"How could you choose the Dodgers, a team without a quality starting pitcher, to win the National League wild-card berth over a talented young Expo team?"
Sam Axelrod, New York City
Picks and Pans
Your prediction in the Baseball Preview issue that the Philadelphia Phillies would finish third in the National League East (SCOUTING REPORTS, April 4) is almost as ridiculous as your prediction last year that they would finish sixth. You make it seem as if talent had nothing to do with their winning the pennant in 1993. Can the Phils maintain the camaraderie they enjoyed last season? Probably not, but they still have Lenny Dykstra, Darren Daulton, Dave Hollins, Curt Schilling and John Kruk. It seems no matter what the Phillies do, they get no respect.
DAN EISNER, Mount Laurel, N.J.
Thank you for picking the Detroit Tigers for fourth place in the American League East this year. Your predictions are usually out of whack, especially for Detroit teams, so now I have reason to hope that the Tigers can win a championship. Yeah, I know they have no pitching, but I challenge you to find a better lineup at the plate.
BRIAN J. WHITE, Temecula, Calif.
Baseball's Young Talent
O.K., everyone's entitled to an opinion, but no way is Ken Griffey Jr. the best of the young baseball stars (Kids' Stuff, April 4). I wouldn't trade Frank Thomas for two Griffeys. As a hitter Thomas is on a par with Ted Williams, except that Thomas has more power, and Griffey is overrated as an outfielder.
B. CLAY MOORE, Manhattan, Kans.
I can't see how any article discussing the best young players could fail to mention Roberto Alomar of the Toronto Blue Jays, even though he just misses your age limit of 25. Alomar is less than four months older than Frank Thomas but has already established himself as one of the best all-around players in the game. He provides a solid bat and speed in addition to playing the best second base around. What he gives up—very little—in power to Carlos Baerga, he more than makes up for in stolen bases and defense.
GREG SEARLES, Fredericton, New Brunswick
Your article brought back memories of the Boston Red Sox's Tony Conigliaro. Tony reached 100 major league home runs on July 23, 1967—at the age of 22 years, 6 months, 16 days—which put him on a home run pace comparable to that of Mel Ott and Eddie Mathews. Less than a month later Conigliaro was struck in the face by a fastball thrown by the California Angels' Jack Hamilton, and he missed the rest of the 1967 season and all of '68. Based on his stats up to the point at which he was sidelined, a conservative projection for a healthy Conigliaro suggests that he would have hit 139 home runs by age 24, which would have placed him third on your alltime list.
Perhaps someday the Red Sox will do the right thing and retire his number.
HERBERT F. CREHAN JR., Natick, Mass.
I thoroughly enjoyed the classic SI story on playboy pitcher Bo Belinsky (Once He Was an Angel, March 28), but I would be interested to know what Belinsky is up to these days.
ANDREW EDISON, Charlottesville, Va.
Bo Belinsky certainly lived his life to the fullest, and he continues to do so. We are proud to employ him as one of our marketing consultants. His enthusiastic approach to life has helped to make us the No. 1 Saturn retailer in the country.
General Manager, Saturn of West Sahara
I have been a subscriber for many years, but it's safe to say that no SI story will ever have as much impact on our family as the one that you ran a year ago on Pittsburgh Penguin star Mario Lemieux, which mentioned his battle with Hodgkin's disease (The Legend Grows, April 19, 1993). I casually mentioned the article to my 23-year-old son, Chad, and he said that he had a lump about the size of a golf ball in his neck. Since it didn't hurt, he thought it was a swollen gland and would go away.
The lymph node was removed, and it turned out that Chad had Hodgkin's disease. More tests determined that the disease was most likely still confined to his neck and upper chest. Since then he has undergone approximately 40 radiation treatments, with the expected side effects, but he has regained his weight and strength, his hair has grown back, and doctors say he has a 95% chance of making a complete recovery. I will be forever thankful to SI for an article that may have helped save my son's life.
JAMES DERR, Middletown, Pa.
Letters to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and should be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020-1393.