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Original Issue


My wish for Kevin Brown is that his ERA will balloon to match
his salary.
--JIM O'ROARK, Beaver Falls, Pa.


I was disappointed to find Ulf Samuelsson missing from your list
of the top 10 bodycheckers in the NHL (Check, Please, March 29).
Perhaps the game's greatest open-ice hitter, Ulfie has patrolled
the blue line for more than a decade, punishing opponents who
have their heads down in open ice. He belongs at the top of this

I was delighted to see Leo Boivin of the Boston Bruins recognized
as the top NHL bodychecker of all time. Boivin's classic hip
checks helped define the glory days of the six-team NHL as much
as the slap shots of Bobby Hull or those sharp elbows wielded by
Gordie Howe.
Oakville, Ont.

How curious that your March 29 hockey article glorified the
"debilitating" power of bodychecking, while your March 22
feature story detailed a sobering incident of physicality gone
too far (Less Than Murder). Where do we draw the line between
aggressive play and vicious assault?
ALISON BEHR, Newport, R.I.


Tom Verducci writes about the importance of having a true No. 1
starting pitcher and selects nine of them who meet his criteria
(Aces High, March 29). At the end of the article he mentions
their 40-35 record in the postseason. These are supposed to be
the best pitchers out there, but they don't come through in the
clutch. Give me David Wells and his 8-1 record in the postseason
over these pretenders.
BILL PARIETTI, Tualatin, Ore.

Could the 40-35 postseason record be attributable to the fact
that No. 1 pitchers are more likely to face opposing No. 1
pitchers in the postseason?
BRUCE G. KLINE, Lander, Wyo.

Verducci states that a pitcher who wins 18 or more games in a
season is much more valuable to his team than a hitter with 40
or more home runs. He bases this on the fact that 10 of 11
pitchers qualified for the postseason last year, while only six
of 13 sluggers made the playoffs. This difference is primarily
the result of what statisticians call selection bias. Since
teams qualify for the playoffs on the number of games they win,
you can't compare pitchers' wins with sluggers' home runs. A
better comparison would be pitchers' wins versus sluggers'
game-winning hits, both of which directly relate to the number
of games a team wins.


As a lifelong Dodgers fan I'm happy Kevin Brown got that huge
contract (Nasty Stuff, March 29). Now he can afford to pay for
the anger-management classes that he so desperately needs.
DENNIS LYON, Sheboygan, Wis.

Having suffered through stories of celebrities becoming jerks
once they hit the big time, it's refreshing to read about Brown,
whose character and maturity have not been negatively influenced
in the process of attaining stardom: Brown was clearly a jerk
before making it to the big leagues.
KURT MATTISON, Eau Claire, Wis.

I can see the letters now in response to your article on Brown.
People will say he's a jerk, he has a violent temper, he's rude
to the media and so on. Well, guess what? Sometimes that's what
it means to be a competitor and not take losing lightly. More
important, he still lives near his parents and cares dearly for
his wife and two children. I have not heard about any drug use,
weapons possession or fathering of children with multiple women.
SCOTT STRUBB, Hawthorn Woods, Ill.

I have had the good fortune to serve as Board President of The
Boys and Girls Club of Central Georgia for 1997 and '98, and
Kevin Brown was kind enough to speak at our annual dinner in
December. Within 48 hours of receiving the largest contract in
baseball history, he was back home in Macon, speaking to a crowd
of about 500 people, 200 of them underprivileged children. At
the end of the night, I watched him sign hundreds of autographs
for free. Brown is a giving, caring family man.

Mean streak? Nasty stuff? S.o.b.? Come on! Has Brown ever
devoured an opponent's ear, attacked a spectator or spit in an
umpire's face? In this wide world of nasty sports, can't you
find a more deserving villain for these titles? Maybe he's not
the most bubbly fellow in baseball, but so what? Isn't it
possible that part of the reason he gets those fat paychecks is
that he takes baseball so seriously? That passion is what makes
the game worth watching.


Shaquille O'Neal's thumbing his nose at USA Basketball because
he's frustrated with the NBA is exactly what's wrong with some
of the players in the league (INSIDE THE NBA, March 29). He
should be honored to be considered for the national team. I
understand that the league wants its players competing for the
U.S. to further the NBA's international ambitions. But the
league and its players should leave the national team out of
their disputes.
SCOTT SENFTEN, Missouri City, Texas

O'Neal's constant whining has grown tiresome. He should take his
own advice and "just shut up and win."
JEFF DEDEKKER, Regina, Saskatchewan

Shaq averages 27.2 points a game, but he says that if the refs
gave him every call they should, he'd average 60 points. Where
are the additional 32.8 points going to come from? The foul line?
GEORGE WARREN, Topeka, Kans.


I could not resist chuckling while reading about Nick Faldo's
plight (TEEING OFF, April 19). Faldo deserves every ounce of
self-inflicted misfortune that comes his way.
LUKE DEROECK, Glenview, Ill.

John Garrity's rant was probably the meanest-spirited piece I
have seen in SI in my more than 30 years as a reader. Faldo will
not win any awards for congeniality, but when you stoop that
low, I have to get off the train.
Benicia, Calif.


I have never written to voice my pleasure or displeasure about
an article. However, I have to admit that Brandel Chamblee's
diary of his experience at the Masters compels me to do so (So
Close to Perfect, April 19). It exhibited innocence and, at the
same time, professionalism. I have since found myself rooting
for him. It was nice to read about a real, caring professional.
Thanks for a wonderful diary.
Lake Orion, Mich.


Let me get this straight. Hale Irwin's skill is unparalleled, he
plays as hard as he can all the time, and he cares enough about
winning that it shows (TEEING OFF, April 12). So that kind of
guy is bad for the Senior tour? I don't think so. He sounds a
lot like Larry Bird and Michael Jordan. Think the NBA misses them?
LARRY WOODS, Louisville


Gene Sauers's complaints about life on the Nike tour brought a
tear to my eye (MY SHOT, March 29). I can only imagine the
horror of playing golf every day without the benefit of a locker
room to change my shoes in or actually paying for the food I eat
in the clubhouse. And the idea of players' not receiving
courtesy cars sends a chill down my spine. The money I had
earmarked for the March of Dimes will now be rerouted to the
Nike tour players.

It saddened me to see the attitude of entitlement Sauers
espoused. The talent level of Nike tour players is nowhere near
99% of that displayed on the PGA Tour. What will the mediocre
think of next: that the purse money should be skewed toward them
because the superstars make all the endorsement money?

Perhaps Sauers's negative attitude explains why he has spent so
much time on the Nike tour.
RICHARD K. CHARLTON, Pawleys Island, S.C.

Instead of whining about being disturbed by spectators, he ought
to be darn happy there are any spectators.
MARK MILLER, Decatur, Ind.


Thank you for the article about the Futures tour (The Futures Is
Now, March 22). It's great that the tour finally gained a
corporate sponsor and long-overdue recognition. The tour has
stopped here in Lima, at the Lost Creek Country Club, for the
last five years. The Greater Lima Futures Open has generated
more than $70,000 for the foundations of the two area hospitals,
St. Rita's Medical Center and Lima Memorial Hospital.
Treasurer, Greater Lima Charitable Foundation
DBA Greater Lima Futures Open
Cridersville, Ohio


Am I glad I read Jeff MacGregor's column on the oversaturation
of sports on television (SI View, March 29) over lunch today! If
he hadn't reminded me of my own obsession, I'd have forgotten to
record the Orlando-Cleveland NBA game tonight, which is taking
place during my second softball game of the season. Thanks
again, Jeff, for reminding us how nice it is to see these games,
while you grouse over the absence of Westerns in your TV listings.
TORRE GRISSOM, Tallahassee, Fla.


COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BIEVER Did Faldo deserve a Masters that he'd rather forget?

Unforgettable Hitter

A notable omission from your list of the best bodycheckers of
all time is Vladimir Konstantinov, the Red Wing who suffered a
near-fatal head injury in a limo accident two years ago. When
Vlady took the ice, the opponents were always wary of his
presence. His hits are sorely missed.
PETE PALLAS, Muskegon, Mich.