Your coverage of sports-related movies and books has been excellent—until now. Frank Deford's pummeling of Rocky II (MOVIES, June 25) proves once again that all good things must come to an end. Deford bases his critique too much on the fact that the film is a sequel and not enough on the quality of the movie itself. While he was busy downgrading Sly Stallone's directing and repetitiveness, he completely missed the story. I agree that most sequels are mere money-making vehicles, that little concern is given to making sure they're good entertainment. However, there is an exception to every rule—and Rocky II is such an exception. It is American fantasy at its best. All Stallone did was give the public what it wanted to see: a winner named Rocky Balboa. Alas, this is not what the critics expected.
Rocky II is pure entertainment and should be accepted as just that. I suggest that Deford see the movie again. Only this time he should forget about pen and paper and enjoy himself—even if it hurts.
A. W. SAUNDERS III
East Boston, Mass.
Imagine my disillusionment. After seeing Rocky II, I walked out of the theater with a spring in my step, humming the movie's theme and thinking about what an entertaining, uplifting film I had just seen. Now Frank Deford tells me that the movie wasn't so hot—and who am I to argue with Frank Deford? O.K., maybe I was wrong. But just to make sure I'll see the film two more times. Maybe three or four, if I need a lift.
S. L. MARTIN
Highland Heights, Ky.
Rocky II is the perfect sequel. Though it is very similar to the original, though perhaps it is melodramatic at times and, yes, though it is overdrawn to some extent, it works. Stallone didn't take any risks because he didn't have to. Besides being just plain fun, Rocky II offers the public the inspiration, enthusiasm and triumph lacking in ordinary life. Because of this deep-rooted appeal, the movie is destined for success. Judging from Frank Deford's review, it is not Rocky II that suffers from tired blood. It's Deford. We look forward to Rocky III.
THE KENNETH L. NOVAK FAMILY
Downers Grove, Ill.
July 8, 1979
When Frank Deford concludes his review by saying, "It is only a payday, and we know it," I wish he had said, "and I know it," because that "we" does not include me.
Howard City, Mich.
Frank Deford and I agree on only one point about Rocky II: it isn't as good as Rocky. Otherwise we couldn't differ more. When I saw Rocky II, the people in the audience were laughing, cheering, screaming and crying for and with Rocky Balboa.
To each his own opinion, but the final say will come from the box office, not from critics like Deford.
I didn't see anyone walk out.
Even my mother cheered for Rocky during the fight. I hope Deford forgets about doing any future movie reviewing and goes back to being a good sportswriter.
STEVEN C. SOTO
A MORE PLACID VILLAGE
I was somewhat surprised by the article in your April 9 issue (The Olympic Getaway) in which I was quoted regarding the quality of the Olympic Village for the Lake Placid Winter Games. The only time I saw the Village was more than 15 months ago, when the framework of the buildings was just going up and the facilities were virtually nonexistent.
I would like to point out that in late May, at the International Sports Press Association Congress held in Moscow, a representative of the International Olympic Committee informed us that several changes had been made in the plans for the accommodations and that the IOC commission sent to Lake Placid to review the plans had been satisfied.
Having been involved in the organization of the 1972 Winter Games in Sapporo, I appreciate the problems an organizer faces when staging such a great event. I also have been working with the Lake Placid people over the past few years—chiefly in connection with the press arrangements, as I supervised the press center during the Sapporo Games—and I greatly admire their sincere efforts. I have every confidence in the Lake Placid officials, and I am sure that we will have a great Olympic Games next year.
Finally, I would like to stress that the policy of the Japanese Olympic Committee has always been to strive to become a constructive element in the Olympic movement. Also, despite the fact that I am an executive member of that committee, whatever was written in the article does not in any way reflect the opinion of the committee. I hope that our delegation will be warmly welcomed in Lake Placid—and I am sure it will be—because our athletes will be going there not only to try to win medals but also to win friendship among your people.
ON THE TRACK
One world-class article by Kenny Moore at the start (Shifting into High for Moscow) and another at the finish (The Man Who United Ireland) made your June 25 issue quite an event. Like our track and field athletes, Kenny is in top condition to cover the long road to Moscow. He's already got my vote for a gold medal.
Wow! What a piece! Kenny Moore did an outstanding job on the story of a fine Irishman, Eamonn Coghlan.
DANIEL J. O'BRIEN
To quote the opening lines of an Irish blessing: "May the road rise up to meet you; may the wind be always at your back." Here's to Eamonn Coghlan!
WILLIAM F. O'BRIEN
For me, Kenny Moore's article on the AAU track and field championships was only partly saved by the paragraphs about the ageless Al Oerter and his quest for a fifth Olympic gold medal. My complaint? The omission of any mention of Willie Smith, another promising Long Islander, and his performance in the 400-meter run. Willie's victory in early May over Alberto Juantorena wasn't considered spectacular because the Cuban was supposedly out of shape. But Smith's 45.55 was the fastest time in the world this year. Now Willie is proving he's serious about Olympic gold. His 45.10 AAU triumph again was the world's fastest time of the year. And Smith is just getting started. Maybe the picture of Evelyn Ashford could have been a little smaller to allow room for a few words about Smith, who I predict will be the next Olympic 400-meter gold medalist.
JOHN R. KIPLING JR.
Nowhere in the article or in FOR THE RECORD was there any mention of the fine performances by U.S. race walkers. Neal Pyke won the men's 20-km race in 1:27:11, the fastest time ever by an American. Marco Evoniuk won the 50-km with a time of 4:10:33, the second-best time ever by an American. Only Larry Young's 4:00:46 at Munich in 1972 was better. And Sue Brodock set a meet record by winning the 5-km in 24:07.6 and an American and meet record by winning the 10-km in 50:32.6.
Walkers traditionally receive little or no recognition, but when performances are outstanding, they should be noted.
Dan Jenkins' typically fine and witty coverage of the U.S. Open (Up a Tree in Toledo, June 25) was most refreshing. Some other accounts I had read earlier bemoaned the high-scoring "horror show" and the "clerkish" winner.
Inverness, a formidable course, provided an admirable setting for the national title. And Jenkins makes clear that Hale Irwin, a terrific player and competitor, is every bit a worthy champion.
After reading Jerry Green's story on the Detroit Tigers' firing of their manager, Les Moss (Could Les Have Done More? June 25), I have to wonder if loyalty means anything. Apparently not, as far as the Tigers are concerned. Loyalty be damned. It's a rotten shame that a fine man was denied his opportunity just because Sparky Anderson, a guy with a bigger reputation, was available.
I feel that the Tiger front office gave Les Moss a raw deal. He seemed to be doing about as good a job as anyone could do with a young team that doesn't have great pitching. Being a Tiger fan, I have seen what I consider some dumb moves by General Manager Jim Campbell, including the firing of Billy Martin a few years back. Nonetheless, I'm sure Sparky Anderson will do a great job—if he is given more than 53 games in which to prove himself.
Everyone came to Sparky Anderson's defense when he was fired by the Cincinnati Reds. Now Anderson has shown he is bush by accepting a job with the Tigers, who fired a man who had rendered decades of good service to their organization. What about all the other jobs Anderson purportedly was offered?
Les Moss doesn't deserve the treatment he received, and shame on Anderson for being a party to it.
So the NBA says three-point field goals will spice up the fans' interest (SCORECARD, June 25). In other words, instead of yawning through a 125-115 game, we can now doze through a 140-125 one. The NBA still thinks that the secret of success is proportionate to the number of points the teams score. The problem is too much scoring. The games last too long, and the points become more meaningless the higher they get. Give me a 98-95 or a 102-98 thriller. You can have your 140-125 and 125-115 games. Just once I wish the "experts" would listen to the people who actually determine the bottom line.
If SI had covered the ABA as extensively as it should have, it would have discovered that the three-point shot is the best thing ever to happen to pro basketball. You ask if it will work for the better in the NBA. You bet it will. And if you won't take my word for it, just ask anyone in Louisville, Indianapolis, San Antonio, Denver or Salt Lake City.
The three-point play is exciting. I enjoyed the old ABA days and the Pacers' Billy Keller launching his accurate rockets, but I am wondering what controversy may arise over scoring records. Will those set after the introduction of three-point baskets have asterisks after them? Whatever happens, I bet San Diego's Lloyd Free is in ecstasy. The rule is tailor-made for him.
SCOUTING THE ACC
I was both surprised and disappointed when I read your article on Ron Grinker and his showcase for pro basketball prospects (Sort of a Court of Last Resort, May 21). I am referring to the paragraph mentioning Tiny Pinder of North Carolina State and the quote from former Detroit scout Al Menendez, "Pinder's school is the only one in the country that doesn't reserve tickets for scouts, so he made a good move coming here."
Menendez' statement is erroneous. While it is true that N.C. State doesn't honor requests from pro scouts for seats on press row, this policy is in force throughout the Atlantic Coast Conference, not just at N.C. State. Furthermore, sports information directors at many other schools have told me that they also follow this policy. However, Coach Norm Sloan has good rapport with the pros and has always made sure that any scout checking out one of his players has been able to get a game ticket. We followed this policy when David Thompson, Tommy Burleson, Monte Towe and Kenny Carr were playing here. And they received fine pro contracts.
Sports Information Director
North Carolina State University
Your article on rafting down Maine's Kennebec and Penobscot rivers was excellent and the pictures were fantastic (Taking the Maine Chance, June 25). I have gone canoeing down the Delaware River, and Skinner's Falls is nothing compared to the Exterminator on the West Branch of the Penobscot. How can I get in touch with Wayne Hockmeyer for more information on rafting down these two outrageous rivers?
Hopewell Junction, N.Y.
•The address of Hockmeyer's Northern Whitewater Expeditions is P.O. Box 100, The Forks, Maine 04985.—ED.
I've seen and fished these rivers and I realize just how beautiful they are. I hope their beauty will not be spoiled by the hydroelectric plants that may be built on them. Thank you for calling attention to the problem.
As a Penn State student, I can understand how Arkansas must have felt after the heretofore little-known Cal State Fullerton Titans won the NCAA Division I baseball championship (First Title for the Titans, June 18). Fullerton also won the national women's gymnastics championship this year, by dethroning last year's AIAW champ, Penn State, by a mere one-tenth of a point.
I am the one who was offered a draw—not a stalemate—by Anatoly Karpov (FACES IN THE CROWD, June 11). A stalemate cannot be offered. It is a position in which the king has no legal move, and the game then ends in a draw. The significance of this game was that Karpov offered me a draw.
Please correct the mistake. I would look very foolish indeed if the chess world thought I had made that statement.
New York City
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