RAINDROPS ON HIS HEAD
I was under the impression that Don't Drink the Water was the title of a play, but after reading your Aug. 3 article on the U.S.U.S.S.R. track meet I suspect that this catchy little phrase is the title of the opening chapter of a new tearjerking novel called Putnam's Complaint. Pat blamed everything but the weather for the U.S. defeat (on second thought, he did say, "It rained a lot"). I felt embarrassed that Mr. Putnam felt it necessary to highlight a bunch of petty grievances as a means of accounting for America's poor showing. By all means, don't drink the water—but don't soak it up with a crying towel either.
MARK R. KOWLER
I must protest your publication of such hopelessly biased articles. Quite apart from its whining tenor, the article contains statements that are manifestly untrue, such as that Borzov had a false start in the 100 meters and was ahead at one stage "by seven yards"! Putnam is evidently unaware that millions of Americans saw this race on TV not only live but repeated in slow motion. The start seemed perfectly fair, and Borzov was never ahead by more than two yards. Is it any wonder that Americans are so often called the world's worst losers?
ROBERT J. MARSHALL, M.D.
Morgantown, W. Va.
The acerbic comments of Writer Pat Putnam as well as those attributed to the athletes hardly match your Aug. 3 cover, which seems to depict camaraderie between U.S. and Russian athletes.
FREDERICK H. HART
La Mesa, Calif.
After seeing the meet on television I thoroughly appreciate your efforts to discuss the problems our athletes had during their stay in Russia.
Face it, the U.S. track team just wasn't as good as the Russians"!
TEARS OF THREE CITIES
It was with much dismay that I read your lead item in SCORECARD (Aug. 3) regarding the doomed dome for Erie County. As a transplanted Buffalonian, I am an avid follower of the football Bills. Now, with nothing to fall back on but antiquated War Memorial Stadium, the chances for the team's remaining in Buffalo are virtually nil.
You state that "except for Dallas, Buffalo is the largest city in the country without a major league baseball team." You fail to mention the fact that the city's International League franchise was moved to Winnipeg for lack of support, thereby making Buffalo the No. 1 city in the nation without a professional baseball team of any sort.
DONALD W. KRONENTHAL
Indianapolis, which now ranks 12th (ahead of Buffalo) in central-city population, is without a major league baseball or football team. Move over, Buffalo, you're not the only one crying!
Poor Buffalo. Poor Dallas. They have no major league baseball teams. Now consider Columbus, Ohio. It is without any major pro sport. Worse yet, it has absolutely no prospects. What makes the situation ludicrous is the large stadium that has remained unavailable. The Cincinnati Bengals might have been the Columbus Bengals if Ohio Stadium could have been used. But the Big Ten has had a rather silly rule against pro teams using its sacred sports plants.
Despite continuous capacity crowds for Ohio State football games, the one million people of the Columbus area have outgrown college-town ties. They deserve better, and that means pro sports.
After reading all three installments of Joe Kapp's story (A Man of Machismo, July 20 et seq.) in which he said he was the least deserving (of all the Vikings) of the awards that were given to him, I was rather amused to read in the newspaper that Kapp is now holding out for a $1.25 million, five-year contract. That sounds like an awful lot of money for an undeserving football player!
With all the hullabaloo about salaries and pensions taking place between players and owners of professional baseball and football, the forgotten man, it seems to me, is the manager or coach. Where does all the bickering leave him? I bring up this matter because I recently read that Helenio Herrera, coach of Italy's Roma soccer team, signed his new contract without an increase in pay, thereby settling for last year's sum of 200 million lire ($320,000). I wonder what Hank Strain would say about this?
LARRY M. CISTON
Enthusiastic sports fan that I am, I nevertheless react with some bitterness to the pension demands of the NFL players. I was a 43-year veteran in teaching and receive a pension of $7,700 a year, with no Social Security benefits. Even so, I am more fortunate than many other teachers. I think any teacher would urge the players to realize how lucky they arc and get back on the job!
NINA GRACE SMITH
Oak Park, Ill.
No lunkhead, whether in football or anywhere else, deserves such ridiculously high pensions for such minimal services. Maybe $5,000 at 65 for five years' service and $10000 for 10 would be appropiate, but the suggested figures were preposterous.
EUGENE H. CLAPP
Needless to say, I was delighted to read in SCORECARD (July 27) that one of the two basic antimarathon alterations in the tennis scoring system that I have espoused for 12 long, tortuous years finally has been accepted for use in our two biggest outdoor events this year—Boston and Forest Hills. I refer to the use of VASSS (Van Allen Simplified Scoring System) sudden death in games in the set. Sudden death in points in the game (four points wins the game) is yet to come.
There is, however, one point that needs clarification—the statement attributed to Rod Laver. He says, "We [the players] recognize the need for some form of tie breaker, but the best-of-nine points system gives one player five serves, the other four. Obviously, the bloke with the first serve has a terribly unfair advantage." If the serve alternated after every point Rod would have a case. However, it can only be concluded that he, like many others, just hasn't read the VASSS rules thoroughly. These state that Player A, who would be serving in the odd game when the games are tied, whether at 5-5 or 6-6, commences serving in the tie break and serves points one, two, five, six, while his opponent, B, serves points three, four, seven, eight, nine, sides being changed after the first four points. This means that Player A has the advantage of serving four out of the first six points, while Player B has the advantage, providing he can bring the score lo 4 points all, of serving the ninth and final point either right or left. The balance between these two situations is so exact that in the Newport pro VASSS tournament and Forest Hills Open consolation in 1969 those who served first and those who served the ninth point in wins were within one or two percentage points of each other.
JAMES H. VAN ALEN
I wish to take issue with P. Stuart Reichertz' statement (19TH HOLE, July 27) that "baseball was meant to be played on grass, not some synthetic." Baseball was meant to be played, period. It would be hard indeed to inform a bunch of 10-year-olds playing ball on the streets of New York with telephone poles and manholes as bases that they were playing the game wrong. That's what baseball as a game is about: participation and enjoyment.
Baseball as a business is interested in protecting its investment. This means insuring that players will not be hurt, making the game interesting, colorful and innovative enough to make the fans want to come and maintaining the park the easiest way possible. In any case, baseball is played where the people are enthusiastic and are able to get their money's worth, whether it be Crosley Field, Fenway Park, the Astrodome or 121st Street in Manhattan. Ask the people in Seattle if an old, decrepit stadium with grass on the infield makes baseball more interesting to them.
I disagree with the theory that AstroTurf breeds bad baseball teams. The losing teams mentioned that have synthetic turf at home all manage to lose on grass when they go on the road. The Houston Astros have always played better at home in the Dome than outside on real grass.
AstroTurf should not affect Cincinnati. The turf is not a factor when teams have the hitters to keep the ball off the ground.
ZENO MARTIN JR.
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