Why Webb's record is safe; prophetic baseball movies
Posted: Wednesday July 11, 2007 9:20PM; Updated: Wednesday July 11, 2007 9:20PM
Thank you for mentioning Earl Webb's doubles record -- 67 in 1931. It seems to go unnoticed compared to baseball's other long-standing records (Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hit streak being the biggest). I've been following it this year, and there are three candidates with a decent chance: Magglio Ordonez (35), Chase Utley (34) and Dan Uggla (32). Think any of them will break it?
I'm sorry to say, no, I don't think it will happen. It's weird how many guys have been on pace to break it and then they just don't keep up the pace in the second half. I don't know why that is. In general, outfield defense is much better than it was back in Webb's day and I suspect the outfields themselves are less spacious. No one's had even 60 doubles since 1936. I do think Ordonez can get there.
Given the success of the Indians following Major League, the Twins following Little Big League, and the Angels following Angels in the Outfield (nevermind the Cubs and Rookie of the Year -- nobody can save that franchise), which club should appear in a movie next to turn themselves around? My vote would be for the Royals -- maybe a tear-jerker, since the Tigers already vexed their demons with For Love of the Game.
Hey, don't forget how Bernie Mac will be taking credit for turning around the Brewers and Jim Morris for ... uh, forget that one. I wonder how many different teams have been featured in major studio movies? If anybody's got such a list, pass it along. In the meantime, we await the world premiere of The Unnatural, an updated version of Bernard Malamud's classic in which a previously unheard of older player shows up to play for the Royals, leading them to the brink of a pennant. But before Game 7 of the ALCS, he is discovered to have reaped the benefits of gene therapy.
With all this Home Run Derby madness, why doesn't MLB let the fans vote for who gets to participate?
Not a bad idea, although I wouldn't let the fans pick all the participants. You've seen with the Last Man voting how, for instance, Red Sox Nation carries so much weight on the Internet. My fear is that it wouldn't allow, say, a Prince Fielder to crack the lineup. But if you'd let the fans pick two from each league, I'd have no problem with that. It is a pure entertainment event. Let them see who they want to see. But I bet the players might not like it. Then it puts pressure on them to participate, when clearly some of them would rather skip it and take the day off.
How do Billy Beane and the Oakland A's brass keep finding hidden gems like Chad Gaudin and Lenny DiNardo? What does the fact the A's still get the better of a deal after all the fuss about Moneyball mean?
It's pretty simple: Beane is a smart guy who surrounds himself with smart guys. I believe the best, shrewdest thing a GM can do these days is find young pitchers under contractual control (cheaply) who are just ready to break through and win. Beane has done it. (So has Omar Minaya, with Oliver Perez and John Maine.) Let's also give credit to his field staff, too, for getting the best of these guys.