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CROSSING THE LINE
If Diamondbacks interim manager Al Pedrique had not already sealed his exit with his team's awful play, he did so by ordering his staff not to pitch to Giants slugger Barry Bonds (right) in a three-game series from Sept. 10 through 12 because he didn't want Bonds to hit his 700th career homer at Bank One Ballpark. There is no shame in giving up a milestone homer to Bonds, but there is shame in professional cowardice. Pedrique's comments fell well outside the boundaries of acceptable baseball strategy and drew the attention of commissioner Bud Selig, who said he intended to speak to the Diamondbacks' manager.
Bonds's 106 intentional walks through Sunday have started talk about rules changes, such as allowing one intentional walk per player per game or awarding second base to the batter when he is intentionally walked with the bases empty. Nonsense. The intentional walk is a strategic element in the game. Not only are rules changes unnecessary, they also would encourage the charade of making intentional walks appear to be unintentional. Selig has no interest in rewriting the rule book. Referring to Bonds, he said, "This is a very unique situation."
HIS HEAD'S IN THE GAME
If the A's lose rightfielder Jermaine Dye, who has a slight fracture in his left thumb, they have a pretty good backup. Nick Swisher, a 24-year-old rookie, acts as if he's been in the big leagues for years, though the 2002 first-round draft pick was just called up on Sept. 3. Swisher (left) is the son of former major league catcher Steve Swisher and has gained as much attention for his attitude as his stick (.262, six RBIs). "I don't think Nick ever expects to fail," says G.M. Billy Beane. "That's just his personality. You see that a lot with guys who grew up around the game, like Bret Boone. I'll take 25 guys with an attitude like Bret Boone's."
Until this year only six teams in baseball history had more than 30 fewer wins than they did the previous season (excluding years shortened by strikes and war). Now the Diamondbacks and the Mariners are on track to join that list.
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]
1. The Mets can't build their rotation around lefty Al Leiter, especially with his $10 million option for '05. Leiter, who turns 39 next month, throws more pitches per inning (18.7) than all but one other starter in the majors and has gone seven innings in only 14 of his last 57 starts.