- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
The Year in Review
The wild final weekend in the National League West race (previous page) capped a strange, sensational, streaky and sometimes stupid season in baseball. As a counterpoint to the Braves' and Twins' last-to-first flip-flops, the Reds had the lowest winning percentage ever for a defending world champion (.457). Jose Canseco excited more fans by visiting Madonna's apartment than he did by hitting 44 homers. And for the first time ever, a manager was sued by an umpire: Lou Piniella of the Reds was hit with a lawsuit after he ripped Gary Darling over a disputed home run.
The tone for the season may have been set on Opening Day when replacement umpires were needed because of a labor dispute with the regular umps. Calling balls and strikes in Toronto was John Higgins, a chef, who described the historic occasion as going "from dinner plate to home plate." On that day, who would have thought that six months later: A's second baseman Mike Gallego would have more home runs (12) than the Yankees' Don Mattingly (nine), the Red Sox's Mike Greenwell (nine) and the Royals' George Brett (10); Pirate catcher Mike LaValliere would have more triples (two) than the Reds' Eric Davis (none); the first 19-game winner in the American League would have been Detroit's Bill Gullickson; White Sox infield smurfs Ozzie Guillen and Craig Grebeck would have hit grand slams, giving them each one more in their careers than Glenn Davis or Kevin Mitchell, neither of whom has hit one; minor league outfielder Rodney McCray would have made highlight-film history by running through an outfield wall; nine managers would have been fired, the last being the Yankees' Stump Merrill, who got the ax on Monday; the Blue Jays would have drawn more than four million fans and Montreal would have drawn less than one million; Cleveland outfielder Chris James would have had nine RBIs in one game in May and then have knocked in only that many in the season's final three months; the Mets' David Cone would have tied a National League record by striking out 19 batters in a game on the season's final day, and that only Cone, Nolan Ryan and Dwight Gooden would have more K's in a game than Indians pitcher Doug Jones, who had 13 on Sept. 17; or that Giants outfielder Willie McGee and Mets outfielder Vince Coleman would have shared Coleman's glove, Little League style, for one game. And, said San Francisco catcher Terry Kennedy, "It was a blue glove to boot. They should be beheaded."
It was that kind of year—one that was worthy of a lot of awards for both its highs and lows.
The Jimmy Piersall Award
To Reds reliever Rob Dibble for a truly tempestuous season. He was suspended for intentionally throwing a pitch at Houston's Eric Yelding. He was suspended a second time for throwing a ball into the centerfield stands and hitting a schoolteacher in the arm. He was fined for intentionally throwing at and hitting a base runner, the Cubs' Doug Dascenzo, who had laid down a successful squeeze bunt against him. Dibble finally promised to get counseling for his wayward temper, but not before blaming most of his troubles on the media.
Injury of the Year
The "Jacuzzi-tusion" suffered by Padres reliever Larry Andersen while stepping into his hot tub carrying two glasses of juice. He slipped and, as he tried to steady himself, pulled a muscle in the upper left side of his chest and was sidelined for a week.
Runner-up: The punctured right thumb of A's pitcher Eric Show. Show stabbed the finger with a toothpick, it became infected, and he had to go on the 15-day disabled list.