Carlos Ruiz is to the Phillies what George Harrison was to the Beatles—a quiet spiritual leader. Because dominant pitching seems to be the current winning formula for the top teams in baseball, Ruiz deserves an honorary doctorate in psychology for his ability to empower Philadelphia's aces and keep them at their best on the mound.

Angela Cordisco, Moorestown, N.J.

I enjoyed reading Gary Smith's article on Carlos Ruiz (Legion of Arms, July 18). I thought it was a good example of how sometimes the most inspiring athletes don't get the most publicity. Ruiz's story is about so much more than being a catcher. It's about hope, determination and character.

Chris Lang, Bethlehem, Pa.

I am confused as to why anyone would praise Ruiz, who shows disrespect to the country by not giving The Star-Spangled Banner its proper respect. We often criticize other players who refuse to stand or even turn around during the national anthem because of religious or political reasons. Yet Ruiz gets a pass because he is somewhere in the bullpen putting on his game face?

Christopher Balzano

Cape Coral, Fla.

Captain! My Captain!

I want to thank Joe Posnanski for his tribute honoring Derek Jeter's milestone (3,000 Reasons to Party, July 18). When my friend invited me to the game on July 9, I had no idea that it would be the captain's big day. Everyone in Yankee Stadium was stunned as we watched the magic unfold. Jeter not only homered for his 3,000th hit but also had the best day at the plate of his career. Clearly, it was the most memorable sporting event of my life.

Bob Hoffman, Schenectady, N.Y.

Jeter has always been a classy gentleman. However, I find it a shame that during a triumphant week of celebrating his milestone, he chose to sit out the All-Star Game. What makes it even worse is that the game was played in a stadium and a city—the Diamondbacks' Chase Field in Phoenix—where fans rarely get to see him play.

Lawrence R. Glaser, Olney, Md.

One of the most amazing things about your coverage of Jeter was the photograph on the cover. His 3,000th hit is halfway to the mound and Rays pitcher David Price is still in his follow-through. It really shows how fast the ball jumps off the bat.

Mike Cashman, Everett, Wash.

NFL Legacy

I was saddened by the passing of one the NFL's alltime greats, tight end John Mackey (He Gave His All. Make It Matter, July 18). One of my earliest football memories is of my mother, a lifelong Colts fan, telling me, "Watch when Mackey, number 88, gets the ball. That guy cannot be tackled." I applauded Mackey because he challenged Pete Rozelle and paved the way for free agency in the NFL. To me, Mackey will always be a man who stood up for what's right.

Sean Parker, Humble, Texas

Fiction Imitating Life

After downloading Michael Bamberger and Alan Shipnuck's witty golf novel (The Swinger, July 18), I became so captivated by the story that I read it in a single sitting. While the authors seem to have an amazing grasp of the PGA Tour scene, I do, however, have one question after reading their story: How does one separate fact from fiction?

Donald Thompson

Statesboro, Ga.

Aging Gracefully

I can totally identify with Chris Ballard's column (POINT AFTER, July 18). For quite a while now, I've been listening to talk radio stations across the New York region commenting on how at 37, Derek Jeter is washed-up. Well, I also turned 37 this past June, and let me tell you, I still play basketball at the Y three times a week. Yes, I've come to realize that my drive to the basket doesn't seem to beat anyone anymore. And it's hard to accept that my joints and muscles are just not what they used to be. However, I love playing the game. Whenever we near-40-year-olds commiserate, one guy in our group always reminds us, "Hey, at least we're still out here playing."

George Muha, Brookside, N.J.

Thank you, Chris Ballard, for a wonderful essay about the frustrations of an aging athlete. At 60, I find that while I can no longer just kick open the door and go for a spontaneous run every day, I do still appreciate the days when I can give it a go just one more time.

Carson Evans, Lexington, Ky.

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TWO PHOTOS
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)