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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.

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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.

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"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

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