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Coach Chucky

Thank you, S.L Price, for showing Jon Gruden's true colors (Coach
Chucky, Sept. 9). I had the pleasure of being Jon's teammate for
two years at Dayton. No one on those Flyers teams worked harder
than Jon. He spent countless hours studying film, lifting weights
and perfecting his technique. Jon Gruden is no ham-and-egger.
Kevin Buchanan, Roswell, Ga.

When is someone going to ask Jon Gruden why he was willing to
join a team that had just given up its first- and second-round
draft choices for 2002, a first-rounder in 2003 and its
second-round pick in 2004?
Tim Blaser, Green Bay

Gruden might be the best NFL coach, but he sounds like a bad
husband and father. His wife may not mind not having him around,
but what about their boys?
Sharon Steelhammer Clyde, Calif.

I had no problem identifying "Chucky" Gruden, but I was
surprised by the identity of the player standing behind him. I
guess I had never seen Warren Sapp with his mouth shut.
Gene Jenkins, Sun City Center, Fla.

A-Rod's Net Worth

Alex Rodriguez is undoubtedly one of the best players in baseball
and a wonderful person (The Lone Ranger, Sept. 9), but the fact
remains he chose money over the chance to compete for a
championship. He's no MVP. Unlike Ernie Banks, he had a choice.
Donald J. Calicchia, Rome, N.Y.

He's a great baseball player. He works hard. He's intelligent.
He feels a responsibility toward his teammates, fans and
management. I'm beginning to think he's a bargain.
Shannon Murphy, Lakeside Park, Ky.

The true test of any person's ability is his performance under
pressure in a leadership role. Would A-Rod have delivered in the
heat of a pennant race the same way Miguel Tejada did in
back-to-back games with a walk-off home run and a walk-off
single? It's a shame we may never know.
Corey Zdanavage, Cave Creek, Ariz.

The description of Rodriguez's servants and bodyguards
surrounding him in his mansion make him sound like the CEO of
A-Rod Inc.
Glenn Rifkin, Acton, Mass.

Courageous Koufax

The excerpt from Jane Leavy's book, Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's
Legacy (The Chosen One, Sept. 9), brought back the time when
people all over the world talked about and followed the exploits
of Koufax and Don Drysdale. What I found so disturbing was the
open bigotry of teammates, coaches, rival players, sportswriters
and members of the Dodgers organization. In my naivete I had
always assumed that Koufax was an American, pure and simple. What
shabby treatment for one of the truly great players of all time.
Robert G. Bethel, Tucson

As someone who was privileged to see Koufax pitch, I was always
struck by his unique combination of immense power and absolute
fragility. His dominance and his vulnerability, and his grace in
never publicly acknowledging either, are what made his career so
special and the memory of his prowess so sweet.
Sam Ludu, Baldwin, N.Y.

Hootie Call

Forget Hootie Johnson. Forget Martha Burk. Forget CBS. Forget
Coca-Cola. The only way there will be change at Augusta
(Scorecard, Sept. 9) is if the people who really matter to
anyone--the players--boycott the Masters until there is equality
in the club's membership.

Scott Lenz, Los Angeles

When 79% of the people in your poll are telling you that Augusta
members have every right to run their club as they see fit, then
what is it that you don't understand?
Richard Hand, Plano, Texas

I don't play golf, don't belong to a country club, and I'm not a
woman. So why should I care about what Hootie Johnson says or
thinks? Because I do have a mother, wife, daughters and a sister.
That's why.
Jerry Schwartz, Chamblee, Ga.

If Augusta National were to immediately accept 15 women as
members tomorrow, it would do nothing to help abused women, women
abandoned with children or homeless women. Get with it, Ms. Burk,
and do something really useful.
Robert C. Schaller, Colorado Springs

I am appalled that in 2002 there exist organizations that
continue to discriminate on the basis of gender. The National
Council of Women's Organizations should be ashamed of itself.
Donald L. Robertson, Blue Springs, Mo.

I found it amusing that your poll was so heavily pro-Augusta,
while your biased "lecture" took just the opposite slant. Burk's
strident pitch to Augusta was hardly a "brief, polite" letter.
She literally was ordering Johnson to do it her way. CBS has
shown admirable guts in defying the lady. In private clubs I
have belonged to, I've helped lead the way to enabling a more
diversified membership, meaning black, Hispanic and Asian
members as well as women. But we did this on our own initiative
as a reflection of changing social times, not with an activist's
gun pointed at our head. You and other liberal media are fueling
those activists. I say, "Hooray for Hootie!"
Robert B. Wolcott Jr.
Laguna Niguel, Calif.

Super Sandy

After reading Alan Shipnuck's Golf Plus item about the importance
of momentum in golf (The Week, The Mo, the Merrier, Sept. 2), I
want to point out what the real marquee match of the U.S. Amateur
was: eventual champion Ricky Barnes versus his good friend, No. 1
seed Bill Haas, in Saturday's semifinal. Even better than the up
and down on the 15th hole in the final match that Shipnuck
alluded to was Ricky's Saturday sand shot from a true fried-egg
lie, which he played 20 feet right of the hole and rolled in a
semicircle around a hill to within gimme range to halve the 13th.
It was the most unbelievable shot I have ever seen, and Ricky
personally told me it was the best shot he's ever hit in his
life. Congrats to a true champion.
Billy Deitch, Bingham Farms, Mich.

Heads Up

In the fall of 1988 I went out for the seventh-grade football
team at Stonybrook Junior High in Indianapolis. Like Tyler Money
(Scorecard, Sept. 9), I was told I couldn't play because of my
large head size. Thank you, Riddell, for finally solving this
problem, and thank God for athletes like Kevin Mench. Because of
the publicity his head size has received, I get fewer strange
looks when I ask for a size 8 in a hat store.
Jim Rodenbush, Pittsburgh

Facing Nolan

I still have tears in my eyes from laughter after reading about
Rick Reilly's experience trying to bat against Nolan Ryan, Fear
Strikes Out Again (The Life of Reilly, Sept. 9). Reilly is the
reason I start thumbing through my edition from the back each
week. If there was ever a week we needed laughter--the first
anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks--this was it.
George S. Scimone, Wilton, Conn.

High Beem

Kudos to Rich Beem for his great PGA win at Hazeltine (Life of
the Party, Sept. 9). But what his neighbor J.P. Hayes said, "Rich
now knows that he can beat Tiger head-to-head in a major," is
real hard for me to swallow. Beem is just another guy who
happened to have it going for four days, just like Chris DiMarco,
Kevin Sutherland, Craig Perks, Jerry Kelly and anyone who has
beaten Tiger. They're all fine players, but if they play against
Tiger 100 times, who would take the odds of any of them beating
Tiger 10 times?

Sam Croce, Saratoga, N.Y.

I hoped that SI would not fall in line with the rest of the media
and paint a picture of Rich Beem as an inspirational underdog.
For years he's been busy wasting his exceptional natural talent,
and now that he's focused on his game, he is finding success.
It's about time. As a 28-year-old partyer he made the PGA Tour
and won the Kemper. In 2000 he "earned a mere $249,881 while
finishing an abysmal 146th on the money list." My God, how did he
manage to put food on the table? For all that's been said, you'd
imagine Beem to have been a broke loser, playing his first
tournament with the big boys. Let's not begrudge him his success,
but he's been capable of this for a while.
Jerrold Lee, New York City

So Beem had an "abysmal" year in 2000, earning a "mere" $249,881?
Who does he think he is, a backup middle infielder?
Walter Harvey, Highland Mills, N.Y.

On Track

As the deputy executive director of the United States Track
Coaches Association, I applaud you for the recent coverage of
track and field in Sports Illustrated. We know that track and
field has more participants in high schools and in colleges than
any other sport, and we find it gratifying that our athletes are
once again being recognized for their excellence.
Dave Milliman, Gainesville, Fla.



COLOR PHOTO: JOHN F. MARTIN/AP A SHOT TO REMEMBER Amateur champ Barnes sparkled on Saturday.

The Best on the Worst

Your article on A-Rod, which raises the question of whether he
should be MVP, provided a list of great players on lousy teams.
My alltime favorite in this category is poor Chuck Klein (above,
left), who won the Triple Crown in 1933 (28 HRs, 120 RBIs, .368
average) while playing for a Phillies team that stumbled to a
60-92 record and wound up in seventh place. Incidentally,
Philadelphia cornered the market on the Triple Crown that year,
as Jimmie Foxx (above, right) took the honors for the Athletics
(48 HRs, 163 RBIs, .356 average) and won the MVP award even
though his team finished in third place at 79-72.
Jeffrey Auerbach, Claremont, Calif.