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Apolitical blues

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September 23

Everybody come together, try to love one another right now
Tuesday night, the Red Sox used six different pitchers from five different countries to beat the Indians, although one catcher suggested that it was "five countries and another planet, since we used Derek Lowe."

The next night, the Sox used five pitchers from four different countries. In all, there are seven countries and five native languages represented on the pitching staff.

That is why pitching coach Joe Kerrigan keeps a pocket Franklin translator in his locker. It translates into 14 languages, and Tuesday night, when Tomo Ohka was struggling, Kerrigan punched in "aggressive," let the Japanese equivalent pop up onto the screen, then showed it to his rookie pitcher.

"Next year," says Kerrigan, "they're going to have a version that speaks the translation. It's $100 more expensive, but it should be worth it."

Thief in the night
In Wednesday night's Cleveland-Boston game, Omar Vizquel pulled off an uncontested steal of home with lefty Rheal Cormier in the stretch position. No player, coach or manager on either team had ever seen such a play, although because of Cormier's prolonged stretch the Yankees had discussed trying such a steal attempt two weeks earlier.

Vizquel had pulled off an uncontested steal of third, then Cormier was called into the game with Jim Thome at the plate. As Cormier walked in, Jimy Williams told third baseman Lou Merloni that since they were in a shift with three infielders on the right side for Thome that he would have to play closer to third and constantly remind Cormier that he had to keep an eye on Vizquel.

"When I was with the Braves we had a similar shift on for Darryl Strawberry," Williams told Merloni, "and Brett Butler stole home on Charlie Leibrandt, although he made a throw to the plate."

Merloni talked it over with Cormier, but with two strikes, Cormier was concentrating on Thome while in the stretch. Vizquel dashed home to tie the game at 3-3. "I was waiting for the moment when I thought he wasn't even thinking about me," said Vizquel. Merloni and several other teammates yelled to Cormier, but the crowd noise drowned them out.

So, you think Vizquel's steal of home is something you rarely see, hey. Well, here's another one.

Red Sox coach Tommy Harper, once a great baserunner himself, when he was young saw Mickey Mantle pull off a gem. "Mantle was on first, and there was a ball hit right over the bag," says Harper. "The first baseman fielded it turned towards first, tagged the bag, then whirled to throw to second for the tag play on Mantle. But Mickey slid right back between his legs into first, since the force was off."

My old school
Those who do not care for the wild card are hoping that the Braves get swept in Montreal this weekend. Why? Because then they could go into Shea Stadium this week and sweep the Mets and thus clinch the NL East. And while they would be celebrating the Mets could be celebrating as well after they clinch the wild card.

Open the door to your heart
Chuck McElroy hadn't started in 603 major-league appearances prior to Wednesday. Orioles pitching coach Sammy Ellis broke the news to McElroy on Tuesday by saying, "don't have a heart attack, but you're starting tomorrow." Not only did McElroy shut out the A's and brilliant rookie Barry Zito with a dominant five-inning performance, but scouts in attendance got him as high as 95 mph on the radar gun. "I rated his stuff as outstanding," says one scout.

Stop in the name of love
In Toronto, they've gotten Steve Trachsel at 36 seconds between pitches.

This old house is falling down around my shoulders
When the Marlins wore down and fell out of sight from Aug. 7 through Sept. 22, the collapse came in the bullpen. In 38 games in which the Marlins went 10-28, the relievers that had been so good for four months allowed 78 earned runs in 87 innings, good for an 8.07 ERA.

If you don't want me
If Terrence Long hits .300 to go along with 100 runs scored, he will become the fifth rookie in 40 years to accomplish the feat, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The others were Fred Lynn (1975), Kevin Seitzer ('87), Derek Jeter ('96) and Nomar Garciaparra ('97). "If Jay Payton beats out Rafael Furcal for the National League rookie of the year, both winners would have been out of the '94 Mets draft," says former Mets GM and current Twins assistant Joe McIlvaine, referring to Long and Payton who were both picked by the Mets after they selected Preston Wilson.

By the time we got to Woodstock
A representative of the Hall of Fame contacted the Astros this week requesting a pair of Jeff Bagwell's spikes after Bagwell set the modern day National League record for runs scored over two seasons with 289, breaking Chuck Klein's 1929-30 mark of 284.

"I've never done anything that the Hall of Fame would want anything of mine," said Bagwell. Not so. There are miles and miles and miles to go before his career log will be closed.

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