Weekly Pepper - Week 4

by Gregory Pratt, BaseballEvolution.com
April 28, 2008

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Gregory Pratt would have been a productive player to have on your fantasy team last week. He won an award for best undergraduate student paper, had dinner with someone whose existence he loves, and received his first response from a Presidential library regarding research he's doing. That is only a basic summary.

History of the Week I -- In light of the terrible story about a baseball fan dying at Shea Stadium, I wanted to recount Eleanor Price's story last week but couldn't find it in time. Now that I have tracked it down, I would like to share it. In The Year Babe Ruth Hit 104 Homeruns (a book I highly recommend, especially if you are ignorant of Babe Ruth's career beyond the boxscore), Bill Jenkinson recounts a game on May 19th, 1929 where "an explosively violent thunderstorm rumbled through the Bronx." This rain delay turned from a normal occurrence into a tragedy when two fans were trampled on their way toward the exits. The first died away from view but the other, seventeen-year-old Eleanor Price, was mortally injured and carried across the field by the Stadium's police officers. Ruth, still in the dugout, noticed this so he ran out to help in any way he could, and as they waited for the ambulance that took twenty minutes to arrive, she died while he held her. This had a negative effect on Ruth's play for the next month, but he was able to overcome the pain the event had caused (which was especially pronounced because of his wife's recent death). Some people, like Jenkinson, consider this to be Babe Ruth "in a [one-month] microcosm," and I think it is a story that should be shared more widely.

Rain Delays -- Moving right along, I want to share a photograph I have, source unknown, from a rain delay. It is easily my favorite baseball picture of all-time. 

Isn't it beautiful?

3000 -- Congratulations go to John Smoltz for striking out his three thousandth batter this week. There are few players who are as good and dedicated to their sport as he is, and he deserves every kudos he receives, including the ultimate one at Cooperstown.

Passing the Ten Million Dollar Buc -- The Pirates ate Matt Morris' contract. You know how many tapas I could buy with that kind of money? Morris shouldn't be paid ten million dollars to put up the numbers he's putting up at this stage in his career, but the Pirates should have never traded for him to begin with. It saddens me to watch a city I love suffer through miserable baseball every single year.

Fighting Words -- Barry Zito's contract is the worst of all-time, in any sport, except for the one Bob Dole signed to hawk Viagra a few years ago. For different reasons! Although that association does make me wonder if Zito might be able to call Dole and arrange for something to help him "get it up." His velocity, that is.

Say What? -- Watching the Cubs face the Rockies earlier in the week, I couldn't help but laugh when I saw Scott Podsednik run hard to first on a base hit and score on a drive into the gap. Last season, Podsednik said that he was about ready to leave Chicago and find a new place to play. Why? Ozzie Guillen was, at times, critical of him as unreliable because of his injuries. I remember thinking to myself, "Wouldn't it be hilarious if he could run hard but just didn't do it anymore in Chicago, for whatever reason?" Looks like that might have been the case. As an aside, I can't believe Podsednik would ever want to leave Chicago. He had quite the devoted, and vocal, fanbase here, even if they were all twelve years old. Hey, say what you will about young girls who like players because they're "cute" -- those guys sell shirts! I guess that's of little consolation when the local message boards trash you as a loser and the manager thinks you're a wimp.

Closer's Corpas -- I was sorry to hear that Manny Corpas lost his job as closer this week. He's been a favorite of mine ever since I read this article. More specifically, he has been a favorite of mine ever since I read this paragraph: "Florencia Gil de Corpas, exhausted from working as a domestic aid for an American woman in the capital, would sigh as she tired [sic] to figure out how to make Puny do what he was supposed to. She grabbed the only thing she could find that was as hard as that head of his -- a skillet -- and whapped him on the butt. When blows to the behind didn't work, she thought an examination of the head might. Florencia dragged Manuel to a psychologist when he was 9, hoping he could influence her son in ways that she and her husband, Manuel Sr., couldn't. 'He doesn't want to study, doesn't do what I ask of him,' Florencia told the doctor. 'He just wants to play baseball.'"

"Oh!" -- I spent my Friday night with a professor and a good friend of his. We watched the Cubs-Nationals game, ate peanuts, and drank coke. When Reed Johnson made his spectacular catch, my professor yelled "Oh!" and his friend yelled "Oh!" and then I let one loose, too. That was a great catch, and there's nothing I would rather have been doing at that moment than enjoying a pleasant evening with good friends.

Manager of the Year -- Yeah, it's early, and I want to make it clear that I am not genuinely predicting that Trey Hillman will become the Manager of the Year, but I don't see how anyone can read this story and not come away admiring the man. For what it's worth, I think he would deserve it if the Royals manage to be at or above five hundred this season, but that's something to be discussed in the dog days of summer.

Troy Percival -- I tip my cap to Percival for what he has done so far this year and what his pitching staff has done, as well. No, he doesn't deserve credit for their natural abilities, and the coaching staff deserves praise for their treatment of the young Rays, but let's be clear: Percival has been a great addition in Tampa Bay, and I am glad to see him have such success. 

History of the Week II -- Instead of a story or a summary, I'd like to direct you to this page. If you don't recognize every player, you ought to research them.

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.