STILL SMACKING IT
Mark McGwire (left) may someday fulfill his desire to be a hitting instructor, but for now baseball must wait until he satisfies his serious Jones for golf. McGwire, 40, told reporters before playing in the 102nd Western Amateur last week that he is "addicted to" the game. His enthusiasm remained after missing the cut by 15 strokes with rounds of 82 and 76. It was the first major amateur golf tournament for McGwire, who retired after the 2001 season. McGwire hit as many trees on his opening nine holes (six) as he did triples in his 16-year major league career. McGwire didn't draw nearly the same size galleries as Michael Jordan did at the 1991 Western Amateur, but more than 100 people trailed him as he fought to control his long drives. Said McGwire, "I feel like I'm a baby in all of this." Asked if he would return next year if invited, he said, "I'd be back in a heartbeat." Baseball's loss is golf's gain.
SAY IT AIN'T NO
Carlos Delgado of Toronto, Larry Walker and Charles Johnson (right) of Colorado, and Randy Johnson of Arizona all exercised their trade veto power to remain with hopelessly losing teams rather than go to contenders. Said Rangers G.M. John Hart, "I may be old school, but you get an opportunity to play for a winner, and you've got guys turning deals down and the chance to win somewhere. It doesn't compute. It's not a good reflection." No sense getting upset. No-trade clauses are fairly bargained benefits enjoyed by a select few, giving them some say in where they work and their families live.
Former St. Louis pitching phenom Rick Ankiel (left), back from Tommy John surgery, began a 30-day rehabilitation assignment for Class A Palm Beach on Monday and will be in the Cardinals' bullpen in September. Ankiel, a dangerous hitter, would be even more valuable if used as Milwaukee uses pitcher-hitter Brooks Kieschnick, but the Cardinals have no such plans. "I don't know that he's that good of a hitter," said St. Louis G.M. Walt Jocketty. "We signed him to be a pitcher, and that's where his future is. He's doing great: 100-percent recovered from surgery. He's going to help us."
BIG TALK, LITTLE ACTION
Every team likes to think it can find the missing piece to a world championship team just before the trading deadline, but such pickups are exceedingly rare. From 1993 to 2003 (excluding the strike-shortened '94 season) more than 400 players were traded in the week leading up to the trading deadline. Only six wound up on a World Series champion, with three of them playing minimal roles. Here are those rare deadline additions:
2002 Angels: Alex Ochoa (from Brewers)
2001 Diamondbacks: Albie Lopez (from Devil Rays)
1997 Marlins: Craig Counsell (from Rockies)
1996 Yankees: Cecil Fielder (from Tigers), David Weathers (from Marlins)
1993 Blue Jays; Rickey Henderson (from A's)
1. The Diamondbacks kept the wrong young lefthander. They would have been better off with Chris Capuano, whom they dumped in the Richie Sexson deal with Milwaukee, than Casey Fossum, whom they thought was their prize in the Curt Schilling deal with Boston.
2. Discipline czar Bob Watson blew his call on the Yankees-Red Sox fight. In what illogical world does woofing at a pitcher ( Alex Rodriguez) draw the same penalty (four-game suspension) as inciting a fight with a shove to the face ( Jason Varitek)?
3. No Dodgers infielder has won a Gold Glove since 1978, but shortstop Cesar Izturis and second baseman Alex Cora are the best double-play combination in baseball.