Asking Rob

Dipping into the mailbag and learning some things ...

    Bob, I disagree that George Steinbrenner's massive plaque is outrageous. While he had many faults and miscues throughout his ownership of the Yankees, no one can refute or deny that he built a fledgling franchise into the number one sports franchise in America if not the world. He will undoubtedly go down in history as the most successful and most colorful owner in modern day sports. He deserves his seven-foot plaque ...

    What should be written about by the sportswriters and sports historians is what Jacob Ruppert accomplished in building the original Yankee franchise. Arguably he deserves as much if not more credit than George Steinbrenner. Ruppert should be in the Hall of Fame, and before George Steinbrenner.

    - Vince (Greenwood Village, Colo.)

You consider the Yankees of the early 1970s (when Steinbrenner took over) a "fledgling" team, Vince? I'm not sure if you know what that word means. Your point about Ruppert is a good one, though ... and one I've been making for the past two or three years. And as I've written many times, the Hall of Fame has a large backlog of worthy candidates among the outstanding owners and executives.

    Rob, in the wake of the Colvin injury and the subsequent uproar over maple bats, one suggestion I haven't heard is for MLB to switch to aluminum bats. Is this a case of tradition overwhelming common sense?

    The impact on ERAs might not be pretty, but is the "crack of the bat" really so important to Major League Baseball that replacing it with a "ping" would do serious harm to the game? Amateurs use aluminum bats almost exclusively, of course. It's not like anyone is unfamiliar with them. If nothing else, I think it's worth including metal bats in the discussion.

    - Dave (Portland, Ore.)

Well, there are the ERAs. There is the assumption, right or wrong, that more pitchers would be struck by batted balls and somebody might actually be killed. And there's also the surety that the nation's baseball writers (including) this one would scream bloody murder before any pitcher actually gets skulled. Just, you know, on principle.

Include metal bats in the discussion? We just did. Now let's move on to bats made of wood but made or altered to prevent shattering and splintering. This really isn't so hard. Technically speaking, anyway.

    Have you seen the numbers the Giants pitching staff has put up in September? Coming into tonight (a 1-0 victory by the way), they had a 1.66 ERA and have now given up only 28 earned runs in 18 games. While the Phllies may never lose again, and their Big 3 has been getting some very deserved attention, I think the Giants' whole pitching staff needs some recognition for carrying that pathetic lineup through September. They have a .218 batting average and a .276 obp this month and are somehow 12-6. How has this been overlooked? Thanks, and even though I disagree with you sometimes (I think Posey should be ROY), I really enjoy the SweetSpot blog and am happy it is not only for Insider subscribers.

    - William Custer (Columbus, Ohio)

Thanks, William. And me, too (about the Insider thing, I mean; I still say Jason Heyward's the best rookie in either league).

And yeah, the Giants' pitching really has been fantastic. After that 1-0 win Tuesday night, they gave up only two runs Wednesday night ... but of course they lost that one because they didn't score any runs at all. The Giants have now allowed three or fewer runs in 16 consecutive games, tying the major league record held by two teams.

One of those teams was the 1981 Oakland Athletics, who cruised into the playoffs.

But the other was the 1972 Cleveland Indians, who -- thanks largely to Gaylord Perry -- finished with the fourth-best ERA in the league, but also finished in fifth place with a 72-84 record because they couldn't hit.

The Giants aren't going to finish fifth. But if they don't hit, they're going to finish second and possibly third. Because while their pitchers might set a new record tonight, they can't keep this up forever.