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Original Issue


Hats Off to Larry

First, I loathe Larry Walker, who has made life miserable for Tom
Glavine, John Smoltz and the immortal Greg Maddux (Handy Man,
June 11). Obviously, I'm a Braves fan. But after reading Richard
Hoffer's article, I'm amazed. It's hard to find a pro athlete
today who doesn't think of himself as a god. I hope every Little
Leaguer reads this article and lives by it.

You should have considered filing your article about Walker under
"This Week's Sign of the Apocalypse." A professional athlete who
is humble, unpretentious and shows fiscal sobriety? Shame on you!
CRAIG STROHM, Grass Valley, Calif.

Walker is a great guy, an asset to the community and the best
player on the Rockies. It's O.K. that he isn't a cheerleader in
the clubhouse, but it's not O.K. that he doesn't run out ground
balls. It's one thing to be so good that you don't appear to be
trying. It's another to lazily trot down the line every time you
ground out.
DAVE CUNNINGHAM, Superior, Colo.

Walker is a Coors Field creation. From 1998 to 2000 he played 172
games at home and 172 on the road. With 579 at bats in those road
games he hit a pedestrian .285, and had 19 home runs and 83 RBIs.
At home he had 627 at bats and hit .419 with 50 home runs and 150
RBIs. This year is no different. At the All-Star break he was
hitting .395 at Coors Field and .286 on the road. Above average,
sure; great player, no.

Equal Opportunity

The fight between Laila Ali and Jacqui Frazier shows a lack of
respect for their fathers and boxing (THE LIFE OF REILLY, June
11). Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier were great champions, and to
use their names to sell tickets for two at-best-average women
boxers is wrong.

If George W. can become President, why shouldn't the Ali-Frazier
girls make a few bucks based on their fathers' names? This is,
after all, the land of opportunity!
VIJAY NAIR, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Reality Check

I thought your story on Edgerrin James was revealing (Making
Waves, June 11). He's the type of money-hungry athlete who has
soured fans on today's pro sports. But he was honest. Many
athletes say it's not about the money when it is. He says, for
him, it is about the money.
BRIAN HOLTZ, Philadelphia

I tried to give James the benefit of the doubt on his decision to
not attend the "voluntary" workouts. But I question any athlete's
commitment to win a championship when he chooses late-night
bowling and early-morning breakfasts with his "crew" over working
out with the team. I wonder how many Baltimore Ravens are
choosing to skip "voluntary" workout sessions?

In 2 1/2 years of college, James learned the meaning of voluntary.
If he had put in the full four years, he might also have learned
the definition of the words responsibility and leadership. His
lack of these two important qualities dooms the Colts to being
merely a playoff team and not a championship contender.

James decides to skip the voluntary off-season workouts with the
Colts but says that he's misunderstood, blah, blah, blah. James
has a child out of wedlock and states that he has no intention of
getting married, blah, blah, blah. James says he's got to keep it
real, blah, blah, blah. James says he's contemplating retirement
early, blah, blah, blah. Wow, thanks for such an insightful angle
on yet another young athlete who's helping to kill my interest in
professional sports.
JIM PATTON, Hermosa Beach, Calif.

Unlike many of us who get sucked up in the daily grind and forget
the reason why we actually work, James clearly understands work's
purpose: to reach retirement. God bless him for realizing that
his goal is only two or three years away. May he become the
eternal tourist.
GLEN BOLDUC, Manchester, Conn.

The Jury Has Spoken

Whom would you rather have (INSIDE THE NHL, June 11), Alex
Tanguay or Scott Gomez? Let's see, I think I'll take the guy who
scores crucial goals in Games 6 and 7 of the Stanley Cup finals
over the player who hurts his team with costly mistakes in Games
6 and 7. The verdict: Tanguay, the guy kissing the cup on center


Fists of Steel

Laila Ali and Jacqui Frazier just want to make some easy money
and get publicity. I wish that they would step into the ring with
Lucia Rijker or Christy Martin (above). Let's see them try to go
eight rounds with a real boxer.
JAKE SMITH, Ventura, Calif.