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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Red Sox Commentary

Last straw has been pulled, again
NL, just do it already

Since when did Hank Steinbrenner's brain thaw out?

The new Yankees' owner, who started his succession of Papa George with the helpless proclamation that the concept of Red Sox Nation is hogwash just pulled a Celtics-like turnaround Monday when he reacted to pitcher Chien-Ming Wang's freak base-running mishap.

"The National League needs to join the 21st century," stated Little Stein in charging that the embarrassingly outdated requirement that pitcher's bat in NL parks authorized the lengthy injury of his ace. "That was a rule from the 1800s," he said.

Actually, the way Steinbrenner crafted that statement, I'm thinking I could file an apt plagiarism suit. (What a thought. Sue someone of Steinbrennerian fiscal status? Oh, the possibilities...) But come what may, Steinbrenner's point can easily be shared on both sides of the invisible Hartford Wall, and amongst anybody else in baseball with a proper sense of time.

Within hours of Hank's statement, Red Sox fans saw their own egregious sliver of evidence during Bartolo Colon's second strikeout -and for a pitcher with a pole, "strikeout" is only teethmarks shy of a synonym for "at bat"- at the hands of Philadelphia hurler Cole Hamels.

On strike two, Colon, for heaven's sake, whiffed with such incomprehensible gale force that it actually blew back at him and dislodged his lid. In the midst of all that, he struggled to retain his balance.

Watching that one-of-a-kind highlight, if you have at least a reasonable education in physical science, you have to wonder how that's possible.

I know one thing. You'll never see David Ortiz crumble in the batter's box quite like that. The only time a real hitter's helmet goes flying within the vicinity of the plate is when he plucks it off himself and hurls it out of frustration over a K. Or if he doffs it in a jovial manner upon approaching the plate after a walk-off home run.

But the embarrassing, awkward phenomena you saw in Monday's fourth inning at Citizen's Bank Park can only happen to the likes of Colon. And let's get this clear: Colon is big, but he's not Big Papi big. He's Rich Garces big; CC Sabathia big; David Wells big.

In other words, he's pitcher big. In other words, he was born specifically to prevent hits, not to belt them out.

And another thing: postgame reports out of Philly indicate that Colon lasted one more shift on his proper abode, then left after a measly four innings of work with back stiffness. It's not as bad as being shelved for up to three months with a sprained foot, but what did Colon attribute his affliction to?

You guessed it. "I think I hurt it on that swing where my helmet fell off," he reportedly explained.

What a concept. And only more fundamental proof that the misfortunes of a batter are to be celebrated, not empathized, by a pitcher. On top of the following:

Since the 1973 advent of the DH, the league embracing it has, on the whole, tipped the scale against its stubbornly old school counterpart. The World Series scoreboard from then till now reads 22-13 in favor of the AL. Eight teams have championship droughts dating back to the pre-DH era, and six call the NL home.

In the All-Star Game, the American League is on an 11-game (10-0-1) unbeaten streak.

Out 77 no-hitters since 1973, an AL tenant has been credited with 45, NL inhabitants 32. And one of the NL's no-hitters, achieved by the Houston Astros against the Yankees in 2003, is beyond borderline in that it was split amongst six different hurlers, none of whom completed three innings.

The all-time no-hit monarch, Nolan Ryan, thrust six of his seven career masterpieces with an AL ump calling his strikes. There's no way he would have garnered such a sparkling statistic if he had stayed in Houston, where Wang hurt himself Sunday and where other pitchers tend to cut their starts short because they are needlessly multitasking.

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