As a Dodgers fan, all I can say is that I can't believe we gave the big guy away. SI, you are right. Mike Piazza is the Man!
—CASSANDRA PETERSON, Las Vegas
Musing about Mike
Naming Mike Piazza "the greatest hitting catcher" does him a disservice (Catch This, Aug. 21). Despite Piazza's playing the most taxing defensive position, being slow afoot and being a member of two teams with pitcher-friendly parks, his lifetime slugging average is seventh among all batters, and he's the only righthanded hitter in history who can claim a career .325-plus average, 40 home runs and 125-plus RBIs per 162 games played (.328,40,128). Only one lefthanded batter can make the same claim. His name was Ruth.
RICK WEAVER, Calabasas, Calif.
In no way do I wish to diminish the achievements of Piazza. But I was disappointed, in light of your recent piece on Josh Gibson, that he wasn't mentioned.
MARSHALL AUERBACK, Fernhurst, England
Piazza is a great hitter, but over the past 2� years Ivan Rodriguez has been his equal in batting. Rodriguez is also one of the best fielding catchers of all time, while Piazza is one of the worst. No one would take Piazza over Rodriguez. As catchers go, Rodriguez is the Man.
DAVID BARNHILL, Kernersville, N.C.
Last year you proclaimed the Mets' infield to be one of the greatest defensive units of all time. Now Piazza is the greatest hitting catcher of all time. Pardon me, but did I miss all those World Series victories that must have accompanied all this greatness?
PETER RAYNO, Salem, N.H.
Thank you for William Nack's article on Jerry Manuel, manager of our Chicago White Sox (Manuel Dexterity, Aug. 21). Chicago sports-writers are always ready to pounce and criticize with what they consider tremendous wit, but even they have shown a healthy respect for Manuel.
NANCY R. GIER, Wheaton, Ill.
Rival Points of View
Thanks for validating what I have been telling friends for years: Tyrone Willingham is the best young coach in football (Big Man on Campus, Aug. 21). As a USC alumnus, it kills me to admit that the best coach in the Pac-10 is at Stanford, but the record that Willingham has established at the Farm, which is not routinely blessed with blue-chip athletes, shows he is getting the best out of his players. On behalf of all the other Pac-10 schools, I beseech the NFL to take this coach, please.
EDDY SATO, Playa del Rey, Calif.
As a Cal alumnus, I've learned to put up with incessant claims of Stanford's alleged academic and athletic superiority. So I couldn't help but chuckle at the blackboard pictured in the story on Willingham. Someone had written the inspirational message UCLA YOUR NEXT on it. Perhaps a little more time in the classroom and a little less on the gridiron might revitalize the Stanford learning experience.
JAMES DEVITT, Larchmont, N.Y.
I laughed while reading Steve Rushin's What's It All About? article in your Aug. 21 issue (AIR AND SPACE). How many times have we heard an athlete say, "It isn't about the money," while stuffing some ink-not-quite-dry, quadrillion-dollar contract in his back pocket? Of course it's about the money. Rushin's point was driven home when I got to page 83 and read Sammy Sosa's reaction after hearing of Chipper Jones's $90 million contract extension: "My value is going to go way up, seeing the way they took care of Chipper." Hey, Sammy! I thought it wasn't about the money.
TRACEY L. MILLER, Grand Blanc, Mich.
Your description of George W. Bush's athletic background is incomplete (SCORECARD, Aug. 21). George (top row, center) was a member of Yale's First XV rugby side in the spring of 1968, an eclectic group of talented athletes drawn from a number of sports backgrounds in the U.S. and abroad. George served his alma mater with distinction and contributed to a dramatic victory that year over a strong Harvard side, among others. George creatively redefined the fullback position by serving concurrently as center fielder, free safety and cheerleader, and as usual he achieved consensus.
BRITTON WARD KOLAR, Lake Geneva, Wis.