Baseball is great theater -- of the absurd
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The baseball season having effectively bolted from our collective consciousness at 4 p.m. Friday, the reporting deadline for the Steelers in Latrobe, it's possible that a handful people in the Tri-State area still care how it'll all come out.
Not likely, just possible.
To the four of you, then, here is what I envision for the final two months of the 2010 season and the playoffs.
• Jose Bautista is going to hit 40 homers to lead Major League Baseball, just two summers after having been sent packing by the Pirates, who were flush with glee upon the acquisition of hard-hitting third baseman of the future Andy LaRoche.
Honest to God.
Since Bautista had never hit more than 16 homers in a big league season until this summer -- he had 30 at the weekend -- cynics will suggest he wear an "I'm Not On Steroids" T-shirt under his jersey fairly regularly.
• Having sent standout fireballer Stephen Strasburg to the disabled list just for a perceived inability to get loose while warming up (never mind that clean MRI), the Washington Nationals will soon decide they simply cannot risk letting Strasburg walk within 300 feet of a pitcher's mound, let alone climb one, until at least February, if then. In the meantime, the Nationals' medical staff will encourage Strasburg to learn to feed himself with his left hand exclusively and keep his right arm in a temperature-controlled vat of Styrofoam peanuts until Feb. 1, at which point he'll be reevaluated and possibly allowed to eat a simulated right-handed meal of mac and cheese.
• Phillies lefty Jamie Moyer will miss the remainder of the season, but continue to insist that elbow surgery won't be necessary for him to pitch in 2011 at age 48. He will, he allows, require dentures and a nap between innings.
• The San Diego Padres, 22 1/2 games out at this point last season, will win the National League West by three games over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Despite a downright Pittsburghian payroll of $37,779,300, the Padres find themselves at the front edge of a pendulum that swung wildly back toward the art of pitching in 2010.
Their team earned run average of 8.59 in the division series against the Phillies will thus seem inexplicable.
• Matthew Clemmens, the 21-year-old Cherry Hill, N.J., man sentenced to jail for vomiting on two people in the row in front of him at a Phillies game, will be freed early for good behavior. His VH1 reality show, "Spew Factor," will debut in January.
• In a spot start in mid-September, former Pirate Oliver Perez will pitch the first no-hitter in New York Mets history. After playing more than 7,800 games since 1962, a history that includes legendary pitching talent such as Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, and, for a time, Nolan Ryan, the no-hit trick is finally turned by a pitcher who took a 1-6 record and a 6.82 earned run average to the mound Sept. 17 against the Atlanta Braves. Using his maddening array of eight different release points, Perez walks seven, hits two, throws a wild pitch, and balks home a run, but allows no hits as the Mets win, 8-1. Seaver, a guest in the broadcast booth, barely avoids an involuntary audition for Spew Factor.
• Buck Showalter, plucked from ESPN's vast stable of baseball analysts July 29 to manage the wretched Baltimore Orioles, will coax the Birds to a 29-28 finish for a 2010 record of 61-101, which will be one game worse than the Pirates, assuring Baltimore of the first pick in the June 2011 draft. Thank you, Buck.
• With potential buyers fleeing the scene and federal bankruptcy judges throwing up their hands, the pending sale of the Texas Rangers finally is completed. The new owners are a consortium headed by Alex Rodriguez, Madonna and Jose Canseco. It is a second consecutive swing and a miss at baseball ownership for Mt. Lebanon native Mark Cuban. Though he really never came close to owning either the Chicago Cubs or the Rangers, Cuban reveals on his Twitter account that Bud Selig has fined him a total of $55,000 over the past two seasons.
• In an astounding statistical quirk everyone will say you should have seen coming, every game in the seven-game American League Championship Series between the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox will end with the losing team having no hits.
• The Yankees will beat the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series, in which the deciding Game 5 will bring an overnight rating even lower than the All-Star Game, partially because it lasts 7 hours and 58 minutes and ends on a wild pitch. They were right about that Year of the Pitcher thing.
First Published August 1, 2010 12:00 am