Being an avid fan of the sports page, and especially of your excellent writers, I have noticed a slight hitch in their swings that is leading to a number of strikeouts. I would hate to see some of your stars be farmed out when I think we may have caught it early enough.

When Tony Kornheiser was up at the plate on May 20 writing about summer football, he fouled off a number of tough pitches but then -- "Whiff" -- he said the Capital Centre was a 500-mile drive! Where does he live? We are, after all, about four miles from the D.C. line and it probably takes less time to drive here from anywhere in the area than to "zip" to RFK on a Redskins Sunday. Well, Tony is a good player and I'm sure he will stop swinging at low balls.

Then there was Michael Wilbon back in March. Bottom of the ninth, at home with thousands of screaming fans, and he is thrown a knuckleball, a slooooow knuckler. Instead of hanging in there, he turns to the fans and asks, "Have you found a restaurant other than a Roy Rogers within 20 miles of Capital Centre?" and, "Has anyone who has attended the ACC tournament had a decent meal or stayed in a first-class hotel?" Strike three, I say! Throw the bum out!

I say put them both on the disabled list and send them to Prince George's County for rehabilitation. I'd send them to "Dr. Hilton," first class and 10 minutes from here (20 minutes from downtown). In fact, I'll buy them both lunch if they can find their way. And on the way, we will pass a number of excellent restaurants and still not travel 20 miles, round trip, from downtown!

Now, instead of picking on Capital Centre or this area, let's put our energy into bringing baseball back to D.C. Lance W. Billingsley Chairman of the Board Prince George's County Economic Development Corp. Adelphi

Parking Problems

The first Kemper at Avenel is now history. A lot of effort went into the tournament. The marshals and other volunteers were polite and did their jobs splendidly. The course was obviously immature but has real possibilities. The crowds were unbelievably large and generally very knowledgeable and appreciative of the good play. Now, for some observations on the recently concluded Kemper and golf, in general:

The parking situation for general admission ticket holders was terrible. I don't know why one has to pay to park to start with, and I really don't know why one has to pay $5 to park in a pasture that tears up your car, then have to walk a country mile to the clubhouse and practice area. The so-called shuttle service was a laugh. Moreover, the road system to the clubhouse is okay for normal traffic, but not for tournament crowds, which is why I thought they built the course.

The PGA Tour is creating a number of subtle classes. The first being the workhorse "grounds and pavilion" lucky person who gets to pay an extra $10 a day for the privilege of buying an overpriced lunch. Then we have "clubhouse" privileges and various patron and sponsor categories. Then, at the TPC event, we have the corporate presence and the "corporate guest" who can visit one of the tents lining the 18th green. I'm not too sure for whose benefit all this is being done. The players don't seem too overjoyed with the trend toward specially designed courses (read real estate developments) and various appeals to snobbery. Ross Peeler Alexandria

One at a Time

Is Mr. Beyer really that bad of a turf historian? In correction of his June 2 column in which he stated Man o' War did not win the Triple Crown because two races were run on the same day:

Man o' War could have run in all three Triple Crown races. No two of the classics were run within a week of each other in 1920. The Kentucky Derby was run May 8, the Preakness May 18 and the Belmont on June 12.

Man o' War did not run in the Derby for two reasons -- Glen Riddle, his owner, did not place any great significance in the Derby and, more importantly, he believed the first week in May was too soon to ask a 3-year-old to run a mile and a quarter.

There can never be any doubt that Man o' War could have won the Triple Crown. He did the two next best things -- he sired a Triple Crown winner (War Admiral, 1937), and he beat Sir Barton, Triple Crown winner in 1919, in a match race. Susan Bleistein Springfield

Sci-Fi Section

When one hails from Detroit, one becomes accustomed to a seemingly universal disrespect and unreal attitude regarding the Motor City and its inhabitants, be they athletes or regular citizens. Unfortunately, I remain somewhat disbelieving after reading Thomas Boswell's recent diatribe against the Detroit Pistons, "Arrogant Celtics Conquer Injuries for a Title Run" (May 23).

I have been a fan of Boswell's writings for years, especially his insights into baseball. I have passed along Boswell's books to an English teacher for instruction in his class. But when Boswell, succumbing to his own arrogance and pretentiousness, writes, ". . . there's Dennis Johnson, who, I think, is as good as {Isiah} Thomas . . ." then it is time to label Boswell a writer of science fiction. Timothy M. Breen Hyattsville

Missing the Zone

Richard Justice's article analyzing major league baseball's explosion in home runs and other offensive statistics in my view ignores the biggest factor -- the reduction of the strike zone to a small fraction of what it once was and still should be. Back in the 1960s, when Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, et al, were establishing pitching standards, the zone extended from the shoulders to the knees. At the end of this period, it was changed to chest-to-knees; a modest-enough alteration.

Under the current rules, a pitch at the waist is still well within the strike zone. However, not an umpire in the game today will call such a pitch a strike. The zone, instead, tends to vary from knees-to-groin to knees-to-thighs, depending on the umpire. What the new de facto zone creates is situations in which (a) pitchers fall behind on counts despite sequences of pitches technically in the strike zone or (b) pitchers, fearful of falling behind in the count, are regularly placing the ball in the miniscule zone in which batters have every reason to expect the pitch. Both cases result in easier pitches for batters to hit.

I suggest that rather than continue to offend our sensibilities, baseball alter its rules to reflect the way its bosses apparently are insisting it be called. However, I don't anticipate they'll in fact "come out of the closet," for to do so, I imagine, would, in their minds, be to admit that what we're actually seeing is but a corrupted mutation of the national pastime, engineered expressly to enhance offensive output.

Baseball is not alone among our sports in this mania to legislate offense. By allowing offensive linemen to push, the NFL has given its Dan Marinos and Dan Foutses the requsite additional pocket time to make a mockery of passing records. Ironically, while this change was implemented to reduce quarterback injuries, their frequency has continued to increase, and the number of sacks has not diminished. The sacks are still occurring, but after five seconds rather than three, administered most often by outside linebackers and defensive ends, who take more circuitous routes and are thus more apt to deliver blind-side hits.

In the NBA, new illegal defense rules, combined with its officials' conspiratorial eschewal of the charge call, allows players such as Michael Jordan to romp to the basket.

Some of the biggest losers in all this are the sports fans, who, by definition, wish to see sporting events and not "entertainment" spectacles contrived for the purpose of ensuring ever-bigger numbers on scoreboards. Charles Lewis Washington, D.C.

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