Date: Wed, 24 Nov 2004 19:00:28 -0500
From: Don Dudley
Subject: Sportsmen

Hey, Sosh,

I haven't seen you for a long time.  I hope you and yours are well.

As you may know, in the 35+ years since I moved back East, Joe Lee has been exceptionally good about keeping me in touch with my roots and allowing me to follow my brother's and nephews' athletic exploits.  Some double-digit times a year, Joe Lee sends me large packages of clippings from the Chieftain, Denver Post, Boulder Camera (for several years I had my own subscription) and sometimes even the Washington Post, having in turn received those from his DC-area pharmacist friend, Barry.  In recent years, I've also been able to keep up by reading the papers online, but Joe Lee's clippings provide a filter that lets me be way more efficient.  Included in the clippings of course are many of your columns/stories.  I've been meaning to write you multiple times the last couple years, but Joe Lee's most recent package of clippings finally gave me sufficient impetus.

Having closely followed the Red Sox even before I moved to the Boston area, I was interested in your 11/14/2004 "Here are the 'real' SI awards" column where you choose them as the 2004 Socier's Illustrious Sportsman of the Year.  However, some of us recall that you were rooting against the Red Sox this year, having been "born again" according to your 02/22/2004 "My allegiances are now colored Yankee pinstripes" column after the Yankees acquired A-Rod.   In addition to Joe Lee,  my 81-year-old Mom even jumped all over this one.  She mailed your column to me, annotating "Shame on Socier" and "Let him wear the pinstripes -- we still care for the Red Sox."  Perhaps you're right that Red Sox fans are "haughty, mouthy and over-opinionated" and "more in love with themselves and their possessions than they are baseball."  (I've chosen to omit your next sentence.)  But this Fall I drove back and forth many times from Connecticut to Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, attending all 18 of my younger daughter's collegiate field hockey games.  I passed much of the driving time listening to WFAN, the NYC sports talk radio station.  My first trip was on 9/1, the day following the Yankees' 22-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium.  Forgive me, but my experience listening to these "fans" for several hours a week for two months leads me to the conclusion that your descriptions very aptly describe Yankee fans.  But not to quibble over gross generalizations.  Nothing can ever take away the fact that we Red Sox fans had a glorious Fall, one that may never be repeated.  86 years was a long time, but this was special.  You couldn't script a better way to "Reverse the Curse."  Pity you chose this exact season to jump to the dark side.

While on the subject of Sportsman of the Year, let me say a few words about Lance Armstrong.  In your 12/15/2002 "This & that under the tree for holidays" column, you were "miffed" that Lance won the 2002 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year rather than Serena Williams, saying "Great-aunt Gilda can ride a bike."  Cliff Brice III did an excellent job (12/25/2002) rebutting your position.  I was hoping Cliff's letter, not to mention an unprecendeted two more Tour victories while being the unquestioned "target" of all the other top cyclists in the world, might have altered your views, but I guess not.  In your aforementioned 11/14/2004 column, you say "he rides a bike with the Euros, not exactly as athletic as, say, Randy Moss.  Or Jim Edmonds.  Or any player in the NBA."  Apparently you just don't get it.  There's bicycling a 'la your great-aunt and there's bicycling a 'la Pueblo's Wayne Pecheck, a highly competitive cyclist in his day.  Then there's bicycling at Lance's level.  The fact that superior hand-eye coordination may not be a requirement is irrelevant in defining athleticism.

Please know that although I'm quite critical of many of your opinions, including some of those above, I do find you highly entertaining and look forward to reading your columns/stories.

Best regards,
Don Dudley