Austin Murphy's College Football Shakeout (Oct. 20) captures the innocent pageantry that still exists in what is becoming a big-business sport. In the end college football is still about young men, most of whom are playing for nothing more than the glory of the game itself, performing in front of fans, young and old, who often feel a kinship to the team that is closer than the one they feel for a professional franchise. You are not, for example, a Sooners fan; you are a Sooner. Florida State will never threaten to move to Los Angeles if it does not get a palatial new stadium. It is, mostly, just about football.
STEVEN D. LEACH, Phoenix
The entire Boston Red Sox organization and all their fans should be thoroughly disgusted and ashamed of the way Pedro Martinez and Manny Ramirez conducted themselves in Game 3 of the ALCS against the New York Yankees (Baseball Gets Rowdy, Oct. 20). The Red Sox owe the baseball world an apology, yet all they want is sympathy. The only curse on the Red Sox is the Red Sox themselves.
KIM NAPOLI, Clay, N.Y.
Tom Verducci wrote that Martinez's reputation would be besmirched for allegedly throwing at Karim Garcia. Do you mean besmirched like Roger Clemens's reputation for sending Mike Piazza to the hospital? Or besmirched like Clemens's reputation for throwing a broken bat at Piazza? Or like Clemens's reputation for melting down on the mound in the 1990 playoffs? I can't feel any sympathy for anything that happens to a team with Clemens, the game's premier headhunter, in its starting rotation.
JOHN W. ROYAL WEBSTER, Texas
You spend an entire page on how Pedro Martinez's reputation has been damaged, yet you only used one paragraph on the real villain of Game 3, Don Zimmer. Don't tell me a 72-year-old man can't control his emotions. Zimmer should have been fined as much as, if not more than, Martinez. It was his reputation that was lost that day.
LOUIS SEARS, Ithaca, N.Y.
The Real Winners
After reading Rick Reilly's Worth the Wait (THE LIFE OF REILLY, Oct. 20), I had my wife, my parents and—most important—my 11-year-old daughter, Caitlin, read it too. Caitlin is a sixth-grader who, like Ben Comen, gets A's and B's (mostly A's, she pointed out after reading the column). She also has cerebral palsy that affects her left side. I've never seen Ben run, but I can imagine the inspiration he provides. Every Saturday for the past three years Caitlin and her little sister, Andrea, have gone to swimming lessons. Andrea is excellent with a near flawless stroke and has progressed to the highest level. Caitlin's stroke, as you can imagine, is far from flawless, and her kick is so weak she barely moves through the water. Sometimes the instructor has to give her a little push to get her moving, but Caitlin never stops kicking. Deep down I've been expecting her to get frustrated with her lack of progress and quit. I now realize she may not, and I'm glad. Kids like Ben remind us that winners are not just the ones who finish first.
DREW WILSON, Pittsburgh
Less Robe and more Comen.
HUNTER REID, Greenville, S.C.
Like Ben Comen, I have cerebral palsy. Unlike Ben, I am unable to walk, so I use a wheelchair to get around. I would like to make a clarification, if I may. Cerebral palsy is not a disease, it is a condition. The article stated that Ben wants to go to college to become a doctor. I am a junior in college myself, so I have no doubt that Ben will go to college and pursue his dream.
KATIE MARTIN, Millersville, Pa.
What the heck are you guys doing to the world of sports? I read SI to get my weekly fill of spoiled, cheating, lawbreaking, drug-taking, self-absorbed athletes. So what do I get instead? First Steve Rushin enlightens and inspires me with his story about disabled golfers (AIR AND SPACE, Sept. 22), then Reilly brings tears to my eyes and makes me stand and cheer with his story about a track athlete with cerebral palsy. You'd better be careful. Any more stories like these and you are liable to give sports a good name.
STEVE FELD, Englewood, Colo.
A Face in the Crowd
I was glancing at the picture of the Bleacher Bums celebrating the Chicago Cubs' Central Division title (LEADING OFF, Oct. 6) when the unmistakable glare of wire-rimmed glasses caught my attention. The outstretched hand, the pulled-down ball cap, the Notre Dame sweatshirt...it's none other than Steve Bartman, the fan who interfered with the ball in the eighth inning of NLCS Game 6. Little did he suspect that his 15 seconds of fame would extend into the following fateful week. And little did SI or your readers know that even fans cannot escape the dreaded SI jinx.
STACY JANICKI, St. Paul