New Perspective

Tom Boswell's July 4 column ("Baseball at Midseason") urges all fans to sit back and enjoy baseball's "delightful" second half.

Tom, that is easy for you to say. But what if you are a fan of the Baltimore Orioles? Where's the "delight" in last place?

Since Mr. Boswell fails to provide any survival tips for Orioles fans, I am offering three suggestions from my 25-year stint (1946-71) as an avid fan of the Washington Senators:

1. Relax your overall mental outlook toward the remainder of the season. (Remember, the pressure is off.)

2. Ignore the American League standings. (This is very important.)

3. View each game as a "complete package," thereby savoring every victory as if it were a championship triumph.

As mentioned above, my advice stems from a long and strong attachment to the Washington Senators. I never learned any other way.

-- Alan D. Mason

Rockville

The Real Juan

I am disappointed with Thomas Boswell's reference to Juan Gonzalez as a "jaded jerk" in his column on Tuesday. Writers across the country have opted to bash Gonzalez for his decision to bypass the All-Star Game. The verdict has generally been that Gonzalez represents all that is wrong with the modern athlete and that his snub of the Summer Classic puts him in the Albert Belle-Garry Templeton category. Unfortunately, the usually astute Boswell falls for this journalistic trap.

The frustration and anger that Gonzalez expresses in 1999 has been smoldering for the past decade. Baseball's most unappreciated superstar has put up remarkably similar numbers to Ken Griffey, Jr. since 1990 yet trails him in All-Star Game starts, 10-1. Consider the following statistics:

Griffey

Age:29

HR:379

RBI:1,099

AB:5,558

MVP awards: 1

Slugging Pct.:.571

Gonzalez

Age:29

HR:325

RBI:1,026

AB:4,578

MVP awards: 2

Slugging Pct.: .570

While Griffey is generally acclaimed as baseball's greatest player, Gonzalez continues to toil in relative obscurity. No one wants to point out the discrepancy of Cleveland having 22 home dates during the voting period and Texas having eight. No one wants to mention the absurdity of the entire Indians outfield receiving more votes than the reigning AL MVP. Nor is it fashionable to cite the tremendous amount of charity work Gonzalez performs in his native Puerto Rico while the "classy" Griffey does Nike commercials in the offseason.

Boswell's cheap shot at Gonzalez represents an unfortunate trend among American sportswriters to misunderstand and devalue one of baseball's greatest players.

-- Marty Favret

Silver Spring

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