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Art’s Quick-Hitters

By Art Stevens

THE YANKEE DOLLAR: The Yankees right now are not playing great ball. I heard a Yankee fan complaining the other day, “Why isn’t Darvish with the Yankees?” Talk about being spoiled. What he is really saying is that the Yankees, with the highest payroll (by far) in baseball, shouldn’t buy ALMOST every good player. They should buy ALL the good players.

BITTERSWEET: When Kerry Wood burst upon the Chicago baseball scene, having been drafted #1 by the Cubs in 1998, the general feeling was that he would be the next Roger Clemens. With a 100 mph fastball, and great breaking stuff, he had what turned out to be his signature game in 1998, when he had a twenty-strikeout game in his fifth start. It wasn’t too long after that that the injuries started. Tommy John had surgery and many other ailments. Some baseball insiders thought that the problems were brought on because he was throwing across his body, which put great stress on his arm. After spending fourteen years in the majors, including short stints in Cleveland and New York, Kerry retired this past Saturday in Chicago after coming in to strike out the last batter he faced. He left to a standing ovation and was met as he left the mound by his little son, whom he then carried off the field. He was then called out for a curtain call from the loving Cubs fans. The bitter side was, as with so many great players in the past, had it not been for the injuries, how far would that great talent have taken him? The sweet side is, among his fellow ball players, Kerry was always known as a solid, stand-up guy. I wish him the best in his retirement.

STUPID: I hate to use so strong a word, but on this issue, I just couldn’t think of anything that would describe it any better. Philadelphia pitcher Cole Hamels, after hitting Nationals rookie Bryce Harper with a pitch- admitting that he did it on purpose. When asked why, saying “no particular reason- he’s a rookie.” Ridiculous reason why, but the real stupidity comes in his admitting it.

REALLY STUPID: Major League Baseball, responding to the Hamels-Harper incident (above). “That is not right. We are going to suspend Cole Hamels.” As I’m sure you know, starting pitchers pitch every five days. Major League Baseball used all the wisdom they have accumulated through all these years. Did they suspend Hamels for eight days, ten days, or twelve days? No, I’m afraid not. They really put him in his place with their heavy-handed authority. They set him down for 5 days. That will teach him.

NBA PLAYOFFS: What’s with Dwyane Wade? In the third game against the Pacers, he shot 2 for 13 and had a total of five points. On top of that, I’ve never seen him as argumentative with his coach, with players, and with officials. Chances are he will come back, and if so, the Heat should take the series. Matter of fact, as I write, I see that the Heat just took game four to even the series at 2-2 with both Dwyane and LeBron scoring well. My friends, if Dwyane and LeBron don’t score at least 60-65 combined points in any game (especially with Bosh out,) the Heat are in a lot of trouble.

NBA: I overheard an interesting argument the other day comparing Michael Jordan to LeBron James. My first thought would be that LeBron is not the shooter that Michael was, but I think LeBron is so overpowering in so many different phases of the game that he certainly holds his own in the comparison. Actually, I think a better argument would be LeBron against Magic Johnson. Neither seemed to care whether their scoring, passing or defense helped the team as long as the team was helped.

NHL: Have you heard any of the after game interviews with Ranger coach John Tortorella? They are really comical. Either no answer, or a one word answer, with the reporters getting so discouraged by his no response answers that the session is usually over in a couple of minutes. According to Rangers TV announcer (and ex-player) Joe Micheletti, “Tortorella just does not like the interview part of the coaching job.” Another reason that Joe cites is that Tortorella has a fairly young team and feels that by going about it in this way, HE is attracting the attention and deflecting it from his players. I don’t know if that is true or not, but I sure do hear a lot about the coach and very little about his players.