After an ulcerating day at the office, a reader has a legitimate weekly right to expect to settle down to a comfortable breather with SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. However, your February 11 SCORECARD carried an extremely disturbing piece of information. Heartlessly, without even a hint of a warning, you break the news that as a result of the deterioration of the New York Yankee farm system the future of the world champions may be seriously endangered.
After a nightmarish reading of this column, I lapsed into a deep seizure of despondency and depression. After all, is it not preordained that the Yankees must win not only the pennant but the World Series? How can we face diamond life with the Bronx Bombers finishing in second place? This would place an unbearable burden on any real baseball fan. Spare us from any further causes for hysterical weeping.
New York City
It is quite evident that you gentlemen don't know that there has been a change in the farm-system policy of the Yankees since Roy Harney and Ralph Houk took over as general manager and field manager from George Weiss and Casey Stengel. Hamey and Houk both said when they took over these jobs that one of their chief aims was to build up their farm system.
Since that time they have been doing just that. In 1962 their Fort Lauderdale club of the Class D Florida State League won the pennant. The players from this team were signed in the spring and summer of 1961 when Hamey and Houk's new policy was in effect, as it still is today. I'll admit that the 1961 edition of Yankee farm clubs wasn't so great, but that can be excused by the fact that almost all of the talent from these clubs was signed under the old regime.
What happened at Fort Lauderdale is indicative of what is going to happen to the Yankee farm system in the next four years. It usually takes five years to make a poor farm system into an A-1 type of system. By then the present Yankees might be a little old and then there will be some very good replacements to take over.
As one long-suffering fan, I would like to cheer loud and long for the new ruling on baseball's strike zone (SCORECARD, Feb. 4). The basic fabric of baseball has been consistently crumbling. It used to produce many exciting variations of sacrifices, bunts, steals and hit-and-run strategies. Each play was an exciting and breathtaking event, not a long, boring series of cheap 260-foot home runs.
The number of pitchers in modern baseball who can work 300 innings per season is constantly dwindling; and yet such men as Grover Cleveland Alexander, Cy Young, Ed Walsh and others used to work 400 innings in a season. Pitching should be a fine art, not an endless and boring drudgery.
This rule change could be the first of many such changes which would give the game back to the baseball fans of America.
E. ROY ELLINGWORTH
Santa Monica, Calif.
THROUGH A GLASS HIGHLY
The current king-for-a-day pole-vault situation is ridiculous. Instead of generating a contest to find a pole with the best slingshot qualities, let's go back to the aluminum one where an increase of an inch or two in the record was a true reflection of competitive progress.
Bad spills and marred vaults caused by splintering bamboo poles gave a valid reason for switching to aluminum. But no such reason exists for switching to the fiber-glass pole. If the fiber-glass pole can be justified, why can't finger grips for the discus, built-up shoes for the high jump and special-soled track shoes that will give enough bounce to shave 10 seconds off a runner's time for the mile be accepted as well?
F. C. WEIRICH