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Apolitical blues

Special to

August 12

Sleight of hand
In what is baseball's answer to Voodoo Economics, the Yankees finally announced Roger Clemens' two-year contract extension as a three year, $30.9 million deal. It was thus spun for luxury tax and PR purposes so the Yanks could claim Clemens' AAV is only $10.3 million.

In reality, it is $15.45 million, highest of any pitcher ever. Clemens gets a $5 million signing bonus and annual salaries of $7.8 million in 2001 and 2002, and $10.3 million in 2003. Clemens holds an option for the third year (2003) and even if he declines it he would get paid $7.8 million.

When the time comes he may choose to opt out of the deal with the thinking that he could be nearing his 300th win (he presently has 256). Who knows how much he could haul in on the open market if he is close to getting his 300th victory? Possibly more than $7.8 million, don't you think?

By the way, this is the fourth contract he has signed that has made him the highest paid pitcher ever at that point in time.

Two beasts
If the Mariners and White Sox end up playing one another in the postseason, they have a nice little feud going. It stems back to the exhibition season, when the M's felt two batters were intentionally hit in a game in Las Vegas, then the ChiSox called off their scheduled April 17 game at Comiskey Park (it was officially rained out) because the Sox didn't have a ready starter.

Then this week, as White Sox manager Jerry Manuel was scrambling through his farm system looking for a starter, the Mariners weren't told who was starting Wednesday's game until just prior to the game. Seattle thought it might be Ken Hill, whose waivers cleared an hour before game time, but finally learned it was rookie Rocky Biddle. The Mariners, in turn, refused to give the White Sox their lineup until the exchange at home plate.

Gods dice
How well are the Giants run? For pitchers Salomon Torres, Mark Leiter, Nate Bump and Jason Grilli, they have received Shawn Estes, Kirk Rueter and Livan Hernandez.

... Check the tires, dollar gas ... too much monkey business
In 1993, Chuck Smith was out of baseball and pumping gas in Cincinnati. One of his customers back then was Bertie Griffey, mother of Ken Griffey Jr.

Smith faced Junior this week, while pitching for the Marlins, and struck him out. Later in the game, when Junior reached base, he told Marlins first baseman Derrek Lee, "that guy used to pump my mom's gas."

Memphis in the meantime
The first two players to make the majors from the 1999 draft are Oakland left-handed starter Barry Zito, who was the ninth overall pick, and Colorado right-handed reliever Craig House, who was a 12th round pick out of Memphis State.

The road is my middle name
Items from the wild blue yonder of the minor leagues, thanks to Howe Sportsdata:

  • On Thursday night, Hudson Valley (Single A affiliate for the Devil Rays) right-hander Doug Waechter had a no-hitter going against Pittsfield (Single A affiliate for the Mets) with two outs in the ninth inning. He threw an 0-2 pitch that Pittsfield's Jeff Duncan swung and missed at, but as teammates mobbed the field, the ball eluded catcher Alex Marcosi, who proceeded to throw the ball into right field.

    When order was restored, Duncan was at third third and the dangerous Joel Zaragosa was the tying run at the plate. Waechter got him to pop up and he retained the no-no.

  • If you're an old-timer looking for more complete games, not one minor leaguer has completed eight. Brandon Knight of Columbus (Triple-A affiliate of the Yankees) has the most with seven.

  • The Braves have another pitching phenom, 20-year-old Christian Parra, who threw a no-hitter for Myrtle Beach on July 23. He also went into the eighth with another no-no in his next start. In all, he is 10-0 with a 1.62 ERA in his last 10 starts and has 14 wins overall for the season.

  • The future of the Cubs continues to get brighter. For evidence here's two examples: First baseman Hee Choi is batting .362 with five home runs in 14 games at Double-A while Cory Patterson, who is playing on the same West Tennessee team as Choi, reached base in 27 consecutive games during one stretch.

  • Four pitchers recently jumped from the independent Northern League to Triple-A:

    Mike Bertotti from Waterbury to Columbus (Yankees), Joey Eischen from Adirondack to Ottawa (Expos), Ryan Halla from Elmira to Richmond (Braves) and Michael LaPlanre from Quebec City to Richmond.

    Drive she said
    With the Firestone tires recall in the news, Mariners coach John McLaren told Bob Finnigan of the Seattle Times that he was a Firestone blowout victim.

    "I have an Explorer at home in Arizona," McLaren told Finnigan, "and was driving on the freeway in January when one of the tires went on me. I was lucky. I was right next to a tractor trailer truck, but my car only shimmied and I was able to get to the side of the road, where I found the tire was completely blown out."


  • The White Sox and A's are 1-2 in the majors in most errors and worst fielding percentage.

  • Nomar Garciaparra's home run Wednesday was his first three-run homer since last Sept. 11 in New York, a testament to his teammates' problems getting on base in front of him. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Garciaparra went into the weekend tied for 99th in the majors in the number of runners in scoring position in his at-bats. 99th? Mike Sweeney, John Olerud, Preston Wilson, Bernie Williams and Eric Karros had come to the plate with the most runners in scoring position thus far.

  • Going into the weekend, major league teams were 82 games under .500 in games started by opposing left-handers.

  • When Cubs rookie Ruben Quevedo was allowed to throw 133 pitches in a recent game, manager Don Baylor took it upon himself to accept responsibility for allowing Quevedo to go that long and refused to blame any coach on his staff. Baylor claimed he mistakenly thought Quevedo was at 112 pitches.

  • The Brewers have a team on-base percentage of .329, which is the heart of the matter of why they are last in the NL in runs scored with 505 through Friday. Since being moved into the two hole in the Brewers' lineup, Marquis Grissom has batted .249 with an on-base percentage of .278. Ooph.

  • Scott Karl's pitching line at Coors Field through Friday: 27.2 IP, 51 H, 15 BB, 2 HP, 32 ER. Ooph Ooph.

  • For those who worry about Corey Koskie being able to be a productive hitter, remember, he is fifth among AL third basemen in OPS -- behind Troy Glaus, Travis Fryman, Tony Batista and Dean Palmer. And remember, that going into the weekend the average AL club third-base production was 15 HR and 69 RBI.

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  • Gammons: 2000 column archive

    Gammons: Managers on the hot seat

    Gammons: News and notes
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