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May 17, 2000

The Daily Prospectus

Just Another Boring Day

by Joe Sheehan

Ho-hum. Just another run-of-the-mill evening at North America's ballparks:

In Montreal, the Expos pulled off the unlikely feat of beating Randy Johnson, as Javier Vazquez continued his delayed emergence as one of the National League's best starters. Vazquez tossed eight shutout innings in the 2-0 win, and since his demotion last June, has an ERA of 3.60 and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of better than 2-to-1 in 23 starts. Like Dustin Hermanson before him, he'll be underpublicized because of where he plays.

While baseball was the focus in Canada, idiocy was on display in Chicago, where a dramatic ninth-inning rally was interrupted by an ugly brawl between the Dodgers and some fans with pretty good seats at Wrigley Field. A dispute that apparently began when a lobotomy patient posing as a fan stole Chad Kreuter's cap escalated when Kreuter flashed back to the fourth grade and elected to go after the $21.95 souvenir.

Courtesy the Associated Press, here's Chicago native and budding philosopher Todd Hundley's analysis:

"If you wanted a hat that bad, be polite and ask for one. We'll give
it to you. We've got a whole bunch of them. When you come down and punch a
guy in the head, then we're allowed to do whatever we want to do."

Hey, Todd...if you've got a whole bunch of hats, why'd your buddy Chad feel the need to go Ty Cobb to get that particular one back? After he did, his teammates followed, and the whole thing degenerated into a mix of jacket-pulling, rabbit-punching and beer-tossing.

The incident will certainly be picked apart by minds greater than my own, so I'll be brief. The attendee--I hate to use the term "fan" for this clown--was a jackass for taking Kreuter's cap. But Hundley's WWF-worthy rationalizing aside, he, Kreuter and the rest of the team had no business retaliating. None. They had the opportunity to let security handle it and they didn't, and their actions are more suspension-worthy than anything Pedro Martinez has done of late.

At the same time, the Chicagoans sitting in the general area of the melee should be ashamed. Is there any act so pitifully impotent as tossing a paper cup half-filled with mediocre beer at someone standing 30 or so feet away and acting as if you'd done something meaningful?

A pox on both their houses.

Finally, in New York, the Yankees' losing streak reached five games, their longest in almost exactly a year. After the game, owner George Steinbrenner fired Billy Martin. Informed that Martin was neither his manager nor alive, Steinbrenner promised to convene his "baseball people" to get to the bottom of the problem. GM Brian Cashman was unavailable for comment, but is presumed alive. Now, anyway.

The Yankees were fighting age-related decline and a lack of offense at the corners at the beginning of the season. Injuries have shined a light on their lack of organizational depth (Felix Jose?). While the pitching has held up, the offense has been one of the worst in baseball. It's not this bad. It's also not even money to get to 800 runs, and they'll need a lot of pitching to carry that.

Joe Sheehan can be reached at jsheehan@baseballprospectus.com.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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