THE ONION EATER
Thank you for your article on Rick Barry (A Splendid Warrior Who Knows His Onions, May 9). Not only is he the best passing forward in the NBA, but he is also the most complete forward ever to play the game. His so-called "antics" on the court with referees and opposing players can be justified because he is a true superstar striving for a win—and Rick Barry would do anything within his power to win. This is why I truly admire him. Neither the Warriors nor basketball will be the same when he retires.
Rick Barry is not only the finest passing forward ever to play the game, but he is also the finest overall player. I was one of those who used to believe scoring points was everything. Following Rick Barry, I've learned "to play the game from a total concept." If anyone has influenced my play and made me a better player, it is Rick Barry.
About the off-court Barry: when he was playing for the New York Nets, in 1971-72, I met him for just a moment after a Nets-Virginia Squires game but I'll never forget it. He took the time not only to shake my hand but also to talk to me. It means something when your favorite player does that and appears to enjoy doing it. Rick Barry is a splendid person just as he is a splendid player.
Ron Fimrite must be crazy stating that Rick Barry is the best passing forward in the NBA. He's one of the most selfish players ever to set foot on the court.
DAVID JOHN ZIMMER III
May 22, 1977
If Barry were the best passing forward ever in the NBA, the Warriors would still be in the playoffs. Since he isn't, and they aren't, Barry should have all the time he needs to perfect slicing onions.
C. S. WOLFE
I have been a basketball fan for years and Barry is clearly the best forward in pro basketball. He can do it all—pass, steal, shoot, defense—just about everything but sell popcorn at halftime. I think he deserved the Most Valuable Player award the last three years. I just don't understand why all the talk is about Julius Erving and George McGinnis when Barry is the best, bar none.
Excelsior Springs, Mo.
All I hope is that he doesn't retire, at least not for a couple of more seasons.
LUCAS VS. BIG E
I don't know what statistics Curry Kirkpatrick was using when he said that Maurice Lucas "had the best year of any power forward in the NBA" (Couple of Babes in the Woods, May 9). But it certainly wasn't any of the following, all of which argue that Elvin Hayes of the Washington Bullets, who had the best all-round year of his career, clearly outranked him. Hayes, the NBA's iron man this year as he led the league with 3,364 minutes played, had a higher scoring average than Lucas (23.7 to 20.2), a higher rebounding average (12.5 to 11.4), a higher field-goal percentage (.501 to .466) and a decided advantage in blocked shots (220 to 56). Rating the two players in these key categories, I think it is fair to say that although Lucas had an excellent year, Hayes had an even better one.
STEPHEN J. LIDD
UNDER THREE FLAGS
Is Reggie Jackson the first-ever major-leaguer to make SI's cover three years in a row in three different uniforms: Oakland A's (1975), Baltimore Orioles (1976) and as a New York Yankee (1977)?
RICHARD S. HUENNEKENS
Your article on Jeff Burroughs (Reborn in a Brave New World, May 9) was inspiring to a Braves' fan like myself. Burroughs will knock in the runs but the Braves' pitching will have to come around before Burroughs can become a game-winner. When you're getting beat 23-9, one player is not going to be able to carry the load. But despite what's been happening lately, the Braves do have potentially fine pitching with Andy Messersmith, Dick Ruthven and the veteran Phil Niekro. So look out for the Braves if they start pitching well.
As a Texas Ranger fan, I am glad to see Burroughs doing well in the National League. The trade that sent him to Atlanta was good for both clubs. Jeff would not be having that kind of season in Arlington Stadium simply because the wind there had him psyched out.
HE WUZ ROBBED
Jim Kaplan is wrong in asserting that Baltimore Outfielder Tom Shopay's home run against Detroit was his first in the major leagues (BASEBALL'S WEEK, May 9). In fact, Shopay hit two for the Yankees as a rookie in 1967. What could be meaner than taking away two home runs from a guy who only has three in 10 years?
I think the man in the article At the Other End of the Rainbows (April 25) is kind of strange. Any person who would stand in the street outside a ball park, just to catch home runs, is missing something. I can understand the feeling you get catching a home run hit by one of the big names in baseball, but when it comes to catching a ball and maybe getting hit by a car, I'd much rather have a ball player just autograph a piece of paper for me.
ON THE PLUS SIDE
I'd like to know where Peter Gammons got his information about plus-minus figures (Stating Their Case, May 9). He says that Larry Robinson of Montreal was plus-107 (when he was on the ice, the Canadiens scored 107 more goals than they gave up), which is probably true, considering he played most of his time behind the Lafleur-Shutt-Lemaire line. However, Gammons also says that "the next best defenseman in the ratings finished with a plus-47." My understanding is that Moose Dupont of the Flyers was plus-59 for the season. Who's right?
Drexel Hill, Pa.
•Robinson finished the season at plus-120, ahead of teammate Serge Savard at plus-79. Dupont was fourth with plus-57.—ED.
ON THE TRACK
In your article on the Drake Relays (A New Generation of Blues Fans, May 9), you slight a fine athlete, sprinter-hurdler Mike Roberson. Granted, Harvey Glance and Johnny Jones have earned their world-class recognition. However, Roberson is co-holder of the national high school record in the 120 highs of 13.2, but he also was co-holder of the high school record for the 220-yard dash at 20.6. In addition, he ran a 9.2 100-yard dash—all of this during his senior year in high school. Furthermore, how could Roberson's victory in the 100 meters over Glance and Jones be described as "unfortunate"? With Roberson's credentials, I doubt he will "fade out of the sprint scene." Why blame his rising to the occasion on the Drake Relays Blues?
Elon College, N.C.
Mike Berlin certainly did look like a pro at Firestone (Shark Attack at the Riviera, May 9). But he did not pick off the 3-6-10 split because the 3-6-10 is not a split.
Congratulations to Robert Cantwell for an excellent article and an overdue tribute to a remarkable athlete, Cecil Smith (The Cowboy Who Showed 'Em, May 9). I became a polo fan while living in the Chicago area and heard many stories of Smith's achievements from aficionados at the U.S. Polo Association and the Butler Sports Complex, both located in Oak Brook, Ill. Here's hoping Mr. Cantwell and SI will cover the Gould Cup matches next fall. Polo fans will be forever grateful.
NEIL J. WERTHMANN
I am an avid hiker, but my mountain-climbing aspirations are strictly vicarious. Naturally I was drawn to the photograph of K2 and the accompanying article by Galen Rowell (The High Road to Failure, May 2).
I've wanted to know more about this expedition ever since I first read about it being planned two years ago. What a refreshing change from the heroes (even gods) usually encountered in accounts of mountain conquests! Rowell depicts the climbers as real, fallible human beings, giving them an extra dimension that makes his journal more than simply a report of an assault on a mountain.
Your discussion of the increasing liability problems of football-helmet manufacturers (SCORECARD, April 4) ended with the question: "With no helmets, can there be football?"
The answer is yes, and although the game would obviously be different, it would also be safer. Many football injuries (high school football has a higher injury rate than this country's most dangerous occupation, coal mining) have occurred because of the gradual change in the function of the helmet from protective device to offensive weapon.
Football is considered so dangerous today that the presence of a physician at games is required at most levels of competition (How many activities in life are that dangerous?). However, the liability-insurance problems of the football-helmet manufacturers also plague the medical profession. The ancient philosophy that unfortunate events can happen spontaneously has been rejected in favor of the idea that every bad turn of events is someone's fault—and therefore compensable. A jury recently awarded former Oakland Raider Linebacker Bill Enyart $777,000 in a medical-malpractice judgment against the team orthopedist, following surgery to a knee damaged in a football game. Such awards can only result in greatly increased malpractice-insurance premiums for all physicians involved in the care of athletes. When this happens, some physicians understandably may choose not to become involved with talented and expensive athletes. If enough doctors selected this alternative, you might have to ask the question: "Can the very dangerous sport of football survive, not only without helmets but also without physicians?"
ROBERT V. JOHNSON, M.D.
Fort Collins, Colo.
BLUE JAYS DEFENDED
Michael F. Donovan and John W. Jerard write (19TH HOLE, May 9) that having a baseball team in Toronto is no big deal. Their letter comes from Portland, Ore. Have they ever been to Buffalo? They should know that an attempt to field a baseball team in Buffalo a few years ago failed for lack of interest. Also, Buffalo is one of the most polluted cities in the nation. And how can they say that Toronto is a "bland" city? It is one of the most exciting cities in the East. They should get their facts straight: there are more than 2½ million people in Toronto's metro area, and the Blue Jays sold more season tickets than the Kansas City Royals.
Kindly inform Morton Sharnik and Bob Kendler (Served Up, Imperially, Under Class, May 2) that "something called paddle ball" (sic) is played according to standardized rules and requires considerably more skill than racquetball. Only at the highest levels of competition is racquetball anything more than the provision of a strung racquet to those unable to master handball or paddleball. Paddleball is the game!
Suttons Bay, Mich.
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