BRAWN VS. BRAINS
What a pleasure it was to read the articles in the April 24 issue on Kevin Johnson (KJ!) and on the people who have devoted their lives to baseball (Reflections on the Game). But it is difficult to understand why you included in the same issue a story on the arrogant, idiotic, utterly one-dimensional Tony Mandarich (The Big Enchilada). Who cares what this man eats or what music he likes? Perhaps we should ask what classes he was enrolled in while at Michigan State or what he would do with his life if an injury denied him the ability to play football.
It is high time we quit singing the praises of athletes who have no greater contribution to make to society than their athletic prowess.
For the last three years we have held a Kevin Johnson Day at our school. Johnson has a natural ability to relate to students of all ages. Whether pretending to count on his fingers—much to the amusement of the first-graders, who know better than to solve arithmetic problems that way—or relating Care Bear stories to third-graders or transforming an eighth-grade girl into a female Tom Chambers during a scrimmage (do these assists count?), KJ leaves the students with a sense of pure joy. He has shown them how they can reach their potential and has given new meaning to the word hope.
Teacher, St. Leo's Elementary School
As a high school history teacher and a soccer and hockey coach, I appreciated your article on Kevin Johnson. His generosity, discipline and thirst for knowledge provide an excellent example. Unfortunately, it was the imposing picture of Tony Mandarich that I heard my students discussing. His determination and skill are admirable, but those qualities apparently didn't carry over to the classroom, where it really counts.
Please don't mention Mandarich again in the same sentence with Bengal offensive tackle Anthony Munoz. Munoz is a gentleman who has given much of himself to the Cincinnati community. Leave the foul-mouthed, egotistical slobs in a class by themselves.
Give Mandarich credit—he makes the Boz look genteel.
BOGGS VS. GAETTI
A comparison of the batting accomplishments of Wade Boggs and Gary Gaetti (INSIDE BASEBALL, May 1) is actually quite simple. Both players will be 31 this season, and going into this year they had almost the same number of career at bats (3,913 for Boggs, 3,914 for Gaetti).
Boggs had 373 more hits, 188 more runs scored, 49 more doubles and 13 more triples. Granted, Gaetti had 105 more home runs and 129 more RBIs. But because Boggs usually leads off and Gaetti bats further down in the order, a truer comparison would be runs produced (runs scored plus RBIs). Boggs had 59 more than Gaetti. Boggs also had a higher slugging percentage (.485 to .450), 350 more walks and 401 fewer strikeouts. It is overkill to mention that Boggs's lifetime batting average is almost 100 points higher than Gaetti's.
JAMES W. BOVINET
There is no question that "West Is Best" when it comes to major league baseball (1989 Special Baseball Issue, April 5), but in the major leagues of college athletics the sun long ago set on the West. Since 1976, teams west of the Mississippi have finished atop the Associated Press's final poll only twice in football, and have won only one NCAA basketball tournament. In that same period schools from the eastern half of the country have won 24 such titles (map, below). Clearly, the balance of power in college athletics has shifted to the East.
MICHAEL C. BRAND
Letters to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and should be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020-1393.
Brigham Young '84
Michigan State '79
Notre Dame '77, '88
Penn State '82, '86
N. Carolina '82
N. Carolina State '83
Louisville '80, '86
Miami '83, '87
Alabama '78, '79
[Blue Line]AP College Football Champions
[Red Line]NCAA Basketball Champions
[Yellow Line]Mississippi River