The Yankees "destined for third" behind the Brewers and Orioles (Scouting Reports, April 13)? William Nack must be joking. How can a team that wins 103 regular-season games and adds Dave Winfield and Jerry Mumphrey to the lineup not be given a chance by SI to win the American League East? You can bet that once October rolls around and the Yanks are No. 1 again, you'll be hearing from me.
William Nack (who's he?) says, " New York's most pressing problem could develop at catcher." He's worried that Rick Cerone will tire early in 1981 after a long season last year. Sure, Rick caught 147 games last year, but Johnny Bench and others have done as much several times. Face it, Cerone was the most consistent catcher in the American League last summer.
The Yankees third? Never! And how can you question Ron Guidry, who won 17 games in 1980 and has had one of the best winning percentages in the majors the past three years, yet see promise in Milwaukee's Mike Caldwell, who won only 13 games in 1980 and is definitely on a steeper downslide than Louisiana Lightning?
A picture certainly can be worth a thousand words. The photographs accompanying the article on managers (He's Hired to Be Fired, April 13) spoke volumes. The forlorn gaze of Billy Martin told the story of his trials and tribulations as manager of the Twins, Tigers Rangers, Yankees, the Yanks again and now the A's. The shot of a clowning Tommy Lasorda typified the country club atmosphere of the L.A. ( Hollywood) Dodgers. The topper, however, was the picture of the relaxed and confident skipper of the Baltimore Orioles. I imagine that a career winning percentage of .599, which Earl Weaver has for his 12� seasons with the Orioles, can do that for a manager.
On the last page of his fine article about major league managers, Ron Fimrite made the statement that only six of the 26 current skippers might be called first-rate major league players—Frank Robinson, Frank Howard, Billy Martin, Joe Torre, Bill Virdon and Jim Fregosi. Error on Fimrite for trying to throw out Maury Wills.
Steve Wulf's article Tricks of the Trade (April 13) brought back a flood of memories of the days when, as youths, my friends and I sat at the knees of older ballplayers and listened with awe to similar tales of baseball shenanigans. We even dared to experiment with some of the tricks. While you recounted most of them, you overlooked one that can negate some of the hitting-power differences so apparent in the early teens. By heating or freezing a baseball one can adjust its elasticity and thus the distance it can be hit. Another trick learned from a former major-leaguer is to bake rosin on the bat to increase friction on the hitting surface.
Although these tricks have no ethical place in amateur or professional baseball, they certainly contribute to a more scientific approach to the game and to the already rich lore surrounding it.
North Mankato, Minn.
As Steve Wulf noted toward the end of the article, chicanery and baseball have gone hand in hand for a long time. In fact, in his book, The Americans: A Social History of the United States 1587-1914, J.C. Furnas suggests that baseball may have become widely popular in its infancy after the Civil War at least partly because its "moral aspects" approximated those of the developing Gilded Age. Furnas says, "Few other team sports so openly assume that any player in his right mind will consistently take all possible unfair advantage and break any rule when there is a chance of impunity.... The atmosphere of a baseball game accepts the stacking of all decks—pretty much the atmosphere of Wall Street c. 1870."
Baseball players are warned from early childhood of the dangers of the hidden ball, yet only two weeks ago Oakland successfully pulled it off against Minnesota. To me, this is one of the game's charms, though an embarrassing one to the victim. I still remember the agony of an incautious stroll off first in an American Legion game some 25 years ago.
ALAN R. MULNIX
Falls Church, Va.
It was with a smile that I read Ray Kennedy's article on Gerry Faust (The Irish Have Flipped Over Faust, April 13). As a trainer for Coach Faust for two years at Cincinnati's Moeller High School, I have long had Faust fever. Faust instilled in me a belief and a work ethic that have carried me through college and into my business career. Now the time has come for the whole country to watch him in action. Those of us who know him are certain he will succeed at Notre Dame. A new legend has begun.
STEPHEN J. BYRNES
Corona del Mar, Calif.