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The Bleacher Bums: May 10, 2005 Archive

Power drain: homeruns down for first time since 2002

Posted at 9:49 AM on May 10, 2005 by Ben Tesch (1 Comments)

In the first year of toughened steroid testing, home runs are down in the major leagues for the first time since 2002, down 8.8% in the first 5 weeks of 2004.

Is it too early to draw any conclusions, or have you got a good theory?

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Tales of the rising stars

Posted at 2:49 PM on May 10, 2005 by Bob Collins

It was 34 years ago tomorrow -- May 11 -- that an American League pitcher last hit a grand slam. Steve Dunning hit the dinger off Diego Segui of the Oakland A's. Dunning was one of those phenom pitchers that zipped right past the minor leagues and into the majors, where -- like most phenom pichers who zip right past the minors and into the majors -- he stunk.

David Clyde is, perhaps, the post child for this phenomenon. But few pitchers anymore make a quick trip through the minors and to the majors. In fact, I can't really think of anybody who has been on the fast track. Kris Benson to a certain degree. And maybe Kerry Wood. Perhaps not insignificant that both are frequent visitors to the disabled list.

* * *

Fellow bum Ben Tesch noted that power is down in the American League this year, but perhaps this is a deeper trend. Perhaps baseball is a metaphor for dead dinosaurs and we've drilled and extracted all the oil that the poor lifeless critters have to offer.

In a New York Times article, Michael Lewis (the guy who gave you Moneyball, is focusing on the steroid issue in the minor leagues where you can forget what you've heard about tough drug screening apparently..

Ron Shandler, who publishes Baseball Forecaster, has made pick-the-steroid-user a new art form. He focuses on players who acquire power the same season they go on vacation and come back...umm... bigger. Adrian Beltre, in his final year with the Dodgers before becoming a free agent, is one. He hit 48 taters for the Dodgers, got the big money from Seattle. He's got 3 homers so far this year.

* * *

"The other day they asked me about mandatory drug testing. I said I believed in drug testing a long time ago. All through the sixties I tested everything."

-- Bill Lee

The One and Only

Posted at 7:59 PM on May 10, 2005 by David Zingler

rickey05sdsd.jpg

Most athletes have a hard time hanging it up, others like Rickey Henderson, simply refuse. On Monday, as noted by fellow blogger Ben Tesch, Henderson inked a deal to play for the San Diego Surf Dawgs of the appropriately named (at least in Rickey's case) Golden Baseball League. The announcement caused more than a few snickers in the media.

Interestingly, the Surf Dawgs (what an terrible name) play their home games in Tony Gwynn Stadium. Henderson played with Gwynn in two stints with the Padres (1996-97 & 2001) and is almost a year and a half older than the Padres legend.

Rickey's pro career began in the summer of 1976 with the Boise A's, then Oakland?s short season, rookie ball affiliate. At that time America was celebrating its bicentennial and incumbent Gerald Ford was in a heated presidential campaign with Georgia govenor Jimmy Carter.

Since then we've been through a term of Carter, eight years of Ronnie, four of George I, two terms with Bubba and now, for better or worse, are in the midst of the W era: six presidents, three decades, one Rickey. I turned 30 last January, which means Rickey has been playing professional baseball for about as long as I have been eating solid foods.

Growing up, I actually didn't much care for Rickey. My first memories of him are fuzzy ones of a young speedster running roughshod over my beloved Brewers at County Stadium in the early 1980s. He was a self-absorbed jerk, I was told, while Kirby Puckett was role model and true hero. It's amazing how time changes perceptions.

In 2001 Rickey broke Babe Ruth's all time walk record (since surpassed by Barry Bonds), Ty Cobb's all time runs scored record and got his 3,000th hit. A decade earlier, he eclipsed Lou Brock's all time stolen base record. Nobody has a resume like Rickey.

Instead of mocking Henderson, we should respect and appreciate his longevity and personality, stand in awe of his accomplishments and cheer him on, wherever and whenever he plays.

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

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