I was fascinated by the article on Billy Wagner, but what does his upbringing have to do with his 100 mph fastball?
—JERRY SCHWARTZ, Chamblee, Ga.
While a case can be made that Andre Agassi deserves the top ranking for 1999, S.L. Price's assertion that "he's the best player in the world" seems ridiculous (Father Knew Best, Sept. 20). Did he forget that a healthy Pete Sampras beat Agassi every time this summer, including a 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 Wimbledon-final wipeout?
KEN KUNZE, Vista, Calif.
Without Venus Williams's tiring out Martina Hingis in the semis, I don't believe Serena could have won. Don't cry, Venus. It's your win too.
BOB NEELD, Williston, Vt.
Mediocrity on the Mound
Your article on the bullpen boom (The Pen Is Mightier, Sept. 20) raises a question: Why not limit the number of pitching changes during a game, with exceptions for injuries? It would speed up the game, enhance the importance of strategy and shift the emphasis back to the pitcher's endurance and athleticism. Best of all, it would mitigate the travesty of the DH rule by forcing American League managers to make tough decisions about pitching changes again.
Santa Barbara, Calif.
Texas pitching coach Dick Bosman says, "You need more reinforcements now because of all the offense." The truth is that the offense is the result of the mediocre pitchers now in the game because of expansion and the use of five-man instead of four-man rotations.
THOMAS N. LONGSTRETH, Baltimore
Little Big Men
I was shocked to see that your Top 10 Little Guys list did not include Troy Walters of Stanford (INSIDE COLLEGE FOOTBALL, Sept. 20). Walters, a senior who is generously listed at 5'8" and 175 pounds, is on the verge of breaking the Pac-10 career receptions record and has already broken the career receiving yardage record. He has been All- Pac-10 twice.
STEPHEN ALLAN, Point Reyes, Calif.
I nominate University of Wisconsin sophomore wide receiver Nick Davis. In his first seven games for the Badgers this season the 5'10", 177-pound Davis returned 15 punts for 215 yards and a touchdown, and 10 kickoffs for 218 yards and a touchdown, while catching 17 passes for 329 yards. As a freshman, Davis led the Big Ten in punt returns in 1998 and was third nationally.
MIKE MORGAN, Milwaukee
One Tough Cookie
Congratulations to Michael Bamberger for his terrific story on Houston Astros relief pitcher Billy Wagner (Astro Physics, Sept. 20). Wagner has continually overcome adversity that would crumble many of today's youth and, sadly, far too many baby boomers. He never really had Daddy in the bullpen when times got tough, but instead of caving in and whining, he dug in, using any method to survive and to subsequently flourish. Thank God for heroes like the Lamies, who deserve a big league save themselves.
JOHNNY WILSON, Bristol, Va.
My wife and I were at the Diamondbacks-Astros game when Wagner was carried off the field from the pitcher's mound after he was struck by that line drive hit by Kelly Stinnett. After reading your story, I thought that was probably one of the least traumatic things that has happened in his life.
BRUCE WHITEHEAD, Tempe, Ariz.
Your SCORECARD item entitled Hot Dam should have read Dirty Pool (Sept. 20). We are led to the point of drooling over "the Super Bowl of Whitewater," but then we're never told where the Gauley River or the Summersville Dam is located.
WALT SCHLIPP, Santa Rosa, Calif.