Let’s have a little fun: Every spring,
numerous experts don their Nostradamus caps to make predictions for
the upcoming season. They wag tongues, start arguments … then
retreat into the Unaccountability Zone.
Their forecasts are always forgotten,
gradually erased by actual events.
Not this time.
For the fun of it, I preserved some
random prognosis made in February by a few of these town criers.
Let’s see how they made out; the first set of stats is the prediction
[with the actual final numbers in brackets].
BILL JAMES (IN HIS HANDBOOK 2010)
- Josh Beckett: 15-9, 3.62 ERA [6-6,
- Clay Buchholz: 10-8, 3.91 [17-7, 2.33]
- Jon Lester: 13-10, 3.85 [19-9, 3.25]
- Daisuke Matsuzaka: 12-10, 4.02 [9-6,
- Tim Wakefield: 6-5, 4.03 [4-10, 5.34]
- Francisco Rodriguez: 42 saves, 2.67
- Johan Santana: 17-8, 3.08 [11-9,
- John Maine: 9-9, 3.86 [1-3, 6.13]
- David Wright: .302-23-99 [.283-29-103]
- Carlos Beltran: .282-24-91 [.255-7-27]
- Jose Reyes: .285-14-67, 57 steals
- Report card: Matsuzaka, Wright, Reyes – not bad. The rest – My tea leaves could’ve done better.
- AL postseason teams: Yankees, Rays,
White Sox, Mariners.
- NL postseason teams: Phillies, Braves,
Batting average: .500 (must be noted
picked Rangers last in AL West).
- AL postseason teams: Yankees, Red Sox,
- NL postseason teams: Phillies, Braves,
Batting average: .750, excellent
(although, again, must be noted picked Giants-Padres No. 4-5 in NL
Nothing personal, fellows. Just
remember you don’t voice your conspicuous opinions in a vacuum.
Before he became a saint, he was just a scintillating entertainer.
Before he gave his life to help others, he just gave his all to help win ballgames.
Before everyone began to worship Roberto Clemente, I was already on knees in front of his altar. Growing up in Pittsburgh, I had the privilege of regularly watching the idol of my youth, who remains the most electric athlete I’ve seen in a long life of watching and chronicling athletes.
Three snapshots that won’t fade from my mind’s album:
1. It was late in the nightcap of one of those makeup twi-night doubleheaders, the ones without a curfew. The first game with the Cardinals had gone extra-innings, and Game 2 was also in the 10th. The Cards seemed assured of beating both the Pirates and the rising sun: Bases loaded, one out. The batter (I believe it was Bill White) pulls a wicked line drive to right field that has base hit and two runs written all over it.
The ball lands about 10 feet in front of Clemente, who has already broken into a sudden sprint toward it. He short-hops the ball and in virtually the same motion fires a typical strike to the catcher – forcing Brock on a clean hit to the outfield. The Pirates go on to win a few innings later.
2. When Harry Walker inherited Danny Murtaugh’s job as Pirates manager in 1965, he also inherited what many construed as the Clemente paradox: Great hitter, weak run-producer. A selfish player who lived for his average?
Walker waited a season to see for himself, and he saw Clemente win another batting title with a .329 average — but produce only 65 RBIs with his 194 hits, only 10 of which were home runs.
The following spring, Walker met with Clemente and bluntly asked him to try to hit for more power and not focus on his batting average. Given his legendary pride, Clemente felt insulted, but he also thought, “Okay, if that’s what you want …”
Harry Walker managed the Pirates for two more years, and in those seasons Clemente hit 52 homers and drove in 229 runs — while still batting .336.
He could turn it on at will, like that.
3. Then, just the man’s mannerisms, an everyday joy.
When he swung and missed, he would spin around like a top, as if trying to screw himself into the ground. The basket catches; he rarely caught a routine fly above the knees. Routine throws were always underhanded, with a whip-like motion that put more mustard on the ball than others could generate overhand. And when he had to make a serious throw, he again had no equal — but he did have radar for instincts. He would dig balls out of the right-field corner and have them flying toward the infield even before he was fully turned around — always on the mark, on the fly.
As another round of Roberto Clemente Award talks begin, thought you might like to know a little about the ballplayer behind the humanitarian legend.
Wow, those four months sure went by like nothing … Anyway, I’m all-Tweeted out and back …
- Ned Yost, Kansas City: 12-23 (.343) to 37-46 (.446).
- Edwin Rodriguez, Florida: 34-36 (.486) to 23-23 (.500).
- Showalter: 32-73 (.305) to 9-4 (.692).
- Daren Brown, Seattle: 42-70 (.375) to 4-2 (.667).
Dodgers coach Larry Bowa had to be rushed to a local hospital due to abdominal pains during Friday’s exhibition game with the Cincinnati Reds.
Bowa was admitted to Banner Estrella Hospital, where he was being examined by Dr. Kenneth Landis, the Dodgers’ team physician.
The 64-year-old Bowa is the Dodgers’ regular third-base coach but was seen leaving the field at Camelback Ranch in the middle ofr the game.