I read with deep interest and a mixture of emotions Gary Smith's superb account of the fall of Alexis Arguello (Adrift In A Sea Of Choices, Oct. 21). I reacted both as a longtime Arguello fan and as a witness to one of the strange moments Smith describes.
I was a local TV sports reporter at "ringside" for Arguello's impromptu ballroom sparring session with Olympic gold medalist Jerry Page at that fund-raiser here in Columbus. At the outset they were clearly clowning—as evidenced by Arguello's bare feet and tux pants. But within a few seconds Arguello, perhaps reacting to Page's excitement and yells from Page's friends to "take it to the champ," became incredibly intense. Page did not get out of the ring, as Smith says, but he was clearly unnerved by the transformation and began laughing nervously and calling out, "Hey, this guy's serious!" No real punches were ever exchanged, but only when the two finally clinched in the corner and the announcer hastily declared a draw did Arguello's smile return. I remember thinking that it was as if the ring were Arguello's only natural element.
Perhaps Arguello himself has come to that conclusion. It would seem the most likely explanation for his return.
In a sport that has become synonymous with brash arrogance and shameless theatrics, Arguello is indeed a contradiction. I cannot recall when a more selfless and dignified man ever graced a boxing ring. I was deeply moved by your article detailing his painful struggle for peace of mind. I pray that he finds it. That is the least he deserves.
November 4, 1985
A nicely written piece on a simplistic theme. To view the sum of life as a metaphor may be poetic, but it is hardly practical or accurate. The recurring themes of contradiction and resolution, chair and rope, narrowly deny the variety of experience and choice available to us all. Few of us live our lives according to a grand design, and when we try we only delude ourselves. I would have to say that it is past time for Arguello to put down his dreams, grow into manhood and get on with his life.
TOM L. GIBSON
La Jolla, Calif.
I wholeheartedly agree with Jim Kaplan's sidebar that the best umpires should be used in baseball's playoffs and World Series (By George, The Jays Are Some Tough Birds, Oct. 21). In the NHL, the best referees and linesmen work the Stanley Cup playoffs. In the NFL, the best officiating crews get postseason assignments. The same holds true for the best officials in basketball and boxing, and it should be the case in baseball. Experience and rotation systems should not be factors in playoff assignments—they have nothing to do with quality, which is what counts. Let the umps earn their way into the postseason.
Kudos to Franz Lidz for his work on LeRoy Neiman (LeRoy, You're A Real Piece Of Work, Oct. 21). Before recently moving into an apartment, I knew the new surroundings would not be complete without one of Neiman's lithos. They add a mark of distinction that art critics seemingly and stubbornly cannot admit to. It is the critics' loss.
MARK A. SINDLER
A plague on the snobbish art experts whose quoted criticisms of LeRoy Neiman's remarkable paintings seem to evince pangs of envy. Neiman's versatility is exemplified by the subject matter of his excitingly lifelike paintings, which range from a day at the races to a night at the opera.
Silver Spring, Md.
PICKING ON HECHT
Henry Hecht listed his candidates for National League MVP (INSIDE PITCH, Oct. 14), but he left out the real MVP, Dave Parker of the Cincinnati Reds. Parker had a fantastic year, batting .312 with 34 home runs and 125 runs batted in.
Come on! How could Hecht have picked Willie McGee for National League MVP over Dwight Gooden? The Cardinals would have done just fine without McGee. But the Mets without Gooden? I hate to even think about it!
I strongly disagree with Hecht's statement that Don Mattingly is easily the American League MVP. George Brett's credentials appear to be at least as strong. Using the very accurate formula (hits + walks) X (total bases) √∑ (at bats + walks), one finds that Brett actually created more runs than Mattingly—142 to 140. Plus, he led the majors in slugging (.585), though he enjoys no short rightfield porch at Royals Stadium, as does Mattingly at Yankee Stadium. And, of course, he came through spectacularly in the last week of the season with the divisional title on the line.
With all due respect to Gene Mauch of the California Angels, I find it very hard to believe that Hecht could have selected him as his AL Manager of the Year. Under the strong leadership of manager Bobby Cox, the young Toronto Blue Jays held off the charge of the New York Yankees in September and October to win the first division title in their nine-year history. I say congratulations to Bobby Cox and the Blue Jays on a very exciting 1985 season!
You picked the Cardinals to finish 15th and Whitey Herzog managed them to a first-place finish, yet Hecht chose Pete Rose as NL Manager of the Year. How inconsistent can you be? If Rose had taken his weak bat out of the lineup, who knows what the Reds might have done? Herzog was the best manager in the National League. SI was overwhelmed by Rose's career and overrated him in '85.
ROBERT and ANDREW WAGGENER
While flying back home to Oklahoma recently, I eagerly plowed into a copy of the Oct. 14 issue and was amazed to read William Humphrey's article on hunting woodcock (Birds Of A Feather). My regular hunting partner and I were returning from the Fourth Annual National Grouse and Woodcock Hunt in Grand Rapids, Minn., where for three days we enjoyed some of the world's finest ruffed grouse and woodcock hunting with some true "gentlemen bird-hunters."
The article warmed us, just as much as the last drinks we shared with our Minnesota friends. Humphrey's story will help keep our memories alive long after the tall stories—legitimized by scars on face and hand—fade.
ROBERT BASS BERRY
It's probably because I'm from an urban area, but I'll ask the questions anyway. Why is shooting little birds out of the sky looked upon as a sport? Why are its enthusiasts considered sportsmen? Why does an author who professes respect for the beautiful little woodcock so relish blowing it away?
HIT AND MISS
As one who also photographed Pete Rose's 4,192nd hit, I have studied your Sept. 23 pictures of that historic event and believe that the one you printed on page 6 (LEADING OFF) is actually a photo of Rose connecting during a subsequent at bat. My frame-by-frame examination of a videotape of the game reveals that the background detail in your photo does not match the detail in the video and in my photo of Rose's record hit. Instead, it matches that of a pop fly to left on Rose's third plate appearance. The record-setting hit came on Rose's first appearance that evening.
Huntington, W. Va.
•Perdue is correct.—ED.
I don't believe it. Someone besides me saw Al Luplow's catch in Fenway Park more than 20 years ago (REPLAY, Oct. 14)! For years my stock rejoinder, after witnessing a spectacular fielding play, has been, "That was nothing compared to the catch I saw Luplow make in 1963." Now, thanks to Jay Feldman's article, maybe somebody will believe me.
GEORGE P. CENCI
Kendall Park, N.J.
Please extend my thanks to Feldman for filling in some facts on a never-to-be-forgotten catch. On June 27, 1963 I was an 11-year-old Red Sox fan sitting in the bleachers, with a perfect view of the bullpen. I have always remembered Dick Williams as the batter, but the man who made the catch was just "some outfielder for the Indians" to me. It is nice to know that it was Al Luplow. Though nameless until now, he has always been my personal yardstick for measuring fantastic efforts on the baseball field.
The fact that it was such an insignificant game explains why I've never seen Luplow's catch on film. I don't even recall seeing a newsphoto. However, I do recall a cartoon [left], in what was then the Boston Record-American, that captured the moment better than any video replay ever could and almost as well as Feldman has.
(1)AL LUPLOW MADE AN OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD GRAB ON DICK WILLIAMS
(2) AL CAUGHT DICKS 3-RUN GAME TYING HOME RUN THEN
(3) AL TUMBLED INTO THE RED SOX BULL DEN-AFTERWHICH
(4) AL HELD UP THE BALL FOR THE UNBELIEVERS TO SEE!
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