• After following baseball for more than 45 years, I can think of only one player who compares with Dustin Pedroia and his intense, hustling style of play: Pete Rose. Still, what really impresses me the most about "Pedey" is the way he runs hard to first base on every ground ball and never finishes a game without getting his uniform filthy.
Bruce Bernstein, West Hartford, Conn.
Dirt in Motion, Pig Pen, Tunnel Rat. These are some names that I have called Pedroia (The Muddy Chicken Hits It Big, Aug. 15) over the years. And no, they weren't intended to be terms of endearment. However, after reading your article on the Red Sox' second baseman, I was left thinking, How can you hate a man who has such a deep, abiding passion for the game of baseball and for his family?
Patrick R. Lynch
As a University of Alabama alumnus I dislike Auburn as much as the next guy. Yet even I was disgusted and embarrassed by the fact that Harvey Updyke poisoned those oak trees in Toomer's Corner. Reading about how "what hurts Updyke most is that Alabama turned on him," says to me that he is indeed mentally unstable.
Steve Victory, Metairie, La.
Retaliatory behavior is about the lowest and worst expression of team loyalty. True sportsmanship suggests that opponents fight it out on the field and shake hands after the game. Most athletes know and adhere to this unspoken rule even when fans don't.
Daniel Segal, Groton, N.Y.
In Cutler's Defense
It amazes me that fans denigrate Jay Cutler (You're Wrong About Jay Cutler, Aug. 15) for not wanting to be a public figure. In a world in which we are constantly bombarded with celebrity reality shows, stories about Twitter wars and players holding out for bigger contracts, I find it refreshing to see an athlete who wants to be on television for only one thing: winning football games.
Never mind that Cutler is the first quarterback in the history of the Bears to throw for 3,000 yards in consecutive seasons. What impresses me the most about Cutler is that he has finally brought stability to a Bears team that in recent years has gone through signal-callers faster than William (the Refrigerator) Perry went through Twinkies. Now all Chicago needs to do is stop passing over proven offensive linemen during the off-season. The front office should do what it takes to get Cutler some protection and keep him healthy.
Brenden West, Dyersville, Iowa
I have never been a Cutler fan because I don't think he is a winner and because his sullen demeanor on the sideline shows a level of disconnect from the game. What I find interesting about your article was that the words leader and leadership were not mentioned once in regards to Cutler. Wouldn't one need to be a great leader or have superb leadership skills to be a successful NFL quarterback?
Kirstin Torrence, Frisco, Texas
The Fix Was In
I want to thank Joe Posnanski for his great essay on Marv Levy (POINT AFTER, Aug. 15). Reading about Levy's new career as a novelist and reflecting on his past as the coach of the Bills reminded me of the X-Files and the mysterious smoker played by William B. Davis. In one episode Davis, whose character had the power to fix any outcome, made this comment, "What I don't want to see is the Bills winning the Super Bowl. As long as I'm alive, that doesn't happen."
Tom O'Donnell, Brick, N.J.
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As the first pitcher to reach 20 wins this season, should Justin Verlander be considered a front-runner for the AL MVP award?
Owen M. Niese (@oniese22): No way. Not when Curtis Granderson has 38 HRs and 107 RBIs so far this season.
Jeff Collins: I'm not sure a guy who plays every fifth day should ever be considered the most valuable player.
Kaitlin Urka (@kaitlinurka): Undoubtedly. He has dominated his opponents and has been critical to the Tigers' success all season.
John Aiello Jr. (@bigdawg2633): No, because he'll get the Cy Young Award. I strongly believe the MVP should be for an everyday player.
Jerry Schein: Why not? Sandy Koufax got the MVP and the Cy Young in 1963. Verlander is the reason the Tigers are in first place.
WINSLOW TOWNSON (COVER)
BOB ROSATO (VERLANDER)