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April 13, 2001

by Bill Hogan



Forget about the NHL playoffs, it's baseball season! Time to start dreaming of a Pennant. For fans in Philadelphia, there's no better time to start thinking about NLCS tickets. The 2000 Phillies ended up in the basement of the National League East. But it's 2001 and the boys from the home of the cheese-steak are in first place.

Hey, Canadians, like I said, forget about the NHL playoffs - the Montreal Expos (2 games from the cellar last year) are a half game from the top and swept the NL champion Mets last weekend! What are the Edmonton Oilers doing? Who cares!


How 'bout them Bosox! Hideo No(mo)-hits the Orioles and the team is playing .625 ball! But, alas, they already trail the Bronx Bombers by a game and a half. The Yankees will be in Boston this weekend, but you know a team is in trouble when four games in APRIL are being touted as "a must-win series".

As a fan, I like to see consistency in my team from year to year. But, if I were a Tampa Bay fan, I'd probably think that consistency is greatly overrated. The 2000 Devil Rays were dead last in the AL East. The 2001 Devil Rays are dead last in the AL East. That's a consistency I think the people of South Florida could do without.

Oakland fans are begging for a little consistency. The 2000 AL West champs are looking up at the west of the division this year! 2000 MVP (43 HR's, 137 RBI*) Jason Giambi has yet to hit a home run in 25 at-bats (last year he averaged one every eleven ab's). How about a little consistency Jason! Otherwise, you might see more and more Oakland fans crossing the bridge to watch the first place Giants play!

* I have this thing with people referring to Runs Batted In as RBI's - which would actually be an acronym for Runs Batted Ins. It's a grammatical nightmare.

Before anyone gets too excited about their team's success or failure, let's keep one thing in mind: IT'S APRIL! There are roughly 153 games to go. So don't fret, A's fans (or Arizona fans), there is a whole lotta baseball left to be played. Note to Tampa Bay fans: you may as well start fretting now and avoid the September rush. Note to Boston fans: If this weekend is "a really big series" for the Sox, what would you call the three game home stand against the Yanks on August 31 - September 2? Start fretting.

* * * *

Some moron threw a bottle at Yankee second-baseman-turned-left-fielder Chuck Knoblock the other night. It led me to ponder the following: Knoblock's throwing woes at second base are well documented. The short toss to first base often became an adventure. The ball would occasionally end up in the seats behind the dugout. Had Knoblock decided to become vindictive and fire that beer bottle back into the stands, where do you think it would have ended up? To steal a line from Abbott and Costello, FIRST BASE!

* * * *

Here's one from the "I can't even imagine" file: New Texas Ranger multi-millionaire Alex Rodriguez is batting .296 (as I write this article). If he continues at this pace, and assuming he ends the season with 600 at-bats, he will make $123,595 per hit. I already have my two-year-old taking batting practice each afternoon in the back yard. And, to put it in perspective, he gets a nickel each time he puts one by me.

* * * *

Last week, I pointed out in my article that Jack Nicklaus had come within on stroke of winning the British Open in 1972. I wrote that, having already won The Masters and U.S. Open that year, and the PGA in 1971, a win "across the pond" would have given him 4 straight professional major championships. I was wrong. The 1971 PGA was played in February. It was the first major of the season. Traditionally, it is the last major of the season. Hey, I was 10 years old in 1971, I don't even remember the name of my fifth grade teacher, sue me.

I must extend my apologies to CBS broadcaster Jim Nantz. When he stated that no other golfer has ever come close to holding all four major professional championships at the same time, I went ballistic. Also, to my wife and two boys, who had to witness my barrage of four letter words aimed squarely at the television set, I'm sorry.

Came pretty close: In 1953, Ben Hogan won The Masters, the U.S. Open and the British Open. He didn't play in the PGA - it was too close to the British Open, and Air France wasn't producing any supersonic jets at that time.


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