BILL RUSSELL & CO.
William Taaffe (TV/RADIO, May 16) complains that Bill Russell's basketball commentary is too slow. Compared to that of the nonstop talkers, 1 guess it is. Russell is the only announcer who has the sense to remain silent when there isn't anything to say. He also is the only one who understands tempo and pace, that games take time to develop—he once said that even though a team was losing at halftime, he would tell the players to continue doing exactly the same thing! I find Russell refreshing and relaxing, and his insights worth waiting for. Perhaps Russell is out of place in this electronic, hyperkinetic age, but if so, it is more a commentary on us than on him.
WILLIAM C. CRAIN
Associate Professor of Psychology
The City College
New York City
It's time that criticism of color analysts like Bill Russell comes to an end. He is respected by the critics who really count, the fans. William Taaffe's criticism of Russell is primarily from an artistic standpoint. However, it is not artistry that impresses the fans, but what is said. The firsthand knowledge that Russell imparts to his audiences gives the fan a feeling of what it is like to be there in actual, pressurized game situations. It may not be artistic, but it certainly is effective.
East Orange, N.J.
William Taaffe overlooked what I consider to be the major drawback in CBS's coverage of the NBA. It isn't Bill Russell's commentary, as Taaffe suggests, but the network's tendency to cover only three teams in the NBA. CBS fed us a steady diet of Boston, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, and Dick Stockton appeared to be biased in his play-by-play accounts of games involving those teams, particularly the semifinal series between Philadelphia and Milwaukee. I. for one, will take the cliché-ridden, machinelike ESPN any day.
So! Bruce Newman's article on UCLA's song girls (Eight Beauties and a Beat, March 16, 1981) was actually a prelude to the national media coverage now being showered on former song girl Julie Hayek, the new Miss U.S.A. Newman remarked. "Has anyone since Lana Turner looked better in a sweater than Julie Hayek? No."
Of course, her "best letters" are not U and A anymore—now they are M and U, as in Miss U.S.A. Congratulations on your astute observations.
•For another look at Hayek as she appeared as a song girl at UCLA basketball games in 1981, see below.—ED.
Have I detected a trend? First, Gato del Sol (Cat of the Sun) wins the Kentucky Derby. Then Sunny's Halo wins (The Grand Gamble Pays Off, May 16). I don't know about you, but I plan to study the names of next year's entries, and if I find the sun represented, I'll bet the farm. If Eddie Delahoussaye is aboard, it's a lock! After all, the sun does shine bright on my old Kentucky home.
As an avid Ralph Sampson and Virginia Cavalier fan, I just wish your college basketball predictions for 1982-83 (The Top 20, Nov. 29) had been as successful as William Nack's prediction of Sunny's Halo as the winner of the Kentucky Derby (It's About As Clear as Mud, May 9).
New Brighton, Minn.
In Anthony Cotton's article The Celtics' Fight for Survival (May 2), so much emphasis was placed on the altercation between Tree Rollins and Danny Ainge that another incident went almost unnoticed. Since the era of Muhammad Ali, it has become common practice among athletes to sing their own praises. Larry Bird's comments, such as "Sometimes I really believe that no one can guard me" and "I hope he (Dominique Wilkins] has a nice summer," were egotistical, to say the least.
As a firm believer that Bird is the best all-around player in the NBA, I was always impressed by his unselfish play and enthusiasm and I patterned my play in high school after his. I am now looking to players like Julius Erving and Magic Johnson for examples in attitude. Bird's sharp comments when asked about his matchup with Wilkins were uncalled for.
Pembroke Pines, Fla.
MAD DOG'S DAY
For years I believed that Bill Madlock was like a spoiled child who whines when things don't bounce his way. I never regarded him as a topnotch major-leaguer. But after reading Steve Wulf's article Glad Times for Mad Dog (May 9), I realize that Madlock is indeed an outstanding person and player. I hadn't been aware that his stats were comparable to George Brett's. Madlock's selection as the Pirates' captain is proof that he is a complete team player. I hope he will get the recognition he has obviously long deserved.
That was a terrific article on Bill Madlock. I have followed Bill's career closely since he was a high school student in Decatur. Ill. I also have had the privilege of working directly in state government with his mother, Sarah, in Illinois and in federal government with his sister in Washington, D.C. Bill is a member of a great family!
I well recall Bill on the night he was traded from the Cubs to the Giants: He kept a no-fee commitment to speak at our annual baseball dinner in Springfield, Ill. There are many of us who will never forget that.
ALAN J. DIXON
United States Senate
THE REAL GEORGE HENDRICK
George Hendrick's reputation for being silent, reclusive and cold might suffer as a result of the article by Grady Jim Robinson (FIRST PERSON, May 16). Robinson portrays a very human and wonderful side of Hendrick, quite the opposite of reports by the press depicting him as a self-serving, lackadaisical player. I throughly enjoyed seeing something positive and uplifting about him; he's a fine human as well as a fine athlete.
This morning a teammate of mine needled me on the way I was wearing my softball pants. I told him that I wear mine in the George Hendrick style. Now that I have read Grady Jim Robinson's article about Silent George, I plan to wear my softball pants long-legged for life.
ALAN P. SCHMIDT
TIGER FRANKS AND A.C.
Two low blows in two pages is too much to take. On page 68 of your May 16 issue you slammed my dogs by allowing Steve Kluger and Colleen Wilson to say in INSIDE PITCH "Tiger Stadium...franks are stale," and two pages later you let an unnamed Blitz defender slam my man: "Anthony Carter...can't carry Trumaine Johnson's shoes" (This Rookie Is a Tru Catch).
Let's set the record straight. Tiger Stadium franks—especially those hot off the grill—can't be touched anywhere in the major leagues. I know from having personally visited all 26 parks back in 1979. And Anthony Carter is a spectacular player who, in time, will dazzle the entire USFL.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
AS SHAKESPEARE SAID...
Harvey Sabinson (LISTS, May 9) omits my favorite baseball quote from Shakespeare, one that leads me to suspect that major league umpires are direct descendants, or reincarnations, of the witches in Macbeth: "Fair is foul, and foul is fair" (Act I, Scene 1).
HERBERT S. WHITE
John Grossmann's article on baseball scorecards (STATS, April 25) appealed to me because I, too, love to keep score whenever I'm at the park. Grossmann mentioned a number of different scoring styles and symbols, but he failed to include one of my favorites: Phil Rizzuto's WL, which, of course, stands for Wasn't Looking.
While I admire the objectivity of Peter Gammons of The Boston Globe, I handled Bucky Dent's 1978 playoff home run somewhat differently: I tore up my scorecard.
R. WILSON ANDERSON
After reading Henry Hecht's recent article A Box Full of Goodies (April 4), I find myself examining box scores more intently than ever before. After all, you never know when Ozzie Smith might even make an error. Herewith [below] is the box score that appeared in the May 4 edition of USA Today for the Cardinal-Padre game of April 3. I wonder: Is Montague's baby the youngest person ever to receive billing in an official major league box score?
T. SCOTT FEATHERS
FOR THREE-CUSHION FANS
It was a pleasure to see three-cushion billiards—the most challenging of the cue games—get some attention in your pages (PERSPECTIVE, April 18). Fortunately, the game is more popular than the author, Michael Baughman, apparently believes. Fifty tournaments were held in the U.S. last year by the American Billiard Association, and an impressive national tournament is staged every spring in the 300-seat arena at California Billiards in San Jose, Calif. At the 1983 nationals, five players averaged between .931 and 1.054 points per inning, the best performance by Americans in 40 years.
San Rafael, Calif.
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