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Umpires are like dairy cows. The bottom 20% should be culled each
--AL OPPEDAL, Ruthven, Iowa


Thanks for having the courage to take on the sanctimonious
baseball umpires (Moody Blues, Oct. 19). I don't get their
argument that it's O.K. to do a poor job of calling balls and
strikes as long as their calls are consistent. Being regularly
bad at any other job gets you fired. It should be no different
for umpires.
RANDALL SCHAU, Portage, Mich.

If what union chief Richie Phillips says is true, that he has 64
of the best umpires available, then it should be no problem to
get them to call the strike zone correctly.
BILL LEWIS, Buda, Texas

The fact that there are umpires who feel "the little bit of
money" they're paid (as much as $30,000 for a combined Division
Series and World Series assignment) is "just not worth it" says
it all.
DAVID BRADLEY, Sterling, Va.

Maybe this letter should be titled Kill the Editors, but I
wouldn't be that insensitive.

I was hurt and disappointed by your use of my picture on the
cover of your Oct. 19 issue, which bore the headline KILL THE
UMPS! In 22 years as a professional umpire, I have approached
games with an ideal of fairness and common sense. I strive to get
every play or pitch right.

An essential part of the baseball drama is the human element. An
umpire is part of that. I perceive the play, apply the rules and
make the decision, all in real time. Under these circumstances,
questionable calls sometimes happen, just like rainouts and
brawls. My role is to decide what is right. I cannot, like
Solomon, split the baby. On any call, half the players and fans
will be disappointed.

The dismay I felt when you used my picture was brought home when
my nine-year-old son asked me, "Dad, does this mean they want to
kill you?" In my job I am accountable to and scrutinized by many.
I now ask if you are equally accountable for your irresponsible
choice of words, which denigrates the game of baseball and causes
me undeserved anguish?
TIM WELKE, American League Umpire

I realize that "Kill the Umps" has long been an expression in
baseball, dating back at least to the 1888 poem Casey at the Bat.
However, in today's violent society, I think you could have
chosen a better headline to express your dissatisfaction with the
flaws in baseball umpiring.
ANN BAKUN, Clinton, Mass.


Steve Rushin has lived every sports junkie's fantasy and told the
tale exactly the way each of us would have (Road Swing, Oct. 19).
As a Yankee living in the South, I think he got it just right.
Rushin is my hero--this week.
CLAIRE S. JONES, Soddy Daisy, Tenn.

When I signed up to go on-line, I vowed I would never buy
anything through the Internet. After reading the excerpts from
Rushin's book Road Swing, though, I couldn't log on fast enough
to order a copy. Thanks for a wonderful article.
RON D'AVIS, Glendora, Calif.

What a trip! Rushin would make Jack Kerouac proud.
RAYMOND M. BROWN, Baldwin, Md.


I believe one very big hitter was overlooked on your "Top 10
Heavy Hitters" list in the Oct. 19 issue (INSIDE COLLEGE
FOOTBALL). He's David Stroshine the 6'2", 225-pound outside
linebacker with 4.5 speed for Division 1-AA Weber State.
Stroshine is known as the Silent Assassin because of his quiet
nature and bone-crunching hits. I have never witnessed a player
who plays each down with such tenacity.
P. HAZEL, Ogden, Utah


Rick Reilly's criticism of Kerry Collins goes beyond the pale
(SCORECARD, Oct. 19). Giving up a job as a starting quarterback
in the NFL raises questions, but to equate it with cowardice at
Omaha Beach is inappropriate and misguided.
DEAN W. CRAMER, Fort Dodge, Iowa

Hey, Kerry, you get to do what millions of people have dreamed
about, play in the NFL. Now that you've made it, how can you say
your heart isn't in it anymore? With that attitude, I hope to see
you someday standing in an unemployment line, because that's what
you deserve.
GREG RUSSELL, South Burlington, Vt.

COLOR PHOTO: PETER READ MILLER [Neil O'Donnell playing for Pittsburgh Steelers]


The item titled "O'Donnell's Revenge" told of Neil O'Donnell's
leading the Bengals to victory over the Steelers three years
after Pittsburgh had chosen Kordell Stewart, instead of
O'Donnell, to play quarterback (INSIDE THE NFL, Oct. 19). How
soon we forget. O'Donnell, then a free agent, rejected the
Steelers after his bizarre performance in Super Bowl XXX against
the Dallas Cowboys. Pittsburgh offered him a reported $18.75
million over five years to stay. O'Donnell turned down the deal
and went to the Jets for more money.