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Original Issue


A Manny in Full

Charles P. Pierce has written an entertaining and enlightening
portrait to guide me out of my past confusion about a man who
deserves our gratitude for his prodigious feats on the field of
play (A Cut Above, July 5). I felt the sheer exuberance with
which Manny Ramirez faces life and baseball. Does he occasionally
do things in the field or at the plate that seem inexplicable? Of
course he does, but Red Sox fans should recall that so did Ted
Williams, and what used to be considered Williams's character
flaws are now seen as manifestations of a charmingly crusty
personality. Let's cut Manny some slack while he's still out
there amazing us. And Manny, muchas gracias por el placer que nos
ha dado a nosotros, los aficionados.
Ron Benedict, Overland Park, Kans.

About that cover photo: Would better lighting and some makeup
have killed you? Yikes!
Katie Martens, Cleveland

Back when Manny was playing for the Cleveland Indians, Sister
Mary Assumpta (famous for bringing chocolate chip cookies to the
Tribe's players and coaches) was interviewed on National Public
Radio. She said she always prayed before Indians games; when
asked what she wished to achieve, she replied, "I hope that Manny
brought his brain to the ballpark." I think your article backs
her up.
Kathryn M. Lyle, Novelty, Ohio

Baseball's Bounce

I'll grant Tom Verducci that baseball has been extremely
fortunate this season (10 Reasons Why Baseball Is Back, July 5),
but baseball is only "back" for the suckers who are willing to
delude themselves into thinking that the game's moronic owners,
greedy players and militant union bosses won't revert to form and
yank it all away as soon as they think their misdeeds have been
forgiven, or forgotten, by enough fans. Me? I'm celebrating 10
years of life without baseball, and I couldn't possibly miss it
Bruce Thompson Sierra Vista, Ariz.

I agree with Verducci and commissioner Bud Selig that revenue
sharing is good for baseball, but a minimum payroll of at least
$40 million should be mandatory. According to your article, Tampa
Bay received $19 million in revenue sharing following the 2003
season and is paying its players $29.5 million in 2004, the
lowest total salary payout in the American League. That means the
Devil Rays used a paltry $10.5 million--an amount that wouldn't
get you a full season of Alex Rodriguez or Derek Jeter--to pay
players out of their own operating budget.
Alen Beljin, Allentown, Pa.

Congratulations to MLB for joining the ranks of the NHL and NCAA
basketball in rendering the regular season virtually meaningless.
And Selig is thinking about adding even more wild-card teams? I
can't wait to see sub-.500 teams playing in a snow-delayed
November World Series.
Larry Lass, Houston

Inside Story

Rick Reilly successfully caught the essence of the ArenaBowl (The
Life of Reilly, July 5) and the experience of the players--very
observant for an "annoying sportswriter." However, as the mother
of SaberCats quarterback Mark Grieb, I feel he didn't even
mention some of the other really good things about this league:
players who happily sign autographs after every game, great fans
in every arena (those RattlersFans had that place rockin') and
free T-shirts slung into the stands. Too bad you missed out on
the live buffalo that used to be the Rattlers' mascot.
Shelly Grieb, San Jose

Arena Football fans are not being disloyal to the NFL with our
enthusiasm for this great sport. Maybe the NFL could use a little
bit of that old-fashioned guts and glory, go-for-broke, iron-man
mentality again.
William Reed, Reno

The Snook of Love

Thomas McGuane's Seeing Snook (July 5) was great. The fish has
the toughness of the 1970s Philadelphia Flyers, the strength of
the '85 Chicago Bears and the mental edge of the '90s New York
Yankees all rolled into one slender body--with a racing stripe
for full effect.
Hugh Wallace, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.

You probably have to be a fly fisherman to appreciate McGuane's
piece. Or maybe just a fisherman. Or maybe just a lover of great
Jack Karn, Birmingham

Way Out West

My husband (a NoCal) and I (a SoCal) couldn't wait to see how you
would handle the California edition of Sports in America (July
5). After all, the state is so fiercely split (Montana or Magic),
so deeply divided (Dodgers or Giants), it's impossible to
reconcile us. And so you didn't try to. Bravo. Congratulations on
making both my husband and me feel special and for choosing a
greatest moment that applauds both ends of the state--although
personally I would have loved it if you had cited Kirk Gibson's
homer off Dennis Eckersley!
Laura Vinyard, North Hollywood, Calif.

The Raiders have their Raider Nation, but the 49ers own
Tom DeSimone, Jackson, N.J.

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing California ranked No. 1 in sports by
SI, but the Who & Where map should have noted that in the early
1970s in Marin County, Gary Fisher, Charlie Kelly, Tom Ritchey
and Joe Breeze--on a bunch of converted cruiser bikes with fat
tires and derailleurs--began mountain biking on Mount Tamalpais,
paving the way for the rise of the sport of mountain biking all
over the world.
Chris Stevens, San Francisco

Anna's Influence

Finally, some respect--from L. Jon Wertheim (and John McEnroe on
the Wimbledon telecasts)--for what Anna Kournikova has meant to
tennis (Scorecard, July 5). I've been trying to persuade others
for years that Anna saved tennis, arguing that she put fans in
the seats. Now, she's helped open doors for other talented
Russians to win French Open and Wimbledon titles, and even
greater endorsement opportunities.
Dean Philo, Taylor, Mich.

Did Anna market herself, or did the media do the marketing? I
have never seen microphones and cameras so readily thrust into
the face of such an average athlete.
Sean Wray, Newport News, Va.

Name Game

This week's Sign of the Apocalypse (Scorecard, July 5) noted that
at least three sets of parents have named a child ESPN or Espen.
I can go you one better. My son is named Espn and my daughter is
named Espy, after the ESPY awards given out each year.
Oscar Zepeda, Elk Grove, Calif.

Retief Pitcher

If Phil, Tiger or Ernie had won the U.S. Open, I'm sure they
would have adorned your cover. Instead, SI put Lance Armstrong on
the cover (June 28) even before the Tour de France commenced.
Retief Goosen and the game of golf deserve better. Retief is a
bona fide champion who has now won this event twice.
Mike Ashfield, College Station, Texas

Before I hear another golfer whining about having to play for
hundreds of thousands of dollars under terrible, brutal and
unfair conditions like those at Shinnecock (Wild Goose Chase,
June 28), have them come to Ohio and work in 95° temperatures for
10 to 12 hours a day, at $12 an hour, forming, pouring and
finishing concrete. I'll bet we won't hear nearly as much about
how hard it is to knock a little white ball around a golf course.
Mike Brant, Cutler, Ohio

Miller's Tale

After reading Johnny on the Spot (June 28), I wonder how I could
have been so wrong about a person who is regularly rude,
insensitive and arrogant. Johnny Miller's comments go beyond
criticism. He repeatedly belittles and demeans players he thinks
don't meet his standards. He even took some shots at John Daly,
and Daly wasn't even in the Open. Now that I know Miller will be
involved with the Open through 2008, I'll make sure my mute
button works properly before I tune in again.
Denny Tummino, LaPlata, Md.

Women on Course

Wonderful: Meg Mallon gets first billing in Leading Off and the
SI Golf Plus cover (July 12-19). I thought: This is it, women's
golf finally gets its due. Then you slip back into the same old
pattern and feature Stephen Ames (Brothers in Arms) and his win
at the Western Open. C'mon! Nothing against Ames, I'm very happy
for him, but the Women's U.S. Open should take honors on this
Sandra Fullmer, Galena, Ill.

I was disappointed in your coverage of the U.S. Women's Open.
There was no mention of Mallon's charge from behind in the last
round, Annika's birdies on the last two holes, Kelly Robbins's
return to the thick of competition, the terrific showing of the
amateurs, especially Brittany Lincicome (who led after the first
round), the record-breaking crowds or the unique history of The
Orchards. My opinion as a woman golfer and resident of western
Massachusetts--you blew it!
Susan Sendlenski West Springfield, Mass.


I'm watching women's tennis at Wimbledon because of the Williams
sisters (Inside Tennis, July 5). Just because Serena is wearing a
dress she helped create does not mean she lacks desire, and Venus
fought until the very end of her match. I'm glad these women have
other interests. It would be a shame for them to burn out as so
many other athletes who started so young have done.
Heidi Kane, Santa Barbara, Calif.

Spanish Accent

Congratulations to Grant Wahl for the last part of your series on
the globalization of sports (July 5). Football vs. Futbol was not
only written with authority, knowledge and respect for the sport
of soccer, but he (or his editors) actually took the time to get
the accents right on the Spanish-language words. That subtle yet
striking detail moves me to take off my sombrero.
Hiram Soto, San Diego

Jorge Vergara matter-of-factly states that he is going to try his
best to have only players of Mexican origin on his Chivas USA
team. Understandably, he's doing that for economic reasons to
please the primarily Hispanic fans in the area in which they will
play. Still, I wonder: If a NASCAR team publicly stated it would
like to hire only white people for its pit crew, would that also
go over without any public outrage?
Marc Schoenfeld, San Francisco

Speaking Out

While praising Anna, let us not forget the contribution of
Natalia Zvereva. It was she who shocked television audiences
during an interview with Bud Collins in 1989 by declaring that a
prize-money check she had earned was "just a piece of paper"
because the money would have to be returned to the Soviet Tennis
Federation. It was only after Zvereva spoke her mind that other
players followed her lead and forced the Soviets to allow tennis
players to keep their money. If not for her bold actions, we
would likely not have seen the influx of Russian talent in men's
and women's professional tennis.
David Zagorski, Forest Hills, N.Y.

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COLOR PHOTO: SIMON BRUTY REBEL Zvereva asked to keep the money she earned.