- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Charlie Hough has to be one of the AL's best-kept secrets. The Ranger knuckle-baller, 13-12 this year, is 60-52 since becoming a starter in '82. While that may not get him to Cooperstown, his winning percentage of .535 is 130 points higher than the Rangers' in that period, and if you subtract his record from theirs.... The Indians' centerfielder-leadoff man Brett Butler is another first-rate player (he hasn't made an error this season) buried on a last-place team. He's hitting .306 with a .363 on-base percentage, is second in the AL in triples (12), is fourth in steals (35) and is hitting .396 with runners in scoring position.... The Yankees' Rickey Henderson could become the first player since Bert Campaneris in 1970 to lead the AL in stolen bases and have more than 20 home runs.... After the Yankees' Ken Griffey made a remarkable catch to rob Boston's Marty Barrett of a ninth-inning, game-tying homer early last week, Bob Shirley asked, "How come I don't get any of the credit? Behind every great catch, there's a pitcher who threw the pitch to make the catch possible."
Carlton Fisk finally caught Willie Wilson stealing, but he had to bean him to do it. Wilson was nearing second when Fisk's peg hit him at the base of his skull.
White Sox shortstop Ozzie Guillen made the tag as the K.C. outfielder lay on the ground, his feet straddling the bag but not quite touching it. "I felt my body moving," Wilson said, "but I couldn't do anything."
"I hated to do it," said Guillen, "but it was my job. I had to tag him fast because the trainer was coming out, and I thought they would call time."
Wilson spent the night in the hospital with a concussion and missed Wednesday's game but returned to hit a pair of triples in the Royals' 7-3 win over the White Sox the next night.
When he was winning earlier this season, Boston pitcher Oil Can Boyd was a charming, if brash, young man with a talented right arm and a flair for the dramatic. Now he has lost seven of his last 10 decisions and his charm as well.
His latest explosion came after a 5-3 loss to Texas last Wednesday. The Can stalked around the Red Sox clubhouse muttering about lack of support and provoked Jim Rice into a shouting and shoving match. "We're busting our butts out there and you're acting like we're not trying," Rice shouted. Boyd, who did some shoving with Rick Miller earlier this season after a 1-0 loss, was a no-show Thursday and missed half of Friday and was docked two days' pay.
In the Oakland Coliseum, nary a soul is complaining about the trade that sent outfielder Rickey Henderson to the Yankees. Henderson, 26, may be a superstar, but the A's, desperate for arms, got four pitchers who could be around for years. Jay Howell, at 29 the oldest of the bunch, has 23 saves and a 1.93 ERA; hard-throwing lefty Tim Birtsas, 24, is 9-4 since being promoted from Triple A; righty Jose Rijo, 20, who throws harder than Birtsas, is 2-1 with 18 Ks in 15⅓ innings since his recall; and righty Eric Plunk, 22, yet another power pitcher, is in Triple A after starting the year in Double A.
"Somebody told me in the dugout, 'This guy's got nothing,' " Reggie Jackson of the Angels said after Rijo struck him out twice last week. "I got up to the plate and I didn't even see the first pitch."
Jerry Koosman, the Phils' 42-year-old lefty and the oldest starter in the NL, is back on the DL with a sore left knee, which required arthroscopic surgery earlier this season. Koosman, who allowed 11 runs in 2⅓ innings over his last two starts, may retire next year if he can't hook up with a team closer to his Minnesota home.... Steve Carlton, the Phillies' 40-year-old lefty with the sore shoulder, threw about 100 pitches in a simulated game Friday. Carlton, who last pitched June 18, may be activated soon.... San Diego's LaMarr Hoyt, who said he had never missed a start before, did so last Saturday because of a shoulder that has been hurting for a month, which may explain his 0-4 record and 7.29 ERA over his last six starts.... The Chicago Cubs, who have spent much of the season consulting doctors, returned the favor by hosting a benefit dinner for cancer research programs at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. The well-scrubbed Cubs showed up in tuxedos for the Wrigley Field affair.... San Diego Padres third baseman Graig Nettles, who had a birthday last week, said his name changed that day, at least in the newspapers. "For the last year I've been '40-year-old Graig Nettles.' Now it's '41-year-old Graig Nettles.' "...Pirates manager Chuck Tanner is part of a group interested in buying the Pirates and making him G.M. as well as manager. But don't hold your breath. The Pirates lost a reported $6 million last year and may drop $9 million this year. Says Tanner, "We don't have that kind of money to lose."...He's No Fluke Dept.: Ryne Sandberg of the Cubs has hit five homers in 13 games since moving from second to third or fourth in the batting order. Sandberg has a career-high 20 for the year, and the night he hit No. 20 he became the first National Leaguer with 30 steals and 20 homers.... Willie McGee, leading the NL batting race by 34 points at .361, says former teammate George Hendrick taught him how to curb his hyper personality and relax. "Nothing seems to bother George," says McGee. "I would leave the park feeling down, but by the time we got home [the two car-pooled], I'd be laughing and looking forward to the next day."...When Steve Sax walked into his Philly hotel room last week he noticed something under the covers of the bed. The Dodgers' second baseman found the head of a pig with an apple in its mouth and a note attached that read: "Play better baseball—or else." It was signed, "The Godfather." Sax figured out who did it. Roast pork had been a main course earlier that day at the restaurant owned by Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda and his brothers.