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August 15, 2003

Prospectus Today

Notes on a Monitor

by Joe Sheehan

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It has been a very long, very strange week, so we'll throw in the towel on coherent thinking and spray the board:

  • I'm a displaced New Yorker myself, with a tremendous love for my hometown and a pretty well-developed sense of superiority about it. That said, yesterday's blackout affected millions of people in six states and Ontario, covering an area of nearly 10,000 square miles.

    If you watched the coverage on television, though, the whole thing happened south of 59th St. in Manhattan.

    I'm just sayin'.

  • Yesterday's Giants/Mets game almost certainly will not be made up, given that the Giants have a big lead in the NL West and the Mets won't need to play the game to determine their draft position. The cancellation does bring to mind that one game that appears very relevant has yet to be made up. The Diamondbacks and Royals have an interleague contest that hasn't been rescheduled yet, and share just one highly inconvenient off day for the rest of the season.

    I like chaos, and the idea that the two teams might have to play on September 29 to determine who does or does not go to the playoffs--or better yet, who goes to a one-game playoff, or who's in a three-way tie--is just a delicious notion. I'm picturing the Marlins watching the game in an airport bar, bags packed, with plans to fly to Arizona if the Snakes win, and Atlanta if they don't.

    In general, baseball won't be affected by the power outage. The Tigers, Yankees and Blue Jays are on the road. The Indians are home facing the Devil Rays, a series that can be cancelled as a public service. The Mets face the Rockies at home. Now, the Rockies are a fringe wild-card candidate at best, and are scheduled to be in the city through Monday. It's possible that the teams could make up cancellations tonight and tomorrow--I'd imagine powering up a ballpark is low on the priority list--with doubleheaders Sunday and Monday.

  • A full update is coming next week, but it looks like the Angels' Jose Molina is going to run away with the AL DiSar Award. He's up to 80 at-bats without a walk; no other AL player has an active run of more than 37, and Matt Walbeck is in the clubhouse with 74. In the NL, Rainer Olmedo leads with 70 at-bats, and Eric Bruntlett has an active streak of 46. (Livan Hernandez actually had 53 walkless ABs, but pitchers don't count.)

  • The best pitcher in baseball right now is Tim Hudson, and it's not all that close. He won't win any awards because the A's scored about nine runs for him in the first half, but no one, not even Esteban Loaiza, has been as good over the last three months. He has become a groundball machine, with a 2.5-to-1 GB/FB ratio and just 30 extra-base hits allowed all year long.

    All that dominance, and Hudson hasn't surpassed 119 pitches all season. The A's have one--ONE--start all season above 121 pitches (a Category IV start in the Pitcher Abuse Points system). The Cubs have 11 Category IV starts--six by pitchers 22 and younger--and one Category V (132 pitches or more).

  • Hey, Johnny Damon! Steve Perry called; he wants his hair back.

  • I've mentioned this before, but in handicapping the AL playoff race--which is four teams for three spots outside of the Central--keep in mind that no AL team has made the playoffs in a full season without scoring 800 runs since 1993. The Yankees and Red Sox will get there, and the Mariners should. The A's, with 546 runs in 121 games, won't.

  • One of the arguments the A's made for extending Scott Hatteberg's contract was that his performance had been adversely affected this year as he sweated out the negotiations. Since getting the contract extension on July 25, he's hit .264/.312/.444, with almost all of the good stuff in the immediate aftermath of the signing.

  • Staggering achievements, tremendous talent and a lifetime of hard work are a poor defense against the pain of watching your loved ones suffer. Barry Bonds has left the Giants to be with his father, Bobby, who is severely ill with a variety of ailments. Here's hoping he can set aside the game over the next week and enjoy his time with his dad, and that the elder Bonds' health will improve so that he can continue to watch his son redefine greatness.

  • A nod to MLB for estabishing the bereavement list, perhaps better described as the Baseball Family Leave Act of 2003. The practice of allowing teams to replace players who are not injured, but who need time off, is a significant step forward and brings the game in line with enlightened business practices in place today. If it's not necessarily used for "bereavement" as the dictionary defines it, so what? It's a good idea that was long overdue.

  • I'll admit that I'm missing the interest most people seem to have in the details of other people's--famous people's--lives. I don't follow celebrities' peccadilloes and I generally regard people's personal lives as just that, regardless of how they conduct themselves.

    So perhaps someone can explain to me why the disposition of Ted Williams' body has been covered with such intensity. The cover of Sports Illustrated? Extended segments on "SportsCenter"? What is the story here, and why should I care?

    I'm willing to concede that the flaw is in me, but I'd like to understand what exactly the flaw is.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

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