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Original Issue


Thank you for George Plimpton's article on the New York Ranger fans who occupy Madison Square Garden's blue seats (The Wild Blue Yonder, April 3). As a die-hard Ranger fan, I read it with a grin a mile wide. Nothing he said about the obscenities emanating from that section shocked me. The only thing that did was learning that after spending all of those nights among the blue-seaters, Plimpton is still not a Ranger fan.
Landing, N.J.

The Ranger blue section may lead the league in vulgarities, but it is made up of the most knowledgeable hockey fans—with the possible exception of Montreal's—in North America. There is not a team in the NHL that fans in the blues are unfamiliar with. They know the players' statistics and reputations, and, yes, they never forget a late hit or a high stick against their beloved underachievers. I have never felt comfortable joining in with the rousing and obscene chants, but the real obscenity is the thuggery and dirty stick work the NHL allows on the ice in every arena.
New York City

Many people who sit in the blue seats do so because they want to. The high-achieving professionals with whom I sit on my occasional visits to Madison Square Garden can certainly afford seats closer to the ice, but they continually renew their season tickets in nosebleed territory. At my first game my host, a mild-mannered accountant, was transformed into a different being, obviously enjoying the emotional release allowed by "blue behavior." As we left the Garden, he smiled and said, "It's cheaper than a psychiatrist." Maybe more effective, too.
Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

I can recall spending many evenings in the blue section rooting for the Rangers. Alas, my business has taken me to Florida, where, thanks to NHL president John Ziegler and his asinine TV contract, I cannot, even with cable, watch any playoff games. The 4,200 occupants of the blue seats may be boisterous, obscene and obnoxious, but they are a more positive influence on the sport—and certainly care more for it—than Ziegler.
Tequesta, Fla.

I gave up my season tickets in the blues because I could no longer tolerate the minority of fans who were responsible for most of the vile actions in the section. The only things I enjoyed more than a fight-free Ranger win were my discussions with a very knowledgeable fan who sat across the aisle from me. Sometimes I miss the friends I made in the blues, but then I recall the fights, chants and spilled beer—and the seeming indifference shown by the Garden management—and I'm glad I stay home.

The thugs and bums who occupy the blue seats at the Garden are a disgrace to the team they purport to represent.
Allentown, Pa.

I just finished the wonderful article on Rick Mahorn (A Master of Intimidation, April 10). I used to work at a branch store of a sporting-goods chain that supplies gift certificates to Detroit players who are named Player of the Game. Mahorn used his certificates to buy Piston jackets, which he then gave to the Salvation Army for distribution to children in need. I've seen other Pistons spend their certificates on themselves, buying water skis, etc. Mahorn is truly a hero when it comes to generosity.
Lansing, Mich.

Rick Mahorn is a teddy bear. Just ask the kids at my daughter's elementary school, where he spoke during Drug Awareness Week. It's nice to see him get some well-deserved praise for his off-court contributions.
Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

What are fines totaling $11,000 to someone with Mahorn's salary? Until the NBA starts handing out long suspensions, dirty play will continue. After all, it cost Mahorn only $5,000 to sideline Cleveland's Mark Price. Who cares if Mahorn and Bill Laimbeer are basically nice people? What should matter is their unsportsmanlike conduct during the game. The day the Bad Boys win the NBA championship will be a sad day for basketball.
Berlin Heights, Ohio

Congratulations to Stephen Kiesling for his article on the Mullen brothers (Hell's Angels, March 27), one of the most inspirational American sports stories since the fictional saga of Rocky Balboa. Who would have believed that the greatest U.S.-born hockey player, Calgary's Joey Mullen, and his brother Brian of the Rangers, would emerge from Hell's Kitchen in New York City?

As the student-radio voice of Boston College hockey in the late 1970s, I watched Joey Mullen dominate eastern college hockey. Lacking the grace of an accomplished skater, he seemed to defy the laws of physics as he flew over the ice, scoring more often from a horizontal position than from a vertical one. At a school that is building a reputation for explosive small athletes (Doug Flutie, Michael Adams), the 5'9" Mullen was instant excitement whenever he was on the ice.

Joey's 110 points during this regular season for the Flames were the most ever in the NHL by a U.S.-born player, and his 51 goals made him the third U.S.-born player to score 50 or more goals in a season. Bobby Carpenter, who was born in Beverly, Mass., scored 53 goals for the Capitals in 1984-85, and in 1987-88, Jimmy Carson of Southfield, Mich., scored 55 for the Kings.
Commack, N.Y.

Kiesling wrote, "The Mullens have never been fighters, on or off the ice." That would have been an excellent opportunity to mention that in 1986-87, Joey was awarded the NHL's Lady Byng Trophy for sportsmanship.
Auburn, Mass.

John Feinstein is right to complain about the inordinate adulation of college basketball coaches by the media, especially by the broadcast media (POINT AFTER, April 10). However, Feinstein deals with what is only one manifestation of a larger problem, namely, that coaches have taken over the game.

How often have we seen the last minute or so of a game take 10 or 15 minutes to play because coaches are allowed to call repeated timeouts? Given this Svengali-like control over the players, is it any wonder that television announcers go on and on about the coaches' supposed genius?

I suggest limiting each team to one full timeout and one 20-second timeout during the last two minutes of a game. This would not only restore the game to its natural rhythm but also return it to the players. We might even see the return of the classic floor general, the player who takes charge and directs his team without interference from the coach.

How interesting that Feinstein laments the attention given to basketball coaches by the media. Isn't this the same John Feinstein who reaped the financial rewards of writing a best-selling book (A Season on the Brink) about—of all things—a basketball coach (Indiana's Bob Knight)?

You've got gall, Feinstein, by the basketful.
Bloomington, Ind.

After reading your March 13 article (Born To Serve) on Andre Agassi and his entourage, I feel compelled to present a different image of this young tennis player. While competing in a tournament in Indian Wells, Calif., just after your story appeared, Andre and his brother, Phil; his manager, Bill Shelton; and his coach, Nick Bollettieri, spent several hours with 135 members of the Boys Club of Coachella Valley, of which I am executive director. Coach Bollettieri gave an outstanding talk to the youngsters about how to get more out of their lives, and Andre responded to questions and autographed posters, T-shirts and other items (below) for the boys. When arrangements were being made for this visit, I asked Phil if he wanted me to contact the media. His response was, "No, we want to do this for the kids."
Indio, Calif.



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