It was refreshing to read the quote from Mark Duncan in "They Said It": " Ohio State is...so good this year they could even finish third or fourth in the Big Eight" (SCORECARD, Oct. 22). Ohio State and Michigan play a one-game schedule—each other—and the winner travels to the Rose Bowl to be beaten by the Pacific Eight champion. Over the past 10 years the very best Big Ten team would have been hard pressed to crack the top three in the Big Eight or the top two in the Pacific Eight.
It is difficult for anything but an exceptional Big Eight team to win a national championship because of the rigors of Big Eight schedules, whereas teams from the Big Ten (and Notre Dame) play nonentities most of the year, although the rest of the country doesn't find out until the bowl games that they are second-rate. Last year's Notre Dame team speaks for itself. It was ranked high in the polls all year, yet played essentially a three-game schedule; a so-so Missouri team beat it, Southern California trounced it and Nebraska embarrassed it 40-6. If it were not for the Big Ten-Notre Dame myth (perhaps a fond reminiscence from their youth for most pollsters), the rankings of these schools in the national polls would reflect their weak schedules, and like Arizona State, which wins every week playing nobodies, Ohio State and Michigan would properly be ranked in the second 10.
Come on, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, drop your phony veneer about "sportsmanship." I have been reading your magazine for two years now, and inconsistencies keep cropping up. In SCORECARD you tell us about the terrible behavior of Met fans, the shocking morals of certain baseball pitchers, the greed of team owners, etc., etc. Tsk, tsk. And yet, scattered throughout your articles we see evidence of a disease we all seem susceptible to—i.e., the belief that superstars can do no wrong. Written lightly and with a touch of humor, your Oct. 22 article on Bobby Clarke (The Flyer from Flin Flon) tells of his rescuing Team Canada from Russia by deliberately taking out the Soviets' best player. "It's not something I was really proud of, but I honestly can't say I was ashamed to do it," says good of Bobby. He also did a great job of lip service about overpaid athletes. Unfortunately it sounded as though he was saying, "O.K., now that Eve got my million, you other guys stop being so greedy."
Sport is all business now, and the superstars of the major sports are no more classy than the stars of the Soap Box Derby. Sportsmanship is an endangered commodity, and what is left of it seems to apply only to some people and not to others.
Grant Park, Ill.
The criticism of the Met fans and management in your Oct. 22 SCORECARD ("Metsomania Is Such Fun") smacks of the same lack of responsibility that you charge was shown by the "vulgar and brutal" fans of New York. In your efforts to present a stimulating column you have ignored some of the more compelling facts of the case. The behavior of the Met fans toward Pete Rose was a reaction to what they had seen on the baseball field. It seems to me quite a perversion of justice that Bowie Kuhn, a man who did not hesitate earlier in the season to entangle himself in the private affairs of two other New York ballplayers, would remain silent this time about the behavior of professionals on the field. Perhaps one might argue that the scene on the field was merely the natural emotional reaction of athletes under pressure. Recall, however, that these men are professionals and are, in a sense, responsible to the fans, who expect them to behave in a reasonable way. Then again, with professionals like Sparky Anderson, M. Donald Grant and Bowie Kuhn running the show, I guess the people of New York are getting what they deserve.
After reading "Metsomania Is Such Fun" I hope that the conduct of Met fans on Oct. 17 will receive the same amount of coverage. That night Rusty Staub was 4 for 4 with five RBIs, and Jon Matlack allowed no earned runs. Yet the biggest hand of the evening went to Oakland's Mike Andrews. He received not only one, but two standing ovations.
I am not condoning the actions that some Met fans directed at Pete Rose. I agree that it was disgusting and uncalled-for and deserved condemnation. Yet those who threw garbage and shouted obscenities were in the minority. Those who cheered for Mike Andrews were not. Please let the rest of the nation know that Met fans have another side.
Franklin Square, N.Y.
I have just finished reading the story on Charlie Justice by Ron Fimrite (A Long Locomotive for Choo Choo
, Oct. 15), and I must compliment you for printing such an inspiring article about one of the nation's truly remarkable men. If only the daily newspapers could print something like this occasionally, young people might be able to see both sides for a change, and probably they would be impressed in a positive manner.
GEORGE ROBERT FARRIS
West Hartford, Conn.
My cheers are still ringing for Ron Fimrite. What a marvelous writer! What a sensitive, exciting, nostalgic, romantic tale of a folk hero of my time.
Your article on Charlie ( Choo Choo) Justice was beautiful. I only wish I had been born in time to see him run for Carolina.