Whitaker vs. Chàvez
The Chàvez-Whitaker fight showed the world what is right and what is disgustingly wrong with pro boxing (Beaten to the Draw, Sept. 20). For 12 rounds Julio Cèsar Chàvez and Pernell Whitaker put on perhaps the best display of boxing skills in a decade. Don King, Josè Sulaimàn and the disgraceful decision of the judges cannot negate the beauty of Whitaker's performance.
Congratulations to Whitaker for showing that he is indeed the best fighter in the world.
I would like to commend William Nack for pulling no punches in his criticism of the judges and of the WBC in the Whitaker-Chàvez fight. Even though anybody who knows boxing knows how crooked the sport and its alphabet bandit organizations can be, it's still refreshing to see it criticized in print.
As you pointed out, after Round 6, in which Whitaker repeatedly hit Chàvez below the belt, the fight changed. Having fought myself for some years, I know that low blows interfere dramatically with one's performance. What amazed me was that Whitaker neither lost rounds nor was disqualified for his tactics.
LOUIS M. TARASI JR.
Thanks to Alexander Wolff for his article about the accomplishments of Steffi Graf and Pete Sampras at this year's U.S. Open (Serves and Follies, Sept. 20). It's about time someone recognized that quiet, unassuming champions are still champions. True, the men's draw lost several top seeds early—but not Sampras. He stayed focused and performed without fanfare and without controversy. The fact that some observers call that boring is indicative of tennis's sad state of affairs.
As for Graf, it is unfortunate that her extraordinary year has not been given its due because the shadow of Monica Seles has been beside her every time she has held the winner's trophy high. Yet Graf has quietly gone about the business of dominating the women's game. Her talent and comportment—especially her gracious comments about Seles's injury—put her in a class by herself.
In his piece about John McEnroe as a TV commentator during the U.S. Open (SPORTS PEOPLE, Sept. 13), Alexander Wolff said McEnroe pointed out that "forcing [Boris] Becker to play seven best-of-five-set matches in 11 days to win the tournament would be, more or less, the pits of the world." True, the scheduling was less than perfect, but recall:
In my playing days the U.S. Nationals was not a two-week tournament. In 1949, the year I was runner-up at Forest Hills, it was only eight days long. I had five-set matches in the quarters, semis and finals, against Frank Sedgman, Bill Talbert and Pancho Gonzales. In the final, before the tiebreaker days, the first set went to 18-16. The other players and I just played—and not for $1 million, either. We didn't consider this "the pits."
F.R. (TED) SCHROEDER JR.
La Jolla, Calif.
Rickey's No. 1 Fan
Baseball has come to symbolize the worst of pro sports—pouting, mouthy players; nonexistent leadership in the front office; and consummate greed at every turn. How refreshing it was then to read Steve Wulf's POINT AFTER (Sept. 13) about Rickey Henderson's friendship with nine-year-old Erin States. The article made a hardened baseball critic like myself soften his stance for a minute and realize that the games still has some true superstars.
Rickey and his mother have been telling us for years that he isn't such a bad guy. Now maybe I'll believe them.
MICHAEL V. MARINELLO
As a very young Cleveland fan, I was devastated when my hero, third baseman Al Rosen, retired after the 1956 season at age 32 because of recurring injuries. I was such a fan, I named our dog Flip, Rosen's nickname. I had written letters to a host of players, but only Rosen answered each one. He also sent a photo with his signature and a handwritten "To Carol." This photo is now framed in my office, a constant reminder of players who appreciated their fans.
In 1978 my 16-year-old nephew was confined for months in a Cininnati hospital with severe burns. I wrote several players and managers with the Reds and with the teams that were still to play in Cincinnati that season, asking them to give him a telephone call. Only Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda responded. Insisting that a phone call was insufficient, he and three Dodger players visited not only my nephew but also every other patient in the hospital's children's unit. Our entire family will forever adore Lasorda and his Dodgers.
CAROL D. RASNIC
For Schroeder, playing for a pittance was not "the pits."
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