Hitting goes in streaks, slumps; managers discuss what it takes to win
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* From Manager Joe Torre of the Atlanta Braves on trends in baseball: ''There aren't any. Well, I take that back. It used to be that if a kid could hit but didn't carry much of a glove, a manager would find a place somewhere in his lineup to hide him on defense. Today, with so many teams playing on artificial surfaces where you need speed to get to the ball, scouts will sign almost any prospect who can run. They want that speed on defense so badly that they are willing to gamble that somebody in their organization can teach the kid to hit.''Skip to next paragraph
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* The following was taken bits and pieces from former Baltimore manager, Earl Weaver's new book (''Weaver on Strategy,'' published by Macmillan): ''The way to win is with pitching and three-run homers. . . Pitching is the most important, most delicate, and most challenging part of the game. . . The home run makes managing simple. Nothing can go wrong. The power of the home run is so elementary that I fail to comprehend why people try to outsmart the game in other ways. . . Forget about the bunt, unless there is no other choice. There are only three outs per inning. Give one away and you are making everything harder for yourself.'' Weaver is probably right. Earl did finish either first or second 13 times in the 15 years he spent as manager of the Orioles. Facts and figures on umpires
What would happen if an umpiring crew, for any reason, failed to show up for a major league game? It happened many years ago in Cincinnati, which also happened to be the home of former National League ump Larry Goetz, who wasn't scheduled to leave on assignment until the next day. When someone remembered that Goetz might be puttering around his garden, they put in a telephone call to Larry and what could have been a major problem behind home plate was solved. Players from the two teams, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Reds, worked the bases while Goetz called balls and strikes.
It is estimated that during a nine-inning game the plate umpire calls approximately 290 pitches while the base umpires are involved with approxiamtely 49 safe or out decisions. The plate umpire can also count on being hit hard either by a pitched ball or a foul tip on an average of twice a game. While the half-swing is often said to be an umpire's toughest call, the one they don't talk about is when a sliding runner and the ball arrive at the base at the same time and the umpire's view is blocked. Frankly, they estimate such calls, protecting their decision by reacting instantly and in a voice as close to thunder as they can make it. Piniella on deck? Reggie's woes
* There is wide speculation that outfielder Lou Piniella's retirement as a player with the New York Yankees was effected so that Piniella will be free to replace Yogi Berra as manager during the July All-Star break. Meanwhile Lou will continue as the Yankees' batting instructor as well as taking on the additional duties of first-base coach.
* Reggie Jackson, who has struggled at bat all year for the California Angels despite 11 home runs, had his $65,000 customized Porsche 930 stolen from in front of a Newport Beach restaurant recently. Jackson has been offering a $1000 no-questions-asked reward for its return. It's not that Reggie doesn't have other vehicles; actually he collects old and exotic cars and owns about 56. But this particular Porsche is painted to specs and has had its interior replaced by fabric that matches Jackson's favorite Rolls Royce.