Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
June 9, 2000
BASEBALL: Semi-Random Notes

Originally posted on the Boston Sports Guy website.

A few semi-random notes:

* Continuing last week's theme about the toll of Pudge Rodriguez's heavy catching workload, we need to incorporate that dreaded phrase, "At this pace ... " Paces are pretty meaningless -- particularly in April -- except maybe to demonstrate precisely how far (or not far) out of whack a player is with his past performance. Once you move into June, however, paces will at least provide an early heads-up that certain records might be challenged this year.

For instance, through Tuesday, Pudge was on pace to ground into 42 double plays, easily breaking Jim Rice's single season record of 36. Detroit's Deivi Cruz (who bats at the bottom of baseball’s worst lineup) is also ahead of Rice’s pace (38), and two others are on a pace to tie the record: Ben Grieve and Garret Anderson. Rodriguez grounded into a major-league leading 32 DPs last year and was caught stealing 12 times, thus giving back about as many outs on the basepaths as he created with his throwing arm ( he’s been caught 3 times in 4 tries this year). Somebody should keep track of the record for "Most outs given back."

* Years from now, if you ask me when I knew the home run explosion of the late 1990s had finally gone too far, I will probably point to the moment in last Sunday's Mets-Devil Rays game when the Rays got back-to-back homers from Felix Martinez and Esteban Yan. Yan's homer came on the first pitch thrown to him as a professional baseball player. He hadn’t swung a bat in a game of any kind in ten years.

* A CBS Sportsline column claimed that some people say that Antonio Alfonseca has “an unfair advantage” in having six fingers to grip the ball. Who are these people? Randy Johnson has an advantage in being 6’10” and throwing 98 miles an hour. Ted Williams had an advantage in having insanely good eyesight. Hall of Famer Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown had an advantage because a greusome childhood accident left him with a mangled right hand, which he used to put movement on his pitches that no one without his “handicap” could duplicate. Is that unfair? Get over it.

* Where are they now? In case you missed it, ESPN.com reported in a May 19, story about Terry Steinbach that Dana Kiecker is still pitching, throwing amateur "town ball" in his native Minnesota. There... now you can sleep at night.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I play baseball for fun. When it’s not fun anymore, I’ll play for the money.”
--Graig Nettles.

TRIVIA QUESTION
Ooh, this is a tough one; I’ll run the names in this space next time of anyone who can answer it. Six players in baseball history have collected 200 hits in a season in which they played for more than one team. Name them. A few hints: all did it after 1920; one of these guys is still active, and two are in the Hall of Fame; and three of the six spent part of their season with the Braves.

ANSWER TO LAST WEEK’S TRIVIA QUESTION
I stand corrected; the question should have been 2 players with 30 (not 20) doubles, 20 triples and 20 homers in one season – Jeff Heath in 1941 and George Brett in 1979. Willie Mays also cleared 20 doubles, 20 triples, 20 homers (and 30 steals, for good measure) in 1957.

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