November 16, 2006 at 7:47 a.m.
The Geek Squad recently named a small device designed to shock lobsters into the great beyond as its Gadget of the Year. I assume this miniature crustacean electric chair is intended to ease the human conscience before and after we consume the luscious shelled creatures.
Electrical devices in baseball
In an earlier column, I made reference to the emergence of Detroit Tiger pitcher Kenny Rogers as a dominant postseason hurler. Despite a history of pitching well in the first half of the season and suffering some kind of post-All-Star game malaise, Rogers was the Tigers most potent thrower in the 2006 playoffs.
It’s likely that more would have been made of the mysterious substance spotted in the 42-year-old’s palm had Rogers’ team extended the World Series, giving Rogers another chance to pitch. But, the Cardinals dispatched the favored team from Detroit and the issue was swept under second base.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Joshua Prager, author of “The echoing Green: The Untold Story of Bobby Thomson, Ralph Branca and the Shot Heard Round the World,” lends some historical context to the incident. According to Prager, FOX TV footage of Rogers’ two previous outings, postseason wins over the Yankees and A’s, reveal identical splotches on his pitching hand prior to the World Series, as well as in the World Series.
Baseball’s Rule 8.02 clearly states, “The pitcher shall not apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball.” Ejection from the game and 10 subsequent games is the penalty.
Despite that, St. Louis manager Tony La Russa brought the splotch to the attention of the umpire. Yet, he did not insist that Rogers be ejected. Nor did the umpire take it upon himself to send the pitcher to the showers. Umpire Alfonso Marquez told Rogers to clean himself up. He did and returned to pitch seven more shutout innings. He washed his hands and so, apparently, did baseball.
In 1951, the New York Giants erased a 13.5 game deficit to tie the Brooklyn Dodgers for the best records in the National League. During their amazing run, the Giants stationed a coach in their centerfield clubhouse at home games. He was equipped with a telescope. When he spied the sign the catcher flashed to the pitcher, the coach pressed a buzzer that sounded in the Giant bullpen. From there, a player flashed the sign to the batter.
The system was in place when the Giants and Dodgers met in a playoff to determine the NL entrant in the World Series. The game ended when Giant third baseman Bobby Thomson hit the most famous home run in baseball history. The “Shot Heard Round the World” ended the game in dramatic fashion.
Rumors that the Giants had cheated first surfaced in 1962. “No, no, no,” said manager Leo Durocher. “There was no buzzer.” Thomson and other players, including Clearbrook, Minnesota native Wes Westrum, denied that the Giants had cheated. It was not until 38 years later, in 2000, that several of the 1951 Giants, admitted that the sign stealing scheme existed. Thomson said, “Getting it all out is the best thing. I feel almost like I just got out of prison.”
Perhaps Rogers will have feel the need some day to reveal the true nature of splotch.
We’re free of political ads, at least for now. Every two years we’re subjected to a constant barrage of annoying ads on radio and TV. They serve a purpose. The good ones educate us about the positions promoted by candidates. The bad ones are full of half-truths and are misleading, at best.
Sometimes it seems that enduring this nearly endless campaigning is too much to tolerate. But, consider the alternatives. We have the opportunity to have input into the policies our government pursues. As in our recent elections, we have the opportunity to vote for (or against) those in power. Transferring power doesn’t always take place so peacefully.
In Peru, the third largest country in South America, more than 190 military coups have forced government change in 150 years. Maybe our drawn-out process, including the incessant attack ads, isn’t so bad.
Last summer, when Ray Nagin was reelected as the mayor of New Orleans, he defeated 21 other candidates. People living in 47 states were eligible to vote in the election.
The Hurricane season was merciful to the U.S. this season. But, that doesn’t mean that the city’s problems are behind it. A new study indicates that the Big Easy is sinking faster than expected. The soil that the city sits on was described as a “Giant foam pillow.” The theory had been that, as the foam was compressed, the city would settle more slowly. The apparent faster rate is thought to be a possible cause for the failure of the levees.
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