HAPPINESS IN THE NL WEST
I congratulate William Leggett on a fine article about the Houston Astros of 1972 (Here Come the Happiness Boys, June 5). It has been a long time since something great has hit this town of ours, but it was worth the wait. Now it is the Astros' turn to win the pennant, and it is going to happen this year.
As an ecstatic Met and Astro fan, I was overjoyed to see features in SI on both of those beautiful teams. The Mets have Willie Mays, not to mention indescribable balance and fans that don't quit. Jim Wynn summed up the Astros in one word: rowdy—and that once-beleaguered team is entitled to every bit of rowdiness it wants to exhibit. The divisional playoffs between the Astros and the Mets will be the sweetest series since spirit was discovered.
LISA DE LA FUENTE
How about Clockwork Orange as a nickname for the 1972 edition of the Astros?
Your article on the Houston Astros was a bit premature. In a four-game series with the Astros, the Cincinnati Reds scored a whopping 39 runs, including a pair of grand-slam home runs, and ousted Houston from first place in the division. Your article stated that the race to watch is the one between the Dodgers and the Astros. Although Houston does sport one of the best infields in the league (with Lee May and Tommy Helms, both acquired from the Reds), it is obvious that the Big Red Machine is back. Happiness abounds in Cincinnati!
Orange Crushed is the name for the Houston Astros after Cincinnati's Big Red Machine rolled through the Dome.
AT SHORT AND THIRD
In the article Big Gloves Hold Big Promise (May 22) Ron Fimrite said that the combination of Aurelio Rodriguez and Ed Brinkman is superior defensively to any short-stop-third base combination in baseball. True, he mentioned Baltimore's Brooks Robinson and Mark Belanger but has he forgotten completely some of the National League's handy glove men?
Chicago's Ron Santo-Don Kessinger combination has earned some fame. Santo has led the National League in putouts seven times and in chances accepted nine times, and he also has the lead in other NL fielding departments. He is a pretty fair hitter, too (300 career home runs so far). As for Kessinger, many experts consider him the best shortstop in the league. I would take these two fielders ahead of any others, in either league.
You have done it again! Why don't you check the true case before printing the arbitrary, subjective appraisals that some of your writers decide are gospel truth? I am referring to William Leggett's allegation in his article on the Astros that Doug Rader is "the closest thing the league has to a Brooks Robinson with a glove."
Look at these 1971 statistics: Ron Santo handled 409 chances to 389 for Rader. Santo played in 14 more games than Rader. And Santo's fielding percentage was .958 while Rader's was .946.
Quit crowing for the Red Rooster, Mr. Leggett. It doesn't look good for a writer to lay an egg.
PLAYING THE HEAVIES
Joe Frazier has made a mockery of the heavyweight championship once again and I am disappointed in SI for acknowledging this massacre (The Bluffs Butcher Gets Tenderized, June 5). The champ has fought only twice in more than a year and both fights have been against nobodies. Bob Foster was stripped by the WBA of his light-heavyweight title for not fighting top contenders. Frazier seems to be headed the same way.
I can't wait for Ali to beat up this lazy champ, then we'll really have a champion!
BILL ST. ANGELO
Valley Stream, N.Y.
A million thanks for publishing Mrs. Ron Stander's truthful comments on what a "bum" her husband is. I was really embarrassed that I made my girl friend watch this "world championship" fight. The announcer seemed to be reading from a script, rather than reporting what he was really seeing in the ring. It also seems to me that Joe Frazier would be ashamed to fight someone like Stander.
Although I am no admirer of Vice President Spiro Agnew, I feel I have bumped into one of his "effete snobs" in Mark Kram. His snide article on Ron Stander made no mention whatever of the guy's incredible guts. I feel that Kram might at least have mentioned that Stander came to Frazier throughout the bout, unlike Frazier's previous opponent, Terry Daniels. It was no help against Joe Frazier, but Ron Stander more than made up for his lack of skill with his tremendous courage.
CHARLES R. BERNLR, D.D.S.
Council Bluffs, Iowa
I'm sorry, Mr. Kram, but I'm from The Sticks. Looking at the fight realistically, most locals knew that Ron Stander couldn't defeat Joe Frazier. After all, just months before he had lost to an obscure fighter named Reco Brooks. But for the sports fans of Omaha and the surrounding area the outcome of the fight wasn't the important thing. Sure, we were hoping for that impossible dream, but we knew the odds. But you see, Mr. Kram, we finally got to see an important sporting event—one of international concern. You big-league people are spoiled.
Once again automobile racing fans have been slandered. Robert Jones says that this year's Indy 500 crowd "sat on its hands" because there were not enough crashes. Not so! All around me I heard fans expressing their delight with the race. Well they might, because it was an excellent race. Before the old assumptions about the attraction racing holds for its fans are trotted out again, I suggest someone take time to ask the fans why they go to races. Of course, some fans thirst for crashes and fire, but to imply that this is what the majority of those present are interested in is to do a great disservice to the average fan.
D. J. ERICKSON JR.
I am very displeased to read that Bob Jones considers motor racing an "absurd sport." I will avoid reading his motor racing pieces hereafter. Better to read the ads anyway (such as the Goodyear spread in the same issue) to get the story without literary pretense.
G. A. CLIFFORD, M.D.
New York City
Harold Peterson's description of Oakland's acquisition of Ken Holtzman as "the great theft of the 1972 trading season" (BASEBALL'S WEEK, June 5) is, if not totally untrue, at least premature. Holtzman has always done well at the start of the season, but he unfailingly becomes erratic and inconsistent as the season progresses. Rick Monday, whom the Cubs obtained in exchange for Holtzman, is one of the finest centerfielders in baseball. At this writing, he is hitting .330, fifth in the NL, and with his solid defensive play Rick has remedied the Cubs' perennial center-field sore spot. Furthermore, Burt Hooton, Holtzman's replacement in the Cubs' starting rotation, is one of the most promising young pitchers today. I suggest the end of the season may reveal that it was the Cubs who pulled off the great theft of the 1972 trading season.
EDWARD J. LESNIAK
Hooray for Jule Campbell's article Now Prospects Are for Warm and Fairer (June 5). I have for years been coming home from work, slipping out of my business togs and into a comfortable sweat, excuse me, warmup suit. During this time, I have been the target of queer looks from my neighbors and friends and digging comments from my wife and family. Now I can proudly say to all of these critics that I was the first kid in my neighborhood to be in style.
Western Springs, Ill.
Realizing that this is an Olympic year, I can understand Mark Kram's enthusiastic endorsement of Munich as an excellent choice for the Games (Munich, the Bavarian Cream, May 22). We in Germany are looking forward to the Olympics with great anticipation and are optimistic that it will meet with success. It is my opinion, however, that although Mr. Kram's article was an excellent exposition of the tremendous strides Munich has made since the war, he damaged his credibility in his attempt to promote the "greatness" of Munich.
As editor of Berlin's only English-language magazine, I often meet tourists who have come here to see the Wall, yet leave with a much different impression of The Outpost City, as Berlin is sometimes called. I agree with Mr. Kram's assumption that one cannot compare Berlin with Munich. Nonetheless, my comparison leaves me with the opinion that Munich is not the top city in Germany. It is not even similar to and never will be what old Berlin was, and it does not measure up to what Berlin is today.
To be sure, Munich does have several advantages over Berlin: no wall separating it from West Germany by 110 miles; beautiful surroundings such as the Alps, which offer an abundance of winter and summertime activities; and better employment opportunities because of greater industry. But the true measure of a city lies with the people, the soul of any culture. From the mentality of the citizenry develops something we call atmosphere. Perhaps a German friend of mine, who has lived in both Munich and Berlin, makes the comparison best:
"Before the war Berlin was one of the cultural centers of the world, a great city by anybody's definition, internationally oriented, and the home of a sophisticated people. Munich was referred to as 'that provincial town in Bavaria.' Munich is a city now, but it is not and never will be a Berlin. Although Berlin was completely destroyed in the war, it is once again an international meeting point, one of Europe's heartbeats. Munich is the type of city you'd like to visit because of its provincial charm, but Berlin remains one of the most interesting and sophisticated cities in the world to live in."
If Mr. Kram is right when he says, "Berlin is a political sentry and a shopwindow toward the East," it would seem illogical that more than twice as many Germans and other nationalities have chosen to live here than in "...the secret capital of Germany." The Germans know their country and their cities. The next time Mr. Kram chooses to promote one city over another, he should ask the people first. They know the truth.
ROBERT J. BAUER
As one who has lived in and enjoyed old M√ºnchen am Isar for many years and who has attended and taken a very active part in more than a few of the world-famous Oktoberfeste, permit me to state that only a real Prussian barbarian would ever refer to the delightfully magnificent Gem√ºtlichkeit of Bavaria as "animalism" as Mark Kram has done. Sir, I must protest! My sensitivities have been violated!
MAJOR WILLIAM E. TWITTY, USA
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