THE TIGERS' TRAMMELL
Thanks for the excellent article by John Garrity on Alan Trammell (Having a Monster of a Season, May 28). Trammell certainly is on target for a Robin Yount-Cal Ripken type of MVP year. The major obstacle to his being voted the third consecutive shortstop to win the MVP award is teammate Sweet Lou Whitaker, merely the best second baseman in either league.
We diehard Tiger fans don't mind sharing our team's tremendous success with the entire country. Keep the articles coming.
Finally you have recognized baseball's best shortstop, Alan Trammell.
DONALD A. GRAHAM
If the Detroit Tigers and SI both keep up their blistering pace, the Tigers will win 130 or so games and SI will publish about 90 pages on them.
Bruce Crossing, Mich.
June 10, 1984
Granted, Alan Trammell is off to a marvelous start and he is a very good shortstop, but to say "virtually every expert" who compares the super shortstops rates Trammell as the best fielder was going overboard. I wasn't aware that the Wizard of Oz (Ozzie Smith) had retired.
Your experts must have been confining their pick to teams in the American League, or east of the Mississippi River. If that's the case, I wholeheartedly agree with them. But as for the best shortstop, that's Smith.
I was somewhat startled by your choice of one photograph taken inside Tiger Stadium. Instead of showing your readers what $20 million worth of renovations has done for the turn-of-the-century ball park, you elected instead to go into the graffiti-covered bowels of the stadium to depict shortstop Alan Trammell perfecting his swing. As a taxpayer and sports fan who has helped to support the stadium reclamation project, I'm very disappointed. The team is great and the stadium is splendid!
GEORGE B. EICHORN
What euphoria! We're not only drawing exceptionally large crowds to Tiger Stadium for every home game, but we're also bringing in fans from out of town. Now, if we could only convince all those fans to drive to the games in a car built here!
St. Clair Shores, Mich.
I can't believe it. The Edmonton Oilers end the New York Islanders' dominance in the Stanley Cup (The Oilers Were the Spoilers, May 28) and you put Alan Trammell on the cover! The Tigers are good, but they haven't won the World Series yet.
Twin Falls, Idaho
THE BOYCOTT (CONT.)
After reading Kenneth Reich's article (Doleful Days for the Games, May 21) on the Soviet boycott of the Los Angeles Olympics, I realized where the real problem lies. We speak of the improper association of politics with the Games. We catalog the various political statements that have been made (John Carlos and Tommie Smith in Mexico City, the Arab terrorists at Munich, the African protest against South Africa in Montreal, the U.S.-led boycott of Moscow and now the Soviet-led boycott of Los Angeles). The Soviets were disappointed in 1980 because we didn't allow them (and their ideology) the opportunity of a full spectacle. The Los Angeles Olympics are supposed to be a triumph of American private enterprise. The Soviet boycott is an attempt to slight this effort.
The real problem lies in our acceptance of the Games as a political venture. The Games are supposed to be an athletic celebration with the added benefit of a little culture from the particular host city to make them special. But as we all know, they're, regrettably, far more than that. In the same article Reich bemoans the involvement of the Games in "world power politics" but also assumes that the Reagan Administration "gave too little attention to Olympic issues." The Reagan Administration should have nothing to do with the Olympics, here or anywhere else. That essentially is the problem. The only way to save the Olympics is to remove the bureaucratic base of involvement that is the foundation for the political statements now being made.
BRUCE COFFEY JR.
It appeared to me that Kenneth Reich was laying the blame for the politicization of the Olympics on former President Carter and the cold war rhetoric on the Reagan Administration. In fact, the use of the Olympics for political purposes predates the Carter Administration and was most certainly not a product of U.S. policy. The culprit, I submit, is the International Olympic Committee, which has an unfortunate habit of collapsing in the face of any political threat, particularly by the Third World. Why, for example, is South Africa excluded from Olympic competition? Why was the Republic of China forced to adopt a new name for its Olympic committee, a new flag and emblem and a new anthem? The answer, alas, is that the IOC has been influenced by political pressure. Moreover, biased judging along political lines has long been an issue that the IOC refuses to address.
The IOC should issue an invitation to every nation, irrespective of its internal political philosophy.
Reading SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's report on the Soviet boycott of the Olympics, I was struck by the number of commentators who equated the U.S. boycott with that of the Soviets. The motive for one was protest against the ruthless invasion of Afghanistan, the motive for the other is simple revenge. There is a difference.
Politics shouldn't be injected into the Games? Tell that to Sydney Maree, Zola Budd and other athletes from South Africa!
W. WARREN COLE JR.
Daytona Beach, Fla.
APO San Francisco
A neutral site for the Olympics? There is no such place. Greece? What would the IOC do if there were another military coup there?
JOHN B. HOLWAY
Gary Smith's article on Soviet swimmer Vladimir Salnikov (From Stillness Comes Swiftness, May 21) captured the true spirit of the Olympic Games. The Olympics are not meant to be an arena in which nations vent their political frustrations. The intention of the Games is to provide an opportunity for athletes from all over the globe to reach within themselves and discover the full extent of their potential. Smith has given us a genuine feel for the sacrifice and dedication of an Olympic athlete and for the minimal tangible rewards an athlete such as Salnikov receives. Salnikov demonstrates that the Soviet athletes, along with all the others, are competing out of a love of their sport and not for the political advancement of their country.
I thank you for showing readers that the Soviet athletes are good people with noble intentions. We Americans should have as much compassion for the athletes betrayed by the U.S.S.R.'s political boycott of the 1984 Games as we had for American athletes when they were denied a chance to fulfill their dreams in 1980.
Congratulations to Gary Smith for his excellent summary of the differences between Western and Eastern bloc athletes. By highlighting sports people and events outside the U.S. through superb writing, SI has shown that there is life outside the States, and that money and fame as extolled in the U.S. aren't everything. Long may there be sportsmen like Vladimir Salnikov!
Auckland, New Zealand
Thank you very much for the introduction to Vladimir Salnikov, an apparently exemplary member of the international sports community. Thanks also for reminding those of us who don't automatically worship sports heroes and overachievers that Mark Spitz was, is and probably always will be a horse of a different color. One hundred twenty-three miles per hour indeed! There's no room for that in a country that wastes nearly 50,000 lives a year in motor vehicle crashes.
Cave Junction, Ore.
In his article about the performance of the Soviet basketball team in the European Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament (The No-Shows Put On a Show, May 28), Alexander Wolff says the Russians beat Ireland "by a score that shouldn't appear in a family magazine." Well, what was it? It couldn't be that bad, could it?
•It was 118—46.—ED.
"THE NATURAL" (CONT.)
I enjoyed Ron Fimrite's article (A Star with Real Clout, May 4) on The Natural and read with interest Frank Deford's review of the film (MOVIES, May 21). While I usually agree with Deford's writing, which is some of the best SI has to offer, I take issue with this review. I loved the movie, and I am an avid baseball fan. Contrary to Deford, I believe that only those who know, love and have a feeling for the game would appreciate a book or film like The Natural. A nonfan would find the movie corny.
WILLIAM M. LYNCH
I disagree with Deford. By opening with scenes of a farm boy tossing a ball in a wheat field with his dad, the film tips the audience off immediately that the story is going to be corny and full of allegories and clichés. From that point on the film should be looked at not for its realism, but for its other merits.
I played baseball for 14 years, two of them professionally. In all that time, the greatest joy I experienced was not in the home runs or the great catches I made, but in the look on kids' faces when I signed balls for them or gave them my broken bats. I was never a role model for millions of kids the way our big-leaguers are, but the character of Roy Hobbs is. The looks on the faces of the kids in the movie are beautifully realistic. Hobbs, as portrayed by Robert Redford, is always polite, always spending time with the kids, never persuaded by money to be dishonorable. The beauty of the movie is that Redford isn't playing a real baseball personality glamorized for the screen but a fictitious character who displays the traits of an ideal star. Perhaps the reason I liked the movie so much was that I saw in Hobbs the star I wanted to become but didn't and the kind of role model that our big-leaguers should be but so often aren't.
D. SCOTT KIMBALL
Deford's review only shows that he has forgotten what it's like to love baseball. He claims he loves it, but his "love" for the game is an intellectual shadow of the real thing. His love for baseball is unnatural.
How, in the light of the unearthly career of Babe Ruth, the first Natural, can Roy Hobbs's achievements be seen as beyond belief? Deford has forgotten completely the power of the imagination. And one more thing. I knocked the cover off a softball in a college game in 1971. No loose stitches (I had just pitched with the same ball), but the cover came off.
BLACK MIKE ZEMPTER
It was a pleasure to read Frank Deford's comment on The Natural. I have tried to read two of Bernard Malamud's books, The Natural and The Fixer, and I must confess I never finished either one.
Deford's appraisal of the movie was on target. But whatever possessed him to attribute Robert Redford's physical preservation to Satan? Certainly Deford meant the comment innocently enough, but I, for one, found it offensive and way out of line. Perhaps Deford fails in his prose where The Natural fails on film—in excess.
SAVING THE NASL
I applaud Clive Gammon's article (The NASL: It's Alive but on Death Row, May 7) on the troubles of the North American Soccer League. I believe that by imposing salary caps and by raising its quota of North Americans on the field, the NASL is finally taking the correct steps to salvage professional soccer in North America.
However, I also believe that the complete Americanization of the NASL—which can be achieved by prohibiting, after a certain date, the addition of foreign players to the league—would be the most important step. Sadly, it's a step that the NASL doesn't seem to have considered. Such an action would serve a number of purposes. It would prevent the older player, fading in his native league, from making a mint as a "franchise player" in the NASL. It would help to create a more meaningful "draft" of collegiate talent, thereby stimulating NASL fans' interest in NCAA soccer, and vice versa. It would allow, for the first time, the identity of American and Canadian soccer to emerge from the eclectic blend of styles that has resulted from foreign domination of the NASL. Finally, it would be the first step in allowing the army of American soccer-playing youth to participate in the professional environment required if the U.S. intends to develop a national team of sufficient talent for World Cup play.
In response to Mark Stein's letter (19TH HOLE, May 21) exhorting the wonders of indoor soccer: When the MISL can produce an event that matches the grandeur and excellence of the World Cup, maybe then the true soccer enthusiast will accept the indoor game as a suitable companion to the world's most popular sport. I won't hold my breath.
HARVARD'S HARD-WON CHAMPIONSHIP
As honored as Harvard rugby was to be in your illustrious magazine (SCORECARD, May 28), we feel obliged to set the record straight. The loan for $10,000 that enabled our club to go to Monterey, Calif. to compete in the national championships was simply an 11th-hour bailout. Every player did not simply ask Mommy and Daddy for permission to pledge $2,000. We are now using "unsophisticated" fund-raising methods like cake sales and contributions and summer-employment earnings to pay back our debts. Believe it or not, many of us receive financial aid and work outside of classes to pay all personal expenses. So stick to what you do best, which is sports reporting. Leave the comedy to professionals, and don't undermine our effort to become the best collegiate rugby team in America.
CHARLIE WEEKS, President
MARK HISSEY, Ex-President
Harvard Rugby Football Club
FOUR IN ONE
In INSIDE PITCH (May 28), Henry Hecht noted that the Cincinnati Reds' Mario Soto had become the 17th pitcher in major league history to register four strikeouts in one inning. If a strikeout is one out and there are three outs in an inning, how in the heck did Soto get four strikeouts?
West Memphis, Ark.
•A batter who has struck out becomes a runner if his third strike is not caught (a wild pitch or a passed ball) and first base is unoccupied or, with first occupied, there are two outs. In this case, pitching in the third inning against the Chicago Cubs on May 17, Soto struck out Tom Veryzer, Dick Ruthven and Bob Dernier. However, Dernier reached first when Cincinnati catcher Brad Gulden allowed the strike-three pitch to get by him for a passed ball. It was a bad inning for Gulden. Dernier stole second and then went to third on a throwing error by Gulden before Soto struck out the next batter, Ryne Sandberg, to end the inning.—ED.
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.