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A Change of Pace Just Might Do Wonders for Niedenfuer's Fastball

June 07, 1986

I've been keeping an eye on this Niedenfuer thing since last year. Every hitter in the National League, from Ozzie Smith and Jerry White, to Mike Schmidt and Jack Clark, realized that the baseballs that Niedenfuer used were much larger, and seemed to be wound tighter, a combination which caused the ball to seemingly defy gravity when struck solidly.

One gets the idea that Niedenfuer is neither seeking advice, nor open to suggestions on the matter. The solution is cut and dried to Buff. He's just not throwing (grunt) the damn ball (snort) hard enough!

I tried to put myself in Tom's shoes as the TV cameras followed him after George Foster pulled off the expected grand slam. And I fully expected him to come inside to the next batter, Ray Knight.

I must admit, I like a guy who's full of pits and vinegar, and obviously Lasorda must have a soft spot for him, also. However, the overriding priority here is winning ballgames, and it's time for Buff to be relegated to long relief until he comes up with an effective change-of-pace pitch to go with his big league heater.

DON GOODMAN

Los Angeles

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