Tom Verducci's View

August 08, 2004

STILL SMACKING

Mark McGwire (left) may someday fulfill his desire to be a
hitting instructor, but for now baseball must wait until he
satisfies his serious jones for golf. McGwire, 40, told reporters
before playing in the 102nd Western Amateur last week that he is
"addicted to" the game. His enthusiasm remained after missing the
cut by 15 strokes with rounds of 82 and 76. It was the first
major amateur golf tournament for McGwire, who retired after the
2001 season. McGwire hit as many trees on his opening nine holes
(six) as he did triples in his 16-year major league career.
McGwire didn't draw nearly the same size galleries as Michael
Jordan did at the 1991 Western Amateur, but more than 100 people
trailed him as he fought to control his long drives. Said
McGwire, "I feel like I'm a baby in all of this." Asked if he
would return next year if invited, he said, "I'd be back in a
heartbeat." Baseball's loss is golf's gain.

SAY IT AIN'T NO

Carlos Delgado of Toronto, Larry Walker and Charles Johnson
(right) of Colorado, and Randy Johnson of Arizona all exercised
their trade veto power to remain with hopelessly losing teams
rather than go to contenders. Said Rangers G.M. John Hart, "I may
be old school, but you get an opportunity to play for a winner,
and you've got guys turning deals down and the chance to win
somewhere. It doesn't compute. It's not a good reflection." No
sense getting upset. No-trade clauses are fairly bargained
benefits enjoyed by a select few, giving them some say in where
they work and their families live.

REMEMBER HIM?

Former St. Louis pitching phenom Rick Ankiel (left), back from
Tommy John surgery, began a 30-day rehabilitation assignment for
Class A Palm Beach on Monday and will be in the Cardinals'
bullpen in September. Ankiel, a dangerous hitter, would be even
more valuable if used as Milwaukee uses pitcher-hitter Brooks
Kieschnick, but the Cardinals have no such plans. "I don't know
that he's that good of a hitter," said St. Louis G.M. Walt
Jocketty. "We signed him to be a pitcher, and that's where his
future is. He's doing great: 100-percent recovered from surgery.
He's going to help us."

BIG TALK, LITTLE ACTION

Every team likes to think it can find the missing piece to a
world championship team just before the trading deadline, but
such pickups are exceedingly rare. From 1993 to 2003 (excluding
the strike-shortened '94 season) more than 400 players were
traded in the week leading up to the trading deadline. Only six
wound up on a World Series champion, with three of them playing
minimal roles. Here are those rare deadline additions:

2002 Angels: Alex Ochoa (from Brewers)

2001 Diamondbacks: Albie Lopez (from Devil Rays)

1997 Marlins: Craig Counsell (from Rockies)

1996 Yankees: Cecil Fielder (from Tigers), David Weathers (from
Marlins)

1993 Blue Jays: Rickey Henderson (from A's)

THREE STRIKES

1. The Diamondbacks kept the wrong young lefthander. They would
have been better off with Chris Capuano, whom they dumped in the
Richie Sexson deal with Milwaukee, than Casey Fossum, whom they
thought was their prize in the Curt Schilling deal with Boston.

2. Discipline czar Bob Watson blew his call on the Yankees-Red
Sox fight. In what illogical world does woofing at a pitcher
(Alex Rodriguez) draw the same penalty (four-game suspension) as
inciting a fight with a shove to the face (Jason Varitek)?

3. No Dodgers infielder has won a Gold Glove since 1978, but
shortstop Cesar Izturis and second baseman Alex Cora are the best
double-play combination in baseball.

COLOR PHOTO: FRED VUICH (MCGWIRE) COLOR PHOTO: SCOTT MARTIN/AP (JOHNSON) COLOR PHOTO: FERNANDO MEDINA/WIREIMAGE.COM (ANKIEL)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)