59 home runs in 1921, 12% of the American League total? Ruth hit "only" .342 compared to Pete Browning's .343. Leave out sacrifices and sacrifice flies and in his career Ruth had 2,873 hits and 2,056 walks in 10,455 appearances at the plate, a phenomenal on-base percentage of .471. Browning had 1,164 hits and 465 walks in 5,250 appearances, an on-base percentage of .310.
Ruth is still No. 1 alltime in slugging percentage (.690), homers per time at bat (one every 11.76) and RBIs per time at bat (one every 3.79). And he's second to Ted Williams in walks (one every 4.09). No list that ignores Ruth, Gehrig and other total hitters can be called the 10 Best.
With regard to your fine article on the Career Average Margin, a simple, yet important, improvement can be made. All CAM measures is the difference between an individual's batting average and the league average. And this difference can be misleading. For instance, if a batter were to hit, say, 50 points above a league average of .280, this would not be nearly as impressive as the accomplishment of a hitter who batted 50 points above a league average of, say, .239. Some method of including the average difficulty of getting a hit should be included to accent how impressive (or dismal, as the case may be) a hitter's performance really has been.
This can be accomplished by dividing a given player's batting average for the year by the league average for that year, and then totaling these numbers over the player's career and dividing by the length of his career. Thus, if a mythical batter were to hit for exactly the league average each year, he would end up with a Career Average Ratio (CAR) of 1.000. On the other hand, if another player were to have a CAR of, say, 1.150, this would mean that he averaged 15% better than the league average over the length of his career.
This method, I believe, is a distinct improvement over CAM. However, Reed Browning is to be congratulated for coming up with CAM in the first place.
PETER G. HEYTLER JR.
East Lansing, Mich.
Career Average Margin (CAM) can be improved in two ways: after computing a player's annual margin (the difference between his average and the league average), 1) multiply that margin by the player's number of times at bat that season, and 2) divide by the standard deviation of all batting averages from the league average for that particular season.
This second adjustment is called standardization, and the new statistic derived from it could be named Career Average Standardized Margin (CASM). After adding a player's standardized figure for all the seasons in which he performed, divide by the total times at bat in his career (rather than by the number of seasons). CASM values for some of the immortals might be as high as 5.
DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES
Thank you for the wonderful photography of Walter Iooss Jr. in the April 7 issue (A Midsummer Day's Dream). It captures the heart of baseball, which can be done only by going to the ball park, not by watching the game on TV.
For the most part, I think Midsummer Day's Dream is a waste of space. I would have appreciated a more elaborate pictorial display of the Long Beach Grand Prix. Empty seats, blue backdrops and obstructions in the stands are what nightmares are made of. I did like the pictures of Coach Walt Hriniak picking out some balls and the players standing around the cage, though.
RICHARD G. GOODE
Walter Iooss Jr. captured some of the rare scenes of baseball. One thing bothered me, however, as I glanced through the colorful pages. Why was the ultimate daytime park overlooked?
I can just picture the smartly clad Chicago Cub pitching staff running through pregame drills against the beautiful green ivy on the Wrigley Field wall. What a sight! I'll be able to see it this summer, but think of the great injustice you've done to millions of fans who won't be as fortunate.
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