I enjoyed your excellent preview of the forthcoming baseball season in the April 13 issue. However, the caption on the cover is incorrect. Instead of reading "The Mets Against the World" it should read "The World Against the Mets." Last season the Mets were against the world. But they have conquered it and are now on top.
How could you possibly pick Houston by using the number of games they won on AstroTurf as the main criterion? You imply that since San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Cincinnati are just getting "rugs," Houston will have an advantage over them. Balk! The other teams have played in Houston and they know what it's like. Also, three of the five parks will not be opening until midseason or later. Most likely, Houston will miss six games in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, possibly more. So the maximum they could play in the East on the new surface is 12 games. In the West, Houston very likely will miss six games in Cincinnati's park. Thus they will only play in 12 rug-surfaced games in the West away from home.
Consequently they will play a maximum of 24 games outside their park on a rug. If you assume that last year's winning percentage at home, 52-29, or .642, will apply to their road games this year, there will be a maximum of 15 more wins on the road. Considering all the psychological and physical barriers a team has to overcome in order to win on the road, a more realistic figure would be five to 10 extra victories. Tack this figure onto last year's record, and they still have only 86 to 91 victories, short of the number needed to win a pennant. You also failed to mention that San Francisco also had a 52-29 home record last year.
It will be a rugged task for Houston to win.
Bowling Green, Ohio
Congratulations on having featured Rico Petrocelli's fielding in your Boston scouting report. Every fan worthy of the name knows Rico hit 40 homers last year—though not everyone knows he was second in the league in slugging, ahead of such heroes as Killebrew, Howard and Powell. But few outside Boston know how superb he can be afield. We take this as your tacit admission (belated, but nonetheless graceful) that you blundered last year in calling what's-his-name from Baltimore the best shortstop in the league.
for The Americo Petrocelli Fan
Club of Western Pennsylvania Pittsburgh
2,302 FEET MAKE 26 MILES
We would like to reassure Hal Higdon that he needn't be disturbed about being beaten in the Boston Marathon by a runner from Tufts University (The Marathon and Me, April 6). Tufts has always been a center for road runners, including marathoners. One of the greatest American marathoners, Ted Vogel, who had to give up the pastime (because of business) long before he came close to his peak, ran for Tufts. As a matter of fact, while he was still a college student at Tufts, Vogel finished second in the marathon and ahead of the Olympic marathon team—this, at what amounts to the age of preadolescence as most marathoners go.
WALTER H. BRENT
Hal Higdon mentioned that anyone falling in the Boston Marathon would feel the weight of 2,304 rubber-soled shoes on his back. In the previous paragraph he had mentioned the fact that there were 1,152 entrants (1,152 x 2 = 2,304; brilliant, Hal). But the fact is that he would not feel the weight of his own feet. So, in correcting his error, I would like to tell Mr. Higdon that he can rest more easily; if he had fallen, only 2,302 feet would have trampled him.
Last month I watched on TV the Jacksonville Open golf tournament at the Hidden Hills CC. The announcer mentioned several times that Hidden Hills was one of the few courses in Florida that has hills. Despite Florida's having a 12-month golf season and a large population, one has to look hard to find any truly great golfers who grew up in that state. How many Florida products have ever won one of the big four titles? Contrast the Florida record with that of Texas or California.
I believe that the failure of Florida-produced golfers to don the mantle of greatness is due mainly to the flat courses prevalent in that state. Through the years all golfing immortals have had to prove themselves repeatedly on hilly fairways. Florida youngsters miss the challenge of learning to play hilly courses. I have a suggestion that might help to remedy the situation.
The American solid-waste-disposal problem has reached nightmare proportions and is rapidly growing worse. I suggest that solid-sanitary-waste hills be started outside Miami and Tampa. They would be completed as hilly golf courses. These courses would be designed and sculpted exactly to the architect's desired contour. In some cases great golf holes of the world could be duplicated as if poured from a matrix. Florida youngsters, developing their game on such courses, would eventually reach the heights of the Texas and California golfing greats.
AUSTIN C. DALEY
Division of Air Pollution Control
State of Rhode Island