May 20, 2006

Schmuck's column on Ruth first-rate

If there are lessons in writing to be gained from studying good literature, it's the following: When writing about an event or person of significance, keep it short and make every word contribute to the writing.

Peter Schmuck's column on Sunday ["Ruth will always stand alone in baseball's greatness debate"] is the best example (so far) that I have seen by any Sun columnist in applying these two lessons.

There's no need to elaborate in detail on Mr. Schmuck's column, nor is there a need to add to good writing. Very simply, Mr. Schmuck makes the case that Babe Ruth changed the game of baseball from a soccer style mentality of meekness and boredom on offense to one where offense and the resultant excitement rule supreme.

Ruth's arrival coinciding with the Black Sox scandal of 1919 also might have saved the game from becoming the equivalent of professional wrestling.

Bonds and other assorted baseball stars are to Babe Ruth as the guy who makes tires is to the guy who discovered the wheel.

Joe Cierniak

Glen Burnie

Pitchers in Ruth's day were real ballplayers

Rick Maese's article comparing Barry Bonds to Babe Ruth was way off the mark ["Blow-by-blow comparison says Bonds, by a long shot," May 12].

The main problem I have is the way he condescends pitchers of the Babe Ruth era. He seems to suggest that pitchers of that day were not as tough or as strong as they are now. It is, in essence, the opposite.

The work of pitchers these days is dominated by "pitch counts" and statistics. Even if a player is pitching a great game, a manager will take him out after a certain amount of innings to placate the so-called middle reliever or closer. The needless switching around all goes back to one thing: inflated salaries. A manager wants to "rest a pitcher's arm" so he won't get hurt and jeopardize the owner's precious investment.

It is absolutely ridiculous that this is what baseball is all about these days.

Mr. Maese even quotes the complete-games statistics in his article comparing the Ruth Era to these days. Of course they had more complete games back then, because pitchers had a spine and were real ballplayers who more often than not pitched every inning, unlike now.

It takes more endurance, strength and skill to go the whole game, and I'd love to see more of that these days because back then, ballplayers were real ballplayers. These days it seems it is just a bunch of players who whine about their salaries and sit out a game because of a hangnail.

The pitchers these days can throw harder because they know they will be pulled in the sixth inning because of their "pitch count," no matter what kind of game they're pitching. The pitchers of the Ruth era were true ballplayers who went the long haul and didn't think anything of it, because they weren't overpaid and worried about some contract.

Mr. Maese should rethink his stance.

Damon M. Costantini


O's need to give fans better treatment

I made my first two trips to Camden Yards recently and much to my dismay was greeted by new conditions.

First, the street vendors have been pushed farther away from the entrances on the pretense of safety. Right!

Second, a new barrier has been placed to keep the wild and raucous fans from harassing the visiting pitchers. What a joke.

Go to Fenway Park and see how close the bullpen is to the fans who really are outrageous. I am sure one uniformed policeman or one bouncer-type usher would curtail any abuse that has allegedly been suffered by some poor pitcher.

To paraphrase Ronald Reagan when he addressed the Berlin Wall issue: "Hey, Peter Angelos, tear down that wall!"

Let's get back to a fan-friendly environment - and maybe more fans might show up.

Ivan G. Hillman

Thomasville, Pa.

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