Something About a Train

That's Magic

Reprinting Shirley Povich's elegant article on the Gene Tunney-Jack Dempsey fight of Sept. 22, 1927, provided not only a glimpse into the history of sports but also insight into the technological changes that have swept sports reporting in the last century. I noticed that Povich's column was filed from Willard, Ohio, on Sept. 23 and appeared in The Washington Post the following day. "Why Willard?," I wondered. Then I recalled the great passenger trains that used to flash through Willard and Tiffin, Ohio, (where I grew up) and other small towns of the Midwest, carrying folks between Chicago and East Coast cities like Washington and New York. No doubt Povich was already typing as the train pulled out of Chicago and filed his completed story (by telegraph?) en route a few hours later, engraving not only Dempsey and Tunney but Willard, too, in sportswriting history.

-- Joy K. Reynolds


Wanted: Capital Improvements

What gives with the Capitals? The Post has not provided much insight since the new owners took over.

The new owners promised a better team but so far they have re-signed a 36-year-old fourth-stringer (Mike Eagles) to a league- minimum contract, re-signed injury-prone Chris Simon, picked up another league-minimum guy who scored three goals last season (Joe Sacco), and signed a guy who hasn't played in the NHL for two years (Ulf Dahlen). All are over 30.

Also, I believe they still have a bunch of unsigned free agents.

Last year General Manager George McPhee stood pat. His only deal -- Dmitri Mironov -- was an expensive bust. The team got older and slower, and failed to make the playoffs. With Joe Juneau gone, and no real goal-scoring replacement added, they appear to be even older and slower and the anemic offense of last year is even more anemic.

I've read the team has taken boxing lessons and they've hired a new trainer. But who is going to put the puck in the net? What happened to the big promises the new owners made just a few months ago? Has the billionaire new owner tightened the purse strings because of the fall in AOL's stock? So far, all they've done is cut the payroll and it appears the Caps are planning to do more fighting than skating and scoring.

I'd sure like to get some indication in our newspaper before I buy my tickets for the upcoming season that starts in eight weeks.

-- Deb Hoffman


Catch as Catch Can

When I opened the sports page and saw Ken Griffey Jr.'s catch of Mike Bordick's drive (Aug. 1 editions), I couldn't help but be transported back to that 14-year-old kid on September 29, 1954, with his ear to the radio listening to Willie Mays rob Cleveland's Vic Wertz of a sure triple in Game 1 of the World Series. Since that day, I have seen that picture so many times -- most recently in Sports Illustrated's July 26, 1999 issue that includes it as one of the best pictures of the century. It is truly one of the greatest baseball pictures (and one of the best catches) of all time. Somehow, Willie makes it look easier than Griffey did.

-- Peter A. Borgo


The Washington Post Sports Department invites readers to write in and comment on issues. They should be typed and not exceed 150 words. Offerings should be submitted to The Washington Post, Sports, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, faxed to 202-334-7685, or sent via e-mail to