While no fan of Buddy Ryan or the Eagles, I would have thought you'd been around long enough to cite the old baseball story in defense of his benching of Randall Cunningham. To refresh your memory, it goes this way:

The manager has his ace pitcher on the mound. The first batter hits a broken-bat bloop single. The shortstop then bobbles an easy double play ball. The catcher drops a called third strike. And, with the bases loaded, the center and left fielders collide chasing a routine out to left-center, resulting in a two-run deficit that, with a throwing error from the field, mounts to three. The manager heads for the mound, waving to the bullpen for a relief pitcher.

The ace pitcher can't believe it. "You're pulling me?"

The manager nods.

"You can't be pulling me! You haven't got a better pitcher!"

The manager nods wearily. "Probably not," he admits. "But maybe I got one that's luckier."

Given the situation, I suspect that's how old Buddy felt. And it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

My regards to Boswell. He remains a helluva writer. John S. Clayton Rockville Limit Instant Replays

The quintessential example of how instant replay review should work occurred in the Redskins-Eagles game last week when the fumble call on Earnest Byner was reversed. It had the one element that should be mandatory in any play that is reviewed -- it was important.

Indeed, the only improvement that should be made to the system is to limit its use to critical plays. Each team should be allowed two appeals per half. And if an appeal is denied, a timeout is forfeited. This would cut down on frivolous appeals that only waste time. And the amount of time used is the only legitimate objective to instant replay review. With this modification, the only plays reviewed would be those that the head coaches deemed crucial to the outcome of the game. And the only calls reversed would be those the replay official felt were conclusively wrong. David E. Siltman Gaithersburg

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