Over the Rainbow
I realize your overrated-underrated issue (The Rating Game, Aug.
27) was designed to garner a reaction from readers, and it did.
After you trashed Muhammad Ali (twice), Nolan Ryan and Cal
Ripken, I am thankful you're not printing a music issue so you
could rip into the Beatles, Beethoven and Frank Sinatra.
ERIC COMPTON, Kew Gardens, N.Y.
The most overrated article ever to grace the cover of SI. With
few exceptions it seemed to have been written by unsophisticated
fans who bellied up to the bar to argue their narrow points of
view after having more than a few beers.
FRANK BONTEMPO, Pittsburgh
Bob Waterfield was overrated? Someone should point out to Peter
King that Old Waterbuckets took leave from his 25-year "tryst"
with wife Jane Russell long enough to lead the Rams to two NFL
titles in his abbreviated, injury-ridden eight-year career, and
that he was among the league leaders in punting, was an
excellent placekicker and was a 60-minute man who also played
safety. In 1946 he led the Los Angeles Rams in interceptions.
WILLIAM O'NEILL, Riverside, Calif.
Overrated? Joe Namath: completed barely half his throws, had 47
more interceptions than touchdown passes and never led the NFL,
AFL or AFC in passing.
FREDERICK LARSEN, The Dalles, Ore.
You stepped onto sacred ground when you said that Muhammad Ali
wasn't the greatest heavyweight of the 20th century--but you
were right. However, he's still the Greatest.
TOM STIGGER, Louisville
America the Beautiful has the advantage of being short and easy
to sing. Conversely, The Star-Spangled Banner is almost
impossible to sing. I have seen crowds standing on tiptoes
trying to summon the talent to hit those treacherous high notes.
Maybe that is how it should be. Do you really want the U.S.
anthem to be sweet and easy? America the Beautiful is about
America's outward beauty, but the country is more than that. The
anthem should be more than that. The Star-Spangled Banner puts
Americans on their toes. It makes us reach. It reminds everyone
that the U.S. is "the home of the brave."
LISA FLETCHER, The Woodlands, Texas
Michael Silver, the next time you attend a sporting event, stand
next to a veteran while the anthem is being played. Watch how he
removes his hat, places it over his heart and stands with pride
while staring at Old Glory. Then I dare you to call The
Star-Spangled Banner overrated.
JEFF HUSMAN, Monticello, Iowa
Thank you, Tom Verducci. Finally someone has the nerve to write
the truth about Ripken. He is an above-average ballplayer who
had two really good years. His superhuman status was created by
the media and exploited by Major League Baseball. Without the
media hype, can you say Gary Gaetti?
COREY ZDANAVAGE, Perkasie, Pa.
If Verducci thinks Ripken is overrated, perhaps he should try
coming into work for 2,632 consecutive days.
BRENDAN GANTS, Madison, Wis.
I was very excited to see Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak
listed as the most underrated baseball record. While I am only
15, I doubt that I'll live to see DiMaggio's record broken.
BRIAN SCHACTER, Scarsdale, N.Y.
Thanks to Kostya Kennedy for writing the truth about Bill
Buckner, the most unjustly accused man in baseball history. It
was Calvin Schiraldi who blew a two-run, two-out, nobody-on lead
in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, although Bob Stanley
certainly played a supporting role. Buckner's error came after
the damage had been done--and the Red Sox would never have been
in the Series without his contributions during the regular season.
DAVID BILLINGS, Brunswick, Maine
Thanks to Michael Bamberger for giving Stan Musial the credit he
so deserves. Ted Williams could not carry the Man's glove in the
field, could not run the bases anything like Musial and was not
the team player that Musial was. Joe DiMaggio's records (56-game
hitting streak excluded) do not nearly add up to Stan's.
JIM TOWLER, Columbus, Ohio
E.M. Swift claims Nolan Ryan was overrated because he lost too
many games--that his winning percentage was too low for a great
pitcher. Meanwhile, in another category, Tim Crothers argues
that a pitcher's wins are overrated. I am sure Crothers would
point out that Ryan's 3.19 career ERA was achieved while
pitching for some awful teams that did not give Ryan proper run
support. The best example of Ryan's plight is 1987: eight wins,
16 losses and a league-leading 2.76 ERA.
PATRICK MORRISON, Canton, Mich.
I am so glad someone else believes Jerry Rice is overrated. He's
an excellent receiver, but I'd look good with Joe Montana and
Steve Young throwing me the ball.
DON O'NESKY JR., Tulsa
I could not agree more with Frank Deford's assessment that
Steffi Graf was overrated. Monica Seles was the dominant female
player in tennis in the early 1990s, winning eight Grand Slam
championships to Graf's three. If it hadn't been for the April
'93 stabbing, she would now have more Grand Slam titles than Graf.
JAMES HUTCHINSON, Colorado Springs
Under the Sun
A few months ago I vainly tried to describe the beauty of
Kansas's Rock Chalk chant to my eye doctor, a Pennsylvanian.
After your story he sent me the clipping and a note that read,
"Now I understand." Thank you for opening the eyes of an
TOM WALKER, New York City
While Steve Scott was an admirable choice for underrated track
stars, I would like to propose Bill Rodgers for that distinction.
Rodgers consistently won world-class marathons, including Boston
and New York City a remarkable four times each.
ERIC A. KARL, Atlanta
Philadelphia the most overrated city? How many cities can claim
teams from all four sports in the playoff hunt, the most
valuable players in two sports (Allen Iverson and, by all
rights, Donovan McNabb), a run by a college (Temple) to the
Elite Eight, two new stadiums on the way and the X Games to
boot? Maybe the cheesesteaks clogged your thinking as well as
your arteries. Sure we're phickle, but we know excellence when
we see it. I didn't see it in your article.
BEN ROSENBERG, Huntingdon Valley, Pa.
My favorite item was Steve Rushin's essay on "Place to Watch a
Game." I was at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics opening ceremonies,
seated so high I had to have someone tell me who lit the torch.
It took every bit as long to get to the seats and back to the
hotel as he described. Besides having all the comforts of home,
TV viewers are spared something that attendees aren't: the
exorbitantly escalating cost of attending the events that ticket
holders have to bear.
GARY DEHAVEN, Knoxville, Tenn.
It Isn't the Second City
I've always been a little suspicious of New York-based SI's
regional chauvinism, but your overrated-underrated issue took
the cake. Question: What do the following preferences have in
common: Whitey Ford over Nolan Ryan, Joe DiMaggio over Cal
Ripken, Mickey Rivers over Mark Fidrych, Phil Simms over Bob
Waterfield, and Freeman McNeil over Franco Harris? Hint: What's
the difference between the underrated Dr. J of the New York Nets
and the overrated Dr. J of the Philadelphia 76ers?
JULES LAW, Chicago
Opinions about overrated and underrated people, places and
things in sports:
WAYNE N. COOKE, Branford, Conn.