THE HOYAS' TITLE
I'd like to thank Curry Kirkpatrick for finally giving the Georgetown Hoyas the credit they deserve (A Team for All Time, April 9). Although I'm a devout fan of the Hoyas, I admit they might have acted out of line a few times. But while achieving a 34-3 record and winning the national championship, they proved themselves to be a great team.
Staten Island, N.Y.
In your face, Curry Kirkpatrick!
Boiling Springs, Pa.
Thanks to cable TV, in season I watch college basketball almost every night. Considering the abundance of talent they have to work with, I can't understand why some coaches resort to the strategy of the stall. Thanks to John Thompson and his Georgetown team, we might just see a new trend. The Hoyas' fast-paced offense, which takes it to the boards and doesn't let up, makes the other team play Georgetown's game. Most can't.
If anyone wants to stop Georgetown next year—or the next—he should start thinking like the pros. Thompson does.
April 23, 1984
No sport can compare with basketball as a test of the all-around athlete, and for my money, no level of the sport approaches the college game for excitement. Yet I fear for college basketball.
There are two major problems: Rules committees seem determined eventually to duplicate the pro game with shot clocks, and players and officials appear set on gradually opening the door to rougher styles of play. In your April 2 issue, reader Michael S. Moriarty compared Georgetown's play to that of the NHL. Actually, the college game is drawing nearer to the NBA in terms of intimidation by players and coaches. Why dive headlong toward a goal of inferior worth?
The game of basketball is seriously flawed. The problem is the concept of deliberate fouls. The team that is behind at the end of a game must deliberately foul its opponent in order to regain the ball. This turns what should be the most exciting part of the game into an interminable free-throw shooting contest. Every foul brings the game to a screeching halt. And the team that is behind fouls again and again. For spectators, this is boring.
A single rule change could correct the flaw: When a team is fouled during the final two minutes of a game, that team should retain the ball after shooting free throws. There should be no change of possession. Teams would have to find some other way to get the ball, such as using quickness, rather than taking the lazy man's way. Of course, this works only if there is a reasonable time limit on holding the ball without shooting. But the 30-second shot clock has already proved that it improves the game, so I don't even consider that an innovation anymore.
DAVID C. SMITH
Portola Valley, Calif.
Each new national champion seems to spawn trends that flood college basketball the following season. With Georgetown's title we'll probably see swarming defense, frequent substitutions and secluded teams next year. However, Patrick Ewing started a trend three years ago that needs to be stopped—the T shirt. During one ACC game between Duke and Virginia I counted no fewer than nine players wearing T shirts under their jerseys. Let's get back to no sleeves and looking like basketball players again.
Frank Deford hit the nail on the head in his essay on the Baltimore Colts' move to Indianapolis (SCORECARD, April 9). The Colts and Baltimore were indeed one.
I can only wonder where Frank Deford and all these "native sons" of Baltimore were when the Colts were recovering from a winless, strike-torn season to attain a 7-9 record in 1983. The average attendance was only 36,000 last year. Robert Irsay drew nearly 20,000 fans to the Hoosier Dome simply to welcome him. Now Baltimore is spinning its wheels, attempting to enact the power of eminent domain to keep the Colts. No wonder the Colts left Baltimore "under the cover of darkness." The light at the end of the tunnel was west, on 1-70, for Irsay.
The only way to prevent owners from continuing to auction their football teams to the highest bidder, and to forestall the kind of disaffection and disillusionment that fans are currently experiencing in Baltimore, is for the NFL to award franchises to all cities that desire one. The NFL should establish criteria for cities to be eligible: minimum stadium size, the amount of capital to guarantee continuing operation, etc. To ensure that the level of competition isn't adversely affected, the NFL could establish divisions based on team performance. Winning teams would advance to a higher division; teams with poor records would be relegated to a lower division.
JOSEPH J. JAFFA
Thanks for Bruce Newman's article on Chick Hearn, the Vin Scully of basketball (From High Above the Western Sideline, April 9). To any true Laker fan, Chick is as significant a part of the team as the players themselves. And he has achieved that status without being a "homer." No one was more influential in making me a fan, except maybe Magic or Kareem.
Sherman Oaks, Calif.
I can't imagine any basketball fan growing up without ever hearing a Chick Hearn Laker broadcast. When considering what a basketball game without Chickee Baby doing the play-by-play would be like, I can only think of one of his more famous expressions: "The mustard is off the hot dog."
I thoroughly enjoyed Kevin Kerrane's article Diamonds in the Rough (March 19). Reading it brought back many pleasant memories of games I witnessed at the All American Amateur Baseball Association tournament in Johnstown, Pa., and of players I saw as amateurs who later became famous as major-leaguers, including Willie Horton, Rusty Staub, Ron Swoboda and Bill Freehan, to name a few. They were, I'm sure, as aware of the presence of the big league scouts as were the enthusiastic fans. For some of us who watched the games, the scouts were as much an attraction as the games themselves. Who were they watching? Would someone sign from the team you were rooting for? These were some of the questions people wanted to ask, but few had the nerve to pose. I want to thank Kerrane for finally asking the questions and giving us some of the answers. The scouts were fairly closemouthed, as I recall. However, I vividly remember one conversation I had behind a backstop screen with one scout who claimed to work for the Dodgers. This gentleman wasn't at all averse to giving his opinions. It wasn't until a few years later that I learned his name when I saw him interviewed before The Game of the Week. The gentleman was Tom Lasorda.
THOMAS H. SLOAN
It was with some amusement that I read Ed Connors' letter (19TH HOLE, March 5) and your explanation of the game of deck toss, the "invention" of Butch van Breda Kolff and his family.
The parents of one of my buddies used to have a home in Ogden Dunes, on the shore of Lake Michigan, a few miles east of Gary, Ind. A bunch of us were sitting on the porch one evening, sipping beer and looking out at the lake. One of the guys threw his empty can toward a bucket half buried in the sand, about 40 feet below and away. The can went in. Then the rest of us gave it a try. No one else succeeded that time, but the one whose toss landed farthest away had to go down to retrieve the cans for the next round.
We soon graduated from the bucket to bushel baskets, each with a different point value, and each set at a different distance from the porch. Ours was apparently not quite as sophisticated a game as that practiced by the van Breda Kolffs, but we did keep score. The cans weren't Lite, but, of course, Lite didn't exist then. There were no plastic trash cans, either. And I don't think the term "deck" had yet replaced "porch."
Oh, I forgot to mention the year. It was 1945. There really is nothing new under the sun.
WILLIAM F. PINSAK
Mountain Lakes, N.J.
Roy Blount Jr.'s fine article on Yogi Berra (Yogi, April 2) can be appreciated by even the most ardent Yankee haters. It was considerate of you to print it while Yogi is still employed.
One question comes to mind, however. In the picture on page 86, was the unidentified face reflected in the plaque above the sketch of Dale Berra that of the photographer, the author of the article, Yogi's interpreter or George Steinbrenner peeking through a window to make sure Yogi said what he wanted him to say?
•The reflection was Blount's (left).—ED.
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