RHYME NOR REASON
(ROSE IS A RED, VIDA'S BLUE, June 12)
Roy Blount the younger one
National pastime's poetics he craves.
In looking for rhyme schemes
For dactyls and limericks
He'll soon drive us sports fans
Right into our graves!
Roy Blount Junior
Seems to have a sense of humior,
But some of his rhymes might bring from the grave of Edmund Clerihew Bentley
Here are some verses, somewhat irregular ones, but my grateful gift to Roy Blount Jr. and to yourselves.
June 25, 1972
Never made no cracks
About anybody, such as "Is he still in the league?" He was never unkind nor rude the least bit.
This may have been partly because so far as he was concerned none was worse than any other, they could none of them hit.
Was sometimes (as Richie) accused of shillyshallen,
But he could always hit, especially long lazy flies that looked at first like easy outs but kept on going and going until they finally disappeared downtown.
Now that at last he has found a happy place, he may just set three or four or a dozen records, including leaping tall buildings at a single boun'.
Was brought up down on the Eastern Shore in the school of hard knocks,
He still holds the record for the longest home run in a lot of pocks.
He played mostly for the A's and the Red Sox.
Even when Allen or McCovey or Howard or Mantle hit a long home run at old Connie Mack Stadium I could always sneer and remain aloof
And say, "I saw Foxx hit one over the centerfield roof."
In the June 12 issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED you had a picture of Dick (Richie) Allen smoking a cigarette on your cover. We thought that it was bad taste putting it there, where thousands of kids who idealize him see him smoking, which will give them the wrong idea about American athletes.
Pearl River, N.Y.
The fact that Dick Allen smokes doesn't bother me at all. That you would feature him on your cover in such a pose is another matter.
Shame, shame, shame.
I've been a White Sox fan as long as I can remember, and no one could be as happy to see the Sox' first hero since Shoeless Joe Jackson on SI's cover. However, I feel you outdid yourself in poor taste. Dick Allen is looked up to by thousands of youngsters in the Midwest, and what poorer example could you set than by presenting him with a cigarette in his mouth? I couldn't believe it when I saw the cover. I know Dick is his own man, but I'm sure he wouldn't choose this picture of himself to be viewed by millions.
You were not to blame that a major league baseball idol was seen by countless numbers of kids smoking this way while in uniform. The fault lies with the man whose job it is to make and enforce the rules. You had a job to do and it was done. Now it's Bowie Kuhn's turn to step up to the plate—or should I say ashtray?
RICHARD P. CULLEN
While Bil Gilbert may have his facts right (Where There's Smokey There's Fire, June 12) I think it was a mistake to publish this story at this time. In normal times and during the rainy season, brush fires can be controlled, but here in the Southwest we have had a long dry spell and the woods are like tinder. Controlled burning is one thing; unattended campfires are another. I have never thought of Smokey as anything but a watchman saying "Be careful." You wouldn't give a 3-year-old a handful of matches and say, "Go have a good time making a fire in the front room," but that is just what this story told people to do in our front yard.
Hat Rock Valley
Episcopal Retreat Center
Monument Valley, Utah
Foresters have long advocated and made use of fire as a forest and wildlife management tool where applicable. A number of self-styled environmentalists treat fire as the ultimate tool to be used in every situation, but its use in controlled burning is a delicate art and should not be attempted by every Tom, Dick and Harry. To be successful it should be attempted only after careful study of fuel, weather, topography, live vegetation and many other factors, and then only under prescribed conditions.
I wonder if those who argue that fire is a natural phenomenon, and as such should not be considered evil, feel the same way about floods, disease and plagues? These, too, are natural phenomena. I notice with interest the absolute lack of comment on the destruction caused by forest fires, the loss of life and property not only as a direct result but also from the aftermath of floods, mud slides, etc. Please have Mr. Gilbert explain to the victims of such losses how "fire prevention and control is another form of environmental tinkering."
Too often in this day and age the general public is being overly influenced by a few researchers who come to a conclusion and then go out and do research to "prove" it.
ARTHUR N. CREELMAN
Fire Prevention Specialist
Department of Environmental Resources
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
As one of your Silver Anniversary All-Americas from Stanford (Dec. 20, 1965), I thought the article Disciples of Another Creed (May 29) by Ron Fimrite on the university was excellent, with one exception. Looking for an example of the "mystical quality that is the special Stanford mark," Fimrite cites the Vow Boys of 1933-35. They were unquestionably a great team and there were many individual stars. But they resembled the Big Ten power-type team that he wrote about. As you recall, they used the single wing.
I believe the team that typified the special Stanford mark was the Wow Boy team of 1940. The Wow Boys set college football on its car and radically changed the direction of the game. Clark Shaughnessy was introducing the modern T formation to college football. For mystical qualities, Frank Albert became a magician with the ball. No one could see it for over half the season—and then it was too late. These early-day Indians mesmerized the entire sports world, going on to win all their games including the Rose Bowl. No other Stanford team has achieved this unbeaten, untied record since the founding of the university. What made this more incredible was that the Wow Boys were essentially the same team that in 1939 had become the only team in Stanford's history to lose all of its games during the regular season. And it was dubbed by former Vow Boy Bones Hamilton the worst team ever to wear the red. This Cinderella team went from rags to riches, and the dream backfield of Albert, Standlee, Gallarneau and Kmetovic ranks on a par with the Four Horsemen of Notre Dame. Six of the first string either made All-America or went on to make All-Professional.
Incidentally, I was not one of these but I was on this team.
JOHN C. WARNECKE
As much research as went into the splendid article, I must nevertheless point out the apparent omission of that grand old man of football, Pop Warner. I believe Ron Fimrite will be the first to agree with me that Pop brought a new era of football prominence to Stanford.
J. E. PRISIN-ZANO
Class of '28
Your interesting article on the sporting spirit at Stanford reminds me of my own alma mater, Northwestern University, whose alumni include such famous sports figures as Otto Graham, Chick Evans, Clark Graebner and Marty Riessen.
Northwestern compares academically with Stanford and also boasts a rich sporting tradition. Its victories, too, have been hard won, as Northwestern has competed as the only private school in the Big Ten.
THE SISLERS RATINGS (CONT.)
After reading Barry Weston's and David Rothman's letters in the June 5 issue, I am compelled to defend the Sislers' pitching efficiency rating system. To say that the ERA of a pitcher is more important than the number of hits he allows and the control he possesses is ridiculous. To take just one example, a pitcher's ERA can be influenced by whether or not he has a reliable bullpen to back him up. If a pitcher is taken out with the bases loaded and two outs and an exceptionally effective relief pitcher comes in and retires the batter, the original pitcher isn't charged with any runs; however, if the relief pitcher doesn't have anything and the batter hits a grand slam, the starting pitcher is charged with three runs.
A pitcher can be rated more accurately on his hits allowed and control. Sandy Kou-fax allowed the fewest hits per nine innings of any pitcher in history. He also is No. 1 on the alltime strikeouts-per-nine-innings list. However, his lifetime ERA is 2.76. In comparison, Terry Larkin pitched under 1,600 innings, allowed over 1,600 hits and struck out but 406. His ERA was 2.43. Obviously he was never the pitcher Koufax was, but using any system other than the Sislers' would show him to be superior.
The Sisler system is a lot of gobbledygook. A far more succinct, accurate and easily calculated system was developed about 30 years ago by a fellow named Ted C. Oliver, who put out a little book called Kings of the Mound. I still have a well-worn copy and have used the system to calculate pitcher ratings since. Here it is:
Figure the pitcher's won-lost percentage and his team's won-lost percentage without him. Take the difference and multiply it by the number of decisions the pitcher is credited with. For example, Team A is 100-62 for the year. Pitcher X is 20-10 for the year (.667). Team A is 80-52 without him (.606). The difference is 61. Multiply that by 30 decisions and you get 1,830, the pitcher's rating for the year.
In Oliver's ratings for 1894-1944 the all-time top three pitchers were Walter Johnson, Grover Cleveland Alexander and Cy Young. Who can quarrel with that? The system's only flaw is that it probably does not do justice to relief pitchers, but they really are a special breed of cats anyway, aren't they?
JOHN E. HERZOG
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