As a longtime baseball fan who has attended 40 to 50 games a year for 25 years, I feel that nothing could be more on target than Steve Wulf's POINT AFTER (June 4) about major league umpires. The union headed by Richie Phillips has given the umpires some much-deserved benefits. However, an aggressive, argumentative attitude has become de rigueur for many umpires, and this is unfortunate. Fans come to see the players, not the Joe Wests of the world.

Wulf raised good points. Some umpires are vindictive and too quick to react to comments from the dugout. Some hold grudges. And in no other sport is such gross obesity allowed in officials. On the other hand, something should also be done to control managers. Nobody wants to watch a manager hold up a game for five minutes while he berates the umpire on a call that he has absolutely no chance of reversing. Managers justify their actions as sticking up for their players. Baloney! They just can't stand to stay in the dugout out of sight of the crowd for an entire game.

The problem is that baseball has no penalties for such behavior. An outburst one-tenth as bad from a basketball coach results in a technical foul and free throws for the other team. If a football coach even steps on the field of play without the referee's permission, it results in a 15-yard penalty. I advocate a rule prohibiting a manager from leaving the dugout except when he needs to change pitchers or is summoned for a rules consultation with the umpires and opposing manager.
San Diego

After spending the winter studying in Italy, I can tell you that la passione Italians feel for their calcio is palpable (Soccer Italian Style, June 11). To call the fans rabid is an understatement. I had to go through a line of policemen in full riot gear to get past La Fiorentina's fans at one game. They were protesting because the team's owner had said he was thinking of selling forward Roberto Baggio. The enthusiasm Italians have for soccer far exceeds that of the most rabid American fans of any sport.

I wish Americans would come out of their "soccer is too slow, too boring" coma. The Italians aren't getting excited over nothing.
Paramus, N.J.

Roy Johnson was right on the mark in criticizing ABC and ESPN for hiring Jim Valvano as a basketball analyst (June 18). What a travesty! I hope fans will turn to another channel when Valvano is working the game.
Charleston, S.C.

Pete Rose was rightly banned from baseball for unacceptable conduct. He even couldn't attend ceremonies honoring ex-teammate Mike Schmidt when Schmidt's number was retired. The NCAA, similarly, should voice its objections to Valvano's working any games played by its member schools. Failing that, individual schools should refuse to televise any game involving Valvano. Failing that, fans should protest by staying away from the games.
Harrisburg, Pa.

Thank you, William Nack, for the beautiful article on Secretariat (Pure Heart, June 4). I was in tears when I finished reading it.

I remember being a lonely 13-year-old in a new town, watching his races on TV and feeling that I was flying along with him. It sounds a little silly now—I know, little girls and horses—but I guess that horse was something of a hero to me.

I just wish you had left us with a photograph of the big guy.

•Here's one of Secretariat at Claiborne Farm in 1974.—ED.


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