$0.02: Baseball trends and stats, and a tribute to Pippen
Beware: We’re devoting much of this space to baseball today. For starters, there’s something tearing me apart inside. I want a Yankees-Red Sox ALCS as bad as any other fan of the game, but I fear it as well. Why? Because what if we get it, and New York wins again and goes back to the World Series like they always do? I dislike George Steinbrenner more than any human being I’ve never met, so obviously I can’t fathom another Yankees-Whoever Fall Classic. Perhaps a Twins upset over New York in the first round wouldn’t be so bad. (And who knows, maybe we’ll end up with a Minnesota-Anaheim ALCS) … Oh, to be a Southern California baseball fan on Saturday. Not only did Anaheim beat Oakland (Bay Area) to finally end the A’s reign in the AL West, but in the same day the Dodgers – on Steve Finley’s bottom-of-the-ninth, game-winning grand slam, no less – topped archrival San Francisco (Bay Area) for the NL West crown. Stuff like that doesn’t happen every decade … Some end-of-season stats to chew on: Roger Clemens, who officially retired after last season, finished 18-4 with 218 strikeouts in 214.1 innings. A whopping five complete games was the best any American League pitcher could do this year. Todd Helton, the pride of the Colorado Rockies (yes, such a thing exists), finished second to Barry Bonds in both batting average (.347 to .362) and on-base percentage (.469 to .609). If his OBP wasn’t enough to awe you, consider that Bonds also had 232 walks, to go with just 41 strikeouts. And that he drove in 101 runs on a measly 135 hits. Alas, Bonds’ most stunning stat had nothing to do with his power, or others’ fear of it. Ready? Barry Bonds, the laziest man in baseball, grounded into just five double plays this season … On to football now, where all 20,000 or so (a modest estimate) High Country Patriots fans not watching Sunday’s New England-Buffalo game on satellite TV were suddenly transferred to the start of the Broncos-Bucs matchup by CBS 4, instead of the station showing the final three minutes of what was then a 24-17 nailbiter. I’m sure whoever was pushing Channel 4’s buttons received his share of emails Monday morning … In case you missed one of the best sports quotes of the last 10 years, here it is. After winning at Talladega on Sunday, Dale Earnhardt Jr. responded to an NBC broadcaster’s question on the victory’s significance by saying, “It don’t mean s— right now. Daddy’s won here 10 times.” Daddy? Then later, Earnhardt defended his language with this: “If anybody was offended by the four-letter word I said … I can’t imagine why they would have tuned into the race in the first place.” Nice save, Junior. The slip-up cost him 25 Nextel Cup points and $10,000 … In parting this week, how about a salute to Scottie Pippen, 39, who retired from basketball Monday after 17 years in the NBA. (Yeah, bet you didn’t know Art Garfunkel is still playing music, either.)
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