RED SOX FAN
Jonathan Schwartz' brilliant piece on last fall's Red Sox-Yankee playoff game (A Day of Light and Shadows, Feb. 26) vividly captures the agony of that event for me and other Boston fans. I was depressed for days after the game. After much soul-searching, I decided that being a Red Sox fan was just too painful and that, for the sake of my emotional health, I should forget about baseball.
But Schwartz brought back all the old feelings. When he called Garry Hancock "a slim Gary Geiger kind of guy," I knew I could never leave the Red Sox behind. I'm not sure if I should thank him.
Jonathan Schwartz' crisp descriptions of Piniella's catch, Dent's homer and his own yearning for a torrential rain before the last of the seventh inning could be completed, brought back every emotion I felt that day.
Superb! As a Sox fan who has just recovered from the playoff game, I feared reliving the anguish of its outcome while reading Jonathan Schwartz' chilling account of the game. To leave me with Yaz at bat in the bottom of the ninth was pure emotional relief.
Not only did Schwartz salvage the 1978 season, but he also justified 1979.
The article is soothing for those of us who still wake up in the middle of the night muttering, "Bucky Dent, Bucky Dent."
Having been a New York Yankee fan for the past 15 years and having often tuned in Jonathan Schwartz on the radio, I have to comment on his wonderful article, which defines fanaticism.
I speak from experience. I had to pull off the San Bernardino Freeway to weep tears of joy after listening to the Yankees defeat the Dodgers in the 1977 World Series. Although I now reside in Los Angeles, my heart is still in the rightfield bleachers at 161st Street and River Avenue in the Bronx.
The Sox will be back, Jonathan. But not as long as we have Guidry.
BARRY H. GOLDSTEIN, M.D.
Although a Red Sox follower myself, I envied Schwartz the luxury of carrying his loyalty to such glorious excess. I suspect that most of us harbor a secret desire to be not only a sports hero like Carl Yastrzemski, but also the ideal fan à la Jonathan Schwartz.
REVAMPING THE NBA
Thank you for John Papanek's excellent article on the problems confronting the NBA (There's an Ill Wind Blowing for the NBA, Feb. 26). Aside from what seems to be a 365-day-a-year schedule, a particular problem affecting our area is the supposed regional telecast. Every Sunday for the past three seasons we have been force-fed the Washington or Philadelphia game when the nearest pro team is in Atlanta. Southerners tend to favor a Southern team.
I disagree with the suggestion that sagging attendance and TV ratings are a result of a greater number of blacks than whites in the NBA. I think the trouble stems from the type of basketball (if you can call it that) that the NBA plays. The college game has finesse, strategy, a shorter season and just plain better basketball. The NBA has roughness, a 24-second clock, no strategy and a season that's too long. No fan in his right mind would choose to watch a pro game, with its run-and-gun style and everybody playing exactly the same way, when he could watch a college game and find different styles of play and teams that play defense.
You won't convince me that the trouble is racial in origin. Unfortunately, there will always be those ignorant few who would rather ponder the ratio of black to white players in the lineup than consider the artistry of the game.
The men who make up the NBA are one thing above all else—gifted athletes. I believe the overwhelming majority of fans see them as such.
As a 37-year-old, white, upper-middle-class, former pro basketball fan. I would make these observations:
None of the games seem to be regarded as special by the pro players. They affect a "day at the office" attitude, with the major emphasis being placed on individual statistics. The outcome of the game appears to be of secondary importance. Contrast this with the obvious intensity displayed in college basketball. There one has the feeling that the players—black and white—genuinely care about the outcome.
Paul Silas makes a very good point. However, what if we amended his statement to remove the racial references? It would read: "It is a fact that...people in general look disfavorably upon [other people] who are making astronomical amounts of money if it appears they are not working hard for that money."
I feel that way, and the only form of protest that is available to me is to ignore the NBA.
JOHN L. LEBLANC
Stone Mountain, Ga.
Fans can no longer be sure who'll be playing for the home team on any given night. Once players stayed with a team for a whole season—or for as long as five years or even their whole careers. Now no sooner do we learn a player's name than we find that he's moved on.
Color's not the problem, but continuity certainly is.
JO ANN KAMINSKI
Sure the NBA has problems—traveling, hand-checking and fouling! One would think that the greatest players in the world could play by the rules.
You mentioned the fact that next season each team will play 60 games in its own conference to build up rivalries, and thus increase attendance. I have a better idea: cut the season in half, each team playing 41 games. This would make every game important. It would also be easier on the players, which means they would be able to play their best all season long.
You touched lightly on the money portion of the problem. Is any player worth more than $300,000? Certainly not! If a player wants to make big money, he should help win the championship. Maybe clubs should lower salaries and then have the league hand out large playoff bonuses.
When Eamonn Coghlan broke Dick Buerkle's world indoor mile record (This Was a Time to Remember, Feb. 26), it must have been a great thrill for Coach Jim Elliott of Villanova. Coghlan and Buerkle are only two of an extraordinary number of mile champions produced by Jumbo during the past 40 years. Looking ahead, it would appear that Sydney Maree, a Villanova sophomore, is the man most likely to threaten Coghlan's record. And if Coghlan wins the Olympic gold medal in the 1,500-meter run in Moscow next year, he will be the first Irishman to do so since one of Elliott's greatest protègès, Ron Delany, won in Melbourne in 1956.
PETER J. O'BRIEN
Mount Pocono, Pa.
I congratulate Eamonn Coghlan on his splendid record of 3:52.6. His was a magnificent performance and served to bring the indoor mark closer to its next goal: a sub-3:50 indoor standard!
BROTHERS AND SISTERS
In your item on famous brother-sister combinations (SCORECARD, Feb. 26) you failed to mention Sharon and Michael Finneran. Sharon was a 10-time national swimming champion in the early '60s and the first woman to hold world records in three different "strokes" (butterfly, freestyle and individual medley). Her younger brother Michael, who swam at Ohio State, won three national diving titles in the early '70s and represented the U.S. in the 72 Olympics in both the platform and springboard events.
PHILIP K. CURTIS
A few months ago you had a story about the Northwestern football team and theater department (Waa-Mu! Waa-Who? Oct. 30). Well, our football team didn't win any games last season, and the Waa-Mu show is now holding auditions for its 1979 performance. So, in those respects, things haven't changed much around here.
But on Feb. 10, the Northwestern women's basketball team won the Big Ten championship! The Wildcats now have a record of 21-3 and they are ranked in the Top 20. Coach Mary DiStanislao has done an excellent job.
Sport isn't dead at Northwestern, it just comes in a different shape.
LAWRENCE D. LEVINE
St. Louis Park, Minn.
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