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Way Off Base

Griff Notes

By David S. Griffel

Ahhhhh, baseball is back.

The Arizona State baseball team and the California Angels replacement players got together two nights ago for the first game involving replacement players in 83 years. (Insert your favorite joke right here.)

Let's get to the crux of the situation--here are the questions everyone wants to have answered about that historic event.

1) Would the Angles come close to winning?

Well, in a big upset, the Angels replacement players killed the Sun Devils, 13-5.

But there was a good reason for this shocker. ASU held back its top two pitchers--for this weekend against college competition.

Come on, what type of display are we talking about when a collegiate team isn't trying to impress the major leaguers? I mean, had someone from ASU really done well, he could have become a prime candidate for joining the replacement squads come June.

2) Would there be fans?

Technically, yes.

The game was created for charity, and over 2200 people bought tickets. Only 350 showed up at the start, and just over 1300 filled the stands during the middle, and some of them came in with bags over the heads.

(And they weren't even New Orleans Saints fans.)

3) How many errors?

I can't say I have an answer, but heck--the second pitch of the game turned up a nice miscue.

The Angels third baseman over threw first, but at least the catcher backed up the play. Replacement players aren't lazy. (At least there's something good to come out of the strike; I guess I'm stretching it a bit.)

4) Who are these guys?

Greg Shockey and Tyrone Boykin head the list. Need I say more?

5) And finally, would the first pitch be a strike?

Bingo. It had to be--I bet you they paid the umpire to call it a strike no matter where the thing landed, even if it were 10 feet in front of home plate, which is where you might be seeing quite a number of pitches land this "season."

But don't take this comedic display just from me--here's a sampler of other people's views about replacement baseball.

"He should have been better, pitching on 3,195 days' rest," said Pirates broadcaster Steve Blass on Pittsburgh replacement pitcher Jimmy Boudreau, who last played professionally in 1986.

"You're not wimps out there. You guys are men," said Cincinnati Reds general manager Marge Schott, cheering on the 27 men who agreed to play for her team in spring training amid the baseball strike.

(Man, those former custodians and bouncers must have been really hard up for money to put up with her and all the presents that her dog Schotzie II leaves on the field. Symbolic, isn't it?)

"I worked out one day, and the next day my girlfriend bought me a cane," said Gorman Thomas, 44, who showed up and worked out for one day at the Brewers' camp before calling it quits.

(Again, insert your own joke here.)

Hopefully the sides will settle, but I'm going to hold to my guns and avoid this travesty. I said it back in September and I'll say it again: I'm not coming back unless both sides make concessions to the fans and those people who were put out of work by the greed of both sides.

So, go ASU and college baseball. At least they have a clue, and standards, too.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this column.

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