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Original Issue


Small Ball

I hope baseball is returning to the days of small ball, as Tom Verducci proposes in When Bigger Gets Smaller, Small Gets Big (May 30). But I think it would have anyway, even if players continued to take steroids. Pitching is finally recovering from the dilution caused by expansion in the 1990s. As a result, when hitters must face several pitchers in almost every game, it is difficult to get a base hit, much less a home run. Once teams had to manufacture runs by stretching singles into doubles and fighting for each 90 feet of progress. Every team had at least one player who each season stole bases by the dozens, and if you hit 30 home runs a year, you were considered a power hitter. It used to be a fun game to watch. It is, hopefully, becoming more fun again.

Chuck Rayburn, Chattanooga

In I Was a Toronto Blue Jay (March 14) Tom Verducci reported that umpire supervisor Rich Garcia told the players that there would be more high and low strikes called this season. I've observed the umps doing this, and I believe this--and not the incredible shrinking slugger--is the main reason why offense has slowed down.

Randy Nelson, Vincennes, Ind.

You See?

You incorrectly used the initials CU for the University of Cincinnati (Who's Hot/Who's Not, May 30), widely referred to as UC. Perhaps you confused Cincinnati's troubled basketball team with Colorado's troubled football team.

Craig Kohls Morrow, Ohio

Poker Faces

Thanks for your story about the big winners and losers of online poker (Online and Obsessed, May 30). Between those extremes are the bulk of college gambling addicts: neither arrogant sharks nor naive fish, just intelligent kids with too much time. These are the guys I know, the ones who transferred their video game obsession to online poker and turned a pleasant diversion into a grim way of life.

Dan Schiff, White Plains, N.Y.

College weenies who think online poker is the real thing probably feel the same way about fantasy football and phone sex.

John Limber, Durham, N.H.

Before anybody writes in to say that poker doesn't belong in Sports Illustrated, somebody ought to point out that college poker becomes very sports-related when one of these debt-ridden kids also happens to be a Division I football or basketball player. What will occur when the student-athlete, facing financial pressure, says to himself, What harm is there in shaving a few points?

Don Del Grande Benicia, Calif.

K-K-K Katie

Katie Brownell struck out 18 batters in a row for a perfect game in which no one put a ball in play (Scorecard, May 30) and league president Eric Klotzbach says he "can't imagine being a boy that has to face her. It has got to be a shot to the ego." Klotzbach's missing the point. Katie's not a girl who pitches--she's a pitcher who happens to be a girl.

Jay Williams, Needham, Mass.

By the Numbers

Steve Rushin's column on the dying art of keeping score could not be more accurate (Air and Space, May 30). I have kept score at every game I've been to since I was nine years old--an 18-year streak that ended abruptly in April at a Washington Nationals game when the vendors didn't offer pencils with their $10 programs.

Ryan Keohane, Fredericksburg, Va.

My dad recently took me to the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, and when I bought a scorecard, as I always do, my dad's friends all seemed to be amazed that anyone, let alone a teenage girl, still kept score. I don't feel like I've watched the game unless I can walk back to the car after the ninth inning knowing that the piece of cardstock in my hand tells almost every detail about what happened. I remember when my dad taught me how to keep score and how excited I was to learn about one of baseball's hidden secrets. I'd also like to point out, despite Rushin's assertion that all scorekeepers are nerds or Trekkies, that I don't watch Star Trek, and I got a C in Algebra II this year.

Lauren Acton, Cincinnati

Inspired by Rushin's words, my sister and I brought scorebooks to a recent Twins game and had the time of our lives marking every pitch, swing and catch. For the first time I didn't miss a single highlight, because I was paying attention. I'll be bringing my book and pencil to every game from now on.

Meg Gronau, St. Paul

I may be one of the few moms who received The Joy of Keeping Score as a Mother's Day gift a few years ago. Although I am the only one keeping score in my section of Safeco Field, I am constantly asked questions about what has happened by those partying around me.

Sue Wulfestieg, Tacoma, Wash.

A Round to Remember

As a sponsor of Eric Axley and Scott Piercy, it was nice to see their names in Avarice Open (May 23). You pointed out that as the favorites in their Thursday match, they lost to the eventual winners because of Garth Mulroy's "heavy lifting." Mulroy had eagles on a par-3, a par-4, and a par-5. After parring the first hole, he was 10 under for the next 14 holes until the match ended on 15. I've never seen Tiger do that in one round.

Adam Tracy, Ross, Calif.

Cut Count

Tiger didn't make 142 cuts in a row, as you stated (Who's Hot/Who's Not, May 23). Thirty-one of those tournaments didn't have cuts. Even Tiger can't make a cut that doesn't exist. Otherwise, why not also count all the weeks he didn't even play in a tournament? After all, he didn't miss cuts those weeks, either. His consecutive-cut streak--the operative word here is cut--was magnificent, but it ended at 111.

Andrew Turnbull, Epsom, N.H.

Since Byron Nelson made 113 straight cuts, he still should have the record, no?

Charles Oprian, Macomb, Ill.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Nelson's streak was actually 113 straight tournaments in which he received prize money, once the working definition for "making the cut." Tiger collected prize money in 142 consecutive events that did and did not have cuts. PGA records before the mid-1950s are incomplete, but some historians believe Ben Hogan collected prize money in more than 170 straight tournaments.

Second Thoughts

Making light of golfer Hank Kuehne, a recovering alcoholic, for passing out from dehydration by saying that he "forgot to drink and drive" was in poor taste (A List, May 23). Jokes about drunk driving are never appropriate, especially for Kuehne, who battles addiction each day.

Pete Tredwell, Hamden, Conn.

The True Swing

Arnie Frankel does teach the truth (True Believer, May 9). Your and Frankel's contention, however, that he is the only adherent to the Ernest Jones method is not true. I am among several professionals who teach "the swing." I was trained by PGA life member Bob McCaffery, who was trained by Jones in the early 1960s. A former student of mine, Dave Perry, polished his skills under the tutelage of Vince Grillo, the last person to be trained by Jones in the A.G. Spalding building studio.

John Diggs, San Francisco

Go East

Thanks to John Garrity for his superb article on Asian tour vet Mike Cunning (Just Call Him Mr. Asia, May 2). As an American high-schooler living in Asia, I can relate to and commend Mr. Cunning for leaving his comfort zone and venturing to new places to pursue something he loves.

Mike Lyngaas, Singapore

Where's Bobby?

Bobby Clampett complains that the penalty that cost him two strokes in the U.S. Open qualifying could have been prevented if the starter had known him or had come looking for him five minutes before his starting time (My Shot, May 23). The unpaid volunteers who run the qualifying rounds are dedicated individuals who have taken the four-day PGA/USGA Rules Workshop many times and are giving their time to the game of golf. Their responsibility is to conduct a first-class qualifying tournament, not to look for reasons to call penalties on players, as Clampett implies. Clampett's responsibility is to be on the tee at his starting time and not 18 yards away from the tee. Every golfer, amateur or professional, should know this rule, and now Clampett surely does.

Jay Garrison, Knoxville

With more than $1.4 million in career earnings, you'd think Clampett could afford a watch.

Tim Weldon, Sudbury, Mass.

The Other Tigers

Just thought I'd point out that of your top 10 players considered to be the future of golf, three played together on the Clemson golf team in 2000: Jonathan Byrd, Lucas Glover and D.J. Trahan (Made in America, May 30). They finished seventh at the NCAA tournament.

Randy Guy, Summerville, S.C.

Past Perfect

Katie Brownell may be the only Little League girl ever to strike out 18 in a "perfect" perfect game, but if you look back at FACES IN THE CROWD, you will find Shelley Beringhele from California's North Venice Little League (Oct. 3, 1988, below). Shelley struck out 16 and did not allow a base runner in a tournament game against the All-Stars from the Culver City (Calif.) American League.

Tim Flores, Lomita, Calif.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Shelley was an All-Pac 10 shortstop four times at Oregon State. She is now an athletic administrator and girls' softball coach at Windward School in West Los Angeles.

Shelley Beringhele

Shelley, 12, who pitched and played shortstop for the Angels, was the only girl to play in the North Venice Little League Major League division the last two years. In that span she was 16--0, with six no-hitters, and batted .539 with five homers.

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Three of SI's Gen Z top 10 golfers (circled, from left, Byrd, Trahan and Glover) played at Clemson.