Dr. Z’s Diagnosis
Cal Ripken, Jr., and Tony Gwynn are leaving the game in a few short days and Barry Bonds chases The Mac and his three-year-old record. But give some major props to Rickey Henderson. This man is amazing. With two more runs scored, Henderson will break Ty Cobb’s all-time record for runs scored with 2,246. Other players on this list of the top run scorers of all time: Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Pete Rose, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Lou Gehrig and Mel Ott. If you’re familiar with baseball history, you’re drooling over these names. If not, these are the greatest positional players of all time.
Assuming Rickey does score two more runs in his career, this record will be a feather in his cap. He already owns the record for most leadoff homeruns with 79, and this past April he passed the Babe for most career walks. Henderson currently has 2,137. And to top it all off, Rickey is only five hits away from becoming the 25th player ever to have 3,000 hits. By the end of this season, Henderson will be the sole owner of three all-time records and a member of the baseball elite club.
But why has he been treated like a hot potato throughout his career? Henderson began playing in 1979 with the Oakland Athletics. After six years in the Bay Area, he moved across the country to the Big Apple, where he donned pinstripes for five years before returning back to Oakland. But in 1993, he was traded to the Blue Jays, where he would play 44 games before again returning to the A’s. After two more years, he moved south to San Diego for two years before being moved to Anaheim, where he would play 32 games. Then to Oakland for a year, New York with the Mets for two years, some time in Seattle, and this season with San Diego. Phew, that was painful. By my count, that’s 11 changes with seven teams over 23 years.
Henderson will leave the game on a bus to Cooperstown, where he will be enshrined as the league’s greatest leadoff hitter. But Henderson doesn’t slip off the tongue with the likes of best all time. I’ll admit, he certainly hasn’t had the impact of players like Ruth, but his statistics speak for themselves. Just recently, he had his 500th double and his career on- base percentage is over .400. Along with all his other records, Henderson deserves some credit. Next year will be his last in baseball, and I surely hope he gets treated the way Ripken and Gwynn have been treated this year. He’s earned it.
NFL Game of the Week is…Bengals at Chargers?
That’s right. It’s a battle between two teams that were a combined 5 – 27 last season.
So who is going to win the epic battle between the Bengals, who have been the laughing stock of the league for many years now, or the Chargers, who tanked last season by winning only one game, even though they had a strong D? At first glance, the Chargers seem to be the better team. Through the first two weeks of the season, the Bolts rank fifth in total offense at 367.5 yards/game, fourth in scoring with 31.0 points/game and fifth in rushing offense at 131.5 yards/game with their rookie running back LaDanian Tomlinson taking most of the load. The Chargers D, led by middle linebacker Junior Seau, ranks fourth in total D, allowing only 225.0 yards/game. But don’t count out the Bengals just yet. Quarterback John Kitna is being revived in Cincy, where he has a 94.0 QB rating with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. The Bengals also sport a rush defense that has allowed only 66.0 yards/game.
The Bengals passing D is mediocre at best, so if Doug Flutie can hit the airwaves, the Chargers will open the season 3 – 0. But if Corey Dillon decides to come to the game the way he did last year, the Bengals could be the surprise of the year. Should be a great game.
With the scheduling changes due to the recent terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington D.C., baseball’s Fall Classic will most likely move into the month of November. But who is going to be playing? My choice is the St. Louis Cardinals. Here’s why: PITCHING.
That’s right. The team that bats McGwire, Pujols, Edmonds and Drew has an even better pitching staff, especially lately. Last year’s ace, Darryl Kile, has not reached the 20-win plateau that he found last year. But make no mistake about it, Kile is the real deal. He’s 15-10 this season with a 2.96 ERA, putting him fourth in the NL. And since the All-Star break, Kile is sporting a 2.45 ERA with six wins. Kile’s most recent victory, a 5 -1 win over the Central rival Astros was his most impressive win, with seven shutout innings.
Next to Kile in the rotation is Matt Morris, who many argue is the team’s ace. He’s 20-8 this season with a 3.38 ERA. He’s won 10 games in the second half of the season and is 8-1 in August and September.
Left-handed rookie Bud Smith has emerged as the team’s next-best starter, posting a 6-2 record with a 3.31 ERA in 13 starts. His no-hitter last month certainly has highlighted his rookie season so far, but a few W’s in October will change that.
The Cards’ fourth starter, Woody Williams, may be the best fourth man in any rotation. He’s 14-9 this season with a 4.24 ERA, but he’s been a changed man since a waiver wire deal brought him to St. Louis. In nine games, he’s 6-1 with a 2.51 ERA and three complete games.
Rounding out the five-man rotation is Dustin Hermanson, who the Cards certainly expected more from this season. He’s an even .500 at 13-13 with a good ERA of 4.42. Hermanson has pitched well of late, posting a 3.44 ERA in the second half of the season. Albert Pujols recently stated that he was sure the Cardinals were going to make the big dance. I agree with this, and with a little luck and the same pitching they’ve gotten over the past two months, they’ll be knocking on the World Series real soon.
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