THE WORMS TURN
After reading Curry Kirkpatrick's sidebar "Here's To The Worms In The Big Apple" (It Went Thataway!, Oct. 27) on reasons to hate the Mets, I cursed him out loud for about 10 minutes. Obviously, Kirkpatrick is about as unbiased as Whitey Herzog, and like Herzog, he comes out a loser because the Mets fought back to win the World Series. There are only two reasons why people like Kirkpatrick hate this great team: 1) The Mets are just too good, and 2) Kirkpatrick et al. wish the Mets were their team.
Kirkpatrick's writing was definitely not like it oughta be.
It's "amazin' " what one man will write for attention. Yes, the pen is mightier than the sword, but Curry Kirkpatrick made no mention of the bat. Sit down, Kirkpatrick, and write something productive—like an apology to Frank Cashen & Co.
Jealousy, nothing but jealousy.
Willets Point, the Letsgoes, Nails, October, Mex, Hot Dog—ah, to be a worm!
West Babylon, N.Y.
I am in favor of the instant replay system (Going Ape Over Tape, Oct. 20), and I think the communication problem can be worked out. I work at a nuclear power plant. We have walkie-talkies similar to the NFL umps, and sometimes hearing orders from the control room is hard, especially in noisy areas. So when we get beeped, we usually head for the nearest phone for clear communication. A mistake at a nuclear plant could be devastating, and since we've never had any major problems, it proves that communication can be worked out.
•NFL umpires are now equipped with individual earpieces and mikes for clearer communication.—ED.
I beg to differ with Paul Zimmerman on his analysis of what's wrong with instant replay. The man in the booth should never have the authority to overrule the man on the field. The replay man should be there only to stop play and give the field official responsible for making the call (or noncall) the opportunity to review what we in TV land have seen. If the man on the field wants to stick by his call, so be it. If, because of a replay, he finds reason to change his call, he avoids the onus that Don Denkinger will carry to his grave. Give the guy on the field a helping hand, not a Big Brother.
The NFL blew it by trying to check every play. Let's face it, the USFL had it right: The coaches and players asked for a review when they felt a bad call was made.
Jacksonville Beach, Fla.
The solution to the NFL's new replay system is so simple that it has been overlooked. Instead of having code words and relying solely on audio communication, why not add a visual signal that can readily be seen by players, coaches, fans and officials alike?
A traffic signal light mounted in front of the press box could work equally well in daytime or nighttime conditions and would be instantly understood: yellow (play under review), green (call stands), red (call reversed).
Best of all, this solution could be implemented immediately—right after Pete Rozelle reads this letter.
Instant replay officiating is a bad idea to begin with, but look at the photo of Jack Reader on page 35. The TV monitor is only five inches wide! Get the guy a bigger screen.
THE SOCCER DREAM
I was pleased to see Gerard Vandystadt's great picture of young soccer players in hot pursuit of the ball leading off your Oct. 27 issue. Their obvious enthusiasm for the game is the basis for the future success of the sport in the U.S.
I dispute the premise in Jaime Diaz's story (Alive But Barely Kicking) that the NASL in general and Pelè specifically contributed to the collapse of the outdoor game in the U.S. As an American, as the first soccer player ever to be featured on the cover of your magazine (Sept. 3, 1973) and as a 12-year veteran of the NASL, I feel that it was a fantastic learning experience to play with and against players such as Pelè George Best, Franz Beckenbauer and Johan Cruyff, to name a few. I learned more soccer in practice games with third-and fourth-division players from England than I did from any American college coach. In fact many of the college coaches who complain about undeveloped American talent turn around and import players from every foreign country imaginable in order to be competitive.
I feel for players such as UCLA's Paul Caligiuri. But the real dark ages were in 1973, when 11 players from Philadelphia, 6 of us Americans, won the NASL championship (see left). Incidentally, I was paid $2,500 for that entire season. Soccer will survive.
Contrary to popular myth, the NASL did draw fairly well; its average gate ranked fifth or sixth among pro leagues in soccer-playing nations despite relatively high ticket prices. This promising situation was killed by idiotic management.
The ACC schools have shown that college soccer, if treated as a serious sport, can be a big success, yet schools like Illinois and Michigan don't even field varsity teams.
Many soccer experts agree that America's organizational ability, commercial resources, television technology, modern stadiums, attractiveness to visitors, and huge support for the 1984 Olympic soccer tournament make the U.S. the ideal venue for World Cup '94. They also agree that the U.S. has no chance to be chosen.
Soccer fans shouldn't give up though. There are more of us than many in the press like to believe.
I read with much enjoyment and pleasure the story Cricket's Babe Ruth (Oct. 27). Though he may lack the class of Dennis Lillee, the speed of Jeff Thomson or the strategic ingenuity of Ian or Greg Chappell, there is certainly no denying Ian Botham's talent as a batsman and a bowler and his flair for achieving the seemingly unbelievable.
Though every sport has—and needs—its share of villains to root against, Clive Gammon should be congratulated for showing us the positive side of Guy the Gorilla. The Windies (West Indies) have the best 11, the Aussies will regain the Ashes, but the Poms (England) have the premier personality, whom no one feels indifferent about. Botham is great for cricket.
•Last week Botham decided to play for Queensland, Australia, next year.—ED.
As an Englishman, I was pleasantly surprised to read the piece on Botham. Over the past six years I have had little success in explaining the rules of cricket to sports aficionados over here. I shall certainly use some of Gammon's phrases in future attempts. Until now the nearest I have been able to come is to say that cricket in October is very much like baseball, for it is in that month that the keen cricket/baseball fan discovers that his wife left him in May.
The members of the Haverford College varsity cricket team were delighted to find Clive Gammon's wonderful article on Ian Botham. It is high time that cricket made the pages of your magazine.
Varsity Cricket Team
Goalie Rigby starred in the 1973 NASL title game.
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.