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  #1  
Old 09-28-2003, 05:50 PM
Soup Soup is offline
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Batting champ - sit down or play?

Bill Mueller of the Red Sox started the day with a .327 average, Derek Jeter of the Yankees was in second at .326. Mueller wasn't in the Red Sox starting line-up vs. Tampa, Jeter played in the game vs. Baltimore.

Jeter went 0-3 to finish at .324. After Jeter's chance of becoming batting champ ended, Mueller was brought in as a pinch-hitter and went hitless, finishing at .326 and the batting championship.

Despite the Red Sox manager's excuse of resting his regulars, should Mueller have insisted on playing the game? The precedent was set by one of the Red Sox's (and baseball's) greatest player: Ted Williams. In 1941 Williams went into the last doubleheader of the season with a .400 average. He could have sat the games out to preserve this accomplishment, but he insisted on playing BOTH games, finishing with a .406 average!

So, batting championship on the line. Sit down or play?
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  #2  
Old 09-28-2003, 06:32 PM
Jimmy Chitwood Jimmy Chitwood is offline
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Ty Cobb sat out the end of at least one season, for what it's worth. I may not recall this exactly right, but in (I think) 1910, didn't a manager tell his third baseman to play back on the outfield grass and let Nap Lajoie bunt like five or six times for hits, just so Cobb wouldn't win a batting title?

Digging, digging....Ah, here we are.

Quote:
Lajoie goes 8-for-8 in a doubleheader with the Browns, accepting six "gift" hits on bunt singles on which Browns rookie 3B Red Corriden is apparently purposely stationed at the edge of the OF grass. The prejudiced St. Louis scorer also credits popular Nap with a "hit" on the Brownie SS Bobby Wallace's wild throw to 1B. In Lajoie's last at bat, he is safe at first on an error call, but is credited with a sac bunt since a man was on. The St. Louis Post is just one of the papers to be openly critical of the move against Cobb. "All St. Louis is up in arms over the deplorable spectacle, conceived in stupidity and executed in jealousy."
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  #3  
Old 09-28-2003, 07:42 PM
Soup Soup is offline
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IIRC, Wade Boggs, then with the Red Sox, sat out the last game of the season vs. the Yankees at Fenway Park. He was leading the Yankees' Don Mattingly by around 5 points for the batting championship. I think Mattingly needed to go 5 for 5 to pass Boggs, so the Yankees batted him leadoff to increase his chances. Mattingly got hits in his first two at-bats (one was a HR). but he didn't get the 5 hits. So Boggs gets the title, but IMHO loses some of the lustre.

So, IIRC about Boggs, that's TWO Red Sox hitters that won the batting championship on the bench. I don't think Teddy Ballgame would approve.
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  #4  
Old 09-29-2003, 02:09 AM
Snooooopy Snooooopy is offline
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I don't think that .326 is high enough to merit much concern about whether or not it's proper to sit on the last day. Maybe if it were above .350 or something, but .326 is kind of unspectacular. Very good, but unspectacular. It kind of reminds me of that short-track Olympic speedskater who took the gold medal because he was the one guy who managed to avoid NOT FALLING DOWN.
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  #5  
Old 09-29-2003, 04:56 AM
Cheesesteak Cheesesteak is online now
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Teddy Ballgame would certainly NOT approve. IIRC (from the Yankees radio broadcase) Ted also batted on the last day to secure a different batting crown, when batting put the title on the line.

Pretty cowardly way to get the batting title, if you ask me.
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  #6  
Old 09-29-2003, 05:08 AM
dantheman dantheman is offline
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It doesn't matter a whole heck of a lot, because no one remembers even five years later that the guy took the day off; they just remember that he won the batting title.

If a team is heading toward the playoffs - they've sewn up a spot already - then it makes perfect sense to rest some guys. Often that decision isn't left up to the players. If Williams wanted to rest Mueller, then he'd be rested even if Mueller wanted to play. So let's not chastise him too much - yet.

Alternatively, if a team is still trying to make the playoffs and the leading hitter sits (perhaps claiming he wants to rest, perhaps saying he's banged up), then the onus is on the player both for letting his team down and for not going all-out to win the batting title.

But here's another way to look at it - number of plate appearances. You need 501 to qualify for the batting title. If you have 503 and are leading the batting race by a slim margin, then if you wind up winning the crown with not more than the minimum number of appearances, you've more or less sneaked away with the crown; therefore, you as a player owe it to baseball to play. On the other hand, if you have something like 650 plate appearances (and your team doesn't necessarily need you for that last game), then it's not that important that you play. If you win with 650 plate appearances, you've put in your work for the year and deserve the title.
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  #7  
Old 09-29-2003, 05:21 AM
Soup Soup is offline
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Quote:
It doesn't matter a whole heck of a lot, because no one remembers even five years later that the guy took the day off; they just remember that he won the batting title.
I think the examples cited in previous posts show that fans DO remember if the guy took the day off or decided to play.

Regarding at-bats: Mueller did have more at-bats than Jeter, because Jeter suffered a dislocated shoulder in the first game of the season and missed 6-8 weeks recovering. Even after he returned he was hitting below .300 for a while. Winning the batting crown after a start like that would hardly be considered sneaking away with it.
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  #8  
Old 09-29-2003, 06:53 AM
Cheesesteak Cheesesteak is online now
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Just got this off of Yahoo! News (via the New York Post)
Quote:
The Yankees couldn't complain about Mueller's not hitting since they used a similar ploy in the last game of the 1998 season, when Bernie Williams won the batting title over Mo Vaughn, then a svelte Red Sox.
Guess this sort of thing happens all the time.
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  #9  
Old 09-29-2003, 07:04 AM
dantheman dantheman is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Soup
I think the examples cited in previous posts show that fans DO remember if the guy took the day off or decided to play.

Regarding at-bats: Mueller did have more at-bats than Jeter, because Jeter suffered a dislocated shoulder in the first game of the season and missed 6-8 weeks recovering. Even after he returned he was hitting below .300 for a while. Winning the batting crown after a start like that would hardly be considered sneaking away with it.
All those examples show is that when some people are asked about batting titles, they recall those instances. It certainly doesn't mean that the majority of people - or even the majority of baseball fans - remember who sat out when.

Oh, and it's moot to wonder what Ted Williams would have thought about it, if only because he likely wouldn't have approved of 99% of the actions of players today anyway.
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  #10  
Old 09-29-2003, 07:33 AM
Typo Negative Typo Negative is online now
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The ballplayer doesn't get to insist he be in the line-up. It's the manager's call, pure and simple.

I expect a ballplayer to want to be in the line-up every durned day. If he don't want to play everyday, what good is he? But sometimes it makes good sense to sit a player down for he good of the team.

Maybe the opposing pitcher owned that player, while another player on the bench hits him well.

Maybe the guy has played every game for 3 months and could use a couple of days off going in to the playoffs.

Maybe you suspect the guy has a nagging injury and you don't want to risk him in a meaningless game going into the playoffs...

Maybe you want a bench player to get in some innings so he'll be better prepared, should he be called upon in the playoffs.

Or maybe your guy has a bout of the flu.

In any event, it's the manager's call.
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  #11  
Old 09-29-2003, 08:08 AM
BobLibDem BobLibDem is offline
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If you're in the post season, I can't blame the manager for resting the regulars. The primary job is to win the playoffs, and if the last regular season game in meaningless than sit it out. If you're not in the post season, then you really should play. Sure, others have sat out, but I like Teddy Ballgame's approach better.
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