Well, I guess Atlanta Braves rookie Jeff Francoeur (Georgia's New Peach, Aug. 29) must be this generation's Ken Griffey Jr. I remember Junior being hailed as the natural on the cover of SI (May 7, 1990). I hope that in 2020 Francoeur has the kind of year Junior has had in 2005.
David Flood Saco, Maine
Does the name Bob (Hurricane) Hazle of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves ring a bell? He batted .403 in 41 games coming down the stretch as the Braves went on to win their first World Series since 1914. Although he only played 63 more games in the major leagues, I can tell you that this Cardinals fan remembers him none too fondly.
Felix Baz-Dresch, Leawood, Kans.
I get the same thrill watching Francoeur play as I did 50 years ago, as a 14-year-old, watching number 6 play rightfield for the Tigers. That year 20-year-old Al Kaline won the American League batting title with an average of .340.
Bob Kingon, Rapid City, Mich.
Francoeur has only been in the bigs for a few months, so you're forgiven for misspelling his name in your Inside Baseball column (Aug. 29). At least you got it right on the cover.
Charlie Wurst, Athens, Ga.
I was lucky to be studying in Israel this spring during the country's World Cup qualifying games against Ireland and France (Stars of David, Aug. 29). I will never forget the equalizing goals by Arab-Israeli players Abbas Suan and Walid Badir in the closing minutes of each game, kindling celebrations of remarkable joy, car-honking and dancing in the streets. Grant Wahl, however, so politicized the march to the World Cup, using it as a metaphor for the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict, that he missed the spirit of the Israeli team and its small country. He omitted entirely the star, Yossi Benayoun, a.k.a. Hatikvah (the Hope). There was also no mention of Dudu Awat, the gutsy goalkeeper. I can't imagine that either Suan or Badir, recognized for their modesty, enjoyed being singled out for glory at the expense of their teammates just because they are Arabs on a mainly Jewish team.
Lee Samuel, Atlanta
I am the stereotypical sports-hating wife of a loyal SI reader, but after reading Wahl's beautifully written Stars of David, I found myself weeping over my cereal bowl. Wahl's article showed me what millions of fans, like my husband, must already know--sometimes there's more being played out on the field than just a game. These brave athletes and their young fans may do more to promote peace in Israel than political maneuvers ever could.
Jennifer Healey, Portland
Grant Wahl's story incorrectly claimed that Israeli Arabs don't serve in the military. In fact, while most Israeli Arabs are not conscripted into the military, Israeli Arabs from the Druze community do serve mandatory military terms and many other Israeli Arabs volunteer for service.
Gilead Ini, Boston Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America
Temple of Doom
I would like to congratulate Temple on its ambitious 2005 football schedule (The Cruelest Season, Aug. 29). I am one of many fans who are tired of watching so-called national powers playing East Cupcake U every September to pad their won-lost records for bowl eligibility. If you attend a Temple game, at the very least you will see a quality opponent. Go Owls!
Paul A. Donais, Glastonbury, Conn.
As a Temple alumnus, I'm sorry for the kids who will be humiliated week after week and wish that the administrators who pieced together this travesty could be forced to put on pads and be ground into the turf by massive Miami linemen.
Lewis Beale, Secaucus, N.J.
In the Life of Reilly column about Brandon Jackson (Aug 29.), who is awaiting trial on six counts of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, Rick Reilly writes about coaches who say they just want to help the student when they allow outstanding athletes who have engaged in criminal behavior to compete. I wonder if the Lancaster (Texas) and Dallas Skyline high school coaches would feel the same way if they had been the ones shot at or pistol-whipped.
Bill Roll, Northumberland, Pa.
So Steve Rushin thinks it's really special to watch sports on West Coast time (Air and Space, Aug. 29). But here in Honolulu, fully six hours behind the East Coast and three hours behind the West during daylight saving, our NFL football is strictly breakfast and brunch. It's kickoff at 7 a.m. for the early game and 10 a.m. for the "late" game, so there's plenty of time left to enjoy the sunshine. Unless, that is, you want to watch ESPN's Sunday Night Football, which in Hawaii should be called Sunday Early Afternoon Football. Although Monday Night Football is shown delayed on ABC at 6:30 p.m., sneaking away from the office at about 3 p.m. to a sports bar for satellite coverage of the kickoff has been known to happen. Looking for coverage of the British Open? Learn to set that TiVo.
Daniel Kirley, Honolulu
Rushin's next trip should be to Newfoundland. In the easternmost part of North America, Breakfast at Wimbledon is a late brunch, and the second half of Monday Night Football always starts early Tuesday morning.
Aaron Kennedy Quispamsis, New Brunswick
Battle of the Sexes
If OLN president Gavin Harvey truly wants to reposition OLN to compete with ESPN (Scorecard, Aug. 29), he might want to broaden the perspective of vice president of programming Marc Fein, who states, "We like the whole thing of competition, a very male-oriented network. We want to keep that base of outdoor enthusiasts but make it more about competition--man versus man, man versus nature, man versus beast." (Of course, women aren't outdoor enthusiasts and wouldn't enjoy or understand competition.) Assuming women might tune in only to watch Survivor reruns, but not the NHL games, seems awfully shortsighted.
Susan Farrell, Arlington Heights, Ill.
King of the Hill
I enjoyed your item about the music that accompanies certain relief pitchers as they walk out to the mound (Music to Close By, Players, Aug. 29). But you should have mentioned that when John Smoltz was closing games for the Braves, he left the song choice to the music director--until he found himself entering the game to ABBA's Dancing Queen.
Steven Mills, Augusta
I read with interest Oliver Horovitz's An American Caddie in St. Andrews in the Golf Plus British Open Preview (July 12). When three friends and I had the good fortune to play the Old Course this June, who should come up and introduce himself as my caddie for the round but Oliver--or, as we called him, Oscar Horovitz. He was an exceptional caddie. He knew all the history surrounding the Old Course, was accurate with yardages and reads on the green, and did his best to make sure the round was a great experience for all involved. I will say, however, that his Harvard education has done nothing for his skills as a photographer: The three pictures he took of the four of us on the Swilcan Bridge were all blurry.
Bryan Davis, Austin
Pros vs. Pros
Some PGA Tour pros, while discussing the PGA of America allowing club professionals to play in the PGA Championship (Out of Their League, Aug. 22), sound like union workers talking about scabs. Playing in the PGA is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for these 25 club pros. I for one do not mind watching them "struggle" to shoot even par--after earning their way into the PGA Championship--and relishing every minute of it. It's better than watching some of the attitude-dripping full-time pros who play on the Tour today.
Wade L. Davis, Canton, Mich.
Why the disparaging remarks from Tom Pernice about country club golf? Since he hasn't won on the PGA Tour for more than four years--having missed nine cuts this year, with 11th place as his best finish and averaging over par--maybe setting up the ladies' foursomes on a Tuesday morning would be a better use of his talents.
Stuart Shears, Kennett Square, Pa.
Memo to Tom Pernice: Do you actually believe the public pays $96 per ticket to see you play? Memo to Justin Rose: Might the burden of hauling your clubs across the players' parking lot be lightened by knowing that 90% of club pros and assistant pros spend a significant part of their day hauling other people's clubs? Memo to Rich Steinmetz: Place your Honda on eBay. Surely some nutcase will pay double market value to own the car that was towed from Tiger's unmarked parking space. Memo to the PGA of America: Remember the U.S. Open's Jason Gore experience? Suppose one of these tirelessly dedicated club pros had a similar moment in the sun. Would the crowd and media reaction have been the same had Pernice, Rose or any of the other complaining pros been tied for the lead after two rounds?
Bob Harding, Orange Park, Fla.
Thanks to Rick Lipsey for pointing out how careless, in some cases intentionally so, the PGA Tour pros can be while on driving ranges at PGA events (My Shot, July 4). My car bears the perfectly rounded dents from several Pro V1s (stamped PRACTICE) that I found around it behind the driving range at the 2004 event at Westchester, and at least one of my media colleagues had his window smashed.
Rick Carpiniello, Stamford, Conn.
Do the Math
Seventy percent of the respondents in your poll of teenage golfers (Junior Exam, Aug. 15) would rather win the U.S. Junior than attain a 4.0 GPA. Their parents should tell them that the odds of making a million dollars as a professional golfer are infinitesimal, whereas the odds of making a million dollars after achieving a 4.0 GPA in college are pretty good.
Salvatore J. Bommarito, New York City
He may not have as many home runs as Atlanta's Francoeur, but Pirates rookie centerfielder Chris Duffy deserves at least equal billing as THE NATURAL. Duffy blends the sublime hitting, running and fielding skills of former Pirates Lloyd Waner, Matty Alou and Andy Van Slyke. He was batting .341 through Aug. 25, when he was placed on the disabled list, where, unfortunately, he remains.
Ray Baldridge, Pittsburgh
Although you included Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas as hot rookie pitchers in Who's Hot/Who's Not (PLAYERS, Aug. 29), you did not mention Pirates rookie phenom Zach Duke. That he plays for one of the worst teams in the league makes his sparkling 6--0 record and stingy 1.81 ERA all the more unbelievable.
David Danielson II St. Croix Falls, Wis.
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