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Sunday, January 14, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Backtalk

Readers write about Huskies, Mariners

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Husky football

UW is a 'moral beacon'

Thank you, Blaine Newnham, for your intelligent assessment of the Washington Huskies' football season (Times, Jan. 7). The season was phenomenal. I was extremely proud of our team.

I watched Oregon State play in its bowl game. Before the game, I had a soft spot in my heart for the Beavers. They tried hard. They improved. They had been underdogs forever.

Contrast the Oregon Ducks. Animosity drives their program. Animosity toward the Huskies. Ugly fans, vicious behavior, rudeness, bad sportsmanship: These are the hallmarks of Oregon football.

And then, much to my dismay, came the grossly self-indulgent, viciously vituperative, aggressively assertive demeanor of the Beavers in their triumph over Notre Dame. Oregon State is a great team and its win over Notre Dame was no fluke. But I hope their awful demeanor - egged on by Coach Dennis Erickson as part of his "winning strategy" - will not come to represent the values of college football in future years. Certainly never at the University of Washington.

Husky football is back. And it will be more than a question of winning. It will serve as an example of the phenomenally positive impact that a well-run and well-coached athletic program can have. It will serve as a moral beacon for many people.

Peter Shapiro, Seattle

Ode to the top Dawg

Thanks for Sunday's great insert on the Rose Bowl Huskies. To add to it, here's a little poem I wrote in November 1998 for the benefit of some friends who didn't have a clue what was coming.

Attention, Huskies! Now's the time
To crown "The Man" for '99!
If only we could find a rhyme
For Tuiasosopo.

Soon he'll set forth on the stage,
Headlines shouting he's the rage.
But there's not room across the page
For Tuiasosopo.

Yet don't despair, all will be well
When each of us can proudly tell
That we at least have learned to spell
Tuiasosopo.

Marian Arlin, Snohomish

Mariners

It's been an off offseason

Kudos to Steve Kelley for finally bringing attention to the Mariners' offseason woes (Times, Jan. 10). Just as at the trade deadline last season, the team finds itself picking through the dregs after the feeding frenzy.

We are now expected to believe that the Mariners are happy with the club they have?

Why did this happen? The offseason certainly started off well, and the M's braintrust sounded as if it were aggressively preparing for life with or without Alex Rodriguez. However, the Rangers' signing of Rodriguez has seemingly let the air out of Pat Gillick's tires. We've seen only the signing of Bret Boone and re-signing of Tom Lampkin since that day. Whatever the Mariners' plan was has fizzled dramatically, and you can only wonder if Lou Piniella is asking, "What was I thinking?"

Scott Flynn, SeaTac

Little to show for big budget

I've been frustrated this offseason with the Mariners not doing anything to fill the void left by A-Rod, a void that was there all last season even with him.

They are not a better team this year. While the other big names have gotten better, they have not. Who is going to protect Edgar Martinez in the batting order? With no big stick in front of or behind him, he is vulnerable to getting pitched around.

I was frustrated that they hadn't made moves to get Alex Gonzalez, Charles Johnson, Juan Gonzalez or Manny Ramirez. But I was really upset when I found out they not only didn't pick up Johnny Damon, the best leadoff hitter in baseball, they let him go to their division rival, the Oakland Athletics.

I want to believe management when they say they are committed to winning, and up until now, they have proven that. But by not making big efforts to get some bats, they are showing me the opposite. They have this huge budget approved and now that they aren't paying A-Rod $20 million a year, they have room to move.

What is their excuse? We've got good pitching? We picked up Bret Boone? We picked up Suzuki? That stuff is nice, but it's not going to win a ring without some solid hitting.

Mark Francom, Salt Lake City

Salaries

Fans aren't far from leaving

When is enough enough? Don't these high-priced athletes understand that some day the average working stiff won't be able to take his family to a game because the ticket price will be sky high?

I predicted many years ago that some day basketball games will be played in a smallish arena with maybe 2,000 in attendance, and the rest will be buying it and watching it on TV. Are we far from that prediction now?

Steve Drake, Seattle

Send us your backtalk

Letters bearing true names, addresses and telephone numbers for verification are considered for publication. Please limit letters to 125 words or less. They are subject to editing and become the property of The Times. Fax them to 206-464-3255, or mail to: Backtalk, Seattle Times Sports, PO Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. Or e-mal to: sports@seattletimes.com.

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