Baseball Crank
"It gets late early around here." - Yogi Berra
April 19, 2001
BASEBALL: Opening Month Notebook 2001

Originally posted on the Boston Sports Guy website.

It's early yet, even if we remind ourselves that the Mets have faced the Braves six times, the Yankees-Royals season series is over already and new pages have already been added to the Sox-Yanks rivalry. What’s new this April? A few questions and answers.

But first... think like a manager! Here’s a strategy quiz based on an actual game situation in April 1999. The answer (well, at least what actually happened) appears at the bottom of this page:

1. Bottom of the third, Orioles up 2-0, one out, Kevin Appier on the mound for KC, Jeff Conine at the plate, Harold Baines on first base, Albert Belle on third, what does Ray Miller do?

a) Pinch hit for Conine with a lefthanded hitter
b) Let Conine hit and try to drive in the runs
c) Tell Conine to take one for the team so Willis Otanez can hit with the bases loaded
d) Squeeze play
e) Hit and run to stay out of the double play
f) Double steal
g) Put in a pinch runner for the 40-year old Baines, who had bad hamstrings and was slow when he was 21

Now... back to our April stories:

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:33 AM | Baseball Columns | TrackBack (0)
April 8, 2001
BASEBALL: Clemente and Musial

Originally posted on the Boston Sports Guy website.

Before the regular season really hits its stride, let's take one more trip in the way-back machine. Now, the All-Century Team, while an interesting debate at the time, was something I had not planned on going back to except as one illustration of how the all-time greats are viewed by the fans. But last week, Jon Saraceno of USA Today decided used the Opening Day festivities in Puerto Rico as an excuse to resuscitate an obnoxious and unnecessary charge against the selection of that team: that it was some sort of injustice, or worse yet prejudice, that resulted in Roberto Clemente being left off the team.

Saraceno doesn’t just argue that Clemente should have been given a special place on the team as a symbol of his pioneer/icon status, which is a defensible point depending on what you think the purpose of the team was. Certainly he is justly revered by a whole generation of Latin American ballplayers. No, Saraceno wants to show that Clemente was robbed: “Clemente belonged on that team. On merit.”

This argument is made (by noted baseball historians such as Spike Lee and impartial figures such as Roberto Clemente Jr.) to advance a larger point – whether you agree with it or not – that baseball has not given fair treatment to its Latin American stars and fans (Luis Clemente has a specific list of demands in mind when he touts this claim). So it’s worth examining the facts rather than taking them for granted, and the facts show that Clemente, great as he was, was absolutely not slighted by finishing tenth in the All-Century outfield balloting and being left off the team in favor of Stan Musial.

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:44 PM | Baseball Columns | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)