What fun to see Chicago Cubs pitchers Kerry Wood and Mark Prior on the cover (Double Whammy, July 7). These two wonderboys are not only terrific at what they do but also extremely easy on the eyes. Now, if we can only make the playoffs.
The ranking of Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez over Willie Mays as the greatest living player in your 2003 Player Survey (July 7) is discouraging proof that today's major leaguers have no concept of the history of their own game. And this is the sport that gets the majority of its talent from colleges?
TOM McCLURE, Bellmawr, N.J.
I learned all I need to know about the intelligence and level of historical knowledge of today's players when I noticed the omission of Stan Musial from the top six responses to the question about the greatest living player.
PATRICK B. HAYES, Urbana, Ill.
Larry Bowa is the worst manager in the major leagues? I guess we should remember that, according to SI.com, 1.5% of those players also voted for Babe Ruth—who has been dead since 1948—as the greatest living player.
MARY KELCH, West Chester, Pa.
I'm glad Tom Verducci wrote of baseball's vanishing African-Americans (Blackout, July 7), addressing baseball's tenuous future without focusing on multimillion-dollar salaries, performance-enhancing supplements or corked bats. The real problem with our national pastime is that kids now choose to pass time shooting hoops, surfing the net or doing assorted other activities. This is not a race or class issue. All young baseball players are vanishing, not just those of African-American heritage.
MICHAEL HELM, Aliso Viejo, Calif.
Some enterprising G.M. or owner, and I'm looking right at Billy Beane or George Steinbrenner, is going to realize that channeling a little money into the inner cities to develop interest in baseball will soon return a handsome reward.
After your article on the lack of African-American players in baseball, I look forward to an article on the lack of European-Americans in basketball.
I have watched the demise of baseball in my own African-American family. My father loved the game and never missed an Indians Opening Day. I collected baseball cards and as a youth played almost daily, but my 15-year-old son will watch games only if nothing else is on TV. His sport is basketball. As a marketing professional I can see that baseball has left the door open to blacks who want to play or attend games, but I also see the NBA sending a message saying you are cordially and enthusiastically invited.
ROBERT A. BROWN, Oakland
The Bulls are planning on paying Jay Williams his entire $7.7 million, even though he was not injured playing basketball and was riding the motorcycle in violation of a clause in his contract (After the Wreck, July 7)? Please, I know many teachers who have horrible back problems and foot injuries that came from the job but don't qualify for short-or long-term disability because the conditions are considered preexisting. Tell the Bulls to take care of him, yes, but go find a more worthy cause with the rest of that $77 million.
LORI LAI, Orlando
The Young and the Debtless
It amazes me that so many people are eager for 13-year-old Michelle Wie to turn pro (Next Stop: U.S. Open, July 7). I remember reading that 18-year-old LeBron James was too young and immature to handle a pro career. Why is it such a heartwarming event when children who play golf, tennis and participate in gymnastics go for the big money, yet it's always such a tragedy when a young man tries to get paid in the NBA?
WILL JONES, Charlotte