Friday, June 11, 2004  
Sandberg and Patterson: An exercise in free-form writing

Part I: Ryne Sandberg
Ed Sherman wrote an interesting story in the Trib today about Ryne Sandberg. I've mentioned before that Ryno was my childhood hero, and he has managed (unlike some other pro athletes) to keep his personal flaws hidden from the world his whole life. Apart from his first Larry Himes-related retirement, his divorce right around that time, and that moustache he wore for a while, he's led a charmed life. That ability to keep us from peeking in his closet -- regardless of whether there's a skeleton in there -- has allowed me to continue to see him as someone to look up to.
radio has Ryno as a "regular contributor," in the words of Ed Sherman, which makes him a member of the media. I haven't heard him yet (WMVP doesn't reach Allentown, PA), but I'm glad to see him back in the Cubs' universe.
Ed Sherman's column is about the media, which makes him a writer about writers. Which, in turn, makes me a writer about writers about writers. The guy's a decent writer, but the stuff he covers usually doesn't interest me. I have a lot of varied interests, but how NBC covers the Skins Game isn't one of them. Ryne Sandberg, however, is; Sherman has finally managed to capture the attention of the vital "David M. Beyer" market.
Part II: Corey Patterson
Mr. Sherman quoted Ryno as saying that Corey Patterson needs to be more selective at the plate and go the opposite way more often. You've heard us harp on Corey A LOT on this blog, but it's because we both feel like the guy isn't using his talents, and as a speedy left-handed hitter in a lineup full of slow righties, he could make such a huge difference. But the quote got me thinking about another hitter back in '97 who needed to go with the pitch more often and be more selective. This guy was a better hitter than Corey is now -- more power and a longer history as a quality major leaguer -- but still was frustrating because he could be so much more.
In '98 he turned a corner, seeing a huge jump in walks and OBP, and elevating his game by being more selective and going with the pitch. The guy's name was Sammy Sosa.
I'm not suggesting Corey Patterson will turn into Sosa if he watches a few pitches, but maybe he'd become the positive asset we're all hoping he'll be instead of the out machine he currently is.
Baseball's time is measured in outs, and if you get on base more often, therefore making fewer outs, you suspend time for your team's offense. The longer you can suspend time, the better your chance of scoring runs. Outs are inevitable; what happens in between is what determines how good your team is.
Currently, Patterson is Devon White without the defense; he has the quick-strike capacity to put a run up on the board, but he mostly accelerates time for his team by failing to get on base.
Now that Ryno has said what Corey needs to do, it's official: everyone but Joe Morgan and Harold Reynolds have recognized what he can do to improve. All we need now is for Corey to recognize it. He looked awfully good yesterday, so maybe there's hope.

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