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Shocked! We were utterly shocked that readers had strong opinions on sports in this town. Who knew? OK, we knew. That's why we published a sports issue on October 7. It elicited opinions on everything from statistics to fencing. The only question now is whether the Big Three on our cover can bring back the Big Green of yesteryear.

Numbers, Games

A comment for Bill James, regarding his interesting article "Where Numbers Go Next" (October 7): The issue of how statistics can be applied to sports leagues was the topic of sociologist Eric Leifer's book Making the Majors. It argues that the central challenge of any sports league is to achieve regularity that is not seriously disrupted by the wins and losses that sport unavoidably produces. Leifer focuses on the evolution of Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, and the National Hockey League and provides an interesting starting place to think about how the organization of leagues affects performance and fan attachment.

One of my PhD sociology students at Brandeis is applying Leifer's framework to NASCAR to try to understand the extent to which its explosion over the past two decades is tied to the organization of competition across drivers.

David Cunningham
Sudbury

If the underdog never wins, how did the NBA's Golden State Warriors, as the eighth seed, kill the Dallas Mavericks, as the first seed?

Sam Chen
Los Altos, California

Bill James's logical suggestions for restoring professional basketball to its original intended state with an emphasis on teamwork, solid defense, and meaningful title runs sure do sound great - and also entirely familiar to anyone who prefers following the NCAA over the NBA. Who can walk casually by a sports bar during the opening rounds of March Madness and not feel the thrill of 64 teams clawing their way through a single-elimination tournament that, for many of these hundreds of amateurs, will be the closest they will ever come to sports stardom?

Sadly, journalists like Charles Pierce ("The Game Changer") disparage the institution of college basketball as a "lucrative festival of corruption." What message is this sending to aspiring athletes around the world?

Tara Benedict
Belmont

Sword Specifics

I loved Charlie Pierce's "My Point" (October 7). The Tyrone Power/Basil Rathbone duel in The Mark of Zorro that he references is my all-time favorite. In 1995 I made the short film The Duel at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. The film is only 14 minutes long, and every duel in it is based on a classic Hollywood model. From the Douglas Fairbanks Zorro to the Power/Rathbone Zorro to Richard Lester's The Three Musketeers to Rob Reiner's The Princess Bride, the duelist/choreographer and I tried to cover them all.

Sean Coughlin
Acton

New Threads

Thank you so much for the "Project Comeback" feature on Joseph Abboud (September 30) and for such a positive portrayal of the sewing factories in Fall River. As a young Azorean immigrant arriving in Fall River in the late 1960s, I came to see those mighty fortresses as my family's means of survival in America. When I turned 16, I worked after school alongside my mother, sewing winter coats. I witnessed firsthand the camaraderie Tina Sutton so accurately described. Over the years, many of the sewing shops closed their doors as the work was sent overseas. I couldn't help but wonder why designers didn't take advantage of the many talented sewers in Fall River. Given the retail price of their goods, there had to be room for profit even if they were sewn in the United States.

Enter Joseph Abboud. I may no longer be directly connected to Fall River and those mills, but he has made my dream come true. When those employees refer to Mr. Abboud as their "guardian angel," that's not hyperbole.

Maria Balboni
Carlisle

The inexpensive, poorly sewn American flag in the background of the photo of Joseph Abboud does not speak well for his attention to detail. If his shirts are sewn like the flag's fly hem, I would not be promoting the product as "impeccable." I suspect this flag is imported. I hope the other flags that are mentioned in the article were purchased from a US manufacturer.

Kip Cone
York, Maine

Kudos to Joseph Abboud for keeping jobs here in the United States. He may also consider how Prince resolved his issue with the record companies, and use the following: The Designer Formally Known as Joseph Abboud.

John Pashayan
Harwich Port

Giftless Cheer

I think the suggestion in Robin Abrahams's "My Word" to make charitable donations instead of giving gifts ("Miss Conduct," October 7) is very laudable. However, I think it is important to note that some charities can be polarizing and considered extreme by some (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals could be dicey, while the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals could be acceptable). Some may not like their names being added to the mailing lists of some of these charities. So I suggest that if people do not know their friends' and relatives' favorite charities, they could ask or simply pick a charity that few could disagree with (maybe something benefiting sick children).

Beverly Shea
Waltham

My family, friends, and I are all at the age when we are trying desperately to lighten up after years of accumulating. Some are even trying to move to smaller quarters. I am inspired by the vision of my son simply taking a bulldozer to all my little treasures once I have passed on to the great yard sale in the sky. I have determined that I will not add to my loved ones' piles of stuff any longer with more stuff, no matter how carefully chosen. I have begun to give tickets to events that we can share (insert a slightly selfish motive here) such as concerts and plays. At this stage of our lives, good times spent together are worth far more than things. This does sometimes cost more than gewgaws, but the spending and the enjoyment can be spread out over the winter.

Terri Hansen
Beverly

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