I was appalled by your cover billing and story about THE CHAMPION THAT NOBODY CARES ABOUT (The Americanovakian Open, Sept. 15). No wonder Ivan Lendl has a poor image—the press promotes it. Your cover was all the more shocking to me in light of the commendable way Lendl carried himself during the U.S. Open. I was charmed for the first time by the way he handled TV interviews. At last he seems relaxed and confident and able to show humor in front of the camera. On the court his behavior reminded me of Chris Evert Lloyd's—not stern, but determined and concentrated. Chris overcame her Ice Maiden image years ago. I hope Ivan will be able to overcome his "dull" image also.
You are sending the wrong message to our youth. Would you rather have them acting like John McEnroe?
Curry—as in hot and spicy?—Kirkpatrick had some viciously funny lines in his razzmatazz account of the U.S. Open. (Don Rickles, watch out.) But isn't it enough that Ivan Lendl displays an absolute mastery of his game, without taking him to task for personality shortcomings? The really dull thing about the Open wasn't Lendl but the caliber of his opposition. Let's not double-fault Ivan for that.
New York City
Just because Ivan Lendl exercises self-control on the tennis court and reserves his private life for himself, he does not deserve to be characterized by glib Curry Kirkpatrick as a "wonder cipher." Your writer is guilty of the same sort of jingoistic boosterism that makes it impossible for American tennis fans to admire the superb athleticism of the Czech players. Does it require on-court tantrums and off-court escapades or shameless playing to the crowd to capture our imagination? If Lendl is indeed THE CHAMPION THAT NOBODY CARES ABOUT, this reflects badly not on him but on the American public.
September 28, 1986
I take offense at your cover story. Perhaps some of those people attending the Open in their green pants, pink shirts and blue blazers don't appreciate Lendl and his tennis excellence, but sophisticated fans do.
I write on behalf of thousands of people, young and old, in Greenwich and the Fairfield County, Conn., area who have come to know Ivan Lendl as a private citizen and neighbor and who like and respect him. In addition to being a magnificent tennis player, he is a man of immense good will, intelligence, humor and generosity of spirit; he unselfishly commits himself to a variety of charitable and educational causes around our community.
Yes, he eschews the posturing of a Jimmy Connors or a John McEnroe. But he has done for American tennis what has eluded Connors and McEnroe: He has demonstrated to legions of upcoming young tennis enthusiasts that concentration, dedication, reliability and self-control are essential components of excellence. With all his formidable execution, Lendl emerges as a gentleman and a positive role model. We should wish to see even more of him at center court.
ALEXANDER A. UHLE
Greenwich (Conn.) Academy
I care about him, and I am not a "nobody." I am a sports fan!
New York City
Tell Ivan that lots of people care about him. We do!
EILEEN WILSON, KATHLEEN MCCONAGHY, FRANCES Y. CRAWFORD, BARBARA FORCE, JACK WILSON and BETSY KOHLHEPP
In all honesty, my pulse grows more rapid when I count sheep than it does when I watch Lendl play tennis. The guy doesn't even make complaining to a judge interesting. I think we need another first-rate American jerk at the helm.
I just finished reading The Americanovakian Open. Ivan Lendl may have played well, and he is on your cover, but guess what? I still don't care.
Although Curry Kirkpatrick only alluded to the disqualification of John McEnroe and Peter Fleming from the men's doubles because of their tardy arrival, it is obvious that, after 7 years, the USTA has finally realized that it can operate without groveling to McEnroe. It took McEnroe just a bit longer to realize the same thing—7 years and 15 minutes to be exact.
It was refreshing to read that Peter Gammons thinks Mike Schmidt deserves a third MVP award (It's Oscar Time For Baseball, Sept. 8). I think most baseball fans would agree that Schmidt is one of the best players of his time and a certain Hall of Famer. However, most fans are not aware of how he stacks up against the greatest players of all time. Schmidt has won more home run and RBI titles than any player in National League history. If he wins his eighth home run title this year, he will have equaled Henry Aaron and Willie Mays combined. If he wins his fourth RBI title, he will tie the alltime National League record. Philadelphia fans (especially those of you who have booed him over the years), take note: You are watching a once-in-a-lifetime player. Do you really think it is just a coincidence that five division titles, two NL pennants and a world championship followed Schmidt to Philadelphia?
There is no doubt that Roger Clemens has been most valuable to the Red Sox this year. But if we are going to be consistent, there is no justification for Clemens's getting the MVP award when Ron Guidry was beaten by Jim Rice in 1978. Guidry got the Yankees to their 163rd game almost single-handedly. Rice was the leader of the Red Sox team that suffered one of the worst chokes in the history of professional sports. If ever there was an argument for a starter, or any pitcher, winning the MVP, it was in 1978, not 1986.
Boston's Jim Rice started September by beating up on opposing pitching staffs. If, as Don Mattingly says, September is when it really counts and both the Red Sox and Rice remain hot, then a second MVP award for Rice would surely seem appropriate.
Dave Parker deserved the MVP last year, and he deserves it this year. Without him, Cincinnati would be on the bottom. Gary Carter? Give me Parker.
SCOTT E. HOLSTAD
FOR WANT OF A HOT STOVE
Deep within the pages of Ron Fimrite's story on windy Candlestick Park (Gone With The Wind? Sept. 1) lies the revelation that 20,000 seats were equipped with a radiant heating system, which, naturally, didn't work. Right? Wrong. Well, maybe some of each. My cousin Kurt Helmstaedter, who was an interior designer on the job, told me this story: He was at an early-season game with owner Horace Stoneham that first year. The weather was chilly, but on that night the heating system did work; it was near perfection. Then about the sixth inning, Stoneham wondered out loud, "Say, who pays the bill for all of this heat, me or the city?" That was the last time the radiant heating system worked.
Have you noticed the great similarity between Oklahoma's two football dynasties, the Bud Wilkinson teams of 1947 to 1963 and the Barry Switzer teams of 1973 to the present?
After the first 154 games, each had a record of 126-24-4, for a winning percentage of .818. Each had three national championships (1950, 1955, 1956 and 1974, 1975, 1985, respectively). Each had one Heisman Trophy winner (Billy Vessels, 1952, and Billy Sims, 1978) and two Outland Trophy winners (Jim Weatherall, 1951, and J.D. Roberts, 1953; and Lee Roy Selmon, 1975, and Greg Roberts, 1978). Each also had one Walter Camp Foundation Player of the Year (Jerry Tubbs, 1956, and Billy Sims, 1978). What's more, Wilkinson's split T and Switzer's wishbone are primarily rushing offenses.
As for this season, Switzer is to be admired for scheduling first-class teams for nonconference games; OU plays seven teams that went to bowl games last season.
ABE K. PIERCE
The statement by Jaime Diaz in the box on Napoleon McCallum (On Top Of The Heap, As Always, Sept. 1) that the Navy "has never [before] allowed an Annapolis graduate to pursue a professional sports career while completing his five-year service obligation" is not quite correct. In 1949 as a member of the Naval Academy staff and assistant baseball coach under the late Max Bishop, I signed a professional baseball contract. This was done with the approval of the Naval Academy and the Department of the Navy. I played for Federalsburg (Md.) in the old Eastern Shore League for a short period, until my duties and baseball became too much of a drain.
I was a member of the Annapolis class of 1948 and was twice selected captain of the baseball team. As a matter of interest, the captain of the Yale baseball team at that time was George Bush, now the Vice-President.
ANDREW L. FRAHLER
Commander USN (ret.)
As a 14-year-old, I was happy to help Alex Wolff gather his autograph collection (Mets Autographs, Sept. 15). I've still got those '69 Mets signatures in my collection, as well as the signatures of Hall of Famer John Henry (Lloyd), the John Hancock and Abraham Lincoln. I also have those of just about everyone in the grand old game, from Alexander Cartwright to Babe Ruth to Dale Murphy. As Wolff surmised, Seminole, Fla., where I grew up, is just a fungo away from the Mets' Payson Field training complex, and Al Lang Field was a 25-cent bus ride downtown. Since 1972 I have lived just a fungo away from the Yankees' training camp in Fort Lauderdale, where I have performed Fourth Estate duties as a newspaper and UPI correspondent. I'm glad to see that Alex still needs my help. I've got that elusive Tommie Agee autograph. It's his for the asking.
Incidentally, the enclosed photograph shows me as a 14-year-old autograph collector with '69 Mets manager Gil Hodges, who signed the picture.
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