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Original Issue


As a Dodgers fan, all I can say is that I can't believe we gave
the big guy away. SI, you are right. Mike Piazza is the Man!

Musing about Mike

Naming Mike Piazza "the greatest hitting catcher" does him a
disservice (Catch This, Aug. 21). Despite Piazza's playing the
most taxing defensive position, being slow afoot and being a
member of two teams with pitcher-friendly parks, his lifetime
slugging average is seventh among all batters, and he's the only
righthanded hitter in history who can claim a career .325-plus
average, 40 home runs and 125-plus RBIs per 162 games played
(.328, 40, 128). Only one lefthanded batter can make the same
claim. His name was Ruth.
RICK WEAVER, Calabasas, Calif.

In no way do I wish to diminish the achievements of Piazza. But I
was disappointed, in light of your recent piece on Josh Gibson,
that he wasn't mentioned.
MARSHALL AUERBACK, Fernhurst, England

Piazza is a great hitter, but over the past 2 1/2 years Ivan
Rodriguez has been his equal in batting. Rodriguez is also one of
the best fielding catchers of all time, while Piazza is one of
the worst. No one would take Piazza over Rodriguez. As catchers
go, Rodriguez is the Man.
DAVID BARNHILL, Kernersville, N.C.

Last year you proclaimed the Mets' infield to be one of the
greatest defensive units of all time. Now Piazza is the greatest
hitting catcher of all time. Pardon me, but did I miss all those
World Series victories that must have accompanied all this

Class Act

Thank you for William Nack's article on Jerry Manuel, manager of
our Chicago White Sox (Manuel Dexterity, Aug. 21). Chicago
sportswriters are always ready to pounce and criticize with what
they consider tremendous wit, but even they have shown a healthy
respect for Manuel.
NANCY R. GIER, Wheaton, Ill.

Rival Points of View

Thanks for validating what I have been telling friends for years:
Tyrone Willingham is the best young coach in football (Big Man on
Campus, Aug. 21). As a USC alumnus, it kills me to admit that the
best coach in the Pac-10 is at Stanford, but the record that
Willingham has established at the Farm, which is not routinely
blessed with blue-chip athletes, shows he is getting the best out
of his players. On behalf of all the other Pac-10 schools, I
beseech the NFL to take this coach, please.
EDDY SATO, Playa del Rey, Calif.

As a Cal alumnus, I've learned to put up with incessant claims of
Stanford's alleged academic and athletic superiority. So I
couldn't help but chuckle at the blackboard pictured in the story
on Willingham. Someone had written the inspirational message UCLA
YOUR NEXT on it. Perhaps a little more time in the classroom and
a little less on the gridiron might revitalize the Stanford
learning experience.
JAMES DEVITT, Larchmont, N.Y.

Dollar Signs

I laughed while reading Steve Rushin's What's It All About?
article in your Aug. 21 issue (AIR AND SPACE). How many times
have we heard an athlete say, "It isn't about the money," while
stuffing some ink-not-quite-dry, quadrillion-dollar contract in
his back pocket? Of course it's about the money. Rushin's point
was driven home when I got to page 83 and read Sammy Sosa's
reaction after hearing of Chipper Jones's $90 million contract
extension: "My value is going to go way up, seeing the way they
took care of Chipper." Hey, Sammy! I thought it wasn't about the
TRACEY L. MILLER, Grand Blanc, Mich.


Here's George!

Your description of George W. Bush's athletic background is
incomplete (SCORECARD, Aug. 21). George (top row, center) was a
member of Yale's First XV rugby side in the spring of 1968, an
eclectic group of talented athletes drawn from a number of sports
backgrounds in the U.S. and abroad. George served his alma mater
with distinction and contributed to a dramatic victory that year
over a strong Harvard side, among others. George creatively
redefined the fullback position by serving concurrently as center
fielder, free safety and cheerleader, and as usual he achieved