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Baseball
Tim Kurkjian
May 13, 1991
A Matter of Style
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May 13, 1991

Baseball

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ACES IN THE HOLE

"Going into the hole" is about the toughest play a shortstop has to make. But what is the hole? Well, the folks at STATS, Inc. define it roughly as the 20-foot section of the infield that starts 40 feet from third base and 30 from second. Here are the shortstops who, by dint of strong arm and smart positioning, most often emerge from the hole to get an out somewhere

BALLS

IN THE 'HOLE'

OUTS

Ozzie Guillen,White Sox

371

246

65.6%

Jose Uribe, Giants

273

173

63.4%

Dick Schofield, Angels

222

140

63.1%

Cal Ripken, Orioles

325

201

61.8

Alan Trammell, Tigers

296

182

61.5%

MAJOR LEAGUE AVG.

55.9%

SOURCE: STATS, INC.

From start of 1989 season through May 4, 1991

A Matter of Style

The A's Rickey Henderson finally got stolen base No. 939, on May 1, to pass Lou Brock as the alltime leader, but Henderson was upstaged that night by the Rangers' Nolan Ryan, who pitched his seventh no-hitter (page 42). There was something symbolic about that. The 44-year-old Ryan is one of the few true heroes left in baseball, a beloved player who began his career in an era that wasn't dominated by cash, cockiness and controversy. Henderson isn't a bad guy; he's just part of the new breed of players who too often say and do the wrong thing at the wrong time. The actions of Ryan and Henderson after their respective record-setting performances were especially telling.

Following the no-hitter, a humble Ryan was given a bottle of champagne by Texas manager Bobby Valentine as a token of the team's appreciation. Ryan then did his usual 30 minutes of postgame exercising. Even his opponents across North America cheered him.

By contrast, following his record theft, of third base, in the fourth inning of a game against the Yankees in Oakland. Henderson lifted the base in the air and paraded around the field. He was graciously congratulated by Brock, who then had to stand by as Henderson proclaimed, "Lou Brock was a great base stealer, but today I am the greatest of all time." Padres reliever Larry Andersen said Henderson's display "made me want to puke." The Athletics then gave Henderson a Porsche for his achievement.

Without question Henderson is the premier leadoff man in history. What makes his stolen-base mark especially impressive is his power: When he set the record, he had almost as many homers (166) as the next four active stolen-base leaders combined (171). It's just too bad that Henderson and the rest of today's petulant stars aren't more like Ryan.

New Spirit of St. Louis

Rex Hudler, the Cardinals' hard-charging utilityman, stood looking at his teammates in the lively St. Louis clubhouse before a game against the Braves last week. "It's as if they washed these walls clean, scrubbed the place," he said.

Last year the Cards' clubhouse was lifeless. Too many players—including Vince Coleman, Willie McGee and Terry Pendleton—had been in St. Louis too long. "Maybe the hungriness wasn't here; maybe there was a comfort zone," says pitcher Bryn Smith. Indeed, nothing can make a team more listless than players who have lost that hunger. Whitey Herzog resigned as manager last July 6 when he saw that he could no longer motivate his players.

Joe Torre was hired as his replacement, and the rebuilding process began. McGee was dealt to the A's on Aug. 29. Pendleton and Coleman were not re-signed and joined other teams as free agents in the off-season. Torre was left with a number of young, unproven players at key positions, but they have played with newfound enthusiasm. The Cardinals went 13-8 in April, their most wins in that month since 1982. Through Sunday's games, they were in third place, only 1½ games out of first, with a 14-11 record. Clearly, the Cards are hungry again.

"While I was away, people kept telling me how tough it is to manage these days," says Torre, who spent six years as a broadcaster for the Angels after being fired as Atlanta's manager following the 1984 season, even though he had guided the Braves to one first-place and two second-place finishes the three previous seasons. "But I don't see that with this team. We've been a distraction to teams. They don't know what we'll do, but they know we'll do it hard. These guys have been a manager's dream. You have to tap them on the shoulder and say, 'Hey, the game is over.' "

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