The marvelous anecdotes about Japanese baseball by Robert Whiting (You Gotta Have "Wa", Sept. 24) were entertaining yet serious enough to offer an important lesson. If athletes and coaches can properly discipline themselves to make a common effort, the team is always a winner. However, I think the strict regulations of Japanese baseball rob the individual of his free-spiritedness, which American sport thrives on. Still, American superstars would do well to humble themselves with this thought: most great players are the result of great teams, not the cause of them.
Bessemer City, N.C.
If the Japanese think the behavior of some of our baseball players is atrocious, imagine what they would think of the carryings-on of some of our coaches or managers, such as Billy Martin, Lefty Driesell, Woody Hayes or Tommy Heinsohn. If deposed Japanese managers are sent to the U.S. to learn how to play baseball, perhaps we could send some of our athletes and managers to Japan to learn respect and how to act in a mature fashion.
The Japanese practice of team unity or wa is weird. Why should a self-respecting jock put good manners and team welfare ahead of his own ego? The old adage—It's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game—was never intended for professional sports. The Japanese pro athlete should put his priorities in order: 1) No. 1, 2) winning or losing, and 3) how you play the game.
PAUL LA BOTZ
Re Oh, the Joys of Losing Fish (Oct. 1), Tred Barta is quoted as saying (after supposedly seeing the light and switching to six-pound-test line for big-game fish): "In our society the only thing that counts is a fish on the dock—results." And referring to his "pre-enlightenment days," he says, "Ha, the Tred Barta of those days would be out there with a harpoon, filling the boat with sharks, to impress the people on the dock."
And what is he doing today? Spending an inordinate amount of time and money losing fish and "spending up to 25 hours a week studying kinetic-energy tables, test strengths, hook designs, reel drags and reel-spool dynamics." So as not to impress the people on the dock? Come on! He is trying to set light-tackle records to impress people on the dock and readers of the IGFA record book.
If Barta really wants to be a sportsman, let him realize fishing is a contemplative and relaxing sport. Let him, like the best big-game anglers today, enjoy the fish for the fight, then tag and release it for migration studies. True fishing is not a competitive sport.
Field & Stream
New York City