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Backtalk 2009-04-14

Backtalk  2009-04-14
Marvin Webster

Personal memories of a Sonics great

I was the 9-year-old kid whose family lived next door to Marvin Webster in Bellevue when he was playing for the Sonics. Our families were close during that year, and my folks would go out to dinner with Marvin and his family and visit quite a bit.

Marvin gave me a pair of John Wooden basketball sneakers right before he left for New York, and I wore those for two seasons when I started playing organized basketball blocking shots as my team's center, partly in Marvin's honor. My dad was the coach of the team.

Marvin Webster's inspiration began a domino effect that lasted a lifetime. I'm sad that I never got to tell him about these things in person, and the great effect that he had on our family.

He and I had a special bond, and I think he knew how devastated I was when he left Seattle. I guess that's part of the ugly side of the sports business, but hard to understand when you're as young as I was at the time.

He was very thoughtful of others and as kind and gentle a person as he was awesome and formidable on the court.

Paul R. Sweum

Mariners Another milestone for Ichiro?

Only three players in the modern era of major-league Baseball have amassed 2,000 or more hits in a single decade: Rogers Hornsby and Sam Rice in 1920-1929, and Pete Rose in 1970-1979.

If Ichiro gets at least 195 hits this year, he will join that ultraexclusive club. The even more impressive fact: Ichiro will have reached that total in just nine years (2001-2009).

Amid all the preseason media hoopla swirling around the Mariners this year (Junior's return, the loss of Raul Ibanez and J.J. Putz, the challenge of overcoming last year's disastrous 101-loss season), I just thought that the prospect of this amazing accomplishment shouldn't go unnoticed.

Russell Higgins, Monroe

New M's look just like old M's

After the 101-loss season of last year, the Mariners purged the front office, released or traded numerous players, then hired a new GM named Jack Zduriencik.

Zduriencik, in turn, introduced us to sabermetrics and assembled the first-ever all-sabermetrics Baseball team. The season is still young, but they look and act suspiciously like the old team. They all have two eyes, hands, legs and feet. They also eat, chew gum (or tobacco) and spit, just like the old ballplayers did.

And if Tuesday's game against the Minnesota Twins was an example, they still blow winning games in the bottom of the ninth inning just like the previous team did! The new sabermetric manager, Don Wakamatsu, just like the old one, left his closer in too long, then called on a non-closer who threw three pitches. Game! Set! Match!

Douglas Q. Barnett, Seattle

Thanks for bringing back Kid

I recently wrote a letter that was published in the Sunday Sports section. It was an impassioned letter to Jack Zduriencek, imploring him to bring back my childhood idol in Ken Griffey Jr. Many other Seattleites echoed my sentiments and before too long, Dr. Z ignited our hot stove and signed Griffey to a contract. Our Kid was coming home.

Monday night, I sat in my living room 3,000 miles away from Seattle watching an FSN broadcast of the Mariners at Minnesota and I was numb all over. In the fifth inning, Griffey stepped to the plate against Francisco Liriano and lined a shot over the baggy in right field for his 612th career home run. It truly was a surreal moment. It was something I had seen hundreds of times before, yet I still couldn't believe my eyes. It is for real! Ken Griffey Jr. is back in a Seattle uniform, and it almost feels as if he never left!

Thank you, Chuck Armstrong and Jack Zduriencek. Thank you, Harold Reynolds and Willie Mays. And thank you, Ken Griffey Jr.!

James Nardo, Boston

Doug Wrenn A balanced look at difficult story

Thank you for running a terrific story on a difficult subject, Doug Wrenn ("Fallen Star," March 30). It didn't seem at all to me that you were excusing Doug's actions, but rather questioning the system and how it can go wrong for any of us. It had the perfect blend of personal insight with his family as well as some of the legal issues surrounding the case.

Clearly, Doug could have done many things better in the past, and specifically on that day. That being said, it sure feels like he was "guilty before proven innocent," and that is sad. I hope he turns it around.

Craig Douglas, 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, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. Or e-mail to:

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Added: April 14, 2009

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