BASEBALL: SOLO PERFORMANCES
Instead of rating pitchers by their won-lost record, I suggest rating them by the difference between their own won-lost percentage and that of their team. This would give them the advantage of their team's help (or hindrance) in determining their own value as pitchers.
Out of curiosity, I have computed the records of a dozen of the National League pitchers. I have considered only those who have pitched 150 innings or more, to eliminate the nonregulars. This also eliminates Roy Face, but there would be a legitimate question whether he could be eligible for a pitching crown any more than a pinch-hitter for the batting crown. Now look at these figures:
Mixes them up, doesn't it? Four of the first five are with noncontending clubs, and who is to say that this isn't a fair way of assessing their abilities?
How much of the credit for the great records of Spahn and Burdette, for example, must go to their teammates, for performing better both on defense and at bat than the teams they were up against? And it gets Robin Roberts up a little better in the ratings. With Milwaukee or San Francisco he would certainly have a better won-lost record.
I don't present this as a new method of keeping official statistics for the leagues. But how about your using it next year? And making a final tabulation after the season's close this year?
•If you want to rate as a pitcher, join a last-place team.—ED.
BASEBALL: FALL FROM GRACE
For many years the Dodgers were my favorite team. It took some pretty rotten conduct on the part of Dodger management to forfeit this long-standing loyalty. Over last weekend I drove a round trip of 240 miles to San Diego to see some televised big league baseball and see two Pacific Coast League teams play, rather than spend a nickel with O'Malley. I was overjoyed when the Dodgers recently lost a double-header.
BASEBALL: BLACK MEMORIES
With the coming White Sox victory there is for me a vivid recollection of what took place 40 years ago. I can still see Eddie Cicotte, with a man on first, turn and throw a double-play ball high into center field so Eddie Collins couldn't reach it, in spite of a tremendous attempt to spear it.
The most pathetic figure to come out of that series was Joe Jackson, who would have joined Cobb, Speaker, etc. at Cooperstown.
In 1920 Speaker and Gandil had a fight at first base, and if ever a man got what was coming to him it was Gandil. He was a dirty-looking and a dirty player. He made some remark to Speaker, who turned toward him as he went to center field, and that was the greatest fight I ever saw on a ball field. When they took Speaker off, Gandil's face was covered with dirt where Speaker had rubbed it on the ground. His shirt was torn off his back. The thing that was noticeable was that hardly a White Sox player came off the bench. It seems as though Speaker knew what had happened the year before.
ROY J. CONLEY
I take exception to your article on the Pan American Games in the September 14th issue.
To someone not present during the games the article would convey an unsuccessful venture. As in any large-scale undertaking, there are always slip-ups and confusion.
Unfortunately, the opening-day ceremonies were held on a weekday afternoon when many were unable to attend because it was a business day. Closing ceremonies were held on Labor Day and thus the attendance was much greater.
The water polo and swimming events were well attended during nonworking days. The final water polo game found a long line of people waiting to be admitted at noon. The game wasn't due to start until 1:30.
Incidentally, to say that "even U.S. water poloists managed to dethrone the two-time champions from the Argentine" hardly conveys the true picture. It was a hard-fought tournament by first-class teams.
The U.S. team was made up mainly of players from the Illinois Athletic Club, a number of whom had played in the '56. Olympics and had been coached by Sam Greller.
Baseball doesn't need publicity; the minor sports do, and it is unfortunate to pass over a team that did a good job and won the gold medal.
The whole article was hardly respectful or encouraging to our guests, who did give us real competition in a number of events and in some cases brilliant performances, such as in men's diving, where Mexico took first and third places.
The purpose of the games is to help create good international relationships. Your manner of reporting didn't aid this cause, in my opinion.
MARJORIE F. CONNOR
•As we said: "The Pan American Games were a warming success in spite of sparse crowds, much confusion."—ED.
SKI KING WAS HERE
Oh, that Ski King (EVENTS & DISCOVERIES, SI, Sept. 14)! According to "eyewitness" accounts, he showed up six weeks ago at Ski Beach on the Naval Air Station here in Pensacola. We're still laughing.
JOAN K. BARTLETT
Congratulations are in order for Gerald Holland's fine article, Viva the Admiral, Fanàtico Grande! (SI, Sept. 7).
It was both colorful and interesting. So: Viva the Writer, Fanàtico Grande!
San Rafael, Calif.
SEMANTICS OF SPORTS
I have listened to four preseason pro football games so far this year and, in a state of quiet desperation induced by the pitter-patter of the announcers' clichés, it suddenly struck me that in none of those games has anyone kicked a field goal or a point after touchdown. Oh, no! In every case, the place kicker, according to the announcer, has "split the uprights."
In the first place, the phrase makes no sense whatsoever. If anything is split it is the crossbar, not the uprights. (Besides it makes the place kicker sound like a modern Abe Lincoln—"the upright splitter.") In the second place, in the interest of coining new clichés I suggest that the announcers could use such words as bisect, dimidate, dichotomize, sunder, sever or even subdivide with as much effect and as little sense as they now use split.
One of these days it will be raining, and the announcer will tell us the place kicker has "split the uprights in a veritable quagmire." At that moment mass insanity will set in, and a million Americans will begin dismantling their picture tubes with raw and bleeding hands.
I have given up hope that they will ever stop saying "check on that" when they themselves have made a mistake or referring to the 23-yard line as if such a line actually existed!