I'm writing this letter to tell you how sorry I am for you. Last fall you predicted the Cardinals would beat the Tigers in the World Series. As a matter of fact, you had the Cards the world champs before the sixth game was underway. Well, great predictors, what happened?
Now you have the nerve to predict that Baltimore will win the Eastern Division in the American League (Scouting Reports, April 14). Pity, pity, pity. Everyone knows the Detroit Tigers are the greatest team around and it will take more than Baltimore to stop them.
I don't see how in the world your "scout" can say that the White Sox "can only dream" of winning the AL Western Division. If they were in the Eastern Division, I could see the logic, but the West? Come on! Remember 1959.
Last October you had a spread on the World Champion Cards, and when Detroit won the pennant you had only a few dinky pictures. Now you say St. Louis will finish first in the NL East and Chicago third.
April 27, 1969
No, no, no! This is the year of the Cubs. With a lineup consisting of Kessinger, Beckert, Santo, Banks, Williams, Hundley and Phillips, and a great pitching staff led by Jenkins, you can expect nothing less.
VINCENT DI CECCO III
Roselle Park, N.J.
You have made a giant underrating in your pitch for the Reds for the NL Western title. The Giants have the strongest pitching in their division, as well as great hitting and an improved defense. Willie Mays (Leading Man: Wondrous Willie, April 21) is a revitalized ballplayer who will lead the Giants to a pennant. See you in October.
I hope the young pitchers like Johnson and Pappas, the best outfield in the majors, Aaron, Alou and Carty, and great infielders like Cepeda, Millan, Jackson (yes, Jackson) and Boyer will greet you in Atlanta at World Series time.
F. E. HESTER JR.
The temperature has been about 50°, the sun has been shining, kids have been playing ball everywhere and I haven't seen any of the snow that was supposed to be blanketing Jarry Park (according to SI).
The Expos won their opener and have proved they'll be a threat to most teams with their great hitting power, though they are very weak in the pitching department. Please send someone to see for himself, instead of relying on gossip which seems to imply that we're living in igloos up here.
I will have you know that we are a hardy people here in Montreal. I, myself, was born in an igloo and have spent most of my life since then in temperatures that never got above the 20° mark. So you see, a little cold air isn't going to keep me from the games. It may be a little difficult getting there, however, as the glacier is quite dangerous this time of year and, to make matters worse, my dog team has been acting up lately. As for the snow on the field, there's talk that they will simply water it down and hold a hockey game in place of the ball game—that is, if the snowdrifts don't build up too much.
S. F. SHAAR
Your article on the Iron Men in the April 14 issue of SI was very interesting and singled out a very rare breed of baseball player. However, I fail to understand why Billy Williams of the Cubs was omitted from the select few. Williams was Rookie of the Year in 1961, has a lifetime batting average of .290 and has averaged 30 home runs per year for the past five years. Aside from Glenn Beckert, Sweet Swinging Billy is the best clutch hitter the Cubs have. More important though, Williams hasn't missed one game since Sept. 21, 1963 (832 consecutive games) and is only 63 games away from breaking Stan Musial's Iron Man record of 895 games.
POLITICS AND PERFORMANCE
I was very happy to run across your article Politics in the Saddle at Utopia Downs (March 31). I believe that it is one of the best articles stating the real problems facing the horse-racing establishment that I have ever read. I fully agree that the control of racing is becoming so far removed from the men most qualified to do the job that good horse racing is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Since the tracks must take a certain percentage of the money placed on the races to pay various expenses, including salaries, it would pay to get fewer and more qualified officials on the payrolls.
I believe that the only way to get good officials is to get the men who have worked their way up from the bottom of the racing business.
Thank you very much for the editorial comments in the SCORECARD section of your April 14 issue, expressing support for the work of our organization. You have my assurance that we will always endeavor to operate in such a manner as to justify public confidence.
You might wish to know that recently four additional tracks subscribed to the services of our organization: namely, Monticello Raceway (New York), Jackson Raceway (Michigan), Suffolk Downs (Massachusetts) and Greenwood Raceway (Toronto). All of this, of course, is encouraging and does indicate some recognition on the part of progressive tracks of the need and value of a continent-wide investigative organization in harness racing.
I only regret that the sport has to undergo this criticism because of the inaction of some in it.
JOHN L. BRENNAN
Harness Tracks Security, Inc.
New York City
Contrary to Tex Maule (The Curse of the Endless Playoff, April 7), playoffs, whereby more than one team has a chance to enter a final championship series, are essential in a professional sport—as long as a race to the very end of a season cannot be fairly guaranteed. "If," as Mr. Maule says, "you spend a season determining a champion, the season games are meaningful." Granted, but much more often, I'm afraid, a champion is determined in some fraction or part of a season, leaving the other part meaningless, not to mention moneyless. Playoffs are necessary in order to keep more players playing, instead of merely going through the motions, which in turn will keep more fans interested and more money flowing into team and league coffers. Besides serving as a fine incentive for players, fans, owners and league officials, playoffs are not unfair for the regular-season winners. Why shouldn't St. Louis, if it comes through the 1969 National League season with the best record, "have to confirm its eminence in a three-out-of-five series with a division champion that has a poorer record"? The Cards will either prove they are the best, or another team will show them that they were the best. Since nobody wants to see last month's champions in this month's final, let us have the current best. Bring on the playoffs!
RICHARD J. HOCH
Fishers Island, N.Y.
Tex Maule stated that a second-place team is not as good as a first-place team. I would agree, except 1) why did the No. 3 Knicks clobber the No. 1 Bullets in four straight, and 2) why didn't the Celtics die after 82 grueling league games?
For a Torontonian to criticize the Maple Leafs is, of course, nothing less than blasphemy. Nevertheless, the fact that both New York and Toronto were eliminated in four games straight serves to emphasize Tex Maule's point that third- and fourth-place teams have no business being in the playoffs.
I note with pleasure your mention of Michael Francis as Britain's youngest solo glider pilot at age 16 (FACES IN THE CROWD, April 7). While I have no wish to belittle Mr. Francis' achievement, I feel that it should be pointed out that in the U.S. the age for solo is only 14, and that many young pilots solo on their 14th birthday as a matter of course.
Going even further, those pilots lucky enough to have access to a fine sailplane and good soaring conditions often make very significant flights. For example, Steve Parker of Texas, whose father holds the world soaring distance record of 647 miles, had earned the gold badge with three diamonds (the highest of the international soaring awards) by the time he was 15½ years old. To do this, he had to make a flight of 310 miles, a flight of 186 miles to a predetermined goal and an altitude gain of over 16,000 feet.
Del Mar, Calif.
Harold Peterson is quite accurate in crediting Dave Brower with that long list of successes (Brower Power Awaits the Verdict, April 14). However, there is one exception: Storm King Mountain in New York. The Scenic Hudson Preservation Conference would gladly acknowledge Brower's help (and has often done so), but the National Wildlife Federation honored Scenic Hudson as conservation organization of the year (1968). Rod Vandivert, its executive director, has been a dynamo, compelling his membership into action.
Nevertheless, Dave Brower's leadership has served as a tower of strength for local efforts like Scenic Hudson's.
RICHARD B. SICHEL
New York City
Harold Peterson's story about the internal conflict within the Sierra Club seems generally fair, articulate, lucid and informative. His choice of the term "gnome" to describe Ansel Adams, however, can most kindly be called unfortunate. Webster defines a gnome as a "deformed dwarf." Connotatively, the usual implication of the word is even more uncomplimentary. Ansel Adams, a tall, husky, robust outdoorsman, is many things: premier photographer, writer, teacher and musician. To me, he is the exact antithesis of a gnome.
Long Beach, Calif.
•A gnome, according to Webster's Third Edition, is also a guardian of "precious ores or treasure."—ED.
ON THE RUN
Although it could easily have been overlooked, since it appeared in the same issue as your annual baseball preview, John Casey's humorous article, The Social Life of the Long-Distance Runner (April 14), stood out above the rest, and has continued the tradition of excellent articles in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.
I wonder how many other of my fellow SI readers have joined me by putting on their sneakers and taking up long-distance running in search of the unusual experiences that Mr. Casey so vividly describes?
I know not whether running makes a body grow old quickly or slowly, but I do know that running makes a body feel better while it is trying to make up its mind.
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