- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Before the 1980 season, Sparky Anderson compared Kirk Gibson to Mickey Mantle. "I was so cocky and stupid at the time, I thought I could do it," Gibson says now. "I was the next Mickey Mantle? C'mon. I was overmatched."
Gibson was the local hero, the football star from Michigan State with the great bod. He was also a baseball novice who played only one season of college ball and 143 games in the minors. But in 1984 Gibson, who batted .227 last season and was on the DL three times in the previous five years, is healthy, happy and 15 pounds lighter. He's also hitting .283 with career highs in homers (20), RBIs (72), steals (22) and gamers (15).
"I'd lost a lot of confidence," he says. "And maybe I took some things for granted, too. But this year I'm much more relaxed. And because of the start we had, the spotlight's been off me."
"I don't know if he'll ever have great numbers, but he'll always have good, solid numbers," says Anderson, who admits his Mantle comparison was a mistake. "He's happy now because he was able to whip this game. For a while this game whipped him."
There were some immediate repercussions to the Padres-Braves beanball war of Aug. 12. And Phillies manager Paul Owens didn't like them one bit. "They're all walking on eggs out there, they've got hair triggers, and every pitch that comes close is going to be considered a knockdown," Owens said after the umpires warned Jerry Koosman for hitting San Diego's Alan Wiggins. This was two days after Pascual Perez had nailed Wiggins to precipitate that beanbrawl and two at bats after Wiggins slapped a Koosman outside pitch the other way for a single.
" Wiggins was practically standing on the plate," Owens continued. "What the hell's Koosman supposed to do, throw him the same pitch? He cut a fastball in on his hands and it was maybe six inches off the plate. He gets warned and it takes the game right out of the pitcher's hands. I'd like to be a hitter knowing a guy can't pitch inside."
Ya gotta love Bruce Kison, who may be as good a money pitcher as this generation has seen. The guy's 34, he's been pitching in pain for years, he missed the first 10 weeks of 1984 recuperating from back surgery and—sonofagun!—he's working on a 15-inning scoreless streak.
The last six zeros came last week in Detroit as Kison got the win in his first start of the season. With Geoff Zahn on the DL until sometime next month, Kison will have to win a few games if the Angels hope to win the AL West.
Kison's track record says he will. He's 27-10 lifetime in September-October, and his postseason mark is 5-1.
John Candelaria took another shot at Pirates executive V.P. Pete Peterson, calling him an "idiot" for hiring his son Rick, a former minor league player and coach, as a coach in March. "I consider John a friend," Rick said. "Now, if he had said I wore dirty undershorts, I might have gotten mad."... Cincy's Ron Oester was hitting .208 at the All-Star break, but since former batting coach Ted Kluszewski was brought in from his job as minor league hitting instructor to work with him, Oester has raised his average to .243.... Larry Bowa (13 for 80) and Dave Owen (6 for 43) are hitting a combined .154 since the All-Star break, which is why Tom Veryzer may get a chance to be the Cubs' shortstop until phenom Shawon Dunston, the nation's No. 1 draft pick in 1982, graduates from the Cubs' Iowa farm club. Bowa sees the whole shortstop situation as a "personality conflict." Says Jim Frey, "It has nothing to do with personality. It's production, and I'm not getting any from my shortstops."... The book said that Sid Fernandez, the lefty strikeout whiz the Mets got from the Dodgers this winter, couldn't throw enough strikes. Well, since his July 11 promotion from Class AAA, where he was walking more than five batters per nine innings, Fernandez is 4-1 with a 2.20 ERA and has given up only 13 walks in 49 innings.... When the Astros' Terry Puhl was asked what was the most encouraging aspect of his club's season, he said it was management's decision to bring in the fences. And the most discouraging? "They haven't done it yet."... " Pete Rose will arrive as a manager," says Atlanta boss Joe Torre, briefly the Mets' player-manager, "the first time he pinch-hits for himself."