ON WITH THE GAME
The problem with the public nature of the baseball strike was that it demonstrated to the fan that ballplayers are guys who fight the same day-to-day fight he does. The players and the owners especially should have realized that the average fan does not want to know that the players are involved in the same lousy, excessive struggle for the buck, or that the ballplayer, a man capable of breaking off a curve or hitting one a mile, is worried about his future.
The survival of the baseball phenomenon requires that the players as well as their abilities remain bigger than life. The players and the owners should have stepped out of the arena, rolled up their sleeves and settled the pension dispute under the stands, out of view of the fan.
As long as the players remain larger than life, they can be paid, now or at 65, on a scale that is also bigger than life. But as soon as the players too clearly and too publicly assume their normal proportions, the fan will no longer put up with the game or its excesses.
Your baseball issue (April 10), with only lip-service coverage of the strike, was just what I needed.
In your article Sultans of Swat—and Some New Turks, Too (April 10) you state, "All Boston aches to see Yaz come off his woeful .254 season of 1971." All America aches to learn why superstar Henry Aaron was left out of the collection of Don Moss paintings as well as out of your article.
If you needed a young protégé to accompany the premier home-run hitter of today, Henry Aaron, what's wrong with our Rookie of the Year, Earl Williams?
How could you possibly have an article about hitters and not include the AL batting champion, Tony Oliva? And Roberto Clemente thinks he is underpublicized.
Lake Benton, Minn.
I am still looking for Bill Melton. As a White Sox fan I am used 10 the Sox being ignored, but this is ridiculous.
Elk Grove Village, Ill.
Alas, no mention of Harmon Killebrew.
You've got to be kidding! How can you possibly call Aurelio Rodriguez the second-best third baseman around? Haven't you ever heard of Graig Nettles? Last year he broke two fielding records—most assists in a season and most double plays by a third baseman. In 1970 he was the top fielding third baseman in the AL—yes, even better than Brooks.
JOHN M. URBANCICH
East Cleveland, Ohio
STARTERS AND RELIEVERS
William Leggett's writing about the different pitchers and their performances last year (Masters of the Mound—and the Game, April 10) was truly interesting, especially the part about relief pitchers and their changing roles. As for the starters, I agree with the George Sislers' rating that Tom Seaver was more efficient than the two Cy Young Award winners, Ferguson Jenkins and Vida Blue. Tom Seaver should have been the Cy Young Award winner in the National League.
Anybody who rates Seaver ahead of Blue according to last year's statistics is either very misinformed or very insincere.
I noticed that the name of Dodger Pitcher Al Downing was missing. However, I did see the names of superstars like George Stone and Ray Sadecki. Last year Stone had a sizzling 6-8 record while Sadecki pitched a red-hot 7-7. Of course, all Downing did was win 20 games, come within a few votes of winning the Cy Young Award and become the recipient of the Comeback Player of the Year award. Who are the Sislers trying to kid?
Van Nuys, Calif.
I enjoyed your baseball articles very much, but how the George Sislers ever created those ratings for relief pitchers is beyond comprehension. They did a fairly accurate job rating the starters, but can Ken Sanders, for example, receive about the same rating as Roger Nelson? Sanders worked 136 innings (all in relief), finishing a record 77 games, saving 31 and winning seven for a club that won only 69 games. Nelson barely got dirt in his spikes.
A cursory viewing of the Sislers' 10 top-rated relief pitchers reveals the glaring omission of Dave Giusti, once again illustrating that any rating system based solely on statistics cannot be 100% valid. Anyone who has observed Giusti on the mound the past two years knows the intangibles that make him the best.
WILLIAM OLESZEWSKI II
New Derry, Pa.
How can the Sislers say that Steve Hamilton is more effective than Tug McGraw? Who else but Tug could come on any time in the game and pitch one great inning after another? You have to like someone with the best screwball since Carl Hubbell.
Far Rockaway, N.Y.
HOPE IN PHILLY
Thank you for the article on the NHL West (Try Kate Smith on the Rocks, April 3). Although the Philadelphia Flyers did not make the playoffs, I was very happy to see someone recognize the most underrated hockey player, the Flyers' Bobby Clarke. On Dec. 19 the statistics showed Clarke as the 75th-ranked scorer in the National Hockey League with five goals and 11 assists for 16 points. Dental surgery and a weight problem prevented Clarke from being the star he was to become later on in the season. His scoring streak began against Boston and ended against Buffalo, a stretch of 47 games during which Bobby scored 30 goals and 35 assists for 65 points. Bobby finished the season with 81 points, pretty good for a 22-year-old who played the last eight games on one leg and plenty of guts.
After three years, Philadelphia hockey fans can now sit back and watch with pride as Bobby Clarke develops into the first superstar the Flyers ha\e ever had.
SCORECARD (April 3) made mention of the wristband-headband fad now sweeping the playgrounds. We of the Philadelphia 76ers also thought Wilt Chamberlain's wearing a headband would cause kids to emulate him; that's why we staged a Wristband-Headband Night as long ago as Nov. 12, giving away 3,200 items to kids and then putting them on sale at our concession stands, where they've taken over as the No. 1 seller.
Oh well, at least the Sixers can claim to have beaten the Lakers at something this past season.
Director of Promotions
While Wilt Chamberlain may be partially responsible for the increased use of sweatbands (SCORECARD, April 3), I think that the real reason for the proliferation of this item is, quite simply, hair.
Since the functional crew cut has, at least temporarily, gone the way of the two-handed set shot, today's athletes have been forced to seek other means to combat the vision problems posed by long locks. Sweatbands, or headbands as they are now known, are in most cases a necessity, not a fashion item.
New Bedford, Mass.
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