The Falcons, on the other hand, seem destined for failure as long as good ol' Rankin is at the helm. While the Braves are in the capable hands of Commodore Ted Turner, the Falcons must suffer Smith's blas� ineptitude and murmur with disbelief as their Sugar Daddy hires the Little General [ Eddie LeBaron, the new general manager] and Leeman Who [ Leeman Bennett, the new head coach]?
The idea of "too many teams too soon" is not believable; it was obvious the city was sports-starved. I have now suffered through many seasons of last-place teams. The fans, white or black, should not be blamed. The blame belongs to the stingy owners and inept front offices. The Braves, for instance, traded Henry Aaron for Dave May. Dave May? The Falcons signed Norb Hecker as their first head coach, over Paul Brown and Vince Lombardi. Norb Hecker? The Hawks' failure to sign David Thompson and Marvin Webster created instant apathy among the fans. The energetic Ted Turner, a good man, will spend money and make worthwhile deals to help turn the city's sports around. It's easy to support a winning team.
Maybe the famous SI jinx will work in reverse this time and we will get a winner.
As a native San Diegan I was shocked to see that Atlanta was your selection for "Losersville, U.S.A." How could you possibly overlook a town with as dismal a sports record as San Diego? The last winning team we had in a major league was the 1969 Chargers, which have since had seven consecutive losing seasons. Our Padres have had a losing record all eight years they have been in the National League, including an unprecedented six straight last-place finishes. And let's not overlook eight consecutive losing seasons in professional basketball—four by the NBA Rockets and four by the ABA Conquistadors/Sails. San Diego has established a fine tradition of losing, so let's give credit where credit is due.
Stan Mikita of the Chicago Black Hawks has been playing in the NHL for 19 seasons. Don't you feel that his 500th goal, against the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 27, is important enough to mention in FOR THE RECORD?
AETNA WORLD CUP
Frank Deford's article on the troubles that the Australians are having in the Aetna World Cup (After the Last Hurrah, a Final Murmur, March 21) mentioned that a change in the format of the tournament is being considered.
As I understand it, the idea of altering the format has arisen because the Australians lost by a score of 7-0 this year. I don't think this fair. The Australians are still ahead 5-3 in the series. The Americans lost four years in a row and that did not bring about a clamor for the format to be changed.
I feel the Australians should be given a couple of years more to see if they can end their losing streak. The World Cup is an event that quite a few people look forward to.
New Canaan, Conn.
What you call the huge success of Bowling for Dollars (Right Up the Viewers' Alley, March 21) can be explained relatively easily here in Baltimore. In the middle of each show, the state's daily three-digit lottery number is drawn out of three huge jars, each containing 10 Ping-Pong balls numbered 0-9. There are 2,000 Marylanders holding tickets, watching to see if their number is drawn. So they won't miss the drawing, they watch Bowling for Dollars from the start, and since by the time the number is drawn all the other 7 to 7:30 shows are half over, they watch it to the end.
Never has an article in Sports Illustrated evoked so many memories as Ron Rau's piece on Herman and his friends (The Day the Pike Put the Move on Herman, Feb. 28). It has been at least 20 years since my father took me spearing for yellow perch near my boyhood home by Saginaw Bay. I read many passages aloud to my wife because I was so excited by the author's remembrances. Some things never change.