Congratulations to Mark Mulvoy on his article about the Red Sox (Strangers in Paradise, Aug. 26). What is perhaps most exciting about this team is the sense of continuity we're finally getting. Not only are Dwight Evans, Rick Burleson, Cecil Cooper el al. doing the job in Boston, but the Pawtucket (R.I.) farm team, which has just supplied the Sox with Outfielder Jim Rice, has some other outstanding players. I hesitate to term them surefire major-leaguers (call it the reluctance of a hardened Red Sox fan), but the current Fenway starters are beginning to notice the pressure from below.
This year feels better than 1967. Then we knew it was nothing more than a wonderful, one-shot affair with destiny. Now we know better. Maybe.
As a lad of five in 1939 I adopted the Red Sox as my team, and I've been a faithful fan ever since. But these Red Sox have speed, which the teams of the '40s, '50s and '60s always lacked. Hats off to Owner Tom Yawkey, Manager Darrell Johnson, the team and all the million-plus loyal Red Sox fans of America. The A's can be dethroned this year.
DANIEL GREEN, D.D.S.
Since when does geographical place of residence dictate where a person's baseball loyalties lie? I hate to upset Mark Mulvoy's system, but I live in Connecticut, a state I always thought was a component of that section called New England. Yet the Red Sox do not have me on Elysian pins and needles—or on any other type of pins and needles, for that matter. In fact, you'd have to classify me as one of their most loyal enemies.
As for calling Dwight Evans the best right-fielder in the American League, how can Mulvoy overlook Reggie Jackson, Jeff Burroughs and Bobby Darwin, not to mention Bobby Murcer, who had 12 assists in his first 52 games after moving from center to right?
In the future, I suggest you be more careful of using the word all, as in "all New England," because there is always an exception. I am a Yankee fan.
Reggie Jackson received the most votes of any player ever in All-Star balloting this year—there are people who say he should have received even more votes—and now Mark Mulvoy is trying to tell us that Dwight Evans (who?), a .290 hitter, is the best right-fielder in the American League. That's preposterous!
How can you call Dwight Evans the best rightfielder in the league? Charlie Spikes of Cleveland has more home runs, more runs batted in and has developed into a steady .290 hitter. Also, his fielding and running ability put him on a par with, if not above, Evans. Boston may have a good team, but it doesn't have the best rightfielder in the league. Cleveland has.
Your excellent article on the Red Sox reminded me that once again baseball's foolish divisional setup has robbed fans of a climactic pennant race between two excellent teams. As of Aug. 21 Boston and Oakland had almost identical records, with the A's coming into Fenway for a three-game series. Since each team was leading its division by a healthy margin, however, the significance of the series was greatly diminished. Similar situations existed in the American League in 1971 and 1973.
This should indicate even to baseball's myopic owners that the divisional system is reducing, not increasing, the number of pennant races. Those that it has produced have been bogus races among mediocre teams: witness the National League East. A similar race in 1972 involving the Red Sox was greeted by Boston fans with a yawn, because the team was not of championship caliber.
Since major league baseball already has 24 teams and is contemplating adding more, I think that something ought to be done about expanding the playoff format.
Being an avid fan of the Dodgers, I was naturally disappointed last year when they finished with the third-best record in the majors but were unable to enter the NL playoffs simply because the team with the best record-Cincinnati-was in the same division. I would suggest that four or even five teams be allowed to compete in the playoffs in each league, giving teams such as the Dodgers a chance to prove themselves, and boosting attendance in cities with good baseball teams that can't quite make it to the top. This would make for more exciting finishes and eliminate any "who cares, we were out of it anyway" attitudes a player or team might have.
In a four-team playoff the two divisional leaders would meet the two second-place teams in a two-out-of-three series, with the winners playing three out of five. In a five-team playoff a third-place, wild-card team would compete, with the team with the best record exempt from playing in the first round.
I say let's get on the ball and dump the old system fast.
San Jose, Calif.
I am a longtime subscriber for my sons and grandsons, and was very dismayed to see the 10-page story about the Taiwan Little League teams [Going to Bat for Taiwan, Aug. 19). I think in all fairness you should have waited until after the playoffs to print such a glowing report.
Couldn't you imagine how our Little Leaguers would react to such a story? I think it showed in their playing (Chinatown. Oh, my, Chinatown. Sept. 2). Next year, if the Taiwanese are in the playoffs, it would be a good idea to hold off on your report so our American kids won't be scared to death when they meet them. This is not only my opinion but also my grandsons', and they play Little League ball.
Concerning Peter Carry's well-written article on the Taiwan Little Leaguers, Taiwan has won every one of its World Series titles through hard work and practice, something American Little Leaguers would rather not do because of other sports, television and, of course, girls. Most of the outstanding U.S. Little League teams of the past have consisted of one or two solid, talented, hardworking pitchers and eight other players who stood around and prayed the ball would not be hit to them. If the Americans are tired of losing, they should get off their apathy and put together a nine-man team that can beat Taiwan—Huang Ching-hui or no Huang Ching-hui.
K. C. WHALEN
Every year it's the same thing, an article on an Oklahoma football player (Don't Tinker with This Kid Brother, Aug. 26). You guys are really stuck on them—Jack Mildren, Steve Owens, Greg Pruitt, the Selmons and now, in your seemingly endless series of Sooners, comes Tinker Owens. Give us a break! There is still only one Big Red, and that is the team you always have snubbed: Nebraska.
White Bear Lake, Minn.
The Sooners will rise to the occasion once again and prove to the nation how tremendous they really are. And Tinker will have a tremendous year.
NEARLY A MISS
Congratulations to Jack Curtis (Just a Babe in the Woods, Aug. 26) for lowering hunters another few notches in the public's esteem.
While I have great admiration for his son Babe's courage in holding his ground against a wounded boar's charge, Mr. Curtis seems to have forgotten one of the hunter's major responsibilities: to use a weapon that, given good shot placement, will ensure a quick, clean kill, so that the prey suffers as little as possible before death.
The use of a .22 (which Mr. Curtis himself admitted is almost totally ineffective against boar, and which required 12 slugs plus some luck before a "natural" could achieve a kill) was a poor lesson in sportsmanship for a young hunter, extremely foolish (the boar's charge almost succeeded) and bordered on the sadistic. One wonders if Mr. Curtis intended to hunt boar or merely to blast away at them.
ROBERT A. MARSHALL
I am terribly weary of killing-for-pleasure glorifications, whatever their basis or justification. Since SI is a sports publication, what is wrong with confining yourselves to the field of sport?
STEVEN E. VEST
New York City
Why does a boy "come of age" because he kills a boar with a dozen bullets? I fail to see anything in this even resembling sport. Of course, some boars must be killed for ecological reasons. Also, I admit the story was entertaining, but doesn't it belong in a hunting magazine? Aren't there sports, such as cliff diving, amateur wrestling, mountain climbing and the great Irish sport of hurling that are just as interesting? I'm sure there are.
JIM DUNN'S FOOTSTEPS (CONT.)
The experience Jim Dunn has shared with SI readers ( Young Man on the Run, Aug. 12) is most impressive. In the true pioneer spirit he dared to be first. He had a vision, and through his indomitable will he made it reality. Others will follow in his footsteps, some perhaps faster, but he led the way.
Jim's writing is simple, beautiful and totally human. Runners and joggers can't help but identify with some of his feelings. Parents will feel the hollow fear and anguish of Mrs. Dunn during her long hours of waiting and searching following missed rendezvous. And Jim captured the West Coast of the United States as it is.
With leaders like him, the future of this country will be in good hands.
J. R. BLISS
Ford Island, Hawaii
It was a super article and gave me a feeling of pride to know that there are still a few adventurous and exciting people left on this earth who love our planet and what it has to offer.
The article was extremely well written in a simple down-to-earth style that perhaps only a schoolboy could produce. Jim's success just goes to show that the Olympics is not the only place where we find true champions.
Jim Dunn's run from the Mexican to the Canadian border must be classified as truly amazing. The uniqueness of the trip and the perceptiveness and preciseness with which Dunn wrote about it combined to make this one of the most fascinating and beautiful pieces you have ever printed in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.
What impressed me most, however, was the kind of person Dunn revealed himself to be: namely, the kind whose determination and doggedness allowed him to attain a seemingly unattainable goal, who would carry his trash along with him rather than litter his country and who was human enough to want to bask in a little glory after his long run. Jim Dunn is truly one of a kind.
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