What is the problem with having a boxing scoreboard?If the home team in baseball is behind by one run going into the last of the ninth inning, the excitement is heightened -- and we know the score; if a tennis player has to hold his serve to win in the last game of a long match, the suspense is great -- and we know the score.
Why, in boxing, should we not know the score by rounds and points by judges or referee? Why do we have to wait until the contest is over, unlike most other sports, before we know the result?
As a sport, boxing is now badly fragmented and beset with many problems. Would not a scoreboard, by reason of innovation alone, give boxing a boost? Bill Fitzgerald Bethesda
No Vote for Fans
The voting for baseball's all-star teams is a farce because it is done by the fans and because the starting teams are decided by the vote totals. The voting should be taken away from the fans and returned to the players for two reasons.
First, the fans are generally not knowledgeable enough to determine which players are having the type of year that merits selection to an all-star team. They will vote for names that are recognizable, regardless of whether those players are having an off year (or if they are even playing), and ignore new players. A perfect case is Mark McGwire, the sensational rookie first baseman who was not among the top 10 vote-getters despite 33 home runs.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, the fans are not honest. If each fan voted once and only once for one player at each and every position, the vote totals would be meaningful, even if they did not put the most deserving players in the starting lineup.
In reality, however, fans vote for a few players several times. I have witnessed fans in the stands with a stack of 30 to 40 ballots, punching out the holes for as few as three players in each card.
It is time for the sportswriters, players and managers to work toward making selection to the all-star team a decision of one's peers. David A. Eberly Burke
Agent Account Rang True
Bill Brubaker's story, "The Rise and Gall of Secret Agents Walters and Bloom," on June 21 provided readers with a candid insight into the high-stakes gambling that regularly goes on in the sports agency business.
While it would be easy to make scapegoats of Walters and Bloom, the issues presented are longstanding and no comprehensive solution is in sight.
During the mid-1970s, I represented a number of professional football and basketball players at a time when increased television revenues and the emergence of strong players unions resulted in a dramatic increase in player salaries and signing bonuses.
These same circumstances have combined to create very high stakes and intense competition among agents for blue chip athletes -- the vast majority of whom have been subjected to recruiting and its attendant inducements since junior high school.
Twenty years ago, no one thought twice if an athletic booster offered that week's collegiate hero $20 and the suggestion that he take his girl out to dinner after the game. Today, a variety of interested parties, including coaches, are regularly providing large sums of money as "loans" or "advances" on professional contracts and endorsements, and opportunistic athletes have realized that they can play both ends against the middle.
I well remember being told by a Heisman Trophy winner more than a decade ago of how, while at college, he had received money for several years from several prospective agents, all of whom thought that their "investment" would result in a substantial return after the player signed a professional contract. Not only were some agents disappointed, they were left with no remedy as a practical matter, for if they publicized their claim, they would be conceding that they violated NCAA rules and become persona non grata.
During the NBA/ABA signing wars of the mid-1970s, a small mid-Atlantic college not noted for its basketball success either before or since, had a blue-chip player. The only access to him was through his coach. By the next school year, the player was a pro and the coach was driving a new imported luxury automobile that cost approximately as much as he made in a year of coaching.
In less than a week of all-star basketball games in 1980, one outstanding player reportedly signed with no fewer than three agents in order to benefit from offered "advances" and "loans."
Notwithstanding recent efforts made by certain players unions to certify and oversee agent qualifications and conduct, and heightened sensitivity exhibited by the NCAA and various universities, so long as the stakes remain high, these abuses will persist.
One need only look to the cyclical breast-beating that goes on in other high-stakes aspects of American life -- for example, politics and business -- to realize that as long as there is a significant incentive to bend or break the rules, the rules will continue to be bent and broken. John Perazich Washington
Feinstein on Money
Unbelievable. After stumbling upon an outrageous collection of ideas guised as an article in the Readers Forum section the other day (July 12), I, like the outspoken author of the work, am encouraged to speak out. The author of "They're Players, Not Entertainers" was quick to draw, but a poor shot in the end.
First, his ambush of John Feinstein's opinion on the current monotony of professional tennis was as inaccurate as his noncompliance with Feinstein's solution. Tennis is teetering on the edge of boredom, at least on the men's side, and the introduction of wild bandannas and volatile personalities is most welcome, as signaled by the universal plea for John McEnroe's return and sorrow over the age-exhaustion of Jimmy Connors. Pat Cash may very well be a spark to set the tennis world ablaze again.
Second, the Washington resident narrowed in on Feinstein's remarks on Cash's personality and rudely ignored his notes on the young Aussie's apparent tennis merit. Feinstein named Cash a possible tennis great on grounds other than Cash's impulse to climb over the people in the gallery to hug his friends and relatives (though it was worth extra roars from the All England stands and often stuffy Royal Box). The staff writer understood the insignificance of the emotional lark and, furthermore, I recall the mention of certain skill-related achievements: Cash was a U.S. Open semifinalist at 19 and dropped just one set at Wimbledon this year en route to his title. No, Feinstein was acclaiming the Aussie on his ability as well as appeal. Certain readers should read more carefully.
And third, then, the response writer named himself a "tennis buff," but, by my definition of the term, seemed unqualified to do so. He insisted Cash is a "flash in the pan." Did someone forget Cash was a semifinalist only three years ago at both the Wimbledon and the U.S. Open championships? Did someone forget the Aussie's run to last year's Wimbledon quarterfinal round (amid the recovery from a 17-day-old appendectomy)? Did someone forget how casually the second-, third- and seventh-seeded players were embarrassed in straight sets by Cash at this year's Wimbledon or how the man is 3-0 against the third-ranked player in the world at that same All England championship? Did someone also forget about his 2-0 record against Ivan Lendl in Grand Slam events this year or how Cash has reached the finals in two out of the three Grand Slam events of 1987? Apparently someone did, and that someone ought not misname himself a tennis buff, for Cash is more likely for real than not.
Feinstein's July 7 article was concerned with the need of the tennis world for a whiff of fresh talent, claiming Pat Cash perhaps to be that talent. I agree with him and wonder why such a cross and unsupported review arose against him. Christopher J. Chapman Washington
Orioles in Review
It's surely about time that a serious review of the Baltimore Orioles situation should be firmly addressed.
There can be absolutely no dispute that the overwhelming burden of several long-term contracts are the primary cause of the Orioles' complete collapse.
Let's look at it realistically.
Paying such exorbitant sums to nonproductive performers has to be the root of most of the evils. Plus the negative effect from younger players producing and not being compensated accordingly.
1. Alan Wiggins -- So much more minus than plus.
2. Lee Lacy -- Why? Why? Why? Ad infinitum.
4. Flanagan -- Living on the theory that "We've got it made." No incentive.
5. Eddie Murray -- The most grievous mistake: granting a salary that makes this no-more-than-average ballplayer virtually untradeable! Who would want him at that price? No one. William R. Mangels Madison, Va.
Umpires Are to Blame
Shirley Povich's July 9 column, "Rabbit Ball is Breeding Cheap Thrills," explains this years unmatched home run barrage by placing full blame on the "lively ball." I don't agree. The principal culprits are the umpires who, with few exceptions, have robbed pitchers of the strike zone. Restoration of the strike zone is crucial if baseball is to return to normal.
While the "lively ball" issue (which is not new) may be open to continuing debate, there is no dispute about the clarity of baseball's latest statistic.
I refer again to a July 9 item, this one entitled "1987 Brawls." It's a 14-brawl list that includes the date, the teams, the individuals ejected and a brief account of the incident. The "lively ball" may be a myth, but the "lively fist" is here for sure. All but two of the episodes involved beanball allegations, which are symptomatic of pitchers who suffer from terminal frustration. Record assaults on the ball and on the person are each aberrations that (in my view) relate directly to the current strike zone, if anyone can find it. I say, somewhat reluctantly, "give pitchers a 'fighting' chance." Alan D. Mason Bethesda
The article headlined, "Start By Firing Wiggins, Lacy" (June 26) by Thomas Boswell was the most offensive, insensitive piece of journalism I have ever read in your sports pages. Boswell recommending that the Orioles fire Alan Wiggins and Lee Lacy strikes me as inappropriately unfair and cruel. Taking away a person's means of supporting his family and himself is a very drastic measure.
I am a big Orioles fan and am just as upset as anybody with the way their season is going. I agree that Wiggins and Lacy have not been as productive as they need to be for the Orioles to win consistently. But writing that people should be fired is not going to help the Orioles improve their season. It is not going to help sell newspapers. The only purpose the article serves is to help destroy the players' confidence in themselves and the readers' confidence in the team. Once the readers lose confidence in the team, they will not be reading the sports pages.
There are more positive ways of dealing with mediocre performances than firing employes. For Wiggins and Lacy, the manager could require them to take extra fielding and batting practice. In the case of Boswell, a little editorial discretion could have prevented him from publicly making those cruel recommendations to fire Wiggins and Lacy. Unlike your writer, I am not going to recommend that Boswell be fired because of his disappointing performance. I am only asking that he make an effort to write with a little more sensitivity in the future. Clifford A. Tell Alexandria
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