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I take exception to Tom Verducci's choice of Indians
rightfielder Manny Ramirez as American League MVP (Photo Finish,
Oct. 11). With all its firepower and its placement in the
mediocre Central Division, the Tribe could have substituted
Mario Mendoza for Ramirez and still cruised to another division
title. Verducci's runner-up choice, Yankee Derek Jeter, better
fulfills the MVP criteria.

Interesting that Verducci spends about three paragraphs on
trying to persuade us that Ramirez should be the AL MVP and
about three pages on why Pedro Martinez shouldn't be. Perhaps it
wasn't the reader Verducci was trying to convince but himself.
ERIC ABROMSON, Marina del Rey, Calif.

The award should go to Jeter, and this is from a guy who hates,
really hates the Yankees.
SPENCER FLEURY, Palmetto, Fla.

If Ivan Rodriguez does not get the MVP, they should stop giving
the award. No fielder has as much influence as he does. Just ask
one of the 53% of base runners he threw out. Combine that with
his offensive numbers, it's a no-brainer.
STEVEN BATSON, El Centro, Calif.


If the remarks made by umpire John Shulock about Devil Rays
pitcher Wilson Alvarez are accurate, then Shulock should be
dismissed (SCORECARD, Oct. 4). The last thing baseball needs is
an umpire with a vendetta toward a player. If Alvarez did
intentionally hit Shulock, then his actions are inexcusable.
That, though, would in no way excuse Shulock.
PAUL SMITH, Indian Trail, N.C.

Shulock was the impartial arbiter put in place to enforce the
rules? What an arrogant attitude! Do you think Major League
Baseball could consider one more resignation letter?
SKIP LADNIER, Powder Springs, Ga.

You do an injustice to Shulock by suggesting that his
objectivity would be compromised the next time Alvarez pitches
and he is behind the plate. While Shulock's swagger may put
critics off, he approaches each game as if it were the seventh
game of the World Series. John Hirschbeck and Roberto Alomar's
confrontation was much more severe than this incident.
BRIAN E. BUTTERLY, Alameda, Calif.


It was disappointing to read the SCORECARD item in the Oct. 4
issue that attributed the design of the new Pittsburgh Steelers
stadium to the Rockwell Group. HOK Sport is the design firm and
the architect of record. The Rockwell Group was retained by the
Steelers to provide early theming suggestions and possible
add-on components to the architecture.
Senior Vice President
HOK Sports Facilities Group
Kansas City, Mo.


I applaud your coverage of the Ryder Cup, mainly for not
overemphasizing the celebration on the 17th green after Justin
Leonard's improbable putt (Moment of Truth, Oct. 4). If
enthusiasm and the will to win are characteristics of poor
sportsmanship, then proper golf etiquette was compromised by
both sides.
MICHAEL A. DANAY, North Mankato, Minn.

The photograph of the celebration depicts what I expected. Not
one American player, player's wife, caddie or fan came between
the hole and Jose Maria Olazabal's ball mark. No one stepped in
his line. The celebration may have been excessive, but under the
circumstances it should have happened--and I'm glad it did.
BEV DAVIS, Radford, Va.

I fail to understand why Leonard is being hailed as the Ryder
Cup hero simply because he made one long putt and was
responsible for winning 1 1/2 points in the competition. The
U.S. victory was a team triumph. If there was a hero, it was Hal
Sutton, who had 3 1/2 points.
BILL TEMPLETON, Shreveport, La.

The only thing obnoxious about our guys' monumental performance
was the shirts.

I'm as glad as the next guy that the U.S. came back to win the
Ryder Cup, but the premature celebration on the 17th green was
an affront to everything that golf stands for: self-discipline,
integrity, common sense and sportsmanship.

When a baseball player hits a homer in the top of the ninth of
the seventh game of the World Series to help his team take the
lead, the team celebrates like mad, even though the opposing
team can tie the score in the bottom of the ninth. When a back
runs for a touchdown with 58 seconds to play in the Super Bowl
to put his team ahead by three, his team celebrates like mad,
even though the opposing team still has the opportunity to get
into field goal range and tie the score. For a brief moment on
the 17th green on the final day of the 1999 Ryder Cup, something
peculiar happened: Golf actually imitated sport.
DOUGLAS J. CASA, Storrs, Conn.

It would have been a memorable act of sportsmanship if captain
Ben Crenshaw had Justin Leonard concede Olazabal's putt on the
17th after the disruption ceased.
MICHAEL B. MEYERS, Middletown, Md.


Rick Reilly has hit the nail on the head with his A Change of
Heart column (THE LIFE OF REILLY, Oct. 4). Watching the U.S.
players turn an individual sport into a team effort was

Congratulations to Reilly for describing the behavior of David
Duval and the rest of the U.S. team after their dramatic victory
as great and appropriate. This boorish, shameful and ridiculous
celebration was just what the game of golf, and Duval, needed.
BEN HOPPE, Kennewick, Wash.

The argument that the U.S. team became one big happy family on
Sunday is easy to make in retrospect. The real story would have
been if the same love-fest had occurred in the face of a loss.
DAVE CUMMINGS, South Portland, Maine

Reilly is sadly mistaken if he thinks the spoiled, ego-driven
U.S. team members have changed their ways. On Monday, it was
back to the same old routine of private jets, dark glasses and
contempt for the fans who make them famous. It's easy to be
patriotic one weekend every other year.
ANDREW WITTEN, Jacksonville


Thank you Melissa Lehman for saying what all of us are feeling
(MY SHOT, Oct. 25). Tom should not have to apologize to anyone
for his and the other Americans' jubilation. I believe that if
the shoe were on the other foot, the Europeans would have
reacted in the same manner. If the Europeans are going to act as
if we Americans are a bunch of backwoods hooligans, maybe they
should not come to the U.S. and collect those big bucks.
JIM FYFE, Waynesville, N.C.

I don't know which was more nauseating: Melissa Lehman's
self-serving column or the photograph of her leading the charge
of the ugly Americans. Until she has been spat upon by European
fans as was the European captain's wife by American fans, she
should not be so anxious to call this a finish worthy of a
Hollywood script.
STUART DARLING, Palm Desert, Calif.


How can you pick the Bruins to go to the Stanley Cup finals
(SCOUTING REPORTS, Oct. 4)? There isn't a team in the NHL that
could lose its top goal scorer (in Boston's case, Dmitri
Khristich) and not have its top goalie (Byron Dafoe) signed
before the season started that could reach that goal. The Bruins
will be lucky to make the playoffs.
IAN WOOD, Manchester, Mass.

You think the Maple Leafs have the No. 1 offense and No. 2
goaltender in the NHL, but you still rank them 14th overall,
behind the Flyers and the Penguins (both of whom where
eliminated by Toronto in last year's playoffs) and the Mighty
Ducks? Who needs a power play when you score more goals than any
other team in the league?
MARK LLOYD, Indianapolis


I am glad to see Brad Johnson excel with the Redskins (Over the
Top, Oct. 4). I'm a die-hard Vikings fan, but I thought
Minnesota made a mistake trading him and sticking with Randall
Cunningham. Though Cunningham was super last season, I just
didn't think he could do it again. Some say the Vikings made a
good move because they were able to draft Daunte Culpepper with
the pick they obtained from Washington. I still think the
Vikings would have benefited more from having Johnson.


COLOR PHOTO: SIMON BRUTY Ryder Cup Captain Ben Crenshaw selected the right players, but what about those shirts?

What happened on the 17th green that Sunday afternoon is called
home field advantage.
--JERRY LESAK, Ambridge, Pa.


I am thrilled to see someone finally recognize the achievement
of Harold Baines (SCORECARD, Oct. 11). Three thousand hits may
be a magic milestone, but no eligible player with as many as the
2,783 hits Baines has accumulated has failed to gain election to
the Baseball Hall of Fame. You acknowledged his home runs but
failed to mention his 1,583 runs batted in, which ties him for
27th on the alltime list. Only one eligible player with more
RBIs (Tony Perez) has not been selected for the Hall. The DH has
been part of baseball for more than 25 years. Paul Molitor
didn't play defense in the latter part of his career, and Roger
Clemens never plays offense. No one doubts their Hall of Fame
resumes. Baines played more than 1,000 games in the outfield
with a fielding percentage of .978, which would place him sixth
among the 21 rightfielders now in the Hall of Fame.
JIM WILLIAMSON, Massapequa, N.Y.