The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on June 2, 1998 · Page 11
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 11

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Salina, Kansas
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Tuesday, June 2, 1998
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Page 11
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OURNAL Sports CLASSIFIED / B4 ALMANAC / B7 FUN / B8 B COMMENT BERNIE MIKLASZ St. Louis Post-Dispatch Huth vs. Mac: jwho is the homer king? i ; --~- ° •j^ST. LOUIS — Let's debate: Babe Ruth vs. Mark McGwire, power for power. J| Statistically, they rank as the two most prolific home-run authors of all time, based on number ijf homers per at bat. McGwire has moved slightly ahead of Ruth in'career home-run ratio. '•- Is it baseball blasphemy to put KlcGwire on equal terms with The Babe? Baseball oldtimers would sneer at the suggestion. I don't think there's a conclusive answer, because comparing achievements Reached in wildly different eras is futile. Each man confronted different circumstances. f-.*In sports in which we can actually measure athletic performance % the times and distances recorded in track and field events — it's obvious today's athletes are superior. Athletes run faster, jump higher, and have more strength. But can that formula be applied to baseball, which has so many sub- lie skills? Z! For sake of initiating some interesting conversation — I don't plaim to be writing a thesis here, and I may be unintentionally guilty of making some false assumptions — let's take a quick look at Ruth vs. McGwire: t In Ruth's segregated time, he didn't compete against African Americans or other minorities, so the talent pool was restricted. On the flip side, so many of today's great athletes migrate to other sports (basketball, football, hock£y). When Babe played, baseball Was the only game that mattered. «• Ruth didn't face some of the fbugh pitches — namely wicked sliders and nasty split-fingered fastballs — that McGwire sees. gut McGwire doesn't have spitballs thrown at him. "> ,The Babe didn't smack juiced- up baseballs. He played in the fleadball era. But didn't Ruth hit in, s.maller ballparks? * I What about travel and sched- tole? Ruth had shorter trips, done by train, never traveling west of St. Louis. He also played day baseball (more tiring?), and participated in frequent doubleheaders. But fh.ere were also many more scheduled days off for players in Ruth's tiinte" And no rock-hard artificial turf.: > ^McGwire has Brian Jordan or Ray Lankford hitting behind him. In 1927, when Ruth slugged 60 iiomers, he had Lou Gehrig hit- £ing behind him; Gehrig batted §73 with 47 homers and 175 RBIs. BJjt Ruth didn't have Gehrig in 1921,; when he clubbed 59 homers. Baseball sabermatrician Bill j&ifris has written that lineup ifotection is overrated. •^Urtlike The Babe, McGwire can iltilize technology. He can study ideotapes of opposing pitchers, ind McGwire benefits from the Emphasis on year-round training, better medical care, and strength- enhancing supplements (crea- iine).,0n the flip side, pitchers § n utilize the same weapons ainst McGwire. Question: was e wood used to make bats of better quality in Ruth's day? *• Ruth didn't face many fresh arnis during the course of games. Starting pitchers usually went the distance, even with sagging arms. McGwire can't routinely take advantage of weary pitchers. In this age of specialization, he's often going against a starter, perhaps a tough setup man, and then a blistering closer who throws 95-mph fastballs. • ,'Oldtimers undoubtedly scoff at the premise that McGwire sees a Htbre difficult sequence of pitchers; They would bark that McG- wire is feasting on mediocre, ex- itension-diluted pitching. After $11, there were only eight AL (earns in 1927. ;-IThat's a popular theory .... but not so fast. It's all relative. In 19.27, Ruth's 60 home runs came against pitchers who had a combined ERA of 4.13. McGwire's first 27 homers occurred against pitch- $rs who have a combined ERA of 4.,40. Not much difference. And go- |n;g into the weekend, the NL's overall ERA was 4.13. l';'Weil, that's it for now. I'm out Of Space for this round of discuss,ion, but I'm sure we'll revisit this subject again this season. And your opinions are welcome. T YOUTH SPORTS FESTIVAL DAVIS TURNERAThe Salina Journal Attached to her opponent by a bungee cord, Tessa Earley, 10, lunges for extra yards in the "First Down" competition at the Youth Sports Festival in the Heritage Hall on Monday. In perspective Chiefs announcer, youth coach Holthus offers advice to coaches about keeping proper focus on youth sports By ARNE GREEN The Salina Journal In his career as a radio play- by-play announcer for the Kansas State Wildcats and more recently the Kansas City Chiefs, Mitch Holthus has spent countless hours around top-level coaches and athletes. HOLTHUS As a volunteer youth coach, he also has seen the other side of the sports spectrum. So it was with that unique perspective that Holthus addressed parents and coaches Monday at the Salina Parks and Recreation Department's youth sports festival at Heritage Hall. "I jumped at the chance to speak to parents about youth sports," Holthus said before his speech. "I've been involved in youth sports for 20 years and have a 16-year-old and 13-year- old involved in athletics. I am a youth sports coach and have been for a long time." In the spring, Holthus coaches a team of players from Frankfort, Centralia and Bern, where there are no high school baseball teams. He then coaches the same group, plus players from Silver Lake and Topeka Hayden, in a 16-year-old summer team. When he talks to parents and coaches, Holthus said, he gives them a series of things to forget and remember in order to get the most out of the youth sports experience. On the forget side: • Parents and coaches should forget about pouring all their efforts into creating future college or professional athletes. "I shudder when I hear youth coaches doing events to get scholarships (for the young athletes)," Holthus said. "That's a bonus, but it shouldn't be the focus. I'm with athletes all the time at the college and pro level and at that point it becomes a job. "I talk to athletes at that level and the most fun they had was in youth sports. You tend to get somewhat disappointed when you get close to that golden egg and find it's not so golden." • Scheduling games also fall into the forget category. "They should forget over- scheduling and forget under- scheduling," he said. "There has to be a balance. It really is an error to overschedule, but there also is an error in under- scheduling." • In an era of specialization, See YOUTH, Page B3 T PRO BASKETBALL Play it again: Jazz vs. Bulls Jazz well rested as NBA Finals rematch begins Wednesday By CHRIS SHERIDAN The Associated Press The teams are the same, the MVPs are different and the home- court advantage doesn't belong to the Bulls anymore. Chicago and Utah begin their rematch in the NBA Finals at the Delta Center on Wednesday night, with Michael Jordan going after his sixth ring and Karl Malone and John Stockton looking for their first. The Jazz will be coming off 10 days of rest since sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference finals. It is the second- longest layoff in NBA playoff history. "They're waiting, they're hungry and they feel the pain from when we beat them last year," Jud Buechler said after Chicago defeated the Indiana Pacers 88-83 Sunday night in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. "We may be a little tired, but our hearts are not tired," Jordan said. Therein may lie the key, the one intangible on which this series may turn. No one has ever doubted the heart and unstoppable will of Jordan. And then there's Karl Malone. He, too, plays with much heart. But he is not Jordan. During last year's finals, one significant storyline was the MVP debate. Malone beat Jordan in the MVP vote and almost seemed surprised that he would be expected to back up the honor. It was the sort of pressure Jordan routinely thrives on. Malone didn't. This year, Malone won't have to justify any awards. But he'll still be going for the championship that has eluded him through an otherwise magnificent 13-year career. That goal will be at odds with the Bulls' quest to add to their jewelry collection before they go their sep- T PRO FOOTBALL The Associated Press Michael Jordan (23) and the Bulls are four victories away from a sixth championship. arate ways. Coach Phil Jackson has been calling these playoffs the "Last Dance," with the expectation the Bulls will be broken up at after the season despite chairman Jerry Reinsdorf s stated inclination to offer everyone one-year contracts if the team wins a championship. It's another similarity to last year's finals, when Jackson was using his off days to interview for coaching jobs. Even so, the felling of an impending breakup has been stronger this spring. Practically the entire team will be free agents this summer. Pippen has wanted a megacon- tract for years, and his dissatisfaction with Bulls management appears irreparable. Jordan has mulled retiring, and the All-Star game and every Bulls road trip was treated like a farewell tour before he backed off his earlier stance that he would refuse to play for any coach but Jackson. Utah and Chicago finished the regular season with 62-20 records. The Jazz have the home-court advantage because they swept the two-game season series. The Jazz had the second-best home record in the league (36-5), and their arena is one of the loudest. Still, the cobweb factor figures to play a part in the first game. Elway can't resist chance to repeat By JOHN MOSSMAN The Associated Press DENVER — The lure of repeating as Super Bowl champion proved irresistible to John Elway. "The bottom line is I wasn't ready to quit competing," the Denver Broncos quarterback said Monday in announcing he will ELWAY return for his 16th NFL season. "I could not imagine sitting around and not doing anything while still being relatively young." The decision by Elway, who turns 38 later this month, was welcomed by teammates and coaches, as well as by owner Pat Bowlen, whose campaign to build a new stadium figures to benefit from Elway's continued play. At a press conference, Elway said he made his decision early last week after conferring with his wife, Janet, and father, Jack. He informed Bowlen and coach Mike Shanahan on Thursday night during festivities for his annual golf tournament. "I realized I could not sit on the sideline and not compete," Elway said. "I think that was what finally got me over the hump. "I've got a lot of years to live in retirement, and the last thing I want to do is pass up the opportunity to play one more year of football. That's all I've ever done, and that's going to be over soon enough. "I just wanted to take one last year and really enjoy it. We've got a great football team, and it will be fun to be defending world champions. Everybody will be gunning for us, but I think we're good enough to handle that." Conversations with former athletes also convinced Elway to return. "I asked Johnny Bench about it because he walked out on top of his game," Elway said of the baseball star. "He had no regrets. He said he has never looked back. I thought if I walked away, I would have some doubts." T MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL Martinez error in ninth sends Angels past KG By STEVE BRISENDINE The Associated Press KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Rookie shortstop Felix Martinez misplayed Jim Edmonds' bases-loaded ground ball in the ninth inning, allowing two runs to score as the Anaheim Angels beat the Kansas City Royals 6-3 Monday night. The Angels loaded the bases with no outs against reliever Hipolito Pichardo (2-4) on singles by Gary DiSarcina and Darin Erstad and a controversial hit-by-pitch. Kansas City manager Tony Muser was ejected after arguing that the ball first hit Craig Shipley's bat as Shipley was ducking out of the way. Matt Whisenant replaced Pichardo and coaxed the ground ball from Edmonds, but Martinez, playing in for a play at AL Angels Royals the plate, had the ball roll between his legs. Tim Salmon added an RBI single for the Angels in the ninth. Shigetosi Hasegawa (3-1) pitched a perfect eighth for the win. Troy Percival worked the ninth for his 15th save. Salmon broke out of a l-for-15 slump in the Anaheim sixth with a leadoff homer for a 3-2 lead. The Royals tied it in the bottom half on Jermaine Dye's RBI single. Johnny Damon scored in the Royals fifth for a tie at 2. He came in from second when Angels starter Omar Olivares, covering first base on Jose Offerman's ground ball, dropped the throw from second baseman Justin Baughman for an error. Olivares pitched seven innings, giving up seven hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. Anaheim took a 2-1 lead in the fifth as the first four batters in the inning hit safely against starter Jose Rosado. Baughman hit an RBI double and scored on Erstad's single. Baughman's double ended Rosado's string of scoreless innings at 14. He shut out the Angels 4-0 on May 27 in his last previous outing. Jeff King led off the Royals fourth with his llth home run. He needs one more hit to reach the 1,000-hit mark. McGwire hurt By The Associated Press SAN DIEGO — Mark McGwire, leading the majors with 27 home runs, left St. Louis' game Monday night against San Diego in the first inning because of lower back spasms. The Cardinals said his status was day-to-day. McGwire walked off under his own power after hitting a dribbler down the first-base line in the first inning against San Diego. SUGGESTIONS? CALL BOB DAVIDSON, SPORTS EDITOR, AT (785) 823-6363 OR 1-800-827-6363 OR E-MAIL AT sjbdavidson@saljournal.com

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