Weekly Pepper - Week 2

by Gregory Pratt, BaseballEvolution.com
April 14, 2008

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After a weekend of exploring the city of Los Angeles and staying in West Hollywood, from driving through South Central to visiting the Coliseum and the accompanying science museum, Gregory Pratt wakes from the pueblo's roof and returns to the city he ‘gloves’ to share his thoughts on the last week in baseball.

The Resilience of Man -- Last week I was reading about Ichiro Suzuki and came across this note in an article about him: "The Japanese record for hits is 3,085, set by Isao Harimoto, a survivor of the nuclear attack on Hiroshima, who played from 1959 to 1981." It was, to me, a beautiful example of man's endurance, and yet another layer to my love of baseball. Don't you find it beautiful that a man can survive that to set a record in his, and our, sport? (As an aside, I have no doubt that Ichiro Suzuki would be Major League Baseball's all-time hits leader had he started play here as a younger man.)

349 -- Greg Maddux won his 349th game, and I am looking forward to his passing Roger Clemens on the all-time win list. It will be one of the happiest memories I have of professional baseball, when it happens.

More than a pitcher -- Tim Lincecum on Sunday: six innings, eleven strikeouts, and victory on behalf of the worst team in the league. By the way, the Barry Bonds-San Francisco Giants breakup and Peter McGowan's insistence that the Giants will not, under any circumstance -- not even for a minimum contract -- bring Bonds back reminds me of one of my favorite songs by Will Oldham/"Bonnie Prince Billie": "Well, I would not have moved / if I knew you were here / It's some special action with motives unclear / Now you'll haunt me, you'll haunt me / 'Till I've paid for what I've done / It's a payment / which precludes / the having of fun / And you're always, on my mind."

What might've been -- Thursday was going to be a matchup between Livan Hernandez and Jose Contreras, the first Cuban-versus-Cuban pitching duel in baseball history, but it fell through because of the rain in Chicago. A friend of mine and I had tickets to go but didn't get the opportunity, and I was very disappointed by this.

Love of Richard Nixon -- It only took Richard Nixon five years to return to the White House after his resignation. It took Bill Buckner twenty two years to return to Fenway Park after the 1986 World Series. Except that isn't really true: he returned four years after the gaffe as a player, having been released the season after his World Series error, and he returned in the late-90s as a coach for the Chicago White Sox. So, this wasn't his first time back at Fenway, but when he was honored by the Boston Red Sox and given a ceremony it just had to be big news, right? (Nixon, since I drew the comparison, was invited by the Carter Administration to celebrate the SALT II agreement, because he was the father of detente. However, it was not out of Carter's sense of nobility, honor and decency that Nixon was invited: the Soviet delegation made a special request for him, as Nixon had and still has a sterling reputation in foreign policy circles from Oxford to the Politburo.)

"I Have Never Been a Quitter" -- Gavin Floyd has the Detroit Tigers' number, and almost threw a no-hitter against them on Saturday night. Sitting in a bar with a friend and her family late on Saturday night, I noticed Floyd onscreen and felt embarrassed for the Tigers when I realized that he had been no-hitting them. I can hit Gavin Floyd, but he has dominated that team since he came to Chicago last season. I just wonder how long it will be before Jim Leyland quits, at this rate of failure in Motown, and I wonder whether it is likelier that Floyd's ERA will be above five before the end of the season or that the Tigers will miss the playoffs due to their hideous pitching staff? Believe it or not, I think Floyd would be an improvement over the recently injured Dontrelle Willis, but that is not saying much.

This week's piece is short due to the lack of preparation time, because of the travel, but rest assured that I will return next week with a longer note. For now, here's a history of the week, from a subscription I have: in 1979: "Ladies and gentlemen, I suffer with you. I've never seen such stupid baseball playing in my life." That was uttered by Ray Croc, Padres owner, to his fans. How long before Mike Illitch says the same? I'm sorry to beat up on the Detroit Tigers, but conventional wisdom had them and has them being the greatest team since the 2004 Chicago Cubs (for different reasons, albeit), and we all know how that turned out.

Gregory Pratt is a political science student at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His political commentary can be found at the Office of the Independent Blogger, and he can be reached at Gregory@baseballevolution.com.