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Apolitical blues

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August 19

Smacks of irony
Has this got the potential for a Battle of the Bands on Conan O'Brien or what?

One of the really good bands out of New York is Carlton Fisk.

One of the hot new bands in Boston is Thurman Munson. Here are some introductory notes from their band leader Scott Williamson (honestly, that is his name):

"We've been a band for almost three years ... all original material. A little Beatles, a little Dylan (word wise) a little dance beat and a whole lot of texture. One might pull Phish influences as well, but we're not that quirky. I'm from Maine, everyone else is from Massachusetts. The name came from a long frustrating period of time when we couldn't think of one. We almost became "Describe a Giraffe.

"I've actually painted inside Carlton Fisk's home in New Hampshire. I reside in Canton, Mass. and Thurman Munson lived in Canton, Ohio. None of that has any relevance to our name though. It just came to Paul, our drummer on the T. It was vague enough so we stole it. Our favorite pun; "come catch a Thurman Munson show!"

Carlton Fisk -- the band -- is based in New York, but led by Steve Sykes, who is from Hanover, Mass. Their first disc -- "Smacks of Irony" -- has actually been quite successful.

Out on Highway 61
Tampa Bay right-hander Ryan Rupe on Wednesday had his changeup clocked faster than his slider. In an impressive start in Boston, Rupe's fastball was 91-95, his slider 82-83 and his change 83-84.

You are what you eat
Anaheim's invaluable and underappreciated Shigetoshi Hasegawa -- unquestionably the most successful Japanese pitcher in the U.S. right now -- calls his funky screwball his "shuto."

"If he were Italian," says Angels manager Mike Scioscia, "he'd call it his prosciutto."

The promised land
When Montreal first baseman Lee Stevens signed a two-year contract extension, he went to the announcement and said, "it took me 15 years in pro ball to get a press conference."

Have a little faith in me
One NL GM figured this out. Last winter, agent Scott Boras had four starting pitchers on the free agent market: Kenny Rogers, Darren Oliver, Omar Olivares and Andy Benes, who are making a combined $23.8 million this season. Their combined totals going into the weekend were 26 wins, 31 losses and a 5.38 ERA.

Angels of the silences
Here's a list of the players who have hit the most home runs off of left-handed pitchers (through Aug. 18):

  • Garret Anderson, Anaheim, 14
  • Phil Nevin, San Diego, 13
  • David Justice, N.Y. Yankees, 12
  • Troy Glaus, Anaheim, 12
  • Frank Thomas, Chi. White Sox, 10
  • Glenallen Hill, N.Y. Yankees, 10
  • Jim Edmonds, St. Louis, 10
  • Steve Finley, Arizona, 10
  • Tim Salmon, Anaheim, 10

    Note the names of four left-handed hitters on this list (Anderson, Justice, Edmonds and Finley) begs the question: are there a lot of hanging breaking balls being thrown by left-handed pitchers or what?

    School days
    As the Pirates had lost 12 out of 15 games heading into Friday, catcher Jason Kendall offered this analogy:

    "Not only is it a physical thing, it's mentally tiring. Every time I catch a game, it's like I'm taking the SAT. Afterwards, I feel as if I took a six-hour SAT."

    She's not alone anymore
    When Ed Sprague got to Fenway Park Wednesday, he was informed that he was designated for assignment and taken off the roster. That was 4 p.m. But instead of leaving Sprague decided to stay around and work out.

    Sometime after 6 p.m., Sprague's wife Kristen arrived at Fenway Park and went to the will-call window to pick up her tickets, not knowing what had happened to her husband, Ed.

    "Sorry," she was told, "your husband is no longer employed by the Red Sox."


  • Lance Niekro, Joe's son out of Florida Southern, had four homers and 32 RBI in his first 30 games with Salem of the Northwest League. He was the Giants' second round pick this year.

  • Carlos Beltran, with the advice and consent of the union and his agent, had refused to go to Florida to work and rehab while on the disabled list. Fans around Kansas City were polled and 11.3 percent backed Beltran's position. After that, he decided to report to Florida.

  • The esteemed John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press noted that 35-year-old Steve Sparks was the oldest pitcher to record his first shutout (Tuesday) since Hoyt Wilhelm did it in 1958 when he was 12 days older than Sparks. Wilhelm's shutout was a no-hitter and he went on to the Hall of Fame, which adds incentive to Sparks' career.

  • The Cardinals went into the weekend 11-20 against left-handed starters, and Ray Lankford had 108 strikeouts in 283 at-bats during that stretch.

  • The Braves are 21-2 when Andres Galarraga homers, mainly because 15 of those homers have tied games or put Atlanta ahead.

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  • Gammons: 2000 column archive

    Gammons: Living and dying with the races

    Gammons: News and notes
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