NATIONAL LEAGUE SUPERIORITY
I commend Jim Kaplan on his American League vs. National League story (It's the Nationals' Pastime, April 4). I've been a dedicated Phillies fan for years and am relieved to discover I'm not the only one who thinks the National is the superior league. Everyone in my family roots for the White Sox, and I rarely can mention the National League without enduring an American League rebuttal. Ever since I showed my family this article, however, things have been pretty quiet around our house.
In response to Jim Kaplan's assertion that the National League is "vastly superior" to the American League, I say baloney! He says, "In truth, there was more to St. Louis' win [in the '82 Series] than the missing [Brewer Pitcher Rollie] Fingers." Like what? The Cardinals try harder? They're more team oriented? They've got more tradition? They're better players because they're accustomed to performing on a carpet? No thanks! I can't buy it! And I can't buy Bum Luck, The Star Syndrome, The Pete Rose Syndrome or Ballpark Fever either.
As for Kaplan's "innings" seven and eight, concerning umpiring and the DH rule, both pertain to an aspect of baseball that is subjective. Kaplan likes ground balls; I like home runs. As for his points about blacks and Hispanics and farm systems, I'll grant that the National League may have the edge there, but he's wrong in his ninth inning, entitled Speed Kills. When you play defense on a cement slab, as half the teams in the National League do in their home parks, you'd better be fast, which carries over to the offense in terms of stolen bases and extra bases. It's easier to hit a ball through a hole on a rug, so faster players—which often means weaker hitters—are perfect. But is this turf-tailored speed to be interpreted as constituting a more aggressive league? Then I suppose artificial turf is better. Come on, Kaplan, get serious!
When the Cardinals have to come from three runs behind in the seventh game—the fourth played on artificial turf—to win against a team stripped of its relief ace, I'm not so sure I'd call them vastly superior.
April 18, 1983
Jim Kaplan's article proclaiming the National League's supposed superiority made my American League blood boil. The American League is no pushover! In fact, it might be better than the National League.
In the first place, the All-Star Game proves nothing, except perhaps that National League fans are better at choosing players for their team. As for the World Series, Texas Vice-president and General Manager Joe Klein is absolutely right: The only thing that the National League's winning of the World Series proves is that it is better in four out of seven games in October. Many times only one run better!
Using the fact that the National League has won four Series in a row as evidence of overwhelming supremacy is simply wrong. I'd like to see one of your prized National League teams in the American League East. At least the Toronto Blue Jays would have some company!
New York City
At the same time Jim Kaplan was relegating the American League to Triple A status, American Leaguers were routing the Nationals up and down both coasts of Florida and in the deserts of Arizona.
If Kaplan's right, it would seem that the National League should have dominated the exhibition season. No way. The American League played .554 baseball, the National .436. Nine American League teams were over .500; only two National League clubs hit the break-even figure.
Is the National League really as dominant as Kaplan says—or is he just biased?
West Palm Beach, Fla.
Jim Kaplan can talk all he wants to about the National League and how it is better than the American League. It probably is. But the one thing that keeps me an American League fan is that the National League also has a monopoly on conceit.
ROBERT M. DONOVAN
When are we going to put an end to the stupid arguments over which league is better? It's like two children fighting over whose dad is better. There's just no way to make a fair judgment. For every reason one can offer as to why the Nationals are better, there's an equal argument for the Americans. All those loyal league supporters who insist on continuing this endless battle should take a tip from Albert Einstein. It's all relative!
The addition of Gary Smith's writing to your pages is wonderful news. His knack for exposing minute details and bringing his subjects to life was illustrated in his fine piece on Twins owner Calvin Griffith (A Lingering Vestige of Yesterday, April 4).
For many years, I have watched Calvin Griffith get rid of baseball players to save money. In the process, the Twins have become a minor league team with major league ticket prices. What emerged from Gary Smith's story was the portrait of a lonely old man meeting his emotional needs by trying to run a ball club. Maybe Griffith's history of peddling players on the verge of making it financially goes beyond saving money. Maybe it's his unconscious response to his having been permanently "traded" to his Uncle Clark at age 10. If so, may God help him. Maybe then Calvin will be able to sit back and let his talented young Twins grow and mature together, like a family.
Having been one of the thousands of college baseball players who never got his feet wet in pro ball, it's great to have one owner who would rather give a rookie a chance in the major leagues than keep on his team has-beens who should wear dollar signs instead of numbers on their backs.
Salaries have risen beyond the growth rate of the game, and, unfortunately, only one owner, Griffith, has had the guts to resist the trend.
I am a syndicated political cartoonist here in Minnesota and I've got Calvin Griffith's caricature down pat. He is an easy man to take pot shots at. But silently I respect his fortitude, admire his unequaled eye for young talent and thank him for keeping big league baseball in Minnesota. Your article simply brought to the attention of millions of SI readers what thousands of Twins fans already know: Calvin Griffith loves baseball and is doing the best he can. And how can you hate a guy for that?
Hang in there, Calvin Griffith. I'll take your approach over George Steinbrenner's anytime.
CARTER AND THE CARDS
What a pleasure it was to see Gary Carter beaming on the cover of your Special Baseball Issue (April 4)! Just reading Ron Fimrite's article (His Enthusiasm Is Catching) about this terrific player and sincere person is enough to make anybody an Expos fan.
I've been following Carter and his team for years, and I eagerly anticipate seeing him beaming on your cover again in October, when Montreal wins the pennant.
JONATHAN J. COHEN
I've been waiting since last October for your baseball preview to see one of the world champion Cardinals on the cover, and who do I get? Gary Carter! Come on.
Jersey City, N.J.
My day was made when I read this year's baseball scouting reports (April 4). I was expecting you to bury the Orioles in the middle of the American League East, as you've done in the past. Imagine my surprise when you finally discovered what we O's fans have known for years! They're tops.
You really surprised me this year. I didn't think anyone would pick the Tigers higher than fourth. You picked them second behind the Birds. If their bullpen holds together, I think they'll go all the way. Besides, fate is on their side. Every time Detroit has won the World Series—1935, '45 and '68—the Cardinals have won it the year before.
JOE R. SERGOTT
Milwaukee in third place, behind Detroit and Baltimore? Ha! Brewer fans will have the last laugh when Harvey Kuenn spits out the first jet of tobacco juice at this year's World Series.
The Braves fourth in the National League West? As a Dodger fan, I have mixed emotions about this. Naturally, I'm glad you picked L.A. ahead of Atlanta, but I guess you thought that the Braves' winning the National League West last year was a fluke. Unfortunately, I don't. Atlanta has a good offensive team, and it has improved its pitching. So come October, expect the Braves to finish, let's say, second.
Henry Hecht came through with another fine article on my favorite subject—baseball stats (A Box Full of Goodies, April 4). His excellent history of box scores had only one shortcoming—the key omission of the classic box score line achieved by Steve Garvey on Aug. 28, 1977: 5 5 5 5! I doubt that this feat—five at bats, runs, hits and RBIs—has ever been matched. Keep the numbers coming.
Harbor City, Calif.
Letters should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.