Your photographs of Dodger rookie Fernando Valenzuela casting an upward glance while pitching (Will the Bubble Ever Burst? May 18) reveal the secret of his success, but not because his glance is "heavenward." For many people who practice self-hypnosis, the quickest way to get into a trance is to look upward. For those who are born with self-hypnotic skills, that's often a normal practice. My hunch, after seeing those pictures, is that Valenzuela goes into a brief trance, pictures the strike zone in his mind, builds his power, then fires away. But whether Fernando is in a trance or not, it's certain he's got the opposing batters in one.
KENNETH L. SMITH
Want to know something else great about Fernando Valenzuela? This season's Fleer bubble-gum card has his name spelled incorrectly. It reads: FERNAND VALENZUELA. I just hope the company corrects the error soon, so that the two copies my boy owns will be worth even more when it's time for him to go to college.
The so-called SI cover jinx has been broken! Gerry Cooney (May 4), the Boston Celtics (May 11) and Fernando Valenzuela (May 18) all were winners after they made the cover.
The SI cover jinx is alive and well. The Philadelphia Phillies 4, Fernando Valenzuela and the Dodgers 0. Thanks.
Haddon Heights, N.J.
May 31, 1981
In his fine article on Stanley Dancer (Back in the Driver's Seat Again, May 18), Sandy Treadwell mentions Dancer's sometimes ludicrous reliance on the automobile. As Stanley's chief patron, I can attest to the fact that it's a hell of a lot more exciting driving with Stanley in a car than it is watching him drive a race. His lack of a sense of direction is legend.
You quote his son Ronnie as saying: "He drives from his house to his office every day, a trip of 20 yards." I bet he doesn't get lost more than 50% of the time. He sure knows where that finish line is, but if tracks weren't fenced in, he'd go astray trying to find his way back to the paddock.
NORMAN S. WOOLWORTH
New Canaan, Conn.
I enjoyed very much the article on my boss, Stanley Dancer. The author, Sandy Treadwell, is a remarkably well-rounded individual. Not only is he a self-confessed fast-food addict, but he also apparently knows the difference between a toque and a soufflè.
However, he failed in his research to discover that one of the main reasons I go so fast is Mr. Dancer's singing. Pavarotti he's not! He's so far off key that I try to get it over with as fast as possible.
Many thanks for the publicity. From here on I hope to generate my own.
New Canaan, Conn.
Remember how everyone talked about Duane Bobick making more than $5,000 for every second he was in the ring ($300,000 for 58 seconds) the night Ken Norton knocked him out? On the fourth anniversary of that memorable event, Norton himself fared three times better. He made a whopping $15,740.74 ($850,000 for 54 seconds) for each tick of the clock before Gerry Cooney KO'd him.
THOMAS J. NASH
Ann Arbor, Mich.
KUSH'S METHODS (CONT.)
Regarding the editorial "A Victory for Kush, Not for His Methods" (SCORECARD, May 4), I worked with Frank Kush at Arizona State for 15 years as Sports Information Director. Yes, he slapped players alongside the helmets; and, yes, he grabbed face masks; and, yes, he was a tough coach. Those were not everyday tactics, but, as you said, methods that were wrong.
However, I think you might be surprised to know how his players reacted to Kush. Listed on a questionnaire I had all players fill out every year was the question: "Who has been your primary inspiration in athletics?" A majority of the freshmen and sophomores named their father or high school coach. A majority of the juniors and seniors said "Coach Kush."
A good coach is one who wins a majority of the games he is supposed to win. A great coach is one who wins a majority of the games he isn't supposed to win. Frank Kush was and is a great coach.
DICK (MOON) MULLINS
I take exception to your SCORECARD item (May 18) on "All-America losers." Although I agree that many possible All-America candidates are overlooked because they play on losing teams, I object to your implication that the NFL draft proves the worth of All-America picks. All-Americas are judged on their college performances, not on their NFL potential. To equate the two is a mistake. Many players who have had outstanding college careers are considered poor pro prospects because of factors that go beyond their play in college. These include size, speed, injury potential, etc. I hope we never start judging college players by how they might perform in the NFL. Consider your own example: Although Mark Herrmann may never be a top-notch NFL star, there are few people who would argue with his being selected as an All-America based on his record at Purdue.
Twelve Mile, Ind.
MICHIGAN'S PROWESS (CONT.)
As a footnote to the letter from Virginia S. Nicklas on "Michigan's prowess" (19TH HOLE, May 25), I played a little statistical game with that 1977 Ladd-Lipset Survey when it came out. I treated it as though it were the AP football poll and awarded a school 10 points for each top-ranked academic department, down to one point for a 10th-rated department. The results were: Harvard 142 points; California 121; Stanford 106; Yale 84; Michigan 68; Chicago 63; Wisconsin 61; Princeton 50; MIT 46; Illinois 42; Columbia 30; and Cornell 24.
Everett Carll Ladd Jr. and Seymour Martin Lipset surveyed only 12 departments and seven professional schools. Thus there was some anguish among academic Wolverines when dentistry, public health, library science and social work—in all of which Michigan has been accorded either a No. 1 or a No. 2 standing in various deans' surveys—were left out. They also didn't survey creative writing as such, although English was included.
Anyone appraising the top rankings awarded might observe that the Middle West did much better than insular Easterners might have been led to believe. In fact, there are only two Ivy League institutions among the top seven.
The argument about whether football players are dumber now than they were then goes on. In the early '50s, I was one of 12 managers for a Michigan football team whose starting line had, if memory serves, something like four pre-meds, a pre-law, an engineer and a pre-ministerial student. The team lost to Cornell and Northwestern on successive Saturdays.
New York City
MONDAY NIGHT GAMES
May I suggest that NFL broadcasting director Val Pinchbeck, who apparently cannot see a riot for the bundles of money involved (SCORECARD, May 18), also cannot count teams very well. It may indeed be true that Monday Night Football is "a 28-team thing," but recently some other team must have been replacing the Detroit Lions.
BERNARD A. O'HORA, M.D.
If Monday Night Football is "a 28-team thing," why haven't the Kansas City Chiefs been on since 1977?
DAVID D. SMALE
•The Lions are scheduled to appear on Monday Night Football on Oct. 19, against the Bears, but no Chiefs games have been scheduled for this fall's Monday telecasts.—ED.
LOVERS AND HATERS
My thanks to Jonathan Yardley for his review of Bob Marshall's book Diary of a Yankee-Hater (BOOKTALK, May 18). Having had the good fortune to live in several major league cities—Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Houston and New York—I can appreciate what Marshall is talking about when he says, "There are millions of fans who would rather have their home team beat the Yankees than anyone else in the league."
On behalf of all Yankee fans, I'd like to thank Marshall, Yardley and those millions of other Yankee-haters. They make every pinstripe victory that much sweeter.
DONALD B. WENDELKEN
Deer Park, Texas
Jonathan Yardley says living in New York is as close to Nirvana as a true Yankee-hater can get. Well, there are Nirvanas and Nirvanas. Imagine living on the North Side of Chicago and being a true-blue Cub loyalist in a season in which they stand to lose well over 100 games. The life of a 1981 Cub fan might well meet the definition of Nirvana: a state of oblivion to care, pain and external reality, which is sought through the extinction of desire and individual consciousness.
MICHAEL PATRICK GORDON
Address editorial mail to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, New York, 10020.