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Around the Horn

28 April 2000

Baseball Banishes Brawlers

Major League Baseball took steps to clamp down on violence in the game by suspending 16 players Thursday for their part in a brawl filled weekend matchup between the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers.

The game in question was played on Saturday April 22, at Comiskey Park in Chicago. It involved several bean ball incidents, with the benches emptying twice. On both occasions, multiple fights ensued throughout the field while players took cheap shots at each other.

MLB Vice-President of On-Field Operations, former major leaguer and current Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, handed out the suspensions, his first in the newly created post.

Both managers, Phil Garner of Detroit and Jerry Manuel of Chicago, were suspended for 8 games each. The harshest judgement went against Tigers coach Juan Samuel, who will sit out a total of 15 games.

Of course, this being the day and age when players rule the roost, none of the suspensions will go into effect until the appeals process is complete.

Dye Sets Record

Kansas City Royals outfielder Jermaine Dye etched his name in the record books this week. The young slugger became the first player in major league history - that's nearly 100 years folks – to hit 10 home runs and 10 doubles by May 1st.

Dye is among the American League leaders in batting average (6th at .382), runs scored (tied for 3rd with 20), runs batted in (3rd with 25), hits (3rd with 33), doubles (1st with 10) and home runs (1st with 11). He was also leading the league in total bases (76), extra-base hits (21) and slugging percentage (.884).

Vladimir Guererro, The Real Deal

With Sports Illustrated doing a cover story on him, the word is finally out about the talent in our midst. Montreal Expos outfielder Vladimir Guererro is the real thing. He is off to a torrid start, and has people talking about the possibility of a triple crown performance, something that hasn't happened in the majors since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski did it back in 1967.

Currently Guererro is leading the National League with a .452 average, is second in RBI with 26, and is tied for the lead in home runs with 8. Recently he went 72 games without striking out, an astonishing feat considering his power at the plate.

Home Runs, Enough Already

The fact is baseball is in the process of sabotaging the importance of the home run. The parks are too small, the ball is too jumpy, and the pitching is weak. Hitters are bigger and stronger than ever, and the strike zone has never been smaller. More home runs are being hit today than at anytime in the history of the game.

This calculated diversion of the purity of the game is the direct result of owners who place the almighty dollar ahead of anything and everything else. After attendance and attention have both sky-rocketed thanks to Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa and their two-year home run assault on the record books, the powers that be are well aware of the selling point a home run represents.

Don't look for an immediate remedy to long-ball madness anytime soon. Owners and players (with the exception of a few pitchers) are more than happy to fill nightly highlight reels with one generic home run after another.

However, don't be surprised when the pendulum swings back the other way. In the not too distant future baseball, in its infinite wisdom, will raise the height of the mound, or deaden the ball, or tap into a great undiscovered talent pool of competent pitchers.

Something will have to give, because before too long home runs are likely to inspire some mighty deep yawns among the paying public.

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