I read with deep interest and a mixture of emotions Gary Smith's superb account of the fall of Alexis Arguello (Adrift In A Sea Of Choices, Oct. 21). I reacted both as a longtime Arguello fan and as a witness to one of the strange moments Smith describes.
I was a local TV sports reporter at "ringside" for Arguello's impromptu ballroom sparring session with Olympic gold medalist Jerry Page at that fund-raiser here in Columbus. At the outset they were clearly clowning—as evidenced by Arguello's bare feet and tux pants. But within a few seconds Arguello, perhaps reacting to Page's excitement and yells from Page's friends to "take it to the champ," became incredibly intense. Page did not get out of the ring, as Smith says, but he was clearly unnerved by the transformation and began laughing nervously and calling out, "Hey, this guy's serious!" No real punches were ever exchanged, but only when the two finally clinched in the corner and the announcer hastily declared a draw did Arguello's smile return. I remember thinking that it was as if the ring were Arguello's only natural element.
Perhaps Arguello himself has come to that conclusion. It would seem the most likely explanation for his return.
In a sport that has become synonymous with brash arrogance and shameless theatrics, Arguello is indeed a contradiction. I cannot recall when a more selfless and dignified man ever graced a boxing ring. I was deeply moved by your article detailing his painful struggle for peace of mind. I pray that he finds it. That is the least he deserves.
A nicely written piece on a simplistic theme. To view the sum of life as a metaphor may be poetic, but it is hardly practical or accurate. The recurring themes of contradiction and resolution, chair and rope, narrowly deny the variety of experience and choice available to us all. Few of us live our lives according to a grand design, and when we try we only delude ourselves. I would have to say that it is past time for Arguello to put down his dreams, grow into manhood and get on with his life.
TOM L. GIBSON
La Jolla, Calif.
I wholeheartedly agree with Jim Kaplan's sidebar that the best umpires should be used in baseball's playoffs and World Series (By George, The Jays Are Some Tough Birds, Oct. 21). In the NHL, the best referees and linesmen work the Stanley Cup playoffs. In the NFL, the best officiating crews get postseason assignments. The same holds true for the best officials in basketball and boxing, and it should be the case in baseball. Experience and rotation systems should not be factors in playoff assignments—they have nothing to do with quality, which is what counts. Let the umps earn their way into the postseason.
Kudos to Franz Lidz for his work on LeRoy Neiman ( LeRoy, You're A Real Piece Of Work, Oct. 21). Before recently moving into an apartment, I knew the new surroundings would not be complete without one of Neiman's lithos. They add a mark of distinction that art critics seemingly and stubbornly cannot admit to. It is the critics' loss.
MARK A. SINDLER
A plague on the snobbish art experts whose quoted criticisms of LeRoy Neiman's remarkable paintings seem to evince pangs of envy. Neiman's versatility is exemplified by the subject matter of his excitingly lifelike paintings, which range from a day at the races to a night at the opera.
Silver Spring, Md.
PICKING ON HECHT
Henry Hecht listed his candidates for National League MVP (INSIDE PITCH, Oct. 14), but he left out the real MVP, Dave Parker of the Cincinnati Reds. Parker had a fantastic year, batting .312 with 34 home runs and 125 runs batted in.
Come on! How could Hecht have picked Willie McGee for National League MVP over Dwight Gooden? The Cardinals would have done just fine without McGee. But the Mets without Gooden? I hate to even think about it!