Baseball's Length Is Its Strength

"A Diamond, With Flaws" in the Sports section of Oct. 22 is itself flawed. William Gildea criticizes the baseball season and its games for its length in an extraordinarily long-winded piece himself. And he completely misses the point of the baseball season.

How many fans get the opportunity to attend each baseball game? Not many, and that is almost the point. With 162 games in a season, it provides the perfect situation for families and individuals to attend at least a couple of games without having to deal with the "sold out" sign in front of nearly every other sport's ticket window. And the number of games also keeps ticket prices down, when compared to hockey, football or basketball.

Mr. Gildea additionally points out that August games should be as exciting as the October ones. "A fan shouldn't have to be bored to sleep in August before awakening to experience these heart-racing games in baseball's thin October air." Huh? When are a sport's midseason games ever as exciting as its playoff games? That's the point.

And regardless, perhaps the games themselves aren't as exciting as the playoff games in baseball, but what baseball fan doesn't find him or herself checking the paper each day to see if his team did accomplish the small feat, has their heart leap for joy a little? Football doesn't allow for the team in third place for four months make the ascension to the top of the standings day-by-day, pitch-by-pitch. Only baseball.

There may be no respite in a baseball season, but baseball is America's respite. Pull your soul away from the everyday grind and read the scores every morning, chat about it over lunch and occasionally watch a game on television or in person. I think one will find that almost as exciting while relaxing as anything.

-- Nicholas R.A. Mahrt

Arlington

Cowboys Have Their Weaknesses

Why all the hand-wringing about the Redskins? Although it's obvious they can't beat anyone with a good offense, it's also true that Dallas is bad against good defensive teams. And since both the Redskins and the Cowboys can beat teams who have no offense or defense, both should make the playoffs. Then hopefully someone will knock off Dallas before the Redskins have to play them again.

-- David Siltman

Montgomery Village

Curtis Showed Professionalism; Gray Didn't

As a journalist for nearly 30 years, I respectfully disagree with Leonard Shapiro on the Jim Gray/Pete Rose interview issue ("It's Black and White: Gray Was Doing His Job," Oct. 28). The question is not whether Gray was "doing his job," but HOW WELL he was doing it. The answer is: not well at all.

There is nothing wrong with asking tough questions of a guy like Rose; as Shapiro says, Rose expected it. But after the first couple of gambling-related questions, Gray made a basic reporter's mistake: He became argumentative and forgot the context of the interview. The whole point of the occasion was to honor old-timers like Mays and Aaron, yes, and Rose for their baseball accomplishments. Not to ask him a single baseball-related question was unfair and unprofessional.

As for your characterizing Chad Curtis's snub of Gray as "childish," I also disagree. I thought it was quite principled. Here was a journeyman ballplayer who had an opportunity he'll likely never have again: to gush about himself on national television. Instead, he chose to stand by the courage of his convictions. As a journalist, I wish more people had the guts to resist the allure of a microphone or notebook and tell members of the media who don't act professionally that there might be consequences for that.

Shapiro acknowledged that Gray's interview was flawed, that he should have been directed by his producers to change the line of questioning. Yet, Shapiro supports him uncritically by saying "I won't even try" to make the case against him. I think this is unfortunate. When reporters are wrong, they should be subject to criticism like anyone else. At a time whent he public is increasingly -- and often justifiably -- upset with the media, it doesn't help to give the impression that we journalists are above criticism.

-- John Schidlovsky

Director, Pew Fellowships in International Journalism

Washington