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Original Issue


Speed Merchants

I enjoyed William Nack's Kentucky Derby story (King for a Day,
May 14) but must point out that he erred in crediting Monarchos
for running the second-fastest Derby (1:59.97) ever. That
distinction belongs to Sham (above, right), who was second to
Secretariat in 1973.
MIKE WEAVER, Cincinnati

--While it's possible that Sham ran faster than Monarchos, the
only recorded Kentucky Derby time is the winner's, so Sham's time
can be estimated only on the basis of Secretariat's time of
1:59 2/5 and his 2 1/2-length margin of victory. Using the rule of
thumb that one length equals one fifth of a second, Sham also
finished the race in a shade under two minutes. --ED.

Oh, Canada

Rick Reilly's latest diatribe (THE LIFE OF REILLY, April 30)
illustrates two things. First, it shows that fans in Edmonton
and Vancouver did behave poorly when they booed The
Star-Spangled Banner. However, it also shows that Reilly is
guilty, like so many Americans, of stereotyping an entire nation
based on the behavior of a few of its citizens.

Rick, if you want to know why Canadians boo the American anthem,
take a look at your obnoxious, disrespectful article.

As a Canadian who lives in the States, I want to ask you not to
stereotype Canadians because of the actions of drunken hockey
fans. Canadians love Americans. We think everyone should own one.
SCOTT WIENS, Lindale, Texas

I laughed so hard I nearly choked on my whale blubber sandwich
and woke up nearly every sled dog in the neighborhood. Luckily,
the snow on the floor of my igloo prevented my bottle of Labatts
from breaking. Close one, eh?

Reilly should have gotten his facts straight. Nobody keeps bait
warm in his mouth because that's where the beer goes. Besides,
it's unsanitary. Everybody knows when you need to warm up bait,
you drop it down the front of your pants.
STEVE WIKHOLM, Dorchester, Ont.

Behind the Curve

The new NBA rules are a desperate change by a desperate league
(Desperation Shot? April 30). Many older fans no longer relate to
today's NBA players, and we don't want our children trying to
emulate them either.
North Providence, R.I.

Changes such as permitting zone defenses do not address the
underlying problems facing the NBA. Astronomical compensation and
the players' increasingly unpleasant (on- and off-court) behavior
have taken a serious toll on the league's popularity.
ERNIE SMITH, Eugene, Ore.

The NBA can tinker with its rules, but why isn't anyone talking
about the obvious cause of the league's poor play: allowing too
many young players who haven't developed the fundamentals to
enter the league.

By permitting zone defenses, the NBA has legalized the very thing
that will achieve the opposite of what the league intended to do:
increase scoring and open up the game. David Stern & Co. have
become their own judges, jury and, unfortunately, executioners.
HERMAN HAWKINS JR., Ann Arbor, Mich.

The Real Season

I couldn't agree more with Steve Rushin's sentiments about the
NHL playoffs (AIR AND SPACE, April 30). What I don't understand
is how a seemingly intelligent journalist like Rushin could be
mystified at hockey's low television ratings. Look at what most
people watch on TV: Survivor, wrestling, Who Wants to Be a
Millionaire, Friends. I doubt that Ken Burns's Baseball won any
ratings wars, but it was one of the finest sports telecasts ever.

After reading Rushin's column on the Stanley Cup playoffs, I have
only one word to say: Exactly!
BOB LEWIS, Liverpool, N.Y.

In line with another great tradition of the Stanley Cup playoffs,
during which teams will do anything to hide an injury, the player
with the severed head whom Rushin mentioned would be listed by
his team as "day-to-day," and whether he'd play would be a
"game-time decision."
JOE SOLLEY, San Angelo, Texas

Stick Figure

Thank you for informing readers of the recipe for success in the
NHL (The Hits Keep Coming, April 30). Mix one dash each of
determination, discipline and intelligence with Scott Stevens.
Wait for 16 wins. Serve the Devils the Stanley Cup!
DOMINIC J. CLEMENTI, Hillsborough, N.J.

Someone who blindsides players with checks that result in injury
is not my definition of a clean, tough hitter. Cheap-shot artist
is a more appropriate description of Stevens.

Not So Fast

I must protest the notion that Jimmy Rollins is the hands-down
Rookie of the Year in the National League (INSIDE BASEBALL, April
30). Has the advance scout who said that ever heard of the
Cardinals' Albert Pujols?
JEFF KLINE, Edwardsville, Ill.

The Meek Shall Rise

Thanks for putting the spotlight on Minnesota with your cover
story (Minny Run, April 30). As a fan of the game and someone who
finds the idea of contraction abhorrent, I want to see the Twins
unseat the Yankees as champions come October. At least for now
Minnesota, as well as a handful of other teams, is proving that
small market doesn't have to equal cellar-dweller.

Yes! I do believe in miracles. I witnessed one against the
Cardinals in the 1987 World Series and another in the '91 Series
against the Braves. I also have seen the curse of SI. Why
couldn't you have left the Twins alone? As if they didn't have
enough problems already--small market, low payroll, ugly park--now
you have ganged up on them.
DAN MALKOVICH, Cloquet, Minn.

No, we don't believe in miracles. Small-market teams are to be
appreciated before the playoffs. The postseason is reserved for
those teams that can buy--and continue to pay for--whoever is
willing to abandon his former mates for the big money. But you
already knew that, right?
JIM MITCHELL, Prairie Village, Kans.

Dreadful Idea

It's a shame that the NCAA is proposing a $20,000 cash loan to
keep so-called elite student-athletes in school until graduation
(SCORECARD, April 30). The majority of these student-athletes are
already going to college on an athletic scholarship. Isn't that
enough for them?
LU ANNE JARRETT, Westminster, Md.