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admired his work a little too long after hitting a dinger off of Kaat when he was pitching for the White Sox. Next time up, Evans took a heater in the ribs. “Whenever Evans sees me, he reminds me of that,” Kaat says. With more TV coverage and the need for players to differentiate themselves by more than just gaudy statistics, there is going to be more showmanship in the game. But there is no need for players to treat every long ball as if it cured a disease. “Don’t get too theatrical,” Kaat says. “I hope we don’t have to start fining people, like the NFL does, for overcelebrating.” Run, Man, Run Every time St. Louis ran up against the Cubs during the early 1980s, Kaat and a few of his fellow Cardinal pitchers would throw 10 bucks into a hat, and the first person who hit Chicago outfielder Mel Hall would get the money. Hall, who used to have batting gloves sticking out of his back pockets so he could “wave good-bye” to people he passed on the basepaths while sauntering around after hitting a homer, should have worn a uniform covered in sauerkraut and mustard. Kaat’s St. Louis teammate, Willie McGee was the exact opposite. When he hit a homer, he ran as fast as he could. “I told him he should slow down,” Kaat says. “He said, ‘Aw, the pitcher feels bad enough. I don’t want to make him feel worse.’” As recently as the 1970s, if a player hit a homer, it was a guarantee the next guy was going to get hit—or at least buzzed—just to make sure he knew not to think about any back-to-back stuff. That has changed now, but if someone takes his time going around the bases, or worse, decides to celebrate too much, then there could be trouble. MLB administrators aren’t too happy about that, but Rodriguez prefers that the players should be allowed to police themselves, rather than having the umpires do it. “I’m not a fan of Major League Baseball trying to take things away like that,” he says. “If a guy hits a bomb off you and humiliates you, you can’t do anything about it. If you do that, you have to wear it, okay?” A No-No No-No The 2011 game between Detroit and the Angels had just about everything. A great pitchers duel. Some controversy when Anaheim pitcher Jered Weaver was ejected when he threw over Alex Avila’s head after Carlos Guillen stared Weaver down following his homer. And there was a near no-hitter by Tigers ace Justin Verlander, who had already thrown one earlier in the year. But Erick Aybar’s leadoff single in the eighth broke the spell. His bunt single in the eighth. That sure spawned some outrage. Aybar had broken a big unwritten rule with his actions. You don’t break up a no-hitter with a bunt. Or can you? The Tigers held a 3-0 lead, and Aybar’s hit led to a pair of runs. Verlander wasn’t happy. His manager at the time, Jim Leyland, didn’t mind. This one appears to be a judgment call. If the game is close, it’s not a mortal baseball sin, although it could fall into the venial category. If the rout is on, it’s best to swing away. “It depends who does it,” Rodriguez says. “If Miguel Cabrera bunts in the seventh to break up a no-hitter, it might be a problem, because that’s not part of his game.” In 1973, Yankees pitcher Stan Bahnsen had a no-hitter with two out in the ninth when Walt “No Neck” Williams came to the plate. Williams, who hit only 33 homers during his 10-year career and was known for his speed and hustle, never considered laying down a bunt in that situation, even though he excelled at the craft. “I was taught early in my career that you don’t do something like that under those circumstances” Williams said during a 2013 interview. Instead, Williams hit a single up the middle to break up the gem. “If it’s 8-0 or 9-0, and a pitcher has a no-hitter, that’s a once in a lifetime thing,” Kaat says. “You want to try to break it up naturally.” If a player ventures into the opposing team’s dugout chasing a fly ball, don’t expect assistance catching the ball, but they might help you avoid a DL stint. Jim Kaat, who pitched in the majors from 1959-83, understands the game has evolved, but thinks some rules should stand. MCCLATCHY-TRIBUNE FOCUS ON SPORT


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