Quick Takes: All Baseball Today. Itís Crunch Time!


Congress knows it, and theyíre showing it to MLB this week. The list is prominent. Thereíll be more big names. And names of pitchers will be added to the list before itís all over. Itís the list of past and present steroid users in baseball. If I had my way, theyíd be treated as they deserve to be treated:

  1. Their statistics would be completely expunged from the record book.

  2. They would never be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

     As far as Iím concerned, Roger Maris is still major league baseballís top single-season home run hitter at 61. And Hank Aaronís 755 career home runs should stand the test of time. Only accomplishments of non-druggies should be permitted to break those records, or any other records for that matter. And if any of the steroid users make it to Cooperstown, then a guy named Pete Rose certainly belongs there first. He wasnít on steroids for any of his history-making record-setting 4,256 base hits.


     The Houston Astros are fighting for a playoff berth. Roger Clemens is nursing a pulled hamstring. Although temporarily hurt, youíd think heíd want to be with his team and cheer them on. I certainly would. Not Clemens! He was spotted in Las Vegas last Friday night at a show while the Astros were playing the Cubs in Chicago. How do you think his teammates feel about that?


Whatís brilliant? The Wild Card.  

It keeps interest in the pennant races going to the very last day of the season. Itís great for all; MLB, the TV networks, the players, and the fans. Everyone benefits. No doubt a second wild card will eventually be added to the mix; if I were Selig, I surely would. Should that happen, the World Series wonít start Ďtil Christmas.

Whatís stupid? The Designated Hitter.

It reduces strategy greatly. Itís far easier to manage in the AL than the NL; obviously, thereís no managerial thought about pulling a pitcher for a pinch-hitter in the AL. It should be abolished; it challenges the intelligence of baseball purists. If baseball rules required batting only, then there wouldnít be a need for fielders.


           Good news: A guy picks up a girl in a bar. Bad news: No one else wanted her. I've just described the San Diego Padres picking up that very ugly division, the NL West..............with a .500 record. The Padres shouldn't feel proud; they should feel embarrassed.


           If the Houston Astros hold on to win the NL wild card, they could pose a serious threat to go all the way to the World SeriesÖÖÖÖ.and win it. Why? Starting pitching is pure gold in a short series, and Houston has the best of that department now in Clemens, Oswalt and Pettitte. (Iím pulling for St. Louis, so I hope Iím just overly concerned.)


           When the playoffs begin, I hope the Cardinals remember how to compete. They really havenít had to in a long time. This season has been a no-brainer for them, and that's not good right now.


            If a two-team tiebreaker is necessary in the AL, one game would be played on Monday, Oct. 3 to decide the winner as follows if applicable: Boston at NY, NY at Cleveland, Chicago at Cleveland, Boston at Chicago, NY at Chicago, or Cleveland at Boston. If three teams finish with the same record and a tiebreaker is needed, the teams in the same division play a tiebreaker for first place, and the loser meets the team from the other division in a one-game wild card tiebreaker. If you understand, let me know by raising your hand.


                 Story of the Week                       



         (For anyone who may need a glossary of my baseball acronyms: MLB=Major League Baseball, AL=American League, NL= National League, K=Strikeouts, BA=Batting Avg., OBP=On Base %, SLG=Slugging %, DH=Designated Hitter, ERA=Earned Run Avg., IP=Innings Pitched, H=Hits, BB=Bases On Balls, GS=Games Started, GC=Games Completed, SO=Shutouts, BAA=Batting Avg. Against. And when I'm at the ballpark, my favorite one is 2HDWLOMAOAALDC=2 Hot Dogs With Lots Of Mustard And Onions And A Large Diet Coke.)


My picks as of today and with just a few games left in the 2005 MLB regular season:


The AL MVP: Alex Rodriguez.

I donít like A-Rodís Kís, but his BA, OBP, and the power departments did it. Vladimir Guerrero has an admirably low 48 Kís for a power-hitter with his super numbers, and he has terrific fielding stats. Mark Teixeira is a great defensive first baseman with tremendous offensive stats, but his OBP and SLG donít measure up to A-Rodís. Manny Ramirez lacked OBP and SLG by comparison, and is sub-par defensively. I will not give it to a DH, so that eliminated David Ortiz and Travis Hafner from any consideration on my ballot.


The NL Co-MVPís: Derrek Lee & Albert Pujols.

They are mirror images of each other this season. Lee has a better SLG at .671, but Pujols has an admirably low 65 Kís for a power-hitter. Otherwise, their offensive stats are so similar and so strong. I really went into this thinking it should be Andruw Jones, but I canít give it to a .264 hitter with a comparatively poor OBP. Miguel Cabrera did not measure up in OBP and SLG, and is lacking defensively. Carlos Delgado, also a first baseman ala Lee and Pujols, did not measure up to them in BA, OBP and SLG.


The AL Co-Cy Young Winners: Mariano Rivera & Johan Santana.

Rivera is arguably the best relief pitcher of all time. He has appeared in 69 games and 76 innings as a closer, and has amassed 42 saves. He is so strong in IP-H ratio and K:BB ratio. His BAA is just .178. But here is the most glaring evidence. ERAís in the AL are much higher than those in the NL because of the DH, but not in Riveraís case. His ERA is a magnificent 1.41. I have a real problem giving any part of the Cy Young to a reliever who pitches so few innings, but I couldnít overlook this outstanding performance. 

Santana was no contest as a starter. His record is only 15-7, but heís on an average team at best, and could sue his team for failure to support at the plate. His ERA is a comparatively low 2.92. His BAA is just .212. Santana is absolutely brilliant in IP:H ratio and K:BB ratio. He has two SO to his credit this season, and is a workhorse with 224 IP. (It should be noted that Roy Halladay has been on the DL since July 7 with a broken leg. He was 12-4 with a 2.41 ERA and an incredible K-BB ratio of 108-18 at that point. He was then the best starter in the AL.)


The NL Cy Young Winner: Roger Clemens.

This selection clearly proves how objective I am because I absolutely detest Roger Clemens. It goes back to the Mike Piazza incidents; incidents is plural. But damn, can he pitch! Heís just 12-8, but thatís only because he has had so little support from the Astros in the scoring department. (Maybe they don't like him either.) He is so strong in all pitching categories; IP-H ratio, K-BB ratio, and BAA. But the clincher is his superior ERA of 1.89. Dontrelle Willis and Chris Carpenter are both 20-game winners with several GC and SO; they have had great years. And there were other fine performances under consideration. I wish I could have rationalized anyone other than Clemens, but I couldnít.


Last Weekís Trivia

          The very first player cut by the Los Angeles Angels in their expansion year of 1961 was future star country singer, Charley Pride. Just look at what you can learn on this website.


Trivia Question of the Week

          What future Hall of Famer gave up Willie Maysí first home run in 1951? See next weekís Sports Junkie for the answer.