Watching thefinal-round pairing of Phil Mickelson and Fred Couples at the 2006 Mastersreminded me that friendship and mutual respect need not stand in the way ofall-out competition (Master Craftsman, April 17). I thank them both for abattle worthy of the Masters. And I thank Phil especially for reminding us, inhis moment of victory, to pray for Tiger's dad.
Hall Wilson, Rochester, N.Y.
Alan Shipnuckaccurately described Mickelson's relentless march to the green jacket and thebalky putter that kept Tiger from challenging Phil and, perhaps, winning thetournament. I take exception, however, to his statement that the, "...deafening ovation ... was a reminder that around Augusta, as elsewhere, Woodsis respected but Mickelson is beloved." For myself, and many knowledgeablegolfers, it is the other way around: Tiger Woods represents all that is greatabout sports--the unending pursuit of excellence, determination in the face ofadversity, fierce competitiveness, humility in victory and grace in defeat, anda never-quit approach to the game and to life.
Rex R. Schultze, Lincoln, Neb.
Kudos to Gary Smithon a well-written, well-researched piece that gave us startling insight intothe death of Sam Kellerman (Blood Relations, April 17) at the hands of abipolar boxer he had tried to help, James Butler. I hope Sam's older brother,Max--the HBO boxing analyst-- takes the advice given to him: "Don't letthis guy kill you both."
Ryan White, Hicksville, N.Y.
After readingSmith's article on the Kellerman brothers, I immediately phoned my olderbrother, Paul, back in Michigan, to tell him that I loved him.Pete Finger, BarHarbor, Maine
I'm a loyal fan ofthe Lakers and of Kobe Bryant, and I get tired of hearing from the ever-presentKobe-haters. Reading The Great Unknown (April 17) by Jack McCallum and L. JonWertheim was refreshingly positive because it showed Kobe's deep heart andpassion.
Michael Mendelson, Valencia, Calif.
As a black man, I'mamazed that the question Is he black enough? is still being asked--about Kobeor anyone else. Must all black athletes be placed into the hip-hop,bling-loving mold? And what is this "African-American experience" thatKobe was supposed to have been divorced from because he grew up in privilegedcircumstances? The backgrounds of African-Americans are as varied as those ofany ethnic group. Let's all enjoy Kobe's on-the-court talent and leave it atthat. The rest of us have our own lives to lead, and we're not really concernedwho likes him or not.
Paul Olden, Burbank, Calif.
As intrigued as Iwas by Steve Rushin's A Bottomless Cup of Coffee about his grandfather'sall-too-brief major league baseball career (Air and Space, April 17), it mademe think of a player whose official stay in the Show was even shorter than thatof Jimmie Boyle's. In 1971 Houston's Larry Yount--Robin's older brother--wasbrought into a game as a relief pitcher, which qualified him for inclusion inThe Baseball Encyclopedia. While warming up on the mound at the Astrodome, heblew out his arm. He never threw an official pitch and never again made it upto the majors.
Neil Rothenberg, Piedmont, Calif.
How about the guywho played in one major league game but who had never played baseball? I'mreferring to Eddie Gaedel, the dwarf who pinch-hit for the St. Louis Browns in1951 as a Bill Veeck gimmick. It was a stunt, but is duly recorded in TheBaseball Encyclopedia.
Pete Lincoln, Lunenburg, Mass.
I enjoyed Rushin'swaxing nostalgic about his grandfather's one-inning major league cup of coffeein 1926. I'm hoping a current ballplayer gets a refill. Cubs pinch hitter AdamGreenberg--in his big league debut last July in Miami, with his parents in thestands--was beaned in the back of the head on the first pitch he saw. He wasdizzy for weeks, put on the DL and, although he returned to the minors, has yetto make it back to the Show. He didn't even get an official at bat. Life's notfair, but that's a lousy cup of coffee. I hope he gets a second shot--and makesthe ball pay.
Shamus Toomey, Evanston, Ill.
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GAMECALLED - Greenberg's season with the Cubs ended after only onepitch.