They're Up in Arms over Beanballs (July 14) brought out the shameful fact that baseball is turning into "Friday night at the fights."
The other day I missed a two-foot putt on the 17th green and a three-footer on 18. Those two shots cost me $5. So, I immediately went home and beat my wife, feeling altogether justified because I had earlier read these words of wisdom from Mets Pitcher Pat Zachry: "After two home runs, a guy should expect something inside."
The pitchers are obviously right on the beanball issue. The logic of "lefthanded philosopher" Bill Lee, for example, is peremptory. Lee embraces Robert Ardrey's premise that man is basically an aggressive animal, and if a hitter gets so aggressive as to bite into a pitcher's territory by getting close to the plate, then, by God, he ought to be nailed. And tough luck if he has no retaliation against a pitcher who bites into his territory except by getting a base hit. Few base hits break pitchers' jaws or wrists or fingers.
The finest statement of the pitchers' case comes from Ross Grimsley: injuries caused by pitched balls are the fault of the batter. As Grimsley so sagaciously puts it: "If they had reacted better, they probably wouldn't have been seriously hurt. Veterans know what to do when a pitch is going to hit them...."
July 27, 1980
To be sure, Ray Chapman should have reacted better, but then he had only played nine seasons in the majors—make that eight seasons and 111 games.
K. PATRICK LOLLAR
A gold star to Dan Baliotti for his excellent photograph of the Mets' Elliott Maddox getting hit by a pitch. The expression on Maddox' face at the crushing impact of the baseball was truly priceless. However, do not fear, bruised batters. Not one active player is within 125 HBPs of the record set by Ron Hunt, who was hit by pitches a record 243 times.
A simple solution to the problem of bean-balls would be to award second base to a hit batsman instead of first.
One of the most alluring things about baseball is its nostalgic past. I am fascinated by stories of Ty Cobb "sliding into second with his spikes flying" and Sal Maglie "shaving the hitters' heads." But I never got the feeling that such acts were sadistic or unsportsmanlike. Baseball is an aggressive game. A few scratches or other minor "war injuries" are relatively painless and sometimes even a source of pride. But when it comes to throwing at a guy's head with intent to maim him, something's gone dreadfully wrong. Past a certain limit competitive aggression goes beyond human decency. I hope the players will realize this before anything happens to alter and, perhaps, ruin the national pastime.
OLD PARKS (CONT.)
Oscar Wilde once wrote, "In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it." E.M. Swift's adept analysis of the typical Wrigley Field inhabitant (One Place That Hasn't Seen the Light, July 7) illustrates this point perfectly.
In every Cub fan is a deep-rooted fear of winning. Defeat provides nothing but the first step to something better. There is a manic enthusiasm that sprouts out of a string of Chicago lean years, an enthusiasm that grows as years pass. Where would a Cub fan be without knowing there is nowhere to go but up?
Palm Desert, Calif.
Your coverage of the Borg-McEnroe match was superb and your photography magnificent. It was so good, in fact, that it reveals the secret of McEnroe's "high hard one," as depicted on page 20. His foot is clearly on the line, if not over, which in either case is a foot fault. Does McEnroe's disposition keep line judges from making such calls, or should we say this one was just missed?
Fort Wayne, Ind.
What a pleasure it was to read Frank Deford's account of Wimbledon 1980 in the July 14 issue. What insight! His statement that the magnificent Bjorn Borg "enhanced his reputation, because the character of his performance surpassed the achievement [of winning] itself" was the most perceptive piece of commentary I've read about this great match.
Deford's was a summary appropriate to the greatest match in tennis history. I thank him, most deeply, for it.
They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. The picture of John McEnroe lying face down on the grass of Wimbledon's famed Centre Court told the story of the greatest match in the history of tennis.
My congratulations to photographer Walter Iooss Jr.
Mr. Johnson should follow up Marching to Euphoria (July 14) with an article on the dangers of sleeping. I am sure that he could find an individual who continued to sleep after repeatedly falling out of bed. And he could find many others who could give psychological reasons for their excessive sleep habits (seven hours or more).
Research has shown that sleep brings on a euphoric sensation, is addicting, and causes an individual to ignore family and work while doing it.
Having been addicted to SI since it first appeared in my vaguely recalled youth, I now find that, what with my compulsive/obsessive running, I barely have time to read it.
But Marching to Euphoria has forced me to confront what a misanthropic recluse I have become. I am even now, in this brief moment of leisure, beginning to twitch guiltily, anticipating the jog out to the post office with this letter as my atonement.
However, I now know what I must do to cure this insidious dependence. Please, for my sake, cancel my subscription to SI. But not before the next year's NBA preview issue with all the scouting reports.
I am saving the article to show my track coach. Maybe we won't have to run as many miles in practice if he sees how too much running can affect an athlete!
I enjoyed your article on running addiction and was gratified to be so widely quoted in it. May I ask, however, why you chose to include the irrelevant and puerile remarks of Mr. Shorter?
This disdainful, aging campus wit appears to know little of human feeling and behavior, or of himself.
VICTOR A. ALTSHUL, M.D.
New Haven, Conn.
Just yesterday my mother said she thought I was spending too much time running, but if she ever read Marching to Euphoria she would put my running shoes out to be taken away with Thursday's trash!
My English teacher told us that she wanted us to read some good stories and poetry during the summer. I never would have guessed that the good poetry was going to be written by L.A. Receiver Preston Dennard (He's Poetry in Motion, July 14).
CARL W. ANDERSON
Dennard marveled at succeeding
But usually ended up exceeding
He's always at ease
Which makes life seem like a breeze.
His writings in poetry
Contain some controversy
He hopes his thoughts are shared with others
Don't worry, I'm one of your believing brothers.
Please help settle a friendly argument. Regarding the photo of Tom Hintnaus on pages 12 and 13 in the July 7 issue (Trying Hard to Go Nowhere), did photographer Rich Clarkson position himself underneath the crossbar to snap the shot, or did he stand off to the side and place his camera in the pit area?
•Clarkson positioned a remote camera in the pit.—ED.
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