The unbalanced schedule has Boston's big foes burned out on Pedro
Mike Mussina has a .639 career winning percentage, an $88.5
million contract, a reputation as one of the finest pitchers in
baseball and absolutely no business making three consecutive
starts against the incomparable Pedro Martinez. Yankees manager
Joe Torre, wisely seeing no need to put the whip to Mussina in
midseason, gerrymandered his rotation to spare Mussina what would
have been a third straight duel with Martinez on Monday.
"It wears on you," Torre said after Martinez beat Mussina 3-0 on
May 30, six days after Mussina had defeated Martinez 2-1 in a
game in which the two combined for 24 strikeouts. "When you go
against Pedro, you know every pitch you make could be the ball
game. It's like facing Koufax." (In Monday's game Martinez struck
out 10 but got a no-decision in Boston's 7-6 loss.)
Thanks to the new unbalanced schedule, under which teams in the
same division play one another as many as 20 times, episodic
pitching duels are back. Already this season the Indians' Chuck
Finley and the Tigers' Steve Sparks have faced each other four
times. While that matchup might not get the blood boiling, fans
should relish the prospect of frequent divisional showdowns
between aces: Arizona's Randy Johnson versus Los Angeles's Kevin
Brown, or Milwaukee's Ben Sheets versus the Cubs' Kerry Wood.
Torre's bow to Martinez, however, is more proof that Pedro has no
peer, unless you count Sandy Koufax from 1961 to '66. Martinez's
numbers since 1997 (84-26, 2.11 ERA, .764 winning percentage,
11.7 strikeouts per nine innings through Monday) have closely
tracked those of Koufax (129-47, 2.19, .733, 9.4) over his best
span. Only two pitchers have beaten Pedro twice in his 105 games
with Boston: Andy Pettitte of the Yankees and John Snyder, then
with the White Sox. In the May 30 game, Mussina was toast by the
third inning, when the Red Sox had three runs. Martinez is 58-3
when he gets that much support.
Meanwhile, New York hitters have not been helped by seeing more
of Martinez. "If I get to see Pedro 100 times it's not any more
comfortable than if I see him 20 times," says Tino Martinez. "He
has so many weapons, he's different every time." Indeed, Martinez
finished his eight shutout innings on May 30 by fanning Derek
Jeter on a big-breaking, 89-mph cut fastball, a pitch Jeter
called a slider. "Something I'd never seen," Jeter said. "It's
like, 'I've been saving a slider for the 50th at bat against
you.' On a full count! It's like he's inventing things out
No, Mussina didn't deserve a third dose of Martinez. Pedro, tired
of New England's fixation with the Yankees and the curse of Babe
Ruth, has bigger duels in mind, anyway. "I don't believe in damn
curses," he says. "Wake up the damn Bambino and have me face him.
Maybe I'll drill him in the ass." --Tom Verducci
Four Great Pitching Rivalries
Tom Seaver (11-3) vs. Steve Carlton (3-12) 17 games, 1970 to
'83. Even in Lefty's 27-10 Cy Young season of '72, Mets' Seaver
has upper hand: only pitcher to beat Phillies ace twice that year.
Bob Feller (10-3) vs. Hal Newhouser (3-9) 16 games, 1940 to '52.
Feller dominated, but Detroit's Newhouser five-hits Indians on
one day's rest in finale of '48 regular season, forcing
Cleveland into playoff with Boston.
Warren Spahn (10-3) vs. Robin Roberts (3-8) 13 games, 1948 to
'61. In penultimate game of '59 season, Spahn throws
complete-game five-hitter to beat Roberts's Phillies 3-2 and
keep Braves' pennant hopes alive.
Catfish Hunter (5-5) vs. Jim Palmer (5-5) 10 games, 1966 to '78.
Hunter's 3-0 shutout of Palmer's Orioles in August '78
highlights his 6-0 month and keys Yanks' successful pennant drive.
WORLD'S DEEPEST BENCH
THE CASEY MARTIN RULING
The Supreme Court's decision last week in PGA Tour v. Martin, in
which the high court ruled that the Tour must allow Casey Martin
the use of a golf cart during tournaments, was merely the latest
foray by the Washington Nine into the world of athletics. A
sampling of Supreme sports rulings:
Federal Club v. National League, 1922. In a decision written by
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes that has shaped the landscape of
the game to this day, the Court confers an antitrust exemption on
the national pastime, arguing that baseball does not engage in
interstate commerce. That opinion serves as precedent in the 1972
Flood v. Kuhn case, in which the Court rejects Cardinals
outfielder Curt Flood's challenge to baseball's reserve clause.
Clay v. United States, 1971. The Court reverses Muhammad Ali's
conviction for refusing military service. Justice William O.
Douglas's concurring opinion deems Ali's objection to fighting in
a war other than one sanctioned by the Koran "a matter of
conscience protected by the First Amendment which Congress has no
power to qualify or dilute."
Haywood v. National Basketball Association, 1971. Determining
that 21-year-old Spencer Haywood's career would "suffer
irreparable injury" if he were denied the right to play in the
NBA, the Court overturns the league's ban on signing players who
have been out of high school less than four years.
San Francisco Arts & Athletics v. USOC, 1987. Citing the
"obvious...possibility for confusion as to sponsorship," the
Court rules that a California nonprofit group's Gay Olympic
Games violates the USOC's exclusive American rights to use the
word Olympic in promotional material.
NCAA v. Tarkanian, 1988. Jerry Tarkanian's 12-year legal battle
ends when the Court rules that the NCAA, as a private institution
and not a "state actor," has the right to recommend that UNLV
suspend him for recruiting violations.
Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton, 1995. The Court dismisses
the claim that drug testing of high school athletes violates
privacy rights. Justice Antonin Scalia's opinion notes that
"school sports are not for the bashful....There is an element of
'communal undress' inherent in athletic participation."
Baseball uniforms are so...uniform. Maybe that's why players
seize opportunities to personalize them. Take the pants legs.
Like women's hemlines, they've risen and fallen more than the
stock market over the years. The current vogue is to go to
extremes, either very high or way down low. Low riders Barry
Bonds (left) and Manny Ramirez snip the elastic from the bottoms
of their pants and let them fall down to their shoes. Ramirez
says he does it for comfort, but as Dodgers first base coach John
Shelby notes, "it's really just a fashion statement."
At the other end of the spectrum is the knee-high look sported by
players like the Dodgers' Marquis Grissom (right) and the
Yankees' Orlando Hernandez. Grissom and others say their trousers
are a tribute to Negro leagues players. "They played hard and
wore their pants up high," says Grissom.
In the end, as with all fashion, a player's inseam decision is
about individuality. Rangers outfielder Chad Curtis started
yanking up his pants legs because he felt long legs were too hot
for summer. Now it's become a signature look. Says Curtis: "My
kids say it makes it easy to see which one is me."
Q How are home run distances measured?
A Imprecisely. The distances announced at games are ballpark
estimates of where shots would have landed unimpeded. To figure
that, says Robert Adair, author of The Physics of Baseball,
"you'd need to know the speed and angle at which the ball left
the bat, the temperature, the barometric pressure, the
altitude--and even then you couldn't be exact."
Since baseball doesn't officially track dinger distance, the
estimates are left to the clubs. Most use charts drawn up by IBM
in 1987 for its Tale of the Tape promotion; teams with parks
built since '87 have created their own charts. (Before '87 tater
lengths were measured even more haphazardly. Mickey Mantle's
famed 565-foot shot against the Senators at Griffith Stadium was
determined by a Yankees publicist, who supposedly paced off the
length.) The charts provide distance estimates for line drives,
medium shots or towering flies, all of which, of course, are
subjective calls. According to the Busch Stadium charts, a Mark
McGwire jack to the first row of section 383 of the leftfield
upper deck would register as 423 feet if towering, 437 feet if
medium, and 453 feet if a line drive. "It's accurate to within 10
feet," says St. Louis player development assistant John Vuch, who
plots distances at Busch. "We've been using it for 14 years, so
if it's off, at least it's off consistently."
Battle of the Network Stars
If you were stoned or sloshed during the Carter or Reagan
Administrations, ABC's Battle of the Network Stars may have
seemed as funny as anything on TV. In 19 episodes from 1976 to
'88, this Olympics of Inanity pitted celebrities from the three
networks against one another in epic tugs-of-war, relay races and
other picnic sports. Gabe Kaplan, McLean Stevenson and Charlene
Tilton were among the enthusiastic, if not always agile, stars
who splashed, stumbled and--not incidentally--pitched their
programs. Howard Cosell was usually on hand to call the shots,
such as they were. Among the show's allures was the chance to
marvel at Pepperdine's pristine Malibu campus, where the event
was held, as well as gape at pneumatic prime-time babes (Farrah
Fawcett-Majors, right, Lynda Carter) emerging from the water
after swimming races. Network TV didn't get any better than that.
What signaled the end of the Battle was a parody on the Second
City Television comedy show called Battle of the PBS Stars. In
the withering boxing sketch, Mr. Rogers (played by Martin Short)
knocks out Julia Child (John Candy) by sucker-punching her with
his King Friday hand puppet. "Oh, the papers will say that Fred
Rogers won," intoned a disgusted Cosell (Eugene Levy), "but in my
opinion, it's a dark day in Mr. Rogers' neighborhood." Afterward,
watching Adrienne Barbeau fall into the obstacle course water pit
was never the same. --Franz Lidz
--By the International Skating Union, an order to judges of pairs
skating and ice dancing advising them to deduct a tenth of a
point for "undignified" moves. Among those subject to penalty are
"sustained upside down splits and spread-eagles while leaning
backwards low to the ice."
Upon Penguins announcer Mike Lange, the Foster Hewitt award for
outstanding NHL broadcasting work. The 26-year broadcasting
veteran--noted for using such colorful (and often quizzical)
phrases as "She wants to sell my monkey!" "Let's go hunt moose on
a Harley!" "Buy Sam a drink, and get his dog one too!"--will be
recognized in the broadcasting section of the Hockey Hall of
Picture Perfect: Mowing Techniques for Lawns, Landscapes and
Sports, by David Mellor, in which the renowned Red Sox
groundskeeper offers tips on how to get your front yard to look
like a major league field.
A class-action suit stemming from the NFL's policy requiring
anyone wishing to buy its satellite pay-per-view games to
purchase the entire season package. The league agreed to pay 1.8
million subscribers a total of $7.5 million and offer each
Sunday's slate of games separately.
The back of Andy Arnott, a fan of English soccer club Fulham
who had the team's sword-and-flags crest tattooed there during a
10-hour session earlier this year. Fulham dropped that logo in
favor of a new one to herald its promotion to the Premier League.
The U.S. Basketball League's Atlantic City Seagulls, free to
any charitable group that will take it over and keep it in the
area. Says owner Ira Trocki, whose 0-17 franchise recently drew a
reported 10 fans, "Maybe when they see [the team] as a charity,
people will come."
It's not easy being green--or purple or yellow or any of the other
bright hues that those fuzzy team mascots come in. A study
released last week shows that pro mascots suffer remarkably high
rates of injury. "Sometimes we don't think a person is inside
that costume," says the study's senior author, Edward McFarland,
director of sports medicine and shoulder surgery at Johns
Hopkins. Indeed, over the years mascots have suffered all manner
of abuse and mishap.
November 1988 Testudo, the Maryland Terrapins' mascot, is knocked
to the ground by the Virginia Cavalier during an ACC football
game and breaks an arm in three places.
September 1990 The University of Miami's Sebastian the Ibis tears
cartilage in a knee after a Brigham Young University ballcarrier
knocks him down while running out-of-bounds.
October 1995 During an AL playoff series, the Mariner Moose
suffers a compound ankle fracture after his in-line skates get
caught on the Kingdome's artificial surface, causing him to crash
into the outfield wall. A week later the Indians' Slider tears
the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in a knee
after slipping off the rightfield wall and onto the warning track
at Jacobs Field.
October 1995 The Mighty Ducks' Wild Wing jumps off a trampoline
and belly flops into--instead of passing through--a wall of fire.
Although his tail is set ablaze, he escapes serious injury.
April 1996 Sabre, a mascot for the CBA's Fort Wayne Fury, injures
his back after falling 50 feet onto a concrete floor while trying
to lower himself from the rafters using a cable. His fall is
broken by another Fury mascot, who is unhurt.
May 1999 A fan pushes the Baltimore Oriole off the roof of the
grounds crew's dugout at Camden Yards, causing the mascot to fall
10 feet and break his ankle.
April 2000 The Capital City Bombers, a Single A team in South
Carolina, lose Bomber the Mouse for two games after Hickory
Crawdads outfielder Jovanny Sosa bops the fuzzy friend on the
head with his forearm.
February 2001 Raymond, the Devil Rays' 6'5" bundle of blue fur,
makes a guest appearance for the ABA's Tampa Bay ThunderDawgs.
While attempting a trampoline-aided dunk, he breaks a wrist on
April 2001 The New Jersey Nets' Sly the Silver Fox blows out a
knee during a timeout after participating in a limbo contest.
NFL playbooks have been kept less secret than the details of
Giants cornerback Jason Sehorn's wedding to actress Angie Harmon
(below). Although it's known that the nuptials will be held on
June 9 at the Highland Park Presbyterian Church in suburban
Dallas, the time of the ceremony is being divulged on a strict
need-to-know basis. Also, all arriving guests will have to knock
on the church door and say a password to gain entrance. As for
who those guests will be, the Giants confirm that Tiki Barber,
Lomas Brown and Sam Garnes are on the list. No Ravens are
expected to attend....
Richard Ben Cramer's controversial biography of Joe DiMaggio is
headed for the big screen. Screenwriters Stephen J. Rivele and
Christopher Wilkinson, who wrote Nixon and the upcoming Ali,
will adapt Cramer's Joe DiMaggio, The Hero's Life for Universal.
The pair plans to focus on Joltin' Joe's doomed romance with
Marilyn Monroe. "What really sucked us in was his relationship
with Monroe," says Wilkinson. "It's the lens through which we
Venus Williams's abrupt departure from the French Open last week
led to speculation of a rift between her and sister Serena (page
90). Serena tried to downplay the sisters' withdrawal from
doubles competition, saying she wanted to concentrate on
singles. However, Venus reportedly has been annoyed with her
sister because of Serena's much-rumored romance with Redskins
linebacker LaVar Arrington....
Now that his first full season as an NBA analyst is over,
Charles Barkley can concentrate on more personal matters. When
asked how he would handle his daughter Christiana's boyfriends
once Christiana, now 12, begins dating, Barkley said, "I figure
if I kill the first one, the word will get out." Sir Charles
Batters struck out by opposing softball pitchers Alicia Hollowell
of Fairfield (Calif.) High and Kelly Anderson of Woodland in a
30-inning, 1-0 Woodland victory; Hollowell set a national high
school record with 61 Ks.
Height of the billboard mounted by Nike outside Madison Square
Garden touting quarterback Joey Harrington of Oregon--alma mater
of Nike CEO Phil Knight--for the 2001 Heisman.
Innings spent behind the plate on consecutive days by Giants
catcher Benito Santiago during San Francisco's back-to-back 12-
and 18-inning games last week.
State income tax the Rangers' Alex Rodriguez will pay in
California for the 25 games he'll play there in 2001.
What A-Rod will pay for his 81 games in Texas, which has no state
This Week's Sign of the Apocalypse
A Wayne, N.J., company is selling the $19.95 Potty Putter, which
includes a tiny portable green, a miniature putter, two plastic
balls and a cup and flag, allowing golfers to practice while
sitting on the porcelain throne.
Indians slugger, on tying the Cleveland record with his 242nd
homer: "It means even more to me because I did it all with one