Aug. 07, 2006
Aug. 07, 2006

Table of Contents
Aug. 7, 2006

SI Players: Life On And Off The Field

Pro Basketball


Rip Tide

This is an article from the Aug. 7, 2006 issue Original Layout

Saying that theMets are the best team in the National League (July 17) is like saying thatsomeone is the tallest person in a roomful of dwarfs. If the Mets do reach theWorld Series, you can change your headline to r.i.p. city because they wouldcertainly be fodder for the AL champion.

Tim Brown,Langhorne, Pa.

Your cover photoof the five Mets signifies everything that is right with baseball. Thesetalented yet grounded players exude confidence, optimism and a love of thegame. Their smiles light up a sport that desperately needs to emerge from theshadow of a steroids scandal.

Aaron Troodler,Teaneck, N.J.

In thesubheadline to the article Joy Ride by Tom Verducci, the Mets are described asa "franchise whose revival is way ahead of schedule." But with anaverage payroll of $100,756,034 since their World Series appearance in 2000,the highest in the NL, I would say the Mets' success is far overdue.

Andrew Follett,Meridian, Miss.

Major Andre

Many thanks toGary Smith and SI for a look at Andre Agassi, a man who after all of histransformations got it right (Coming into Focus, July 17). Agassi's passion fortennis, his philanthropy and his devotion to his wife and two children showthat he knows what's important.

Scott M.Zurakowski, Canton, Ohio

Agassi had it allprofessionally but was personally tortured. Thank you for insight into hisstruggles and human essence. When a megastar opens up in an honest voice, onecannot help but sit back and say, "Wow. We have something incommon."

Paul A. Jereczek,Dodge, Wis.

Smith's commentabout the academy that Agassi built--"wondering what the world would belike if a couple of superstars in each city did this"--is right on themark. Makes you feel as if what we really need is a Humanitarian Hall ofFame.

Chris Kitchen,Bowling Green, Ky.

Editor's Note:There is a World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame at Boise State.

I can't helpthinking that Smith's characterization of Agassi's first wife, Brooke Shields,as "the Lamborghini girlfriend" is insensitive. Shields certainly hasall the aesthetic appeal of a fine sports car, but her own remarkable careerarc from teenage pinup to brilliant comic actress is testament to a beautybeyond the surface. I suspect that Agassi, and first wives everywhere, wouldagree that Brooke deserves better.

Mark Kingwell,Toronto

Living withLoss

I have tremendousempathy for Joe Jurevicius on the loss of his son, Michael (Where the Heart Is,July 17). Forty years ago I, too, lost a son who was born prematurely, and nota day goes by that I don't think of him and what he might have become. My sondied during the height of the Cold War, and my military duties in the U.S. AirForce at a missile complex complicated my grieving process just as Joe's SuperBowl preparations complicated his. People may not understand Joe's daily visitsto Michael's grave, but parents who have lost a child can comprehend theendless pain and agony associated with that loss. God bless you, Joe, as youcontinue to honor Michael.

Robert McCasky,Aurora, Colo.

With their hugesalaries and much admired athletic accomplishments, it is easy to forget thateven professional athletes cannot escape the human condition. The story onJurevicius's contending with the death of his young son reminds us that behindevery jersey is a real person dealing with real problems.

Craig Silliker,Miramichi, New Brunswick

One of thesignature calls of broadcaster Gene Deckerhoff's career emerged during theTampa Bay Buccaneers' Super Bowl run a few years ago. "You go, Joe! You go,Joe!" Deckerhoff would exclaim as Joe Jurevicius raced past defenders. Itdoesn't matter what uniform Jurevicius now wears, Bucs fans everywhere willcontinue to echo that call.

Emerson Noble,Winter Park, Fla.

Head Games

It is unfortunatethat Zinédine Zidane's historic career should end in such a brutal fashion, butto say that he did not deserve to acknowledge the championship trophy as hewalked off the field following his red card, as Grant Wahl does in SurrealWorld (July 17), is taking it too far. Zidane was the greatest footballer ofhis generation. If there is anyone who deserves to acknowledge the World Cuptrophy, it is him.

Tim Dwyer,Wichita, Kans.

The RingThing

I laughed outloud when I read Rick Reilly's piece With This Ring, I Bust Thy Chops (Life ofReilly, July 17) about the practice of ringing your friend's phone once, thenhanging up, when his favorite team does something stupid. I graduated fromBates College in Maine, where Reilly says this started, and during an epicshootout between the Detroit Lions and the Los Angeles Raiders on a Mondaynight in 1990, I took chops busting to new heights by One Ringing my highschool buddy Jerry Krise every time his beloved Raiders lost the lead or made amiscue. (The Raiders, however, overcame my One Ringing and won the game thatnight.)

John D. WilsonII, Cary, N.C.

Reilly, Reilly,Reilly ... if I had your cell number, you would have had a couple of OneRingers before I started typing this letter. You have been had. One Ringersweren't invented by those chumps from Maine in 1991. We've been One Ringingeach other here at the Shell Oil refinery in Martinez, Calif., for all sorts ofstuff since the late '80s, when those Bates College boys were still askingmommy to boost them up on the chair so they could play with the phone.

Jerry Fox,Vacaville, Calif.

My brothers and Ihave been One Ringing each other since the mid-'80s when we were living in NewJersey. We also have what we call the Knockout Ring. When your team beats theirteam, you One Ring that person three consecutive times to signal that your teamwon.

Paul Huber,Chicago

My family hasbeen One Ringing since the beginning of time. The majority of rings are done bymy mom, aunts and 10-year-old female cousin; my dad, uncles and malecousins--who are sports fans--don't find it as funny as we do. Furthermore,when I tell people what we do, those who find it the funniest are other women.So much for Reilly's theory that One Rings are a way of showing"man-love."

Stephanie MacKay,Victoria, B.C.

An interestingderivative of the One Ring is the Collect Call, when someone places a collectcall using the name of a person who was involved in a particularly bitingevent. For example, I was a big Cowboys fan. After the Catch, I got threestraight Collect Calls from "Dwight Clark."

Steve Whitehead,West Des Moines, Iowa

A BetterWorld

Grant Wahl'sReport Card (Scorecard, July 17) had suggestions for improving the World Cup in2010. I have another one: Instead of penalty kicks to decide the winner, whynot play an overtime with an empty goal? Take the goalies out of the nets andlet the teams play on. Sure seems like this would be a better test of teamskill than a one-on-one shootout.

Jim Bowling,Winona Lake, Ind.

Of all the ideasout there on how to improve the World Cup, I'm surprised no one seems to besuggesting an additional referee or two. During the playoffs, baseball has sixof them who hardly move an inch. Basketball has three of them covering a smallfraction of the space of a soccer pitch. Yet soccer has just one guy covering110 yards for 90 straight minutes. How is he supposed to get all the calls?

Andrew Finley,Tustin, Calif.

This is heresy topurists, but why not liberalize the rigid substitution rule? Allow freesubstitution for 14 to 16 players, who could only enter the game before goalkicks. Injured players would be able to take breaks without their team beingshorthanded, and others would not have to pace themselves for the whole game(or be exhausted during the last few minutes) since they could get anoccasional blow. Fresh legs on the field during the whole game would improvethe quality of play.

Thomas Moyer,Whitehall, Pa.

FIFA's firstpriority should be an overhaul of the offside rule. The current rule oftenpenalizes hustle and constipates the game. Redefining the rule could encouragemore downfield passing and breakaways, leading to more goals. The NHL's newoffsides rule was met with wide acclaim last season because it helped open upplay and increase scoring. Newcomers to soccer can easily spot an offsideviolation: It's the call made when the action is about to get exciting.

Ron Rudolph,Fairfield, Conn.


Are you kiddingme? Allen Heckard is suing Michael Jordan and Nike chairman Phil Knight becausehe looks like the basketball great and is bothered by that (Scorecard, July17)? Mr. Heckard, you should've taken the $206 you paid to file the suit andbought a toupee. Or a T-shirt that reads i am not michael jordan. Better yet,you can go to one of those agencies that puts celebrity look-alikes to work.You might make a lot of money that way.

Tammy Perez,Everett, Mass.


I was intriguedto see in Go Figure (Scorecard, July 17) that the annual cost to the AllEngland Club for towels appropriated by players during Wimbledon matches is$111,000. Apparently, 2,500 towels--which are supposed to be left on the courtafter matches--disappear each year. I would suggest that before hiring aprestigious London barrister to investigate claims of "tortiousconversion" (the common-law term for theft) against players, the AllEngland Club consider the possibility of purchasing cheaper towels. By mycalculation, it is paying $44.40 per towel. Aren't there Wal-Marts inEngland?

Jack Ross,Roanoke, Va.

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PHOTOGREGORY HEISLER (COVER)PHOTOJOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/GETTY IMAGES (ZIDANE)ZZ TOP The best footballer of his era, Zidane went out with a (head) bang.PHOTODARREN STAPLES/REUTERSHOT TOWELS Who is swiping the swipes at Wimbledon, where much tony terry cloth has gone missing?