TRAIL BLAZER TRIUMPH
Curry Kirkpatrick's article on the Sixer collapse (All for One Sure Beats One for All, June 13) was one of the most biased pieces of writing I have ever read in your magazine, and I loved every word of it. The last four games of the NBA championship series made the Blazers my second favorite team (next, of course, to the Rockets).
The Trail Blazers showed the world how to play together as a team. Dr. J may be able to rise above one player, but not five. Where are all the Walton critics now? Oh, let us be thankful that the 76ers are now Gratefully Dead!
One would think, after reading Kirkpatrick's article, that the 76ers had simply lost the series, rather than being beaten by a great team. Bill Walton is obviously the most outstanding Blazer, but without Gross, Lucas, Twardzik, Hollins, Neal and the rest of the team, he would have been where Abdul-Jabbar was during the finals: watching the games on TV.
KAREN B. RIEKERT
I, for one, became fed up with the media's obsession with the Philadelphia 76ers' immaturity and dissension while losing to the Trail Blazers. It's as if the Blazers sneaked in amid the 76ers' ridiculous behavior on the court and off. I was amazed to see three-fourths of Kirkpatrick's article detail 76er woes, while the entire Pacific Northwest, especially Portland, was celebrating its first world championship. Why did all the negative 76er trivia have to overshadow the fine teamwork, sportsmanship and camaraderie of Portland and its Blazers? In our Blazermania smugness, we Northwesterners know what happened. The Trail Blazers stuck it in the 76ers' collective crybaby ear.
JEFFREY R. SHELLEY
June 26, 1977
I would have liked more in-depth analysis of the Blazers' strategy and what makes them tick. How did a new coach like Jack Ramsay put together a winning team in such a short time? How did he get his team up for the third game after losing the first two? Most important, how did he and his team manage to win without the high-priced superstars who dominate the game?
CONRAD G. PRANGE
The emphasis on dissent among the 76ers being cause for defeat is irrelevant. They were doing all right in the playoffs until Portland started blowing them out of the gym as they had done to others.
Boo on the believers in the SI jinx. You had Walton on the cover of your Dec. 13 issue and again on May 23. Now here he is yet again, this time for bringing the NBA championship to Portland. So for you jinx fans, take it and dunk it!
I think it was a mistake to pick Walton as the MVP of the championship series. What more can one person do than Julius Erving did while being double-and triple-teamed?
American Professional Slo-Pitch League President Bill Byrne (It's Easy Come, Easy Go, June 13) is doing the same thing that helped ruin the WFL—pulling name ballplayers (Cash, Northrup, Swoboda, Versalles, etc.) out of retirement, rather than building a club with homegrown players.
My suggestion, Mr. Byrne, is let your league build gradually, sign more local talent, such as Jim Galloway and Tom Miller, stay away from ex-major league talent—and for 30,000 big ones, tell Swoboda to bring his own beer!
A couple of points about Larry Keith's fine article on this year's baseball (They're Knocking the Stuffing Out of It, June 13). Through the first 616 games there were 1,033 homers for an average of 1.68 per game, or .84 per team. Based on a full season, this comes out to 136 per team and not 117 as Keith assumes.
This year's home-run pace can only compare with the 1970 pace (1.76 per game) in recent years, although from 1955 to 1966 the pace every year was 1.66 (1965) or higher. The most productive years were 1958 and 1959 (1.82), 1962 (1.85), 1956 (1.86) and 1961 (1.91). Even after the strike zone was enlarged following the 1962 season, there were still some highly productive years such as 1964 and 1966, in both of which there were 1.70 homers per game.
No doubt the ball is livelier and there may be a record total of homers hit this season, but the ratio of homers hit per game has been surpassed many times since 1955.
RONALD E. COOLIDGE
You should have let Mark Fidrych interview a dozen randomly selected baseballs. I'm sure that would have answered everyone's questions.
VIVA EL BEISBOL
Being a Cuban, I was very pleased to see Ron Fimrite's article In Cuba, It's Viva El Grand Old Game in your June 6 issue. It is truly a shame that players from the country that over the years has produced the likes of Tony Taylor, Cookie Rojas, Camilo Pascual and Tony Oliva have not been permitted to come to the U.S. since 1961. Many a player, such as Antonio Capiro, Felipe Sarduy and Felix Isasi, has had his considerable talents wasted playing in leagues where he could never reach his full potential.
RAFAEL M. GAVILAN
No need to wait until December to select the 1977 "Sportsman of the Year." Just give the award right now to Seattle Slew.
WILLIAM E. CARSLEY
Clive Gammon's point concerning Franz Beckenbauer's joining the Cosmos (Recovery from Kulturschock, June 13) is well taken. Once he masters the Cosmos system, his presence will prevail. His third match, in fact, ended in a masterful 6-0 blitzkrieg.
However, it should be clear that for soccer to achieve national recognition in the U.S., more concentration must be put on developing native-born players through the colleges and high schools. Certainly, Pelé, Beckenbauer and the other foreign stars have improved the level of the game in the NASL. Nevertheless, their presence will only really be on a short-term basis.
DANIEL G. FROST
A SHOW FOR NO DOUGH
Thank you so much for the article on our beloved Dan Magill (Georgia's on His Mind, May 30). If ever there was a Southern gentleman, he is truly one. Every tennis fan at the University of Georgia feels he is a personal friend.
The NCAA tennis tournament was a real spectacle and I'm happy I was able to attend. Please give more coverage to the fine young tennis players in college. I'm so tired of Jimmy Connors and those million-dollar crybabies. Don't ruin your great magazine by overfeeding us on "show for dough" tennis.
Your June 6 articles on the NBA championship series (There's No Place Like Home Court) and the NCAA lacrosse championship (Cornell's Wild Irish Rose) rekindled memories of my past association with the two prominent figures in those articles. It is the 1966 Christmas basketball tournament final between my high school, Elmont, on Long Island, and Roosevelt High. The nexus? I am sent in by my coach, Richie Moran, to guard a 6'1" junior named Julius Erving. Now Julius has his "doctorate," Richie has his third NCAA championship and I have my law degree along with some fond memories. Thank you for bringing us all together again.
As a clergyman, I am frequently compelled to point out the glories of heaven to my golfing pals, especially when their vocabulary takes a decided turn for the worse. Your tantalizing golf article on Jack Nicklaus' Muirfield course (Accepting with Pleasure His Kind Invitation, May 30) will now provide me with even richer material to prove my point, for obviously the good Lord will physically lift a massive portion of that fantastic Ohio real estate for His "great golf course in the sky."
As a longtime veteran of public courses, with their dusty tees, rock-hard fairways, bone-dry creeks, boulder-infested traps and disease-plagued greens, I am almost willing, like Dr. Faustus, to sell my soul to play on a course so beautifully challenging. Finances will hinder me, but your superb article and pictures will allow me to dream about it. Thanks for that dainty fantasy.
HERBERT G. WALTHER
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