There was no need to put the SI cover jinx on Ryan Leaf. He'll
screw up on his own.
--DANIEL CLEETON, Knoxville, Tenn.

Ryan's Song

The Anti-Cliche Courage Award for 2000 has to go to SI for its
coverage of rejuvenated Chargers quarterback Ryan Leaf
(Recharged, Sept. 4). To resist the impulse to say that Ryan is
"turning over a new leaf" showed great restraint.
DAN SHENK, Goshen, Ind.

SI used "Back from the Brink" on the cover of a November 1981
issue describing then WBC heavyweight champion Larry Holmes's
close call against challenger Renaldo Snipes. Apparently your
readers have better memories than your editors.

Swing a Hot Stick

Tom Verducci's article (Historic Quest, Sept. 4) on Todd Helton's
pursuit of .400 presented a detailed comparison of the conditions
Ted Williams faced at Fenway Park with those that Helton faces at
Coors Field. But a key difference was omitted. In 1941 a fly-out
that drove in a run was counted as an at bat. Today it isn't. How
much higher would Williams's average have been if he had played
by today's scoring rules?
DICK JULIAN, York, Penn.

--Williams would have batted .411 had the current sacrifice fly
rule been in effect. --ED.

When talking about anyone playing who could hit .400, Ted
Williams did not mention Helton. He cited the Red Sox' Nomar
Garciaparra. But I suspect this accomplishment will last as long
as Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak--forever.
New Gloucester, Maine

Two oversights in assessing Helton's shot at .400: dilution of
pitching talent as a result of expansion and the elimination of
the high strike by umpires.
LEE CARYER, Columbus, Ohio

A Man and a Woman

Gary Smith's article on Viktor Chistiakov and Tatiana Grigorieva
spoke volumes about the evolution of male-female roles and the
issues that parity and shared goals raise in their relationships
(Scenes from a Marriage, Sept. 4). Congratulations on such
evenhanded treatment of a fundamental issue.
JON MAXWELL, Greensboro, N.C.

Chistiakov and Grigorieva are brilliant, but it seems that they
need to revise their training regimen to stay healthy. Perhaps
they should back off and pace themselves better.

Hats off to Tatiana. She makes me want to try pole vaulting.
EMILY EAGAN, West Point, N.Y.

Gasp! Another female athlete. Wearing a sports bra. And shorts.
Who shows off her tattoo. I'm sure we'll be hearing from former
Women's Sports Foundation president Donna de Varona any day now.

The Name Game

I loved Steve Rushin's AIR AND SPACE (Sept. 4) column on
athletes' names. But I was sorry to see the likes of former Brown
Webster Slaughter and current Raven Sam Gash omitted from his

Rushin omitted the most inexplicable name, that of Lemanski Hall,
a backup linebacker for the Vikings. I like the sound of it.
LARRY LEMANSKI, Maple Grove, Minn.

How could you forget Carlester Crumpler and Trung Canidate?
WALT ALFORD, Prospect Park, Pa.

I was surprised Rushin was unable to find a way to pay homage to
the greatest name in football history, Fair Hooker.
CHRIS TRACZEK, Bolingbrook, Ill.

Last year I decided to see how many spellings of Antoine I could
find in colleges and the NFL. As I recall, it was six.
PEG BOEHM, Sheboygan Falls, Wis.

Skateboards Forever

As an avid skateboarder, I do not appreciate a pretentious
baseball player comparing my passion to grocery bagging
(SCORECARD, Sept. 4). Skateboarding is technically very
difficult; some would say it's a lot harder than swinging a bat.
Get a life, Dave Berg.
KARL BOLKOVAC, West Hartford, Conn.


Shortchanging Tony

I'm surprised that you omitted the 1994 batting statistics of
Tony Gwynn (above) in your analysis of players who flirted with
.400. Gwynn's 1994 stats and Brett's 1980 stats are similar.
Gwynn had 165 hits in 419 at bats (.394), while Brett had 175
hits in 449 at bats (.390). Brett had no more control over the
injuries that kept him out of the lineup than Gwynn did over the
players' strike that cut the season short by almost two months.
JEFF MARTINDALE, Collierville, Tenn.