I watched the Big East Conference semifinal game between Georgetown and Syracuse from a seat near where Patrick Ewing attempted to remove the head of Pearl Washington, and I have since read various accounts of the altercation. My compliments to Curry Kirkpatrick (Georgetown Punches In, March 18) for being one of the few journalists who accurately described what transpired, i.e., a Ewing elbow precipitated the incident.
Kirkpatrick's contention that inconsistent officiating continues to damage the Big East's reputation as one of the nation's premier conferences is a valid one. If one of the league's younger, lesser-known coaches—Seton Hall's P.J. Carlesimo, for example—had behaved as boorishly as Hoya coach John Thompson, he probably would have been ejected.
After reading Curry Kirkpatrick's article on Georgetown's victories in the Big East tournament and then watching the Hoyas play, I see no reason for Georgetown to resort to intimidation and brawls to win games. The Hoyas are the most talented team in the country and would be ranked No. 1 even without such tactics. That John Thompson seems to be proud of this style of play only makes it more disheartening.
Although I consider Curry Kirkpatrick the finest college basketball writer around, and though I, too, have been critical of Georgetown's thuglike approach to the game, I call foul on his account of the Georgetown-Syracuse game. Kirkpatrick writes that Pearl Washington "retaliated" after "Ewing delivered one of his violent elbows upon Washington's jaw." I saw that elbow numerous times on instant replay, and contrary to Kirkpatrick's account, it appeared to be no more than a run-of-the-mill, under-the-basket push in traffic. Moreover, I noted that Georgetown guard Michael Jackson later defused the potentially explosive situation by kidding with Washington after Jackson was flattened by a typically Pearlesque spin move.
I cannot defend the Georgetown program on all counts. Hoya paranoia, as practiced by John Thompson, is usually excessive and often counterproductive. But in truth, this year's Hoya squad has been a wonder to watch—the starting lineup includes five superior college basketball players and plays with intensity. And the Hoyas often do it in an anti-Hoya, even racially charged atmosphere like that seen in Madison Square Garden. Under such circumstances, "incidents," while always undesired, can sometimes be expected. When they occur, blame should be apportioned fairly.
My fears that Curry Kirkpatrick wasn't going to get in his annual licks at John Thompson and the Georgetown Hoyas were set to rest with this article. Five years from now Kirkpatrick probably will find some way to mention Michael Graham in any story he may write about the Hoyas.
Georgetown plays hard and emotionally but no dirtier than any other team. What bothers so many people is that the Hoyas are serious about being the best and that they have been so successful at reaching their goal. Win or lose, as individuals and as a team, the Georgetown Hoyas are champions.
I object to the characterization of the Big East in Curry Kirkpatrick's article. He suggests that the conference's mighty reputation has been exaggerated by the prominence of Georgetown and St. John's. He says its non-conference schedule was weaker than those of other conferences.
Nonetheless, after two rounds of NCAA playoffs, four of six Big East teams were still alive. By way of comparison, one of six from the Big Ten, one of three from the Big Eight, three of five from the Atlantic Coast, three of five from the Southeast and zero of four from the Pac-10 were still around.
Regardless of the eventual outcome of the NCAA tournament, I believe the Big East has shown itself to be the toughest conference in the country.
New York City
As one who enjoys reading SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and following the Philadelphia Flyers, I wonder if I will ever be able to do both at the same time. Your long-held belief that Philly's "hitting game" is bad for hockey was evident again in Jack Falla's article Philly Goes Bump In The Night (March 18). As exciting as it is to watch a Wayne Gretzky or a Gilbert Perreault skate and shoot, it is equally exciting to watch either one of them get knocked on his short pants.
Brad Marsh exemplifies the Flyers, past and present. What he lacks in talent, he makes up for with desire. The Capitals' recent experience was a reminder of what the Russians learned one day at the Spectrum: The Flyers play hard, and they play to win.
I hope that when you write about the Flyers winning this year's Stanley Cup, you will give them the credit they deserve.
JOHN R. WORSTER
New York City
Enough is enough! Please inform your hockey staff that the Broad Street Bullies have been replaced by the likes of Peter Zezel, Derrick Smith and Murray Craven. The new Flyers are winning on speed and finesse.
No fan will say that the physical aspect of hockey is gone, but Philadelphia is not the only team in the NHL that will throw its weight around. What's wrong with a stiff body check anyway?
Why not bid farewell to the Bullies and enjoy this brash band of youngsters going for the Cup.
His comeback doesn't rank with Ben Hogan's, but it's certainly good to see Fuzzy Zoeller on top again (Fuzzy's Back, Good As New, March 18). I hope he wins the Grand Slam this year.
Instead of entitling your March 18 cover of new Baltimore Oriole Fred Lynn "Have Bat, Will Travel," you should have billed it "Have Bank Account, Want Money." So much for loyalty!
STEPHEN G. HAUK
How can we "Root, root, root for the home team" when, like Fred Lynn, so many of our major league heroes "Have Bat, Will Travel"?
A spin-off effect of high baseball salaries (Ball Park Figures? Better Believe It, March 4) may be a dramatic shortage of future Hall of Famers. How many superstars of the future, earning millions per year, will want to put in the necessary time to accumulate the proper credentials? With big bucks now going even to marginal players, we may see the last of the true superplayer.
ARMANDO J. RE
A comment of mine was taken out of context in your March 18 SCORECARD supporting a point diametrically opposed to my actual feelings. The item gives the Phoenix Press Box Association a good-natured jibe for selecting Seattle Mariners first baseman Alvin Davis [a native of California] as Arizona's Pro Athlete of the Year.
The problem lies with neither the jibe nor the totally accurate quote. But the item makes it appear that the PPBA agrees that Davis was a "crummy choice" (your words).
A key to our selection is the amount of recognition a candidate brings to Arizona. Because Davis was a rookie in 1984, his college career at Arizona State was well publicized. If you wish to call Davis a crummy choice, that is your option. We of the PPBA think he was an excellent selection.
Assistant Managing Editor
The Phoenix Gazette
Re SCORECARD (March 18): Yeah, the hit by Harry Walker that scored Enos Slaughter in the seventh game of the 1946 World Series was ruled a double, but only because of myopic, non-romantic official scorers. The way I described it, the looping, sinking sea gull to semideep left center was only a king-size single.
As Slaughter rounded third, running through coach Mike Gonzalez's arm-flapping stop sign, I stood at my press box seat and exclaimed, "J——C——, he's trying to score!"
I was as surprised as the Red Sox defense. After Slaughter scored easily, the result of Johnny Pesky's sagging, off-balance throw that caused catcher Roy Partee to move up the line to smother it, I argued with the scorers that by giving Walker a double, they had taken the exciting edge off a dramatic play. Later, when I asked him about it, even the fleet Walker agreed that it had been only a single.
It's too bad the scorers had no sense of baseball history or theatrics.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Your item on Enos Slaughter's 1946 eighth-inning dash to the plate revived a great World Series play but spoiled a good trivia question: Who fielded Walker's hit and threw to Pesky?
Before your March 18 issue few fans could supply the answer: Leon Culberson. But here's another: Who was the on-deck hitter, partially shown in your photograph? Answer: Marty Marion.
TERRENCE MICHAEL RYAN
•It was indeed Marion (No. 4 in the picture above).—ED.
Whitey Kurowski, Slaughter, Marion and Stan Musial celebrated a year that saw no St. Louis blues.
Letters should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.