Sunday, March 20, 2005

Stream of Unconsciousness

This is the way of spring training, for me, at least. We wait all winter for spring training, then it arrives and we celebrate. But the joy of the whole thing only lasts so long--eventually, you get tired that most of the games aren't televised, and that the team's about a thousand miles away.

Eleven days left. It's getting difficult to wait for baseball.

One thing that last week's congressional hearings are doing, it's improving some fellows' chances of making the Hall of Fame. Already, Mike Lupica is stumping for Roger Maris's inclusion in the Hall of Fame, for the distinction of having played before steroids were a factor in athletics. Next year, I expect that Jim Rice will get the nod, for having played--presumably, of course, since anabolic steroids certainly existed during Rice's career--without the assistance of performance enhancing drugs.

That is, if you don't count things like amphetamines, which were a staple in Major League clubhouses during both players' careers, and continue to be a staple today.

But hey, at least they're not steroids. I mean, it's not like speed is illegal like steroids, and lord knows no-one's ever died from taking amphetamines.

That's irony, for those of you that haven't heard.

A couple of other guys whose Hall candidacies got a boost last week: Andre Dawson and Dale Murphy.

If I keep it up with the one-sentence paragraphs, this could amount to a Mike Lupica tribute post.

Allright, let's have some conspiracy theories: Rick Ankiel's out of options, so he very publicly announces that he's quitting the mound and becoming a minor league outfielder. Since Ankiel would probably be a 25 year old learning to hit in low-A ball, no one picks him up on waivers once he's released. If Ankiel changes his mind about pitching, once he safely makes (made?) it through waivers, we're going to be treated to some more of George Will bleating that Tony LaRussa is a genius.

Spring stats aren't worth a damn--small sample sizes and whatnot, but a quick stroll through the numbers leaves a few definite impressions. Bernie Williams has had a brutal spring. He's batting .091 with 2 doubles and 2 walks. That's almost as bad as Damian Rolls, who's hitting .107 without any extra base hits. On the pitching side, Steve Karsay and Paul Quantrill have combined for 9 1/3 innings pitched, 25 hits and 14 runs (all of 'em earned). Quantrill's been hampered by a strained muscle in his side. Don't know what Karsay's excuse is, but this could open up a spot for Chien Ming Wang (1 run in 9 innings), Scott Proctor, and/or Buddy Groom (both have yet to allow a run in a combined 10 1/3 innings).

Other impressive guys, based on the spring stats? Andy Phillips has a shot at making the club as the backup/platoon firstbaseman and utility infielder, he's batting .333/.428/.625. Hideki Matsui has 5 homers and a .938 slugging percentage. Bubba Crosby is having another impressive spring, trying to nail down the 4th outfielder spot (.321/.387/.643), as is Colin Porter (.308/.308/.538).

Oh, and everybody's favorite whipping boy, Tony Womack? Try a .528 batting average with 2 triples and a homer.

Yep, it's still spring training.

Oh, by the way, I dropped a Prospectus Triple Play on you last week, and didn't do any self-promotion. Silly me. And promoting the work of others, Will Carroll has the Yankees' Team Health Report up at Prospectus, and you don't have to be a subscriber to partake! Enjoy.

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