The Futility Infielder

A Baseball Journal by Jay Jaffe I'm a baseball fan living in New York City. In between long tirades about the New York Yankees and the national pastime in general, I'm a graphic designer.

Thursday, October 04, 2001

 

A Good Day for Great Leftfielders

It was a pretty eventful day yesterday for three of the best leftfielders ever to play the game:

• Barry Bonds set a record, but it wasn't the record he's been gunning for, the single-season Home Run record. Bonds broke the major-league record for Bases on Balls in a season, with his 171st free pass. It was the second of three walks Barry drew from the Astros pitchers, who obviously wanted no part of him. Their pitch plan might as well have read: "Away, awayer, awayest." In the poetic justice department (if you're a Giants fan, which I most certainly ain't), Bonds scored all three times he was walked, and then blooped a run-scoring single when he finally did get something to hit, and the Giants won 11-8.

• Rickey Henderson tied the career record for Runs Scored when he came all the way around from first base on a double by Ryan Klesko. The run was Henderson's 2245th, which tied Ty Cobb's all-time mark--at least according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Total Baseball has Cobb's total at 2246 based on additional research, with the extra run coming in 1912. While Total Baseball is "The Official Encyclopedia of Major League Baseball" (as it's subtitled), Major League Baseball recognizes the Elias total as the record. Go figure.

In any event, as I write this Rickey has scored again to either break the record or tie ol' Ty yet again. He hit a home run (his 2998th hit) and then slid into home plate to punctuate his feat. Though he was unable to yank home plate out of the ground and hold it aloft, as he did when he broke the record for Stolen Bases, he was presented with a gold-plated replica of the plate by Tony Gwynn.

Here's a head-scratcher: if indeed Rickey gets his 3000th hit before the end of the season and joins Gwynn in that exclusive club, will it be the first time two 3000-hit members have played for the same team AFTER having done so? I know several teams have featured multiple players who went on to get 3000 hits--the Milwaukee Brewers with Robin Yount and Paul Molitor come to mind, as do the Baltimore Orioles with Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken Jr.

• Tim Raines Sr. was traded by the Montreal Expos to the Baltimore Orioles so that he could join his son, Tim Raines Jr., in the lineup against the Toronto Blue Jays. Little Rock started in centerfield and went 2-for-4 with a double, while Rock the Elder entered the game as a pinch-hitter and went 0-for-1 with a sacrifice fly. The duo thus joined the Ken Griffeys as the only father-son tandems ever to play simultaneously for the same team in the majors.

This story makes me warm all over. It's been quite a season for the Raineses. After sitting out the entire 2000 season recovering from lupus, Tim Sr. started the season where he began his career, with the Expos. He tore a biceps tendon and missed about three months, but got a chance while on his rehab assignment to play against his son in a AAA game, the first time a father had ever opposed his son in a pro game. He made it back to the Expos and has been pinch-hitting and drawing spot duty amid their lost season--and doing it pretty well: .304 AVG/.424 OBP/.430 SLG in 79 ABs. Meanwhile, Tim Jr. has spent time at four different levels, from the Class A Frederick Keys on up the ladder, and was promoted last week when the injury-depleted O's placed their 10,000th player of the season on the disabled list (or something like that).

Given his performance this year, it's a distinct possiblity that Rock could catch on as a pinch-hitter somewhere next year. Will the O's keep him around to tutor his son and provide a strong veteran presence? They could do a hell of a lot worse.

Anyway... I'm off to Baltimore this weekend, after all--my Ripken tix went unbid upon. After all is said and done, I'm happy to be going to this historic finale. I'm even happier that not only will the Rainses also be there, but that David Cone is slated as the starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. Could this be Coney's finale as well? Damn, I'm full of questions today. I suspect Cone would probably rather have rotator cuff surgery without anesthesia than return to the disheveled and disgruntled Sox. My hunch is that he'll end up with an offer from the Mets. I'd love to see it.

Oh, and as for Bonds--he's walked three times tonight against the Astros, and it looks like he'll go into the final series of the season still one shy of Mark McGwire's record. Wonder of scheduling wonders, the Giants' final opponent is the Dodgers, who were eliminated earlier this week. Now, I'm all for Barry setting the record at this point--in theory. I hold no grudge against him, and even if he doesn't his season should be recognized for what it is, one of the greatest single-season offensive performances ever. But I relish the fact that the Dodgers have an opportunity to play the spoiler, not only for Bonds' record, but also for the Giants' slim playoff chances. Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the Shot Heard 'Round the World, and as I figure it, every Giants-Dodgers matchup with something on the line is a chance to exact some revenge. Don't be surprised if Tommy Lasorda himself comes in in the 9th inning to plunk BB in the ribs. After all, it's still Payback Time.

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