Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Spring Games Start Thursday

The 2003 major league season officially gets underway on Thursday when the first exhibition games are played in Arizona and Florida.

Having observed baseball for a long time, I have some thoughts on the value of the performances you will see coming from the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues.

Also, the new procedure for inducting worthy former players and executives into the Hall of Fame got off to a terrible start Wednesday when the pompous Hall of Famers couldn’t find anyone worthy of joining their private club.

More on both of these topics below.I don’t place any value on the wins and losses you will see your favorite teams incur during the exhibition season.

The games are won and lost in the seventh inning or later, very similar to the regular season, but the players in the spring games at that crucial determing point are all minor leaguers who will never see a major league roster during the 2003 season.

So forget the records and concentrate on the only important issue: that is the rehabilitation of injured players.

Is Edgardo Alfonzo swinging the bat freely and easily? Can he run without grabbing his back? Can he slide? Can Robb Nen throw off the mound without pain?

Is Ted Lilly able to throw three innings without holding his elbow in pain? Can Erubiel Durazo make it through March without pulling a muscle.

In other words watch the injured players from 2002 and see if they can play this spring.

Don’t get carried away with any hitting stats whatsoever. The pitchers throw fastballs and when they get tired of throwing fastballs they throw more fastballs. Breaking balls are not thrown with any consistency nor are changeups. The pitchers are building arm strength and the hitters are eager to hit because they know what is coming.

So, if Ken Griffey, Jr hits .490, just be glad he’s playing and discount the numbers. Same for Frank Thomas or Edgar Martinez, two question marks in the AL. Batting averages don’t mean a thing in March.

Ichiro fooled everyone in Arizona two years ago by hitting everything to the opposite field. Lou Piniella begged his Japanese import to pull the ball just once. Ichiro did and hit a homer to right field in his next at bat. Lou laughed and bowed to Ichiro and said thank you and everyone in Seattle breathed a sigh of relief. Ichiro then went out and stroked 254 hits in 2001.

Kenny Rogers still isn’t signed. This is a mystery to me because even though Rogers’ heart is questioned, he is still a capable starting pitcher. Whoever ends up with the lefty will get 12 -15 wins if the club is any good.

I think Chuck Finley can help a contender also.

No veteran will lose his job to a rookie, so don’t get carried away if some young kid from AA is hitting better than Roger Cedeno in March. Even though the Mets would love to dump both Cedeno and Jeromy Bernitz, no rookie is going to knock them out, I don’t care how hot they get hitting mediocre fastballs in the the spring.

The beauty of spring training is enjoying the sunshine and getting back into playing shape, albeit very slowly.

Get some autographs, buy a t-shirt, buy some tickets to regular season games, get familiar with the rosters, watch the bull pen guys to see who is getting regular work in the third to fourth week of spring training, but most of all don’t get carried away with anything that happens because it just doesn’t matter.

Quick tell me the spring record of the A’s or Giants two years ago.

That’s why they call them exhibition games, these are more competitive than the all star game simply because there are 50 players in camp, so they can’t run out of players late in the game.

Now, the Hall of Fame. If you’ve ever been around HOF’ers you quickly realize that they believe they invented the game and they barely put up with each other let alone honestly evaluate the exploits of their comtemporaries who had not been selected by the writers.

Now we have to wait two more years for another attempt by this crowd to elect a former ball player to their private club.

Didn’t Marvin Miller deserve to be voted in? No one in the history of labor relations between the owners and players had the impact Miller had on changing the landscape of the game. How the players who all receive fat pension checks could overlook this man is beyond me.

Marvin will be close to 90 when the next election takes place for his category and basically told the former players whose lives he changed for the good, to take the hall and enjoy it, because he’ll probably be gone by the next election.

Ron Santo played 3B for the Cubs in the 60’s. He hit against all the pitchers in the Hall from the NL who played from 1960 thru 1974 or so. He faced tough pitching every day and excelled. How did he get overlooked. Eddie Mathews is in, Mike Schmidt is in, give me some other third baseman from the NL who were better than Santo.

Point here is that Ted williams was criticized as a manager because he thought everyone should hit .340 because he did it so easily. The real world is different. Just because you hit 345 homers and not 521 doesn’t mean you have to be up to the 500 homer standard to get in. Santo did enough to be in the top two or three at his position for 15 years. When I go to Cooperstown I want to see him there. I want to see him remembered.

Same goes for Gil Hodges and Joe Gordon.

Hey, HOFers lighten up, other people played the game and they belong with you. Don’t be so damn critical of everyone.

Frankly, it’s a disgrace to baseball that there will be no induction of players chosen by the veterans committee for the next two summers.

At least the former veterans committee met and discussed the old players. Sure, in any small 15 man group there will be trade offs in the election process (Bill Mazeroski was the straw that led to this new silly system), but at least people got in like Richie Ashburn, Enos Slaughter, Jim Bunning, Phil Rizzuto, Pee Wee Reese and countless others.

If that group just mentioned above was scrutinized by the Jim Palmer’s and Joe Morgan’s of the world I wonder how many would have been elected. The loss would have been ours, meaning ours as baseball fans.

Wait until Pete Rose gets debated by these pompous HOFers, they undoubtedly will try to keep Pete out of their private club even though his case is different from Joe Jackson’s and the Black Sox because there is no evidence that Pete ever tried to fix a game.

But that is a topic for later in the year.

Enjoy the games that start Thursday just don’t take the results seriously because the frontline players just don’t play like it matters and the pitchers could care less.

Hey, it’s good to be back.


1 Anonymous { 02.27.03 at 4:46 pm }

love this stuff-the blood is starting to flow for the

baseball addicts. we need this

2 Anonymous { 02.27.03 at 5:14 pm }


3 Dave { 03.02.03 at 2:04 pm }


I don’t remember the specific records of the Athletics, but I do believe they were always in the top five. Maybe there’s some relation? Just kidding, point taken. But this is when the Double, Triple, or even Quadruple A’s — who wander around the league (i.e. Adam Piatt or Eric Byrnes or the epitome of an AAAA’er, David McCarty) — attempt to prove themselves. Maybe the record or averages don’t reflect that, but the manager is always looking for possible talent.

In regards to Durazo, I certainly think he’ll be fine for March. Moving to DH will certainly help, but that doesn’t mean he won’t pull up lame like Olmedo Saenz did in game one of the Divison Series. And Lilly, he looks good in terms of his shoulder problems. However, the reason he was so effective was because of his “cryptic windup and release”, so does this mean Rick Peterson has tweaked it just enough?

Haven’t been around long enough to see Santo play, or even take a look at his stats. Personally, I think Dick Williams should have been elected.


4 Anonymous { 09.22.07 at 1:14 pm }

5 Anonymous { 09.22.07 at 1:51 pm }

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