SI captured the 2005 World Series with the phrase "a refreshingly new look and feel" (First in a Series, Oct. 31). The White Sox displayed team unity, a sense of fun and a grinding work ethic. That is the same ethos shown by the South Side fans who have supported their team over the past 88 years. We will never stop believing in our team, or in ourselves.
W. Gary Norkiewicz, Orland Hills, Ill.
All I heard after the World Series was over was how low the TV ratings were and that nobody cared. Reading Tom Verducci's masterpiece helped me think back on those four down-to-the-wire games that showed how two mid-budget teams can still succeed--with a combined payroll that was about three quarters of the Yankees'--and how teamwork can overpower economic arrogance. I haven't had that much fun watching a World Series in my whole life.
Kevin Schwert, West Palm Beach, Fla.
Jack of All Trades
Kudos to Jack McCallum for This Is the Life (Oct. 31), the story of his eight days as an assistant coach with the Phoenix Suns. I spent most of last season wondering how Mike D'Antoni orchestrated the Suns' offensive explosion, and McCallum answered my questions while giving me an inside glimpse of the NBA.
Matthew Moore, West Des Moines, Iowa
McCallum's terrific article did for me what the entire NBA could not do in the aftermath of the Pistons-Pacers brawl: It made me sit down and watch an NBA game from start to finish. Thank you for restoking the fires.
John Mousseau, Maplewood, N.J.
I never knew about the physical hazards (McCallum getting belted in the mouth by Shawn Marion during drills or getting "thugged" by the defense while cutting through the lane) and financial pitfalls (don't ever bet against Amaré Stoudemire in a three-point contest!) of coaching in the NBA. It was refreshing to read about the love the coaches have for a game that unfortunately is operated more and more like a business.
Phillip Tsunoda, Aliso Viejo, Calif.
As a 45-year-old football mom I am not your typical SI reader, but I feel compelled to let you know how amused I was by Monstrous Memories: The NFL Unmasked (PLAYERS, Oct. 31). The athletes' childhood memories of Halloween celebrations had me laughing through my tears. I may just read my son's magazines more often.
Sally DeVol, Chelsea, Mich.
The Heart of the Matter
Ian Thomsen's Change of Heart (SCORECARD, Oct. 31) argues that echocardiograms should be required during professional team physicals. Echocardiograms can detect hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), the most common cause of exercise-related deaths in young American athletes, and also a dilated aorta such as that found in former Timberwolves guard Fred Hoiberg. But what's troublesome about mandatory echocardiograms is that some of the "abnormalities" they turn up are actually false positives. This is especially true in athletes, since strenuous exercise can cause the heart to behave in ways that mimic HCM. Falsely positive athletes are often unnecessarily restricted from competition. Also, believe it or not, screening low-risk people can actually increase medical problems due to complications from invasive additional testing or treatment. Every death in a young athlete is a tragedy, but in trying to prevent these rare events, we must be certain not to create more problems than we are solving.
Dr. Paul D. Thompson, Hartford
Director, Athletes' Heart Program
A Driving Wayne
That LEADING OFF¬†(Oct. 31) photo of Wayne Gretzky is priceless! I coached my five sons in bantam hockey (they're now in their 40s and still playing), and I never sneered like the Great One is at his Phoenix Coyotes. Well, maybe at the dinner table, when I'd tell one of them to "let your little brother have the last pork chop or I'll cross-check you off that chair."
Dan Spencer, Rochester, N.Y.
Thank you for the quote from Ohio Northern junior Derek Garrod (INSIDE COLLEGE¬†FOOTBALL, Oct. 31), after his school's win over Mount Union: "We believed all week we could win, we believed all game we could win, but now that we've won, we don't believe it." It's great to hear an athlete describe the thrill of victory without resorting to "There are no words to describe how I'm feeling right now."
Paul Smith, Osceola, Wis.
After reading Rick Reilly's column on White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski's superstitions (LIFE OF REILLY, Oct. 31), I watched Game 4's conclusion wondering one thing: When Pierzynski ran toward the mound to meet Bobby Jenks and celebrate their World Series win, did he think about which foot to start his dash with? His right foot for the righty Jenks? Or, with the season done, did he finally break from routine? I couldn't tell on TV, but Reilly's words made me wonder.
Anna Katherine Clemmons Brookline, Mass.
About six years ago while in Minneapolis on business I went to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome to watch my White Sox take on the Twins. Pierzynski, then the Twins' backup catcher, had the job of warming up the Minnesota leftfielder between innings. I was seated down the leftfield line, and when one of the outfielder's throws sailed over A.J.'s head and into the stands, I picked the ball up, thinking I had a souvenir. Suddenly I heard a yell and turned to see Pierzynski, glaring at me and motioning to me to throw it back. I shook him off, but as he moved toward me it became clear he wasn't kidding and seemed ready to come into the stands. So I tossed it back to him. Just before the inning started, the Twins leftfielder flipped me the ball, but I remember thinking that Pierzynski was not someone to be messed with--and hoped that he might someday join the White Sox and add some much-needed intensity to my favorite team. This year he did, and look at the result.
Thomas E. Mularz, Chicago
As the mother of an 11-year-old boy who plays in a fall baseball league, I understand the rituals players go through. In his first game of the new season my son stroked a couple of really good hits. He believed his new uniform was the key to his success and asked me not to wash the luck out of the jersey. His hitting streak is intact, and his uniform is now so dirty it looks as if it gets buried in the backyard every night. As a mother I want him to look his best, but as a fan who loves the game and respects the rituals, I pray that I won't be washing it anytime soon.
Connie Giesler, Burlington, N.J.
Don't Knock the Rock
There's something vaguely un-American in poking fun at Sylvester Stallone and the Rocky saga (SCORECARD, Oct. 31). When I was a teenager, Rocky's inspirational message and music helped transform me from a football JAG (Bill Parcells's term for Just Another Guy) into a starting defensive back in high school and college. Years later I used the Rocky story as a lesson in perseverance for troubled adolescents. (Did you know an almost penniless Stallone refused to sell the script to United Artists until they agreed to let him play Rocky? UA originally wanted James Caan, Ryan O'Neal or Burt Reynolds for the part.) While the merits of Rocky V could be questioned, I through IV were all quality endeavors, and I'm betting that installment VI will be a big hit. I'll be there to see it. I owe Stallone at least that much.
Paul Burke, Natick, Mass.
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YO, OSCAR Stallone's first Rocky won Best Picture honors for 1976.