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|Saturday, August 12|
|Ducey for Ducey? Not quite, but close enough|
|It's a feat never accomplished by Babe Ruth, Willie Mays or Ty Cobb. For
that matter, it's a feat never accomplished by Mike Morgan, Dave LaPoint or
Juan Beniquez, either.
Anyone in baseball can get traded. But among all active players, only Rob
Ducey has now been traded for himself.
Oct. 23 -- traded by Detroit to Cubs to complete earlier deal.
Nov. 9 -- filed for free agency. Boy, that's gratitude for you. The other guy known to do this -- according to Philadelphia's foremost expert on just about everything, Bill Conlin -- was the legendary Harry Chiti. On Nov. 16, 1961, he was dealt from Cleveland to Baltimore. And right after opening day, he reversed the trip. But it took both those men way longer than a week and a half to get back where they started. So we had the Elias Sports Bureau research other instances of players who played for the same team twice in the same season, with a third team in between.
Ordinarily, it's not that unusual to see a big right-handed-hitting Dodger crush two mammoth home runs at Dodger Stadium. Except usually it's Gary Sheffield. Not Darren Dreifort. But Tuesday night at Chavez Ravine, it was, in fact, Darren Dreifort, the sweetest-swinging pitcher in our land, who stepped up and mashed two humongous home runs last seen heading for Rancho Cucamonga. The first one went out just to the right of dead center. That was estimated at 441 feet. The second almost cleared the left-field pavilion. That one was estimated at 462 feet. Just to put that in perspective, Sheffield has hit no home runs this year estimated to be longer than either of those. Neither has Eric Karros. Meanwhile, let's remember that no pitcher had hit two home runs of any length in any game in 10 years -- since Derek Lilliquist did it on May 1, 1990. Only two other pitchers had done it since the '70s -- Walt Terrell, on Aug. 6, 1983, and Jim Gott, on May 12, 1985. And no Dodgers pitcher had done it since Don Drysdale in 1958. So what the heck are we to make of Darren Dreifort, a man who now has only one fewer home run this year (three) than Matt Williams? "He's a super freak," teammate F.P. Santangelo told Week in Review. "I've told him all year, if he ever entered that ESPN Home Run Challenge, he'd win it, no problem. He'd beat Canseco. He'd beat McGwire. He'd beat anybody. He'd hit 30-40 home runs a year if he was a position player." Since Dreifort, until lately, has had trouble getting that pitching thing down, we have three words for him to contemplate: George Herman Ruth. "What do you think?" Santangelo mused. "He goes from pitching to hitting -- and breaks McGwire's record next year?" Sounds like a decent story to us. But since we're not in charge, we'll just concentrate on the show Dreifort put on just in this one evening -- an evening in which he was one of four Dodgers to hit a home run just in the fourth inning. As Santangelo -- a man who has hit zero homers this year -- watched the second homer go hurtling into Mars orbit, he had a scary thought of what might be coming up in this game. Supposed, he wondered, the Dodgers actually decided to take Dreifort out of it? So he strolled down the dugout toward manager Davey Johnson. "I told Davey, 'If you're even thinking about pinch-hitting me for Dreifort tonight, don't do it,' " Santangelo quipped. But seriously, folks. Just imagine the crowd reaction had that ever happened. "It wouldn't have happened," Santangelo said, "because I wouldn't have done it. I would have gotten in my car and driven home. No way I'd pinch-hit for a guy who just hit two miles worth of home runs." Meanwhile, it wasn't just those Dodgers hitters who were feeling slightly inferior after that show. "That was pretty impressive," said Cubs quotesmith Mark Grace. "He hit 900 feet worth of home runs. Heck, he could hit fourth in our lineup. Who would you rather have -- him or me?" Here's a list of multihomer games by pitchers since the institution of the DH, courtesy of SABR's David Vincent:
Player Team Date Opponent L. Christenson Phi. 09/05/76 N.Y. (NL) Randy Lerch Phi. 09/30/78 Pitt. Walt Terrell N.Y.(NL)08/06/83 Chi. (NL) Jim Gott S.F. 05/12/85 St.L. D. Lilliquist Atl. 05/01/90 N.Y. (NL) D. Dreifort L.A. 08/08/00 Chi. (NL)Bird cage of the week
They traded everybody but the guy who fries the crabcakes. They dismantled everything but the Warehouse. They're the Baltimore Orioles. And in case you missed it, they've made more trades lately than Merrill Lynch. Many people have speculated about the reasoning behind all this house-cleaning. But now Week in Review has the real story. So we're bringing back David Hill and Jim Sundra, from the tremendous Baltimore baseball magazine, Outside Pitch, to present the real Top 10 Reasons the Orioles Cleaned House:
When a guy has spent parts of 11 seasons in the big leagues, you would think he wouldn't have much left he hadn't done -- except maybe getting traded for himself. But that brings us to the case of one of Week in Review's favorite players, Cubs utility humorist Jeff Huson. After 11 seasons, 2,000 visits to home plate and paychecks mailed to him from eight different teams, Huson finally achieved an all-time career first last Saturday in San Diego. He got four hits in a game -- for the first time in 11 years. Well, that may be no big deal to Tony Gwynn -- possibly because he's done it 45 times. But it was a great night in the life of Jeff Huson, even if it's safe to say that his four-hit night wouldn't have reminded anybody of, say, Mark Whiten's four-hit night. "Uh, I don't think all four of my hits put together would have made it out of the park," Huson said, humbly -- not to mention accurately. There was a blooper to left. Then came his one line drive in the bunch. Hit No. 3 was a thunker off the end of the bat that got through the infield. And that set up the grand finale -- a chopper off the plate "that acted like a great bunt." And the tale of the tape on that one -- the most historic hit of Huson's career? "I'd say five feet," he said. "I haven't actually seen the footage of it, though." Huson was, in fact, aware that this was the first four-hit game of his career. But the only reason he was aware of it was that the Padres put it on the scoreboard as he came up for the fourth time. Thanks a lot, men. "You know, when you're only hitting .190 and you get three hits and you haven't had many at-bats, you know your average is going to go up," Huson said. "So I took a peek. And it was up there." According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Huson was only 20 hits shy of passing Angels catcher Matt Walbeck as the active player with the most career hits without a four-hit game. So now Walbeck (who had 443, through Thursday) retains that record, with runner-up Phil Nevin (405) now closing in fast. Yet, stunningly, this big event wasn't greeted with much pandemonium in Southern California. But Huson could see that coming, because he'd already lived through the dubious honor of following Sammy Sosa in batting practice. "Sammy would hit all these balls out -- boom, boom, boom -- and everybody would be cheering," Huson said. "Then I'd come up, and it was like they were at the opera or something." So as Sosa shots kept disappearing into the California hills, Huson turned to manager Don Baylor and said: "I can't follow that." "So he said, 'Just do what you can do,' " Huson reported. "And that's what I did. I doinked four balls in there." Olympian of the week
Mike Piazza's tied up. Junior Griffey is otherwise engaged. Randy Johnson can't make it. That's the plight of our U.S. Olympic baseball team next month. So for three weeks now, Week in Review has been campaigning to help out, lighten the mood and keep our Olympians smiling -- by sending baseball's most hilarious mighty mite, Casey Candaele, to the land of the Olympics. If you can't play the best, might as well play the funniest. That's our theory, and we're sticking to it. Well, that vision seemed like a pipedream once. But this week, there was a dramatic development in this saga. Our man Casey -- the world's most comedic and versatile 39-year-old 5-foot-9 utility dynamo -- has indeed been guaranteed a trip to the host city of the great Olympiad. There's only one piece of bad news here: That city is Calgary, not Sydney. Yes, the Florida Marlins purchased Candaele's contract from the Nashua Pride of the independent Atlantic League this week -- and dispatched him to their Triple-A outpost in Calgary. And Marlins GM Dave Dombrowski told Week in Review he was happy to be sending Candaele to an Olympic city. "Except that's the last Olympics, not the next one," said Dombrowski, Candaele's one-time GM in Montreal. "And I think he went there the wrong time of year." Yeah, well. Technicalities. Technicalities. Candaele said he was pretty sure it was this campaign of ours here at ESPN.com that inspired the Marlins to go find him in the wilds of the Atlantic League. "My name was out there," Candaele said. "He probably thought I was dead or something. He said, 'Hey that guy's still alive. We might as well give him a chance if he's that resilient.' " But was this more than mere resilience? There seemed to be at least something symbolic in the fact that Candaele wound up playing for Calgary this week. So it was obviously doubly symbolic that he joined his new team in another city with Olympic connections -- Salt Lake. "I think it says they made a big mistake not having me on the team," Candaele theorized. "It was obviously fate. Of course, I haven't been to any Summer Olympics sites. So maybe it wasn't fate. And there you have it." But there we didn't have it -- not until we checked with former Angels GM Bill Bavasi, co-chairman of Team USA, to see whether he, too, had sensed that fate wanted Candaele on his Olympic juggernaut. "There probably is some sort of cosmic alliance -- but it's over my head." Bavasi said. "There may well be some karma here -- but I'm sure voting against it, because he's not making this team." And there, we're afraid, we really did have it. So finally, after all these weeks of dreaming, we had to track down Candaele one last time to inform him that his campaign hadn't fared much better than John McCain's. "See, dreams don't always come true," he said." No. Uh-uh. No. Uh-uh. I think that comes from Gladys Knight and the Pips -- no, uh-uh, no, uh-uh. You know, I always wanted to be a Pip. But all I got was pipsqueak." But it takes more than one shattered dream to stop this man. If fate has sent him to a Winter Olympic city, maybe that means he's really destined to be a Winter Olympian, not a Summer Olympian. And Candaele began dreaming that dream almost instantly -- or at least until we could convince him we had just a little more space to fill. "If I'm not making the Summer Olympics, now I'm shooting for the Winter Olympics," he said. "I want to be the new Agony of Defeat guy in Wide World of Sports, falling off the ski jump." And don't you think this man doesn't have experience at stuff like that, too. "Well, I've fallen off a curb," Candaele recalled. "That's got to be kind of like that." Of course, we've noticed that our particular country doesn't seem to be real interested in his Olympic services. But Candaele observed that that must leave many, many nations who would see his potential for what it really is. And if they do, we hope they let us in on that mystery immediately. "How about Latvia?" he wondered "Do they have a ski-jump team? I think I might have Latvian blood." Yeah, that's the ticket. Latvia. He always dreamed of being on the Latvian ski-jump team, from the time he was no bigger than a ski pole. (Oh, that's right. He still isn't.) That's what we meant to be writing about all these weeks. "My mom always used to talk about that," Candaele said. "She'd say, 'Son, some day you're going to be a ski jumper on the Latvian team. You need to start working on that. So go ride your skateboard down the driveway -- but make sure somebody watches out for the cars.' "So I'd do that. I'd fly down the driveway and go right across the street, until I hit the curb on the other side of the street. Then I'd fly into the bushes. That was good practice for the Latvian ski-jump team right there." And we're sure the Latvians will recognize that, too, as soon as they read their favorite baseball column here in cyberspace. In the meantime, we'll just try to keep Candaele's spirits up. "You know what they say," he said, sadly. "Whatever you put your mind to, you can do -- unless you don't get an opportunity. But you make your opportunities -- unless, of course, someone won't give you an opportunity. Then again, anybody in America can do anything they want -- unless, of course, they can't do it. "So my dream has been dashed. I just hope that now I don't turn to a life of crime. I can feel the angst building. I may be forced to go steal Olympic athletes' stuff, then plead insanity because I didn't get to fulfill my dream. How's that alibi? Bet I get off in six months -- tops." Wild pitches
Box score line of the week (left-handed division)
It took Jamie Moyer the first two months of the season to give up 11 runs. Wednesday in Chicago, it took him exactly 3 2/3 innings. His astounding line: 3 2/3 IP, 13 H, 11 R, 11 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 3 HR, 2 WP. 97 pitches to get 11 outs. Moyer, who actually performed a heroic feat by saving a doubleheader-ravaged bullpen, set a team record for runs allowed in a game. Quite a feat for a club that once employed Odell Jones and Bob Galasso. And according to ESPN research genius Jeff Bennett, Moyer and reliever Robert Ramsey (who gave up eight more runs) became the first teammates to allow 19 runs in the same game since the Mets' Calvin Schiraldi and Joe Sambito each gave up 10 in relief, in a 26-7 loss to the Phillies on June 11, 1985. Lou Piniella's summation of a game in which the White Sox scored in seven straight innings and ended up 19-3: "They put a whipping on us." Box score line of the week (New York, New York division)
The Oakland A's got to visit New York this week. Too bad that when they left, they felt like they'd just been mugged in Times Square. These were the back-to-back box-score nightmares of their starting pitchers Wednesday and Thursday -- Kevin Appier and Mark Mulder: Appier: 3 2/3 IP, 7 H, 10 R, 10 ER, 6 BB, 2 K, 2 HR, 1 HBP.
Mulder: 3 1/3 IP, 11 H, 10 R, 10 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 2 HR. They were the first teammates to give up 10 or more runs back-to-back since Jose Mercedes and Paul Wagner did it for the Brewers on May 4 and 5, 1998. And they were the first American League teammates since their Oakland forefathers, Kirk Dressendorfer and Bob Welch, did it on May 4 and 5, 1991. But Appier and Mulder, who were also performing bullpen-conservation heroism, might not have had the most amazing box-score outings on their own team in the last week. That honor goes to the winner of the ... Box score line of the week (bullpen division)
A's closer Jason Isringhausen just had two of the most amazing blown saves ever. Saturday in Chicago, he balked in the tying run in the ninth inning -- giving him this weird line: 1 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 balk. Then, on Tuesday in New York, he came in with a 4-3 lead, threw two pitches, gave up two homers (to Bernie Williams and David Justice) and walked off with a loss. That produced this funky line: 0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 2 HR. So that's one blown save without throwing any pitches, then another blown save on his first pitch, then a loss on his next pitch. Since pitches first became a part of box scores in 1990, Isringhausen was the first reliever ever to enter a game with a lead and no one on base -- and lose a game in a span of two pitches on two homers. "I still can't believe what happened," Isringhausen said. "All I can do is laugh at it -- because it's so unbelievable. I never balked in a run before. And I never allowed back-to-back homers on my first two pitches before." "Well," Jason Giambi told the San Francisco Examiner's Brian Murphy, "that was the fastest ninth inning I've ever played." Box score line of the week (no-hitter division)
The good news for Twins pitcher Joe Mays is that he didn't give up a hit in his start Thursday against the Devil Rays. The bad news is that he still managed to give up four runs and get knocked out in the first inning. His line: 1/3 IP, 0 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP, 1 WP, 37 pitches, 19 strikes. The even worse news was that Mays lives down the road in Bradenton. So with all those Joe Mays fans in the house, it wasn't a great time to become the first starter ever knocked out in the first inning by the Devil Rays. "I don't want to sound corny," said Twins manager Tom Kelly. "But I hope all those people got here early." Fly of the week
In an exhibition that gave new meaning to that old expression, "high fly," Phillies reliever Ed Vosberg pitched to four hitters in the eighth inning Tuesday against San Diego with a dragonfly riding along on top of his cap. "Did you know," observed Phillies broadcast witticist Larry Andersen, "that that dragonfly spent the better part of its life on Ed's hat? The average life span of a dragonfly is 24 hours." Vosberg said he wasn't even aware he'd been invaded by the insect kingdom until the dragonfly flew away. But then, after loading the bases with the dragonfly attached, he promptly struck out Dave Magadan after the dragonfly departed. "I guess," he told the Philadelphia Daily News' Paul Hagen, "my equilibrium was off." Meanwhile, Andersen, having thought about this, had a question. "If Vosberg had gotten the win," Andersen wondered, "could it have been attributed to 'the win beneath his wings?' " 3-assisted the week
The heck with the Curse of Denny McLain. The Tigers are currently battling The Curse of Jason Thompson. Or something like that. They're the only team in baseball with four first basemen on the disabled list (Tony Clark, Gregg Jefferies, Robert Fick and this week's DL addition, Hal Morris). Then their Plan E first baseman, Dean Palmer, had to miss two more games this week because his wife was delivering twins. So the Tigers even had catcher Brad Ausmus taking ground balls at first -- just in case. Clark promptly told Ausmus: "Don't go over there." Jefferies chipped in: "Don't do it. We need somebody to stay healthy." And Clark told Booth Newspapers' Danny Knobler this was his final piece of advice: "I told him, 'Get a chicken -- and some incense.' " Kick save of the week
In his win Monday over Montreal, Curt Schilling got drilled by two line drives in one inning -- including a hard one-hopper by fellow pitcher Trey Moore that nailed Schilling and ricocheted all the way into foul territory for a single. "It was kind of like the Kennedy bullet," Schilling told the Valley Tribune's Ed Price. "It hit me in the (left) wrist, and then it went down and hit me in the (right) knee, and then I think it hit me somewhere else." Whiffs of the week
That same game, the Diamondbacks mounted two rallies. And the big play in both of them involved Steve Finley striking out. Chris Widger let a run score with a throwing error after the first strikeout, then let Finley reach on a passed ball on the second. "You take them any way you can get them," Finley said. "You don't always win ballgames the conventional way." Un-hit of the week
Cardinals pitcher Garrett Stephenson came into last Saturday's game with Atlanta 1 for 36 at the plate. Then he lined what looked like a single to right. But Brian Jordan charged, fielded it and threw him out at first -- 9-3. Pitching coach Dave Duncan told the St. Louis Post Dispatch's Rick Hummel that the real reason Stephenson didn't beat the ball out was "because he was calculating his batting average as he was coming out of the box." Customs officer of the week
Friday night at Comerica Park, Bobby Higginson made what manager Phil Garner called the Tigers' catch of the year -- a running, tumbling robbery of Minnesota's Jacques Jones. Higginson had to run so far to catch it, Garner told the Detroit Free Press' John Lowe, "he had to stop in Canada and show his passport." Waiver claim of the week
Poor Jose Canseco. Except possibly for Joe Torre, he was the most shocked man in America to find himself heading for the Yankees this week -- in exchange for, well, nothing. "I would have thought they could have gotten some Twix bars or something for the kitchen," Canseco said. Expectant father of the week
You can't get much more conscientious than Dean Palmer. He went to the hospital with his wife this week when she went into labor with twins. Then he left her -- in mid-delivery -- and went to the ballpark. Where Phil Garner promptly sent him right back to the hospital. "He's a manager's dream," Garner said. "But his wife might beat him up." Trivia answer
Harold Baines. Jayson Stark is a senior writer at ESPN.com. Week in Review appears each Friday.
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