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Friday, May 18
Wild Pitches

Revenge of the week
When some guys hit two home runs in a game, they say it was because they kept their front shoulder tucked, they just happened to get good wood on the ball or, if they really get creative, it was "just one of those nights."

Suffice it to say you'll never see a quote like that in Week in Review.

Because there are men like Phillies center fielder Doug Glanville.

Last Friday, he hit two home runs against his former teammate, Curt Schilling, in Schilling's first start against the Phillies since they traded him last July.

Doug Glanville
Doug Glanville and Travis Lee will remain happy teammates as long as they stay away from the video games.

Now the previous four men to hit two homers in a game off Schilling were Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Mike Piazza and Barry Bonds. So it's not as if just anybody can step up there and do it.

And how did Doug Glanville explain this performance? This is what he told the Philadelphia Inquirer's Bob Brookover minutes after he and the Phillies had dealt Schilling his first loss of the year:

"Curt's a friend of mine," Glanville said. "We used to play video games together. He killed one of my characters one time. I never forgot that."

This, folks, is why Doug Glanville is one of our favorite Americans.

But it seemed to us that there clearly was more to this saga -- something deep and painful, something tragic and powerful. We went digging for the full story.

As Glanville remembers this poignant tale, he and Schilling were playing a computer game called "EverQuest" -- an online version of Dungeons and Dragons.

"One day," Glanville told Week in Review, "Schill was playing his character, Cylc" -- whom Glanville described as "a dwarven Cleric," whatever that is -- "and he asked me to team up with him in Faydwer, in the zone of the Butcherblock Mountains, to kill Aviaks, which are basically walking birds."

Hang with us here, friends. There will be a baseball point coming.

"My good-natured character, Bingbong," -- whom Glanville described as "a dwarven Paladin," whatever that is -- "was at a little lower level (in status) than his," Glanville said. "So Cylc was better able to withstand the return attacks. Nevertheless, we attack."

So there they were, battling away against those dastardly Aviaks. Suddenly, Glanville began to hear the sound of bones breaking. He quickly deduced those bones belonged to his beloved Bingbong. He looked around for Schilling's guy, Cylc, for assistance.

Oops. No Cylc anywhere in the neighborhood.

"Somewhere in there," Glanville recalled, "he had sent a message to me, saying, 'RUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.' But he typed this as he was already a mile away from danger and standing next to the guards that protect him. Needless to say, my lifeless character was now chicken feed."

Little did Schilling know this would some day lead to him giving up two home runs to Glanville in a giant airplane hanger in Arizona. But it's true.

"I vowed revenge on the soul of Bingbong," Glanville said, "for the negligent actions of Cylc."

And boy, did Schilling ever pay for Cylc's crimes.

But how do we know this was just an isolated occurrence? Suppose many a big game on the diamond can be explained by isolated acts of violence on a computer screen? This is stuff you never hear about from Miller and Morgan. But it happens, Glanville said.

"Not enough attention is paid to the off-the-field motivators that create nasty on-field grudges," Glanville revealed. "I believe video atrocities top the list. Curt Schilling assassinated my lovable Dwarf Paladin in EverQuest, happily smiling as his character stood in the safety of the town guards. That can create serious internal friction.

"I believe we need to analyze some of the video atrocities committed on PlayStation2 or Dreamcasts, or even the Commodore 64, if we need to go back that far. Teammates play each other all the time on these platforms in baseball simulations, football and other head-to-head games. This creates all kinds of bad blood when the winner is not as gracious as he could be."

Until now, those games may have seemed like just innocent diversions. Now, however, we know different.

"I'm of the theory," Glanville said, "that this could be a key explanation as to why some players have tremendous success against certain other players. Like Todd Helton against Bobby Jones (10-for-16, 3 HR). Or Mike Redmond against Tom Glavine (16-for-25).

"Maybe Glavine beat Redmond in Madden Football, 73-0, and poured Gatorade over himself after the victory. Maybe when Bobby Jones was losing to Helton in NBA Live, he 'accidentally' knocked the cord out of the wall, claiming it was a 'power-surge problem.' We don't know these things, do we?"

No, we have no idea, because until now, we've foolishly confined our baseball analysis to things that happened only in real life. Now we understand that on those computer and video screens, there exists a world within a world. And we'd better investigate that world, too, if we want to continue providing incisive baseball commentary.

And we know this because of one baseball game in Arizona last weekend and one honest, incisive ballplayer named Doug Glanville.

We've been unable to get a comment from Schilling on these events. But at this point, Glanville says, that doesn't matter, anyway. All that matters is the on-field ramifications.

"Schill has to live with what he has done," Glanville said. "He can tell whatever story he wants, but the facts are the facts. Bingbong was set up, led to an untimely death in the prime of his life for no other reason than pure malice. Things like that do not go unavenged. Sometimes it spills out onto the field of play."

And if it ever does again, you know you can count on Week in Review to be right on the scene -- to thoroughly confuse you more than we already have.

Invention of the week
We owe it all to George Brett (the inventor), Mario Mendoza (the hitter) and our buddy Gammons, who broke one of the most enduring stories of our time.

Thanks to them, the Mendoza Line is as tightly woven into the fabric of modern baseball as resin bags, Yankee pinstripes and, of course, cool shades.

If you don't hit .200, you reside below the Mendoza Line. We all know that. But what if you're a pitcher? You have no Mendoza Line to aspire to (or aspire to avoid, to be technical). You have no lines whatsoever. With the possible exception of box-score lines. And funny lines to explain away your funny box-score lines.

Now, though, along comes one of history's great innovators, Brian Kingman, to invent a line for the pitching populace. And not a moment too soon.

If the hitters have their line to measure their quest to stay above one round number (.200), then why, Kingman thought, shouldn't pitchers have a line to measure their own quest to stay below another round number (20)?

As in 20 losses.

Which can only mean this line would be named after the legendary pitcher who last lost 20 games in a season in the major leagues.

A line, in other words, named after himself.

The Kingman Line.

Why not?

"With all of my qualifications -- the only 20-game loser in the '80s, the last 20-game loser of the century and the millennium -- is it too much," Kingman wondered, "to ask to be rewarded with a Line?"

Of course not. And Kingman -- whose 20-loss season for the 1980 Oakland A's has endured the challenge of many an Omar Daal and Scott Erickson -- has devised a simple formula to honor himself, too.

Take our current leaders in losses -- Jose Mercedes, Steve Trachsel and Rick Helling. They have six losses apiece. That's 30 percent of the way to 20 losses.

Now take their teams -- the Orioles, Mets and Rangers. They've played 41, 40 and 40 games, respectively. That's 25.3 percent and 24.7 percent of a season.

If you have a higher percentage of a 20-loss season than the percent of the full season your team has played, congratulations. You're officially below the Kingman Line.

This, says Kingman, is an idea that works for everybody.

"The good part about it is that, at the beginning of the year, you've got a lot of candidates who are under the line," Kingman told Week in Review. "Then, as you get to the end, you've only got two or three guys. And when the season's over, as we know, no one's left."

Ahhh, perfect. We have a catchily named line to measure the race to 20 losses. But ultimately, no one ever has to reside below the line forever -- because pitchers in this era clearly have a better chance of throwing a nine-walk no-hitter than of losing 20.

If this catches on, Kingman figures, it could spawn a whole new form of Vegas odds-making. If there were a line on potential 20-game losers right now, Kingman figures it would look like this:

Pedro Martinez, 2 million-to-1
Kevin Brown, 1,250,000-to-1
Randy Johnson, 1,100,000-to-1
Roger Clemens, 1 million-to-1
Greg Maddux, 900,000-to-1

But now some of the prime contenders:

Paul Wilson (1-5, 7.09 ERA), 100-to-1
Rick Helling (1-6, 7.33), 250-to-1
Jose Mercedes (0-6, 6.54), 400-to-1
Bryan Rekar (0-5) and Gil Heredia (2-5), 500-to-1
Steve Trachsel (1-6, 8.24), 1,000 to 1

Maybe this odds thing will stick in a town where folks would bet on how long it takes a bus boy to clear their table after dinner. But even if it doesn't stick, at least Kingman gets a little fame out of having his own Kingman Line.

"I don't know if this will catch on like the Mendoza Line," our hero conceded. "But the idea is just to have one. Anthony Young got to go on Johnny Carson after losing 27 in a row. No one ever talked to me. I had to wait 20 years for somebody to talk to."

And he had to follow Omar Daal around the country last September just to get talked to even then. But maybe he was just a man ahead of his time. Yeah, that's his line. And Brian Kingman is sticking to it.

Wayward mascot of the week
When last we left the most uproarious mascot in the history of Canadian baseball -- the one, the only Youppi! -- earlier this season, we were relieved to learn that rumors this spring of his demise were just another dreaded internet hoax.

But that good news soon was washed away by eyewitness accounts of what's left of Youppi! and the ray of sunshine he used to cast upon the bleakness that is Expos baseball.

The Youpp Guy, we have learned, is a mere shadow of his former everpresent, effervescent self. He's no longer allowed on the field at Stade Olympique, where he once brought a smile to many a player who took one look at his glowing orange physique and erupted in good cheer.

He's no longer allowed on the dugout, where he once slid so gleefully into home plate, never once being tagged out.

He's only permitted now to wander through the stands listlessly, no doubt searching for signs of actual human life amid the empty seats.

It's a melancholy sight, all right, for those of us who love the guy.

"He's kind of like a former secretary of state who gets reduced to ambassador," Astros broadcast-humorist Jim Deshaies reported to Week in Review. "He's got a smaller job now. He just walks around the stands. It's sad to watch.

"It's like watching one of the all-time greats who just doesn't know when to get out. For the Expos, this has to be like the Orioles and Cal Ripken. If you sit him down, he's got that loyal fan base who might rebel. But you can see he just can't do the job anymore. He can't get a laugh."

Even baseball's other mascots are saddened by Youppi!'s new fate as a utility mascot. Or is that a role mascot?

"That's just wrong," said the Phillie Phanatic, through his spokesman, Tom Burgoyne. "The dugout was his home, his domain. That saddens me. It hits me where I live. Mascots should go on forever."

But it's possible the great Youppster is just operating in an era now where his unique skills simply aren't appreciated.

"Poor Youppi!" Deshaies bemoaned, the ache in his voice unmistakable. "He's a throwback to the glory days of mascots, the days of The Chicken and the Phanatic and Max Patkin in the minor leagues. Now they're phasing him out, and you can't help but see the correlation in their attendance: Youppi! dancing on the dugout, they get 7,500 out there. Now he's not, and they're down to 4,200."

It's an outrage, all right. So maybe it's time for the Youp Man to move on, do his thing somewhere else. Maybe he can't take a hint, but we can take one for him.

"I can see it now," Deshaies mused. "Him and Bill Lee, wandering the streets of Montreal, looking for a game. He could show up driving the Zamboni at Canadiens games. You never know."

If baseball just had a labor system that worked -- a system that provided more opportunity for a talented veteran mascot with nowhere to go on his present club -- Youppi! could maybe file for free agency. Then he could hire an agent, shop himself to the highest bidder and work his special mirth somewhere else.

"I could see a team like the Yankees or Dodgers or Braves getting interested," the Phanatic speculated. "Some big market for Youppi! to sell his wares. Those are three teams that have always taken the high road and not gotten into the whole mascot thing. But with Youppi!, they wouldn't even have to break him in. He's already achieved legendary status."

And the Yankees, let's remember, are all about legends. So you can almost see the Youppmeister parading around The Stadium in his new blue pinstripes, can't you? And that exclamation point on his back belongs in Monument Park alongside the other single digits commemorating all those other Yankees immortals.

"Youppi! in the Bronx," the Phanatic mused. "I like that. He's already got the bilingual thing covered, too."

But Deshaies isn't so sure that would be a good idea.

"I don't know if Youppi! could reinvent himself south of the border," Deshaies said. "It's like how some people in America 'get' Monty Python and Benny Hill, and some don't. To me, Youppi! is distinctly north of the border.

"He might be better off just getting out, doing a one-last-time-around-the-league kind of thing. Of course, he never actually goes around the league, because he never leaves. But each team could come to him, give him some great farewell gift -- a 50-gallon drum, big drumsticks, that sort of thing. That way, he could get the proper sendoff he so richly deserves."

Well, he doesn't deserve this. We know that. And we're sure players everywhere feel the same way. If they do, there had better be some place in that next labor deal for mascot free agency -- or we'll know baseball hasn't solved its biggest problems of all.

Hoops fan of the week
Brewers reliever Ray King arrived at Philadelphia"s Veteran Stadium on Tuesday afternoon, knowing he'd pitched in six of the previous seven games and had been promised a day off by manager Davey Lopes.

So Ray King decided to hold Lopes to his promise . . .

By going to the 76ers-Raptors playoff game across the street.

"I told him, `Here's my cell number. About the sixth inning, call me if you need me," King told Wild Pitches.

We"ll never know for sure whether King did in fact go to the basketball game. We know only that he warmed up in the bullpen in the ninth inning, then was seated at his locker afterward.

Asked if he really went, King wasn't saying.

"All I'll say is this: I think it was about 33-12 in the first half," he said. "But you didn't hear it from me."

Mystery pitcher of the week
Desi Relaford
Relief pitcher?
1 00 00 1

It never fails. The Mets' real pitchers had given up 15 runs and 17 hits to the Padres on Thursday. So in came infielder Desi Relaford to pitch -- and set them down, 1-2-3, including a strikeout of opposing pitcher Jose Nunez. Relaford was the first mystery pitcher to throw a 1-2-3 inning that included a strikeout since Lenny Harris, then of the Reds, did it on June 1, 1998, in San Francisco.

Quotes of the day
  • From Relaford, on learning his fastball was clocked on the scoreboard at 91 mph: "That's a slow gun, too."

  • From manager Bobby Valentine, on the 15-3 loss: "It certainly could have been a lot worse if Desi didn't have the good stuff he had."

Box score lines of the week (non-no-hitter dept.)
First prize: Bryan Rekar, Tampa Bay, last Saturday vs. Cleveland:
4 IP, 13 H, 10 R, 8 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 1 WP, 103 pitches to get 4 outs.

Second prize: Todd Ritchie, Pirates, Thursday vs. St. Louis:
6 2/3 IP, 10 H, 10 R, 8 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 2 HR.

Facts of the day
Rekar set the Tampa Bay franchise record for hits allowed. Ritchie remained the only Opening-Day starter in either league who hasn't missed a start but hasn't won.

More quotes of the day
  • From Ritchie, on whether he was frustrated: "`Frustrated' would be a light term for it."

  • From Rekar, on his evening: "I didn't really think that was me or my stuff out there."

Knuckleballer of the week
Tigers knuckleball king Steve Sparks had one of his strangest outings of the year Thursday in Baltimore. In the third inning, he allowed all five runs he gave up and six of the eight hits he surrendered.

So what happened? It was all ESPN's fault.

"When we got in Monday night," he told Booth Newspapers' Tigers beat man, Danny Knobler, "ESPN Classic was showing a 1984 game between Mike Witt and Charlie Hough. I saw Charlie Hough go to the resin bag over and over again. So I tried it.

"About the third inning, it started getting sticky. I couldn't throw my knuckleball for a strike. I had to go to sliders, curves, fastballs, anything just to try to throw a strike and get through the inning."

After he finally made it through the inning five runs later, Sparks headed off the field -- and washed his hands. He then allowed no hits to the next nine hitters he faced.

"I thought that (using the resin bag) might prolong my career," Sparks said. "Instead, I thought I was ending my career in the third inning."

Ichiro-mania of the week
The great Ichiro Suzuki arrived in Canada for the first time last weekend, when the Mariners played the Blue Jays. After getting his standard two hits in his first game north of the border, he was asked by the local media how he liked Canada so far.

"Your national anthem," he replied, "is a little long."

Injury of the week
How did Oakland's Mario Valdez wind up with the bruised left lateral condoyle (which is connected to the leg bone, by the way) that landed him on the disabled list this week?

He hurt it stepping off the team bus after it pulled into the team hotel in Boston.

"Normally, I should get injured at the ballpark, not on the bus," Valdez told the San Jose Mercury News' Ron Bergman. "From now on I'm not taking the bus. I'm going to ride a bicycle."

Rain delay of the week

It's bad enough the Cincinnati Reds have lost 11 of their last 12 home games. But Thursday, they were in a tie game with Arizona after three innings when a rain storm hit so suddenly that Reds manager Bob Boone, pitcher Pete Harnisch and first baseman Sean Casey had to run out and help get the tarp on the field.

Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

The game then was held up for three hours. But after the rain delay, the Diamondbacks scored five unanswered runs. So down went the Reds again, 7-2.

"The way it turned out," Boone said, "I should have pulled it the other way -- off instead of on."

Meanwhile, Arizona starter Brian Anderson -- who hadn't won a game all season -- had given up two runs in three innings, and was topping out at 88 to 89 miles per hour before the rain hit.

But he waited out the rain delay, came back throwing 90-92 mph, spun three shutout innings and finally got that first win of the year.

"Maybe," he told the East Valley Tribune"s Ed Price, "I need to start warming up for those 7 o'clock games at 4."

Asked how he killed the rain delay, Anderson replied: "I sat and watched it rain for an hour, then read Time Magazine and saw where a lot of high schools are banning dodge ball, which I think is a travesty. Oh, and we all sat in the clubhouse and watched Harnisch and Casey tugging on that tarp."

.500 club of the week
No, that was no typographical error. That really was the Tigers, pulling themselves up to .500 (17-17) last weekend.

Not that they've NEVER done that this time of year, of course. They WERE at .500 in the month of May as recently as six years earlier.

"What are we now -- .500?" reliever Matt Anderson asked afterward, at least a little incredulously. "We're not real familiar with it. A lot of teams are."

Bat boy of the week
With his 6-year-old son, Christopher, serving as bat boy last weekend, Ellis Burks went 4 for 7 with two homers and 10 RBI. Coincidence?

"Christopher can stick around for a while if he wants," said Cleveland manager Charlie Manuel. "We might even let him hit."

Ring ding of the week
It wouldn't be an official day in New York without some kind of controversy. And one of the big ones this week revolved around the return to Shea Stadium of Rickey Henderson, where he did NOT pick up his Mets World Series ring.

Because the Mets decided not to give him one.

Everyone else who suited up for the Mets for 10 minutes last year did get one -- including country singer Garth Brooks, who played in a few spring-training games. But after Rickey began grumbling about not getting his ring, in classic Rickey-speak (meaning he referred to himself as some whole other person), Mets GM Steve Phillips couldn't help himself.

He then explained the Mets' thinking to the Newark Star Ledger's David Waldstein -- in Phillips-speak.

"Steve doesn't have anything personal against Rickey," Phillips said. "Steve had a policy in place that if a player goes to another team and makes the playoffs, he doesn't get a ring. Plus, Steve felt that if we paid Rickey $1.8 million for the remainder of his contract without getting anything for it, it was inappropriate to give Rickey a ring."

Ring ding of the week (part 2)
But hilarious as that Rickey impression was, that did not, of course, end the Rickey circus.

Rickey then went out and homered against the Mets in two straight games.

Naturally, he never homered in two straight games when he was WITH the Mets.

Whereupon he was stoked on the ring snub one more time by the New York Post's Tom Keegan, who couldn't resist mentioning that Garth Brooks got a ring.

"Garth Brooks," Henderson said, chuckling. "I think a couple of concession-stand guys got rings, too, didn't they?"

Piker of the week
The Oakland A's seemed to figure out last Saturday exactly why the Red Sox were in first place.

They had the great privilege of striking out 12 times against Pedro Martinez.

And they gave up a bizarre transcontinental home run to Manny Ramirez on a pitch that couldn't be hit, then couldn't possibly stay fair, then eventually came down on the Massachusetts Turnpike.

"Manny and Pedro are cartoon characters," Jason Giambi told the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser. "That ball Manny hit was an inch off the ground, and he hit it nine miles."

"Ramirez is from another planet," said A's pitching coach Rick Peterson. "He and Pedro are probably rooming together on Pluto."

And the Pluto exit on the turnpike is just about where Manny's home run landed too.

He chased a pitch from Gil Heredia that, a) almost bounced, and b) almost hit him in the ankle. And he still got it up in the air and down the left-field line.

It was so clearly going to land about 20 feet foul that he never left the batter's box. Except the ball started slicing. And slicing. And slicing. And eventually somehow passed by the foul pole in fair territory.

It cleared the Monster, sailed over the screen and landed on top of a parking garage across Lansdowne Street. Whereupon it took a hop off the roof and proceeded on down the Mass Pike, where it presumably avoided paying any tolls.

Estimated measurement of this blast: 468 feet.

Asked afterward to explain how any of this had happened, Red Sox manager Jimy Williams answered as only he could.

"'I don't know," Williams said. "I'm not the ball. I think the ball is the only one who really knows."

And the ball is in Vermont by now.

Grand entrance of the week
The Tigers called up reliever Dave Borkowski on Thursday, with the intention of adding him to their bullpen mix before their game in Baltimore.

But his flight was late. He didn't make it into the dugout until the third inning. And he showed up just as Steve Sparks was giving up his fifth run of the inning. (See above.)

So manager Phil Garner pointed to the bullpen, and Borkowski sprinted out there, then started warming up immediately. Before this tale really got crazy, though, Sparks got out of the inning, and Borkowski never did pitch.

Garner's recollection of his greeting to his newest pitcher: "I said, `Hello. How are you? Go pitch.'"

Bucco madness of the week
It was the Pirates' season in microcosm.

Monday in Milwaukee, the Pirates trailed the Brewers by one run and had Derek Bell on first with nobody out in the fourth inning. Pat Meares then hit a long fly ball down the left-field line that was deflected by a fan before it hit the foul pole -- and ruled a home run by plate ump Mark Wegner.

So far, so good.

But this was the Pirates. So naturally, the umpires then conferred and overruled the homer. Bell then got picked off first before another pitch was thrown. And Meares struck out.

After manager Lloyd McClendon fumed about the call for many, many minutes afterward, Meares then -- of course -- testified against him.

"I thought it was foul all the way," Meares said. "I was really embarrassed to have to run the bases."

Fun year this team is having.

Catch of the week (tall guy dept.)
Troy Glaus, who plays third base for the Angels, is 6-foot-5. David Eckstein, who plays second base for the Angels, is 5-8.

Tuesday, Glaus made a scenic leaping catch of a line drive by Raul Mondesi. Afterward, the Los Angeles Times' Mike DiGiovanna asked manager Mike Scioscia how many David Ecksteins it would take to make that catch.

"Oh," Scioscia said, "about 2 1/2."

Catch of the week (gravel eating dept.)
Catches don't get much prettier than the one Seattle's Mike Cameron made Wednesday at Safeco.

He pumped all the way to the gap in right-center to chase down Carlos Lee's slicer to the track, then launched himself airborne, grabbed it and landed face-first on the cinders. Asked how that felt, Cameron said: "It's like falling in the street on your bike."

But pitcher Paul Abbott thought there should have been an assist scored on the play -- to him.

"I think I should get some credit for making him famous," Abbott said. "I was on the mound last year when he made that leap over the wall (to rob Derek Jeter). I might as well be in charge of his PR."

Non-catch of the week
When you play the outfield, you can scoreboard-watch from a lot closer than most of us. But not normally as close as Darin Erstad in Detroit last Saturday.

In his standard kamikaze quest to catch EVERY ball hit, the Angels' center fielder crashed into the scoreboard at Comerica Park at full speed chasing Bobby Higginson's eighth-inning triple. Then he ricocheted off the board like a tennis ball and crumbled to the turf for several seconds.

Asked what he was thinking while he was laying there, Erstad replied: "I was just gathering myself -- making sure everything was attached."

Missing manager of the week
Phil Garner missed the Tigers' game with the Angels last Friday so he could attend his daughter's graduation from Texas A&M. That left bench coach Doug Mansolino in charge.

Lucky him.

The game went 11 innings and 4 1/2 hours. The Tigers got themselves behind, 4-0, and 6-2, before rallying to tie it and then winning in extra innings.

And when the media arrived in the clubhouse after the game, Mansolino had three words for them before the first question: "Uncle, uncle uncle."

"Next time Gar says he has to go," Mansolino said, "I might go with him."

Asked what he was going to save from his first managerial win, Mansolino said he would keep the big lineup card from the dugout -- "just to look at it and say, `Uncle.'"

And later, when asked about the health of Damion Easley, who tweaked a hamstring running out an inside-the-park homer, Mansolino said: "I wouldn't rush it -- but I'm not the manager anymore. I'm done. Uncle."

Bobblehead of the week
Finally, one of our loyal readers, David Hallstrom, was so inspired by our recent coverage of Jim Thome's game-winning homer on Jim Thome Bobblehead Day, he's set out to chronicle how players do this year on their Bobblehead Days.

He's found four so far this year, heading into the weekend. And if you throw out Omar Vizquel's 0-for-4, the last three bobblehead honorees -- Thome, Carlos Delgado and Sammy Sosa -- have gone a combined 5 for 11, with two homers.

Next up, this weekend, are Jason Giambi, Tim Salmon, Pat Burrell and Larry Dierker Bobblehead Days. Giambi's and Salmon's are Saturday. Burrell's and Dierker's are Sunday. So watch out for the Power of the Bobblehead.

The Astros actually shipped Dierker an advance copy of his on the road Tuesday. He took one look at it and announced: "It's better looking than I am. You can't see any of the wrinkles or gray hair."

Love those bobbleheads.

Jayson Stark is a Senior Writer at ESPN.com. Wild Pitches appears each Friday.

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