In Frank Deford's article on sports in Washington, D.C. (It's Tough To Be the Hometown Team in No One's Hometown, July 2), I expected an educated and unbiased analysis on why certain teams have trouble drawing in D.C. Instead, I found eight pages' worth of cheap shots taken by a writer who grew up in Baltimore with a typical Baltimorean inferiority complex. He probably satisfied a lifelong ambition by insulting the nation's capital and its people in print. Oh well, I guess I can understand why residents of Baltimore are so jealous of Washington. It's not easy to be from a town only 40 miles from the most powerful and most beautiful city in the country (and maybe the world)—especially when that town is as insignificant as Baltimore is.
JOSEPH P. DALY
Letting a Baltimorean write about Washington is like letting a lifelong Dodger fan write an article about the Yankees!
Chevy Chase, Md.
I have just finished reading the wonderfully inaccurate trash about the sports fans of Washington, D.C.
Why didn't Deford deal with why the Bullets left his beloved Baltimore, or why the hockey Clippers folded, or why the Colts can't sell out playoff games, or why the Orioles draw only when they are in first place or on a 10-game win streak?
July 15, 1979
Baltimore is a beautiful city, with good fans, but that is no reason to belittle the great fans of the Washington, D.C. area.
"A tiny little trapezoid of a ball park" is a nice phrase but it hardly describes the Griffith Stadium I remember. Although it held only 30,000-plus fans (no bleachers in center or right) it had one of the most spacious outfields in the majors. Roy Sievers, a first-rate power hitter, spent half his life flying out deep to left, and Mickey Vernon (as well as Mantle and Maris) had all they could do to lift one over the towering rightfield wall.
Deford revived wonderful childhood memories in his piece on Washington, especially in his reference to the all-too-terrible Washington Senators, who were quite probably the worst major league team of all time. Nevertheless, his article brought back memories of such luminaries as Tex Clevenger, Reno Bertoia, Hal Griggs and a cast of characters who guaranteed a last-place finish for the Nats almost every year. Thank you.
Kansas City, Mo.
Deford hit very close to home, but he is mistaken about the popularity of the Bullets. In 1978-79 they averaged more than 12,500 per home game, fourth best in the league. That means they outdrew 18 other franchises, including Boston, New York and Chicago. Right now the Bullets have surpassed the Redskins in popularity in this area.
Deford implies that the main concern of the National Rifle Association is to see to it that "every sportsman in this great nation retains the God-given right to dispatch fellow sportsmen with Saturday Night Specials." The bill he apparently had in mind would actually ban all handguns except those approved by the Secretary of the Treasury, including those with barrels of less than six inches. Handguns larger than that could hardly be called Saturday Night Specials.
Billy Martin not only symbolizes New York City's battling, winning style, but also the Yankee ball club (Billy Boy Is Back, July 2). No matter how much you beat them to the ground, when the final bell rings they're ready with that big knockout punch. Baltimore may lead in the early rounds, but in the end it will be Billy and the Yanks by a TKO.
New York City
You mention that "the Orioles and Red Sox have had their share of injuries." Who are you talking about? The Orioles lost Jim Palmer for a few starts and the Bosox lost Carlton Fisk for a while, but he's back again now and doing some job, and Carl Yastrzemski, with his new stance, is playing better than ever.
The Yankees have lost at least five important men—Gossage, Jackson, Guidry, Rivers and Figueroa. But don't worry. At season's end they will be in the thick of things.
JOHN C. GAGLIONE
Mike Marshall (The Best and the Brightest, July 2) just may be on the cutting edge of his sport. His training techniques have made him as much an innovator in relief pitching as another Minnesota sports figure, Fran Tarkenton, was in quarterbacking. I believe that the importance of relief pitching has become the most significant development in baseball in recent years, more than non-fielding hitters or test-tube turf or men dressed as birds. And the methods Marshall uses to prepare for and perform his job will be standard practice among most relievers in the next decade. Thanks to Ron Fimrite for a fine portrait of a talented, complex man who has conquered his own worst enemy—himself.
Wouldn't it be nice if every baseball player had the same attitude toward the game as Mike Marshall?
DODGER BLUE JOKE
Yes, Johnny Carson obviously isn't a Dodger fan (Dodger Blue Is Turning Cray, July 2). A while ago he offered his Tonight Show audience another little anti-Dodger joke: Given the answer "Catch-22," what is the question? "What would the Dodgers do if hit 100 pop flys?"
THE YEAR IN SPORT
The recent firing of Detroit baseball manager Les Moss (Could Les Have Done More? June 25) suggests a more modern system for marking the seasons of the year.
Under this new calendar, the first official day of summer would be the day the first major league baseball manager gets fired. The first day of fall would occur when the first major cross-country race is decided on a wrong turn by the leader. Winter would begin the first time an NFL football coach claims his team lost a playoff game on a bum decision by an official. And spring would commence when the first college basketball underclassman announces he has thought it over and is turning pro.
Obviously this calendar is far more relevant and accurate than the one now used.
MICHAEL C. BRAND
Corpus Christi, Texas
Thank you for doing what the major TV networks were not smart enough to do—cover the Roberto Duran-Carlos Palomino fight (Boxing's Big Week, July 2).
And thank you especially for recognizing the lower weight classes, which feature many fine fighters, notably Duran, the best boxer in the world pound for pound.
Duran has shown once again that he's not only the lightweight king but a future welterweight champion as well. So far he is the only fighter in the welterweight division who could "unsweet" Sugar Ray Leonard, never mind Leonard's 23-0 record. It is time now for Leonard to prove that he belongs in this division, rather than fight mostly overrated, never-heard-of boxers.
Carlos Eleta, Duran's manager, feels that Wilfredo Benitez, Sugar Ray Leonard and Pipino Cuevas are ducking his fighter. Well, Benitez and Leonard might be, but not Cuevas. Those who have seen Cuevas fight know that he doesn't run away from anyone inside the ring. Why would he want to run away from anyone outside it? Duran was a good lightweight, no doubt about it. But as a welterweight, when it comes to fighting Cuevas, he will meet the same fate other great fighters have when attempting to go up in class. Bob Foster went up a weight and lost to Muhammad Ali, Jose Napoles went up a weight and lost to Carlos Monzon, and just recently Carlos Zarate went up a weight and lost to Wilfredo Gomez. Duran will lose to Cuevas. The only question that remains is whether Cuevas will crack Duran's ribs, break his jaw or fracture his eye socket—as he did to three of his most recent challengers.
I enjoyed your article about Johan Cruyff of the Los Angeles Aztecs (Bracing Nip of Holland Gin, June 25). I have also heard how good he was in Holland. But, let's face it: he's 32, and at that age in soccer you are in your final years. That is the problem in the U.S.—clubs import famous players, especially from Europe, no matter how old they are.
They may get more people to go see the games, but they are taking away the young Americans' chances to improve themselves.
South Gate, Calif.
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