It is fast becoming common knowledge that, as a spectator sport, golf has slipped over the past few years—a fact to which the Nielsen ratings attest—and it certainly isn't going to be saved by filling seven pages in SI with self-serving drivel about last year's bland and boring loser! I strongly urge you to leave the golf writing to Dan Jenkins, who always tells it like it is—not how he wishes it was.
DOUGLAS C. JOHNSON
I thought that with Dan Jenkins and Sarah Pileggi you had the finest contemporary golf writers. But Myra Gelband's piece on Ed Sneed and the '79 Masters ranks with the best of Herbert Warren Wind—and maybe even O. B. Keeler.
Cheers to Joe Marshall for his article on the NCAA swimming and diving championships (Making a Real Splash, April 7). Also, a standing ovation for Rowdy Gaines for telling what swimming is all about. It is one of the hardest sports—if not the hardest sport—to train for. My personal experience with pain in swimming workouts only intensifies my respect for the swimmers at the NCAAs. They are all champions.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
While mentioning the outstanding medley relay splits of SMU's Steve Lundquist, Cal's Par Arvidsson and Auburn's Rowdy Gaines. Joe Marshall failed to note that Texas' medley relay team of Clay Britt (50.04), Scott Spann (54.09), William Paulus (47.59) and Kris Kirchner (42.87) won the race in 3:14.59 and set pool, U.S. Open, meet and American records in the process.
Assistant Swim Coach
University of Texas
Joe Marshall and other observers may have found it surprising that the University of California won its second straight NCAA swimming title, but they should have taken into account that Cal has superior coaching—why wasn't Nort Thornton mentioned?—as well as depth. Cal is on the move again in all sports. It's enough to make your staffer, Ron Fimrite, proud (Homecoming, Oct. 22).
WILLIAM D. SOMMER
In an otherwise superb article about the NCAA championships you may have misled some readers by stating that shaving "increases speed by decreasing resistance." As a swimmer, I can assure you that in many cases the drag caused by one's body hair is almost nonexistent. But shaving one's body is nonetheless a smart thing to do, because it tremendously increases one's sensitivity to the water. Increased sensitivity means more efficient muscular action. In the words of Charles E. (Red) Silvia, one of swimming's great coaches, who is now director of the Pine Knoll Swim School in Springfield, Mass., "The quality of sensory input determines the quality of motor output."
Garden City, N.Y.
My congratulations to Ambrose (Rowdy) Gaines for his victories in the NCAA swimming championships. But how about his Auburn teammates buying him an electric razor?
TIMOTHY X. SOKAS
THE NUMBERS GAME
Reed Browning's piece on Career Average Margins (These Numbers Don't Lie, April 7) will start some arguments. To list the "10 Best Hitters" and ignore Ruth, Gehrig, Aaron, Musial, DiMaggio and Mays is to leave out hitting with power, hitting in the clutch and on-base percentages.
What statistic could show superiority more than Ruth's 59 home runs in 1921, 12% of the American League total? Ruth hit "only" .342 compared to Pete Browning's .343. Leave out sacrifices and sacrifice flies and in his career Ruth had 2,873 hits and 2,056 walks in 10,455 appearances at the plate, a phenomenal on-base percentage of .471. Browning had 1,164 hits and 465 walks in 5,250 appearances, an on-base percentage of .310.
Ruth is still No. 1 alltime in slugging percentage (.690), homers per time at bat (one every 11.76) and RBIs per time at bat (one every 3.79). And he's second to Ted Williams in walks (one every 4.09). No list that ignores Ruth, Gehrig and other total hitters can be called the 10 Best.