October 12, 2013 |
ST. LOUIS - Yasiel Puig had nothing to show for the day. Neither did the Dodgers. That could have changed, for Puig and for the Dodgers, with one swing in the ninth inning. The count was full. Puig did not swing. He moved tentatively toward first base, but the umpire called strike three rather than ball four. Puig looked back at the umpire, shuffled back toward the visiting dugout and took a little swing with his bat, almost as if he were on deck and getting ready to hit. The frustration was there, for all the world to see. Puig could swing at the air, or he could swing at a pitch, and the results were the same.
October 10, 2013 |
ST. LOUIS - Mark McGwire is family here. No one saw that coming, not at the beginning. The St. Louis Cardinals rented him for the pennant stretch in 1997, and surely the California kid would serve out his two months, then go home in free agency. He stayed, for the rest of his career. He electrified the city, home run after home run after record-breaking home run. In 2001, when he could no longer play, he walked away from the Cardinals, and from the $30 million they had guaranteed him. In 2010, when he admitted he had used steroids, St. Louis gave him a big hug and welcomed him back to the Cardinals, this time as the hitting coach.
August 21, 2013 |
MIAMI - Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire doesn't like to use the word "aggressive" when talking about Yasiel Puig's approach at the plate. "It's called being ready to hit," he said. "When you're ready to hit and it's in your zone, go for it. " Given Puig's natural aggressiveness, er, readiness, it's unlikely he asked McGwire for permission to walk to the plate swinging. But he has certainly been successful doing it. Before Wednesday's game, he led the National League with a .630 average and was first in the majors with a .638 on-base percentage when he puts the first pitch in play.
August 17, 2013 |
Mark McGwire grew up in the San Gabriel Valley. For him, the guy was Dave Kingman. "I tried to beg my dad to take us to the games if the Cubs were in town," McGwire said. Mark Trumbo grew up down the street from Angel Stadium. For him, the guy was Troy Glaus. "As a kid coming to the games, you really hoped he might get into one," Trumbo said. That is the most magical of moments in baseball, that one crack of the bat, that instant when Mighty Casey takes a swing and launches the ball on a majestic arc. It is high, it is far, it is gone.
August 6, 2013 |
Big Mark McGwire has been strangely invisible to the media at Dodger Stadium this season. He's never in the clubhouse during their time there. The coaches' room has been oddly made off-limits to reporters. So the only time he's seen is when the Dodgers hitting coach darts from the dugout to behind the batting cage every day, all business, all very serious. The only other time the local media really see him is on TV. Interviews have to be requested. On the road, however, he is more accessible.
July 29, 2013 |
Sunday's baseball Hall of Fame induction without any recent players generated a pre-game conversation with Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly about where it goes on from here for players stained by the steroid era. “When you look at it, you want to know what you're voting on -- did he do it on his own ability?” Mattingly said. “It makes it tough. You really don't know. Even today, you watch guys play and one year to the next they're different players, so you say, 'What's going on?