THE GREAT NUMBERS NONSENSE
Hooray for Stanley Frank! I was beginning to think it was my age that was making the sports pages much less interesting than they were in the '30s. The Great Numbers Nonsense (SI, Nov. 24) should be required reading for every sportswriter in the country.
Ocean Gate, N.J.
If there is some sort of a national championship based on Stanley Frank's The Great Numbers Nonsense, I wish to nominate Radio Broadcaster Claude Sullivan of Lexington, who covers University of Kentucky football and basketball.
Last year, Claude thrilled his listeners with the total number of time-outs called by four basketball teams in a two-night tournament.
But he reached his peak later on. He not only gave us the total number of time-outs called by Kentucky in the first 12 games of the season, but the number called by the opponents.
Unless another SPORTS ILLUSTRATED reader can come up with a more meaningless statistic, I believe the Stanley Frank Trophy should go to my man.
Our Phillies announcers are the No. 1 offenders. They give us the players' children's birth dates and, at the end of the season, regale us with schedules of trains players are taking, even unto connections in Chicago. Byrum Saam kills time by spelling the names of batters as they step into the box, and even if it's Sam Jones he spells that out for us illiterates. Just one glaring omission by Mr. Frank: Phil Rizzuto is an announcer par excellence and fills in with pertinent facts, not statistics, and his naiveté is most refreshing.
ANNE W. MADDOCK
Never has the nail been hit more squarely on the head.
I have been approaching a slow broil for years over the national champion football team, chosen by guys who never saw any of the teams play and who choose teams that didn't play each other; rookies of the year, of the month, of the day (left-handed category and ambidextrous), etc. There is no end to the list of absurdities.
Pity the poor coach; he wasn't outstatisticked, but his team got beat.
The sportswriters and broadcasters are the boys to blame for this sorry state of affairs. We have here in Pittsburgh a baseball broadcaster who becomes so involved in some player's average in the Three I League seven years ago that it is often impossible to find out the balls and strikes on the actual batter.
I suppose you will be a voice crying in the wilderness, but at least a voice has been raised, and if my little peep may be heard, I surely hope some antibiotic may be found for the horrible disease of statisticitis.
RALPH S. WORTLEY
At last, a man who's not afraid to say what he thinks, even to the extent of criticizing his former colleagues. Stanley Frank's all too revealing piece on the state of most current sportswriting may never receive a Pulitzer Prize, but it rates some award for its attack on all the numerical drivel we are forced to swallow. Long live Stanley Frank. Hail to the prophet of long-hoped-for improvement in sports reporting.
J. PHILIP PARK
Factual, highly entertaining and on the beam. If some of our college statisticians and tub-thumpers could forget their "numbers nonsense" long enough to take a long look at the fans' defection to professional football, they might come up with some help in holding the football fans they are now losing.
WADE H. RAMSEY
El Centro, Calif.
I would like to add my own observations to those of Mr. Frank. The football polls are not only inconsistent with each other but also with themselves. Take, for instance, the North Carolina rating going into the Notre Dame game. They were 11th in the A.P. poll, Notre Dame was unranked. The day before the game, the A.P. came out with their predictions, and one was that Notre Dame would beat North Carolina, as they did. This shows that the polls do not pick the top teams but just those with the best records.
This has happened to many teams in years gone by because statistics mean too much to too many. The polls of the U.P.I, type are much better, for they get the sentiments of the coaches, the men who must play those teams. In spite of this fact, the people still believe that statistics show everything. If so, they'd better watch out, for soon some high school team will be the only undefeated team in the country and they will be ranked No. 1.
I must take exception to Mr. Frank's reference to Art Luppino of the University of Arizona. Some time during the history of football one player has to score more points in a season than anyone else. Why should he be ridiculed because of the team he is playing with? If Mr. Frank had looked further in his abhorred record book, he might have noticed that the same Art Luppino holds the record for rushing yardage over a four-year varsity career. I saw Luppino play twice, and I can honestly say he was the greatest change-of-pace and change-of-direction runner I have ever seen.
I don't argue that statistics cannot be overdone, but it is just as easy to overdo a condemnation of them, as I feel Mr. Frank has done.
I must say, it was a most interesting article if you judge it merely as enjoyable reading. However, I think Frank's obvious dislikes of certain sportswriters get the better of his article.
I would certainly disagree with his statement that "when a man unloads 35 passes in a game, his team is not playing football, [but] is playing basketball with shoulder pads." Who is Frank to judge how the game should be played? Certainly, there were some great oldtimers, but so was the model T great. The complexion of the game changes and today's fan appreciates viewing a game with more action than he would have seen in the 1920s.
Mr. Frank may do all the campaigning he desires on this topic, but I for one look forward to your weekly baseball and football X-rays plus college leaders statistics.
East Lansing, Mich.
I must say that although you waste many unnecessary words on subjects that obviously do not fall into the category of sports, e.g., horse racing, which belongs on the financial pages; yachting, which belongs only on the society pages; bridge, the middle-class contribution to club-ism; your general contributions to this most dynamic area of sports are above average.
Mr. Stanley Frank's article concerning the meaningful meaninglessness of statistics in sports is a historic endeavor to curb the overwhelming tide of absurd numeration that threatens to engulf the sports page reader's mind. Mr. Frank is a bold and honorable man. There is no hope for salvation as regards the multitudes of men and women who are shamefully masquerading in the guise of sports reporters, but possibly, if the young and budding sportswriters would use the ideas embodied in this and like articles as a constitution, there may be hope.
R. O. WILLIAMS JR.
FOOD: SNOW GOOSE
Young snow geese may be Fair game for Monsieur Louis (FOOD, NOV. 17), but they are out of bounds for most of the rest of us.
If someone has domesticated snow geese and is selling them commercially, I would appreciate knowing the source.
Few wild birds are more delicious than a young snow goose; and no sort of meat is tougher than an adult. It has the consistency of a rubber boot and gets tougher the longer you cook it.
CHARLES P. DURKIN
•The management of "21" gets its young snow geese from shooting friends. They are no longer commercially available in New York City. Below, Mr. Durkin will find two recipes from Mary Mabon's bulging files applicable to the preparation of the snow goose, including one for those tough old ones.
CANADIAN SNOW GOOSE (young and old). A young gosling can be stuffed and roasted like a turkey. Sauté half a pound of chicken livers and the cut-up goose liver and heart in a little butter, then add ½ teaspoon rosemary, ¾ cup sherry or Madeira and 1 cup chicken stock, and simmer until tender. Mix this with 1 pound unshelled, roasted chestnuts, ½ pound cooked sausage meat, 1 cup sliced mushrooms and enough bread crumbs to achieve a good consistency and to fill the cavity of the bird, which will vary in size. Lard the breast with strips of salt pork, inserted with a larding needle or with a small, sharp knife. Roast the goose at 475° until tender. Unlike its domestic counterpart, wild goose is dry and should be basted frequently with a mixture of 1 cup dry white wine, 1 cup orange juice, and 2 tablespoons lemon juice.
For an older goose, braising is the best solution. A standard recipe for pot roast may be followed, substituting chicken broth for the usual water. The goose must be cooked very slowly, in the oven or on top of the stove, in a tightly covered, heavy braising pot. Lard the bird with strips of salt pork, as with the gosling, and place it in the pot on a bed of vegetables (such as potatoes, carrots, celery, leeks), with the broth only halfway covering it. A good stuffing for braised goose is a mixture of sliced apples and onions, with prunes that have been soaked a while in water to make them very moist. A classic mashed potato and celery stuffing-may be used, if preferred.—ED.
Mrs. Mabon's article on the steak (FOOD, Oct. 20) certainly hit a warm spot in my rather large family's fancy.
While her article is full of poignant suggestions, it does not specifically state what cut of meat should be used for the steak au poivre or for the steak Chateaubriand.
We are especially interested in view of the fact that we butcher about two prime steers a year. I would like to be able to get this type of cut from our beef.
HENRY C. GREENE
•Mrs. Mabon recommends sirloin for the steak au poivre, but porterhouse would do, provided it is at least two inches thick. Steak Chateaubriand is a standard cut from the steer; it is the thickest part of the filet.—ED.
Those apples pictured on your November 10 food page have got my taste buds tingling. I'm an apple eater from way back and have eaten as many as a dozen a day when I was a boy. That was back in the '30s when apples were so cheap, even down here in Texas, that we bought them by the bushel.
Having never seen an apple on a tree, I've often thought of spending a vacation in apple country when the apples are ripe.
R. J. LEDDY
I suggest that you stick to sports reporting. It is more than inconvenient to be in the middle of making a ravishing dessert only to find that sugar in an unspecified amount is required for the apple pan dowdy. Of course, we could blame it all on the "nice old lady from Whitinsville, Mass."
The weekend I tried to make your variation of apple pan dowdy I was stumped. Please tell me how much sugar to add for the dowdy part.
If that is the manner in which Mary Frost Mabon treats good venison (FOOD, Nov. 3), she would never be allowed to light the fire in any of my camps.
JAY J. SMITH
•Mr. Smith is hereby invited to tell us how he treats good venison.—ED.
GRAND PRIX RACING: BIRTH OF A CHAMPION?
Your article concerning the recent ruling to limit the displacement of Grand Prix racing cars to 1.5 liters (Who'll play follow the liter?, SI, Nov. 17) prompts me to observe that the average speed that can be attained by the 1,500-cc. car on a fast track is not so slow as to be devoid of challenge. Furthermore, it may result in the emergence of a new championship car.
Jean Behra, driving a 1.5-liter Formula II Porsche at Reims with an average speed of 116 mph, which, incidentally, is about the same as the winning average set in 1954 by Fangio in one of the finest cars in racing history, the 2.5-liter Formula I Mercedes-Benz.
In August the same car, without the aid of Behra, placed sixth over-all in the very testing Formula I race at the N√ºrburgring. Its average speed was 4 mph less than this year's most successful Grand Prix car, the English Vanwall.
Although I agree that the decision against Formula I racing is unjustified and may be injurious to the spectator appeal of the sport, I should be neither sorry nor surprised if the 1.5-liter Porsche became the championship car of 1959.
CARROLL H. SUDLER III
Ellsworth AFB, S. Dak.
•Certainly 1,500-cc. racing is "not devoid of challenge"—nor is quarter-midget racing or lawn-mowing. The point is that it manifestly lacks the traditional impressiveness, in the cars' size and power, of Formula I racing; a situation analogous, as Kenneth Rudeen pointed out in his column, to abandoning the heavyweight division in boxing. Certainly Behra was fast at Reims, but the winning Formula I car was substantially faster. Comparison of Behra's 1958 Formula II performance with Fangio's 1954 Formula I performance is invidious because engineering advances have produced more horsepower from engines of all sizes since then.—ED.
We can well understand the sentiments of the three ladies pictured in your Nov. 24 cartoon exclaiming, "And where may I ask is Goucher?" With the banners of the other seven Ivy League schools included in the cartoon, we of Brown feel rather left out.
BILL STAMM, Brown '58
GARY SMITH, Brown '60
HARV HANSEN, Brown '62
CHARLIE WARNER, Brown '62
BOB CITY, Brown '62