My wish for Kevin Brown is that his ERA will balloon to match his salary.
—JIM O'ROARK, Beaver Falls, Pa.
A notable omission from your list of the best bodycheckers of all time is Vladimir Konstantinov, the Red Wing who suffered a near-fatal head injury in a limo accident two years ago. When Vlady took the ice, the opponents were always wary of his presence. His hits are sorely missed.
PETE PALLAS, Muskegon, Mich.
I was disappointed to find Ulf Samuelsson missing from your list of the top 10 body-checkers in the NHL (Check, Please, March 29). Perhaps the game's greatest open-ice hitter, Ulfie has patrolled the blue line for more than a decade, punishing opponents who have their heads down in open ice. He belongs at the top of this list.
JACKSON P. KLEIN, New York City
I was delighted to see Leo Boivin of the Boston Bruins recognized as the top NHL bodychecker of all time. Boivin's classic hip checks helped define the glory days of the six-team NHL as much as the slap shots of Bobby Hull or those sharp elbows wielded by Gordie Howe.
How curious that your March 29 hockey article glorified the "debilitating" power of bodychecking, while your March 22 feature story detailed a sobering incident of physicality gone too far (Less Than Murder). Where do we draw the line between aggressive play and vicious assault?
ALISON BEHR, Newport, R.I.
Studs or Duds
Tom Verducci writes about the importance of having a true No. 1 starring pitcher and selects nine of them who meet his criteria (Aces High, March 29). At the end of the article he mentions their 40-35 record in the postseason. These are supposed to be the best pitchers out there, but they don't come through in the clutch. Give me David Wells and his 8-1 record in the postseason over these pretenders.
BILL PARIETTI, Tualatin, Ore.
Could the 40-35 postseason record be attributable to the fact that No. 1 pitchers are more likely to face opposing No. 1 pitchers in the postseason?
BRUCE G. KLINE, Lander, Wyo.
Verducci states that a pitcher who wins 18 or more games in a season is much more valuable to his team than a hitter with 40 or more home runs. He bases this on the fact that 10 of 11 pitchers qualified for the postseason last year, while only six of 13 sluggers made the playoffs. This difference is primarily the result of what statisticians call selection bias. Since teams qualify for the playoffs on the number of games they win, you can't compare pitchers' wins with sluggers' home runs. A better comparison would be pitchers' wins versus sluggers' game-winning hits, both of which directly relate to the number of games a team wins.
STEPHEN GRANT, Aiken, S.C.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
As a lifelong Dodgers fan I'm happy Kevin Brown got that huge contract (Nasty Stuff, March 29). Now he can afford to pay for the anger-management classes that he so desperately needs.
DENNIS LYON, Sheboygan, Wis.
Having suffered through stories of celebrities becoming jerks once they hit the big time, it's refreshing to read about Brown, whose character and maturity have not been negatively influenced in the process of attaining stardom: Brown was clearly a jerk before making it to the big leagues.
KURT MATTISON, Eau Claire, Wis.