From the moment I woke up on the morning of Oct. 28, I've been searching. Searching for something to convince me that the Red Sox were finally World Series champions, for something that would fully allow me to feel, undeniably, that 86 years worth of torture and sadness had ended for millions of people around the world. I bought every area newspaper and poured through dozens of articles about the victory. I watched hours of postgame interviews and spent way too much money on photographs and posters. I even watched the victory parade and the MLB World Series DVD, and those came close but didn't quite do the trick. Well, I finally found my something. Tom Verducci's Sportsmen of the Year (Dec. 6) is a beautiful article, written with respect, kindness and admiration for not only Red Sox Nation but also all sports fans everywhere. It is everything that is right about sports. Thank you for letting this lifelong Red Sox fan finally feel it.
Charlie Wood Westport, Mass.
As an avid cycling fan and LIVESTRONG-wearing husband of a cancer survivor, I was so dismayed you passed over Lance Armstrong as Sportsman of the Year that I turned the award show off when the winners were announced. Then, after resisting at first, I read Verducci's article. It is a story so rich with tortured perseverance, hope against hope and finally the realization of a collective, lifelong dream that it transcends sports and becomes not a story about an athlete or a team but an allegory for the triumph of the human spirit. You made an absolutely brilliant selection.
Chris Youhn, Webster, Fla.
I would like to thank you for Robert Silvers's remarkable pictorial tribute to the Boston Red Sox. Only with two thousand pictures could your cover even begin to encompass the phenomenon that is Red Sox Nation.
Kyle Noble, East Greenwich, R.I.
Until Oct. 27 I had assumed that the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey gold medal would be the crowning moment of this fan's rooting existence. Wrong again. To many of us in Red Sox Nation--maybe even most of us--the 2004 Boston Red Sox are not merely the Sportsmen of the Year; they are our Sportsmen of a Lifetime.
John Hamblin, Medway, Mass.
Halfway through your article I realized that it was not the Red Sox team that was being honored as Sportsmen of the Year but rather the entire Red Sox Nation.
Paul Agathen, St. Louis
Shouldn't there be a limit on the number of times the Red Sox appear on your cover in one year? As a Yankees fan, reading SI has become like seeing my ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend every week. Don't make me throw away another good magazine.
Sean Cooney, Buffalo
Wow. SI selected a team that won one championship in 86 years as its Sportsmen of the Year. Imagine what you'd do if a team ever won 26 championships in 86 years?
John Souchack Scarsdale, N.Y.
Next year I hope you consider athletes who have transcended the world of sports in a positive way. Lance Armstrong, a champion on the grueling race course who is doing more for cancer awareness than any other individual on the planet, would have clearly been a better choice. The Red Sox should clean up their act, take a bath, get a haircut and stop abusing alcohol before their games.
Henry Howard, Lafayette, Ind.
Why not Diana Taurasi for Sportswoman of the Year? She led UConn to a national title, won a gold medal in Athens and was named Rookie of the Year in the WNBA.
Cayleigh Griffin, Stamford, Conn.
With everything Barry Bonds continues to do, including his seventh MVP award this year, at the age of 40, it would have been nice to see him recognized as the Sportsman. And I'm a Dodgers fan!
Ashvin Lad, Indianapolis
Please count this 50-year Red Sox fan and former Boston taxi driver as one who thinks the Sportsman of the Year should have been Pat Tillman.
Peter Wawro, Santa Ana, Calif.
The Red Sox are a great story, but Tillman was a hero.
Kevin Russell, Valparaiso, Ind.
After threatening to cancel my subscription, this die-hard Yankees fan was finally talked out of it by my wife. She reminded me how much enjoyment we get from reading about people wanting to cancel their subscriptions after your Swimsuit Issue. Not that I look at the Swimsuit Issue, but I do read the letters to the editor a few weeks later.
Dell Blank, Little River, S.C.
Passing the Buck
I appreciated Rick Reilly's nomination of Bill Buckner as the true Sportsman of the Year (LIFE OF REILLY, Dec. 6). People forget Buckner was a gifted and speedy outfielder until he injured his ankle. Buckner, your fans in L.A. have you covered (especially the guys on my 1975 Arcadia High baseball team).
Kurt Osenbaugh, Los Angeles
Reilly's sob story about Billy Buck doesn't fly for this Red Sox fan as long as he makes joint appearances with Mookie Wilson and gets paid to sign pictures of his gaffe. If he really thinks it's unfair for Sox fans to harp on his misplay, he shouldn't perpetuate it by creating trophies for gloating Mets fans.
Michael J. Sage, Clifton, N.J.
Secretary of Defense
It is hard to fathom how Call It the Twiceman (Dec. 6) didn't even mention the true college player of the year. Texas linebacker Derrick Johnson is the most complete and most dominating player in college football this year, winner of the Butkus and Nagurski awards. He has the best combination of speed, power and leadership of any college linebacker in decades. He never had less than a great game, never came off the field because of an injury, made game-turning plays throughout the year and played biggest in the biggest games. Too bad that the Heisman award really recognizes only the offensive player of the year.
Rob Kessler, Palacios, Texas
Paint by Numbers
The story on paintball, Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? (Dec. 6), mentioned that it's mostly teenagers who compete. Well, right up to my mid60s I played the game, along with two sons and a stepson, on whatever team was available. I'm 70 now and still planning to get out there next spring.
Marty Friedman, Morristown, N.J.
My eyeball and eye socket were recently destroyed by someone playing a "harmless" prank with a paintball gun. Parents should remember that paintball guns are exactly that: guns and not toys.
Ryan Gerulf, Moscow, Idaho
The White Stuff
It is unfortunate that although Jeremy Wariner was able to win the gold in the 400 meters, everyone wants to discuss the color of his skin--white (The Color of Speed, Dec. 6). The only colors that should matter were the ones that he draped around himself after winning: red, white and blue. Hopefully, we will be blessed with more athletes like Jeremy whose ability and attitude transcend racial barriers and lead us as a society to see past those barriers as we never have before.
Jared Young, Spanish Fork, Utah
How many Wariners are out there? I guarantee there are more people like me who deal every day with more damaging stereotypes than the one that says white men can't run fast. The difference is that Wariner's negative stereotypes go away when he takes off his spikes and trades his hip-hop gear for a new suit. My negative stereotypes, linked to my black skin, unfortunately, do not. Thanks for putting it in perspective.
David Combs, Silver Spring, Md.
A Fan to the End
My 95-year-old mom, Kathryn Stoddard, who was featured in Tom Verducci's Sportsmen of the Year essay on Red Sox fans, passed away peacefully this morning [Dec. 10], her Red Sox cap on the stand next to her bed (she asked for it a few days ago!) and her SPORTS ILLUSTRATED on the nearby coffee table. The SI article made a wonderful last adventure for a mother and daughter. I will always be grateful to you all.
Roberta Rogers, New Market, Va.
If You Don't Want the Swimsuit Issue
The annual SI Swimsuit Issue will be published in February. If you're a subscriber and would prefer not to receive it, call our customer service center toll-free at 18662281175 and let us know. If you choose to not receive the SI Swimsuit issue, we will extend your subscription by one issue.
To Contact SI
• Please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fax us at 212-467-4049. Letters should include the writer's full name, address and home telephone number and may be edited for clarity and space.
CUSTOMER SERVICE AND SUBSCRIPTIONS
• For 24/7 service, please use our website, www.si.com/customerservice. You can also call 1-800-528-5000 or write to SI at P.O. Box 30602, Tampa, FL. 33630-0602.
• For ad rates, an editorial calendar or a media kit, e-mail us at email@example.com.
PHOTOMOSAIC BY ROBERT SILVERS/WWW.PHOTOMOSAIC.COM (COVER)
JAY L. CLENDENIN/POLARIS
Mother and daughter shared a last adventure.