As for Sanders, he's playing in a home run park. The prime triples venue of recent years is Kansas City's stadium, whose outfield has bouncy turf and spacious alleys. Brett, Fred Patek and Willie Wilson all led the league in triples while playing there. But if Sanders got much help from a park, he might motor right on past third base, all the way to home. It is tempting to say that in a Forbes Field, Sanders would have hit 50 triples a year, except that the way he runs, those hits might all have been inside-the-park homers.
"The thing about Deion," says his manager, Bobby Cox, "is that all he has to do to get a triple is barely put the ball in the gap." He's not just fast, he's a football player, a great broken-field runner: 90 yards with two big cuts is right up his alley.
Sanders, with Otis Nixon vying for time in centerfield, certainly has had the other-outfielder-resentment factor to motivate him. And now that Deion has apparently stopped trying to play football during baseball season, he's bound to get in a full 600-at-bat season soon, and we'll see who will be the Chief.
BATSABListics suggests, indeed, that someday someone will happen to notice both Deion and the Chief in The Baseball Encyclopedia, and this is what will go through that reader's mind: Hmmm, they both had spotty careers. But each of them sure did that triple thing one time.