I hope some NBA team will pick up Booger Smith so that he can spread his love of the game to a few of his future greedy teammates.
MATT MORRIS, ATHERTON, CALIF.
What a joy it was to read Rick Telander's account of his return to the blacktops of New York City (Asphalt Legends, Aug. 18). As a former basketball recruiter, I can appreciate his tales of young men trying to become legends and perhaps getting a chance to attend college and escape the ghetto. Basketball is more than a game. It's a struggle for recognition, acceptance and, in the annals of the city's hoop lore, immortality.
BUD COLLINS, Anaheim Hills, Calif.
As a black male who teaches inner-city high school students, I was overcome by the despondency that usually besets me when I read tales of the black urban experience. While Telander captured the feel of the game as it is played at street level, he also conveyed the bleakness of his subjects' lives and the futility of their ambitions. There is something awry when an individual has reached manhood and continues to be known by a cartoonish moniker such as Booger, Biz or Fly. It speaks to an unwillingness to take oneself seriously, which allows for the perpetuation of adolescence.
JOHN LA BONNE, New York City
From reading the article, I think a more accurate cover billing would have been Loser on the Streets.
DAVID L. MIRKIN, South Bend, Ind.
Closers (No Relief in Sight, Aug. 18) are the most overpaid players in baseball, considering that they pitch little more than 60 innings per year and that even teams without closers lose far more games in innings one through eight than they do in the ninth. Latecomers to that realization include the Texas Rangers, who handed John Wetteland a four-year, $23 million contract to plug what they considered their only hole. But to sign him the Rangers parted with players like Kevin Elster and Darryl Hamilton. As a result, they rarely get to Wetteland.
ERIK ENGQUIST, Brooklyn
Tom Verducci's statement that closers have "the most stressful job" in baseball is out-of-date. Closers get the glory, but now middlemen face the greatest pressure. Since closers routinely pitch only in the ninth inning, coming in with a lead and no one on base, they have a margin of error not enjoyed by middlemen. While a closer can almost always allow at least one hit without consequence, middlemen cannot, because they frequently enter games that are tied and inherit men on base.
RANDALL SCHAU, Portage, Mich.
It's revealing that in Verducci's list of the top 10 closers since 1969, four pitched for the Boston Red Sox and were traded: Dennis Eckersley, Lee Smith, Jeff Reardon and Sparky Lyle.
DOC STARR, Newport, Vt.
Elvis and the Babe
In the Aug. 18 POINT AFTER regarding the parallels between Babe Ruth and Elvis Presley, another coincidence could have been included: Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's home run record in 1974. Elvis's middle name was Aaron.
MARK DOHERTY, Ottawa
Thank you for remembering that Babe Ruth also died on Aug. 16. For the entire weekend I saw only Elvis movies, concerts, memorabilia, etc. Nothing about the Babe. I guess people think that the King of Rock-and-Roll is more important than the Sultan of Swat.
RYAN LINDHURST, Clinton Township, Mich.
We read with interest the item describing Tampa as a baseball hotbed (INSIDE BASEBALL, Aug. 11). We would still put an all-Greater Cincinnati team up against that of any other metro area. Here's our lineup.