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Thanks for giving us a glance at how former players who chose to stay clean, but never made it to the big leagues, were affected during the Steroid Era. For a while I had stopped characterizing the scandal as innocence lost, believing instead that there was no innocence to lose in the first place because everybody was using. Now I see that I was wrong.

Angela Mapes Turner, Auburn, Ind.

Steroid Effect

Tom Verducci's article on steroids (To Cheat or Not to Cheat) was excellent, but it was also sad and upsetting. It made me reflect on how awesome the Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa home run battle was during the summer of '98, only to then remember that those memories have been forever tarnished. Now I can only think about how many other records will be ruined before the dust settles.

Christopher Walsh, Hudson, N.Y.

By blowing the whistle on cheating and performance-enhancing drugs, Ken Caminiti and Jose Canseco did a huge favor to the game and possibly saved professional baseball. It's a shame that they were both ridiculed for their revelations, because the new rules governing steroids have saved many would-be users who thought the performance-enhancing drugs gave them their only shot at the majors.

Bradley M. Lown

Portsmouth, N.H.

If the real purpose of professional sports is to have players compete on a level field, then anything that is not natural (steroids, caffeine, antidepressants or even contact lenses) should be banned. But if the goal is strictly to entertain, then why not let players take whatever they want and put on a good show?

Mike Morgan, Vancouver, Wash.

Graphic Boxing

I thoroughly enjoyed Alexander Wolff's article on the early-20th-century paintings of George Bellows (The Art of Boxing). I was particularly struck by the differences between Bellows's work from 1909 (Stag at Sharkey's and Both Members of This Club) and from 1924 (Dempsey and Firpo). The two earlier pieces remind me of MMA because of the fighter's outfits and the viciousness that is depicted, while Bellows's later work more reflects the style of modern boxing.

John D. Reith, Alachua, Fla.

Thank you for giving me a great illustration of why I teach Bellows's work in my high school art class. His work is a prime example of how art history can be relevant in current pop culture and sports, making it cool for students to want to learn about it.

Christian Vandehaar

Bondurant-Farrar, Iowa

Wrong Message

I was disappointed with your picture from the NCAA men's lacrosse championship (LEADING OFF). The photo seems to glorify an illegal and late check to the head of Loyola's Davis Butts, which resulted in a one-minute penalty to Maryland's Brian Cooper.

Brad Crandell

Germantown, Tenn.

Living Strong

Phil Taylor's column on fighting cancer (POINT AFTER) is one of the best I have ever read. The courage of those young boys and girls gives hope not only to their family and friends but also to the teams that have adopted them. My wife battled ovarian cancer for 18 years before finally succumbing in 2005. Her hope, courage and faith made me a better person, as I'm sure will be the case for the players on these teams.

Jonathan Phillips, Asheboro, N.C.



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MAY 28


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FOR June 4, 2012