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Martinez Discovers Another Pitch: ESP


Pedro Martinez, whose earned-run average has fallen to, like, the size of Indiana University's dignity, is now reading people's vibes.

He struck out Raul Mondesi on Wednesday night with four consecutive curveballs, none of which intrigued Mondesi enough to swing.

"I read his attitude," Martinez said afterward. "I saw he wasn't looking good against the breaking ball, so I flipped it."

Grown men live with their wives for decades and haven't the slightest clue what they're thinking. Pedro sees a guy from 60 feet away a few times a year and decodes his entire disposition.

This is bad. This is very bad.

Semantics: Jason Giambi would like it to be known that he did not call John Rocker "an idiot," as was reported in Gear Magazine.

"I said he wasn't smart," Giambi said. "There's a difference. A huge difference."

Oh, heck, it can't really matter to Giambi, who believes that one day he'll answer for his exuberant lifestyle choices.

"I'm going straight to hell," he told Gear. "And O.J. is my brakeman."

Just one question: Does O.J. know there's been a change in drivers?

Offensive remark: General Manager Billy Beane says the American League has outgrown its use for players who aren't dynamic hitters.

"In this league," Beane said, "you can't afford to give up offense at any position. Even positions like catcher and shortstop are no longer positions where you can give up offense. Mark Belanger couldn't play today."

Belanger, a perennial Gold Glove winner, played from 1965 to 1982. He was a career .228 hitter and once an All-Star. The Angels could use him right now.

A hair off: Paul O'Neill, on the Yankees, whose team batting average is lower than Rudy Giuliani's part: "The ball is juiced everywhere except where we are playing."

Editing error? Baltimore Oriole pitcher Scott Erickson was on People magazine's list of most beautiful Americans, 50 people who would treat you like dirt without the slightest provocation because you have invisible cheek bones and drive a Civic.

Based on Erickson's ERA--8.62--we assumed People must have polled big-league hitters, and they thought the category was America's most hittable people.

Can't be true, though.

Carlos Perez wasn't on the list.

Sewer mouth: New York Post columnist Hondo, on a new trend in minor-league ballparks:

"The Mets' Class-A farm team, which is playing at St. John's this season, is having a new stadium built in Coney Island. Architects have managed almost a perfect replication of Shea, making the new facility a Ramshackle Stank Big Blue And Orange Butt-Ugly Eyesore. Now they're just trying to figure out how to get the raw sewage to flow through it."

That's the problem with Coney Island. The raw sewage just doesn't flow like it used to.

Living large: Philadelphia Phillie pitcher Randy Wolf, 23, after he struck out Mark McGwire three times: "I'm a little past the stage of saying, 'Wow, look how big he is.' But, he is remarkably bigger than everyone else."

Step outside: On a damp Monday night at the musty Oakland Coliseum, the A's drew a crowd of just 6,836.

It was so small, in fact, the Dodger bullpen could have beaten it up.

Self-centered: Seattle's signing of Rickey Henderson has caused more than one sighting of a well-traveled quote from Tony La Russa, circa 1995. In it, La Russa explained why Henderson was not a great player.

"To be a great player," he said, "you have to be as interested in the team as yourself."

Slow-man Stan: When the Marlins stole 10 bases in as many attempts Thursday night against the San Diego Padres, they fell one short of the National League record, set by two teams before 1920.

"If I had known that," Padre Manager Bruce Bochy told the San Diego Union-Tribune, "I would have left [Stan Spencer] in there." He was, of course, joking.

Spencer, the Padre pitcher who allowed every one of the steals, including three of third base, had his delivery timed at about 1.8 seconds, incredibly slow by big-league standards.

"Obviously, I'd like to do a little better on the running game," Spencer said.

That or try to keep them off base altogether.

Joltin' Morris:

Is Morris Engelberg OK? It's been days since he sold anything of Joe DiMaggio's. What, someone nail down the couch?

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