The following is the recommended curriculum for the study of All-Star third baseman Chris (Spuds) Sabo of the Reds; the course is open to kids of all ages who have come under the spell of Sabo's strange charisma:
Basic Sabometrics. Goes beyond Sabo's stats (i.e.. his .295 average and league-leading 33 doubles, plus his top 10 position in stolen bases, extra-base hits, total bases, multi-hit games and slugging percentage). Explains why a team would deal five-time All-Star Buddy Bell to the Astros to make room for a 26-year-old rookie. Professor Pete Rose will examine the righthanded Sabo's impressive bat speed, his Golden Glove potential, his ability to adjust instantly to a pitcher's nuances and the relationship between his exuberance and his .496 slugging percentage. Rose, also the Reds manager, will discuss how his protègè stretched a cleanly fielded ground ball to center into a double against the Expos on July 21 and received a standing ovation at Riverfront Stadium. "People here haven't seen that in 10 years, and then they saw it every week," says Rose, who tied Frank Robinson's single-season club record for doubles with 51 in '78.
Applied Sabics. Learn how Sabo inadvertently created the trendy Sabo Look, by wearing a butch haircut for good luck and goggles to correct his nearsightedness. Learn how he plays despite being unable to do a push-up because of a shoulder bruise he got bashing into Braves catcher Ozzie Virgil while trying to steal home on May 17. Learn how his old-man hobble and Spuds MacKenzie mug belie the athleticism of a Detroit junior golf champ and the goalie for two national championship youth hockey teams.
Sabo-American Studies. Explores the growing lore surrounding Sabo. Like the time he was a student at Michigan and used an assumed name to try out for the golf team so he could play five free rounds. Or the time, during the '83 College World Series, he answered Michigan (and now Cincinnati) teammate Barry Larkin's question, about what the opposing pitcher was throwing, "Who cares? Go up there and hit the——ball." Or the time this year he stormed out of a barber shop in midmow because he wasn't satisfied with the haircutter's work. Or the time early in the season he decided to wash and wax his car at 3:30 a.m. because he had gone 0 for 4 that night and couldn't sleep. The course will also cover the influence of his parents: Walter, a plumber for Detroit's water treatment department, and Sandra, a waitress at Carl's Chop House. As Sabo puts it, "They taught me if you're going to do something, it doesn't do nobody any good to go halfway."
July 31, 1988
Existential Sabosophy. Analyzes Sabo's dogma. On setting goals: "I don't anticipate anything. Ever. I have no goals. My only goal is to help the Reds win somehow. I just go out, hit the ball, play hard, and at the end of the year, whatever the numbers are, great."
On history, which he majored in at Michigan: "The time around World War II seems so innocent to me. TV wasn't around, drugs hadn't invaded society, traditional values were the norm. I wish—and don't take this wrong—I had a shot at something like World War II, fighting for democracy."
On being idolized: "I don't understand it. It's embarrassing sometimes. Why would anybody want to be like me? I'm a goofball."
Advanced Sabonomics. Studies Sabo's work ethic, with emphasis on his thrill at making the major league minimum ($62,500) this year and on the extra job he took flipping burgers at McDonald's during the '85 Instructional League season. Also looks at his personal fiscal policy (in particular, his continued use of a mud-brown '82 Ford Escort with 80,000 miles on it) and his brand loyalty ("I'm looking at a Ford F-250 pickup. I'll stick with Ford. If something's good, you don't change it."). Course requirements for Sabo studies are an open mind, an ability to come from nowhere and an appreciation of this Rose-ism: "I just wish everyone enjoyed playing baseball as much as Spuds does."