One Man's Opinion
by Glenn Dickey
Apr 09, 2005

THERE WAS no more striking example of the effect that free agency has had on baseball than the Giants opener on Tuesday against the Dodgers: The only player in either starting lineup who was with the team which had signed him was Pedro Feliz – and Feliz was there only because Barry Bonds, who started with the Pirates, is on the disabled list.

Between the 1975 and 1976 seasons, the reserve clause was ruled invalid in arbitration. Before that ruling, the reserve clause in a player’s contract was interpreted to mean that the club had the rights to him for as long as the club wanted. The players had won the right to arbitration earlier, and now, with arbitration and free agency, the players have the upper hand. The pendulum has swung too far.

BASEBALL’S RULE on brushback pitches – that, if an umpire issues a warning after a brushback pitch, any subsequent brushback pitch will be penalized by the ejection of a pitcher and his manager – is one of the most ridiculous in sports. Giants manager Felipe Alou had to serve a one-game suspension because of that rule and, before he did, he joked, “Maybe next time I should have my pitcher throw at a hitter first. Then, the other team can’t do anything for the rest of the game.”

Alou, of course, played at a time when brushback pitches were common. “When Don Drysdale pitched,” Alou said, “Willie (Mays) knew he’d be going down.”

NO SHOW: When Mark McGwire bowed out of the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame banquet, just six days before the event, he suggested his induction be delayed by a year. I hope BASHOF executive director Ken Flower and his committee say, forget it. McGwire doesn’t deserve a second chance.

NO DH? There’s still a group of fans, mostly those who go only to National League games, which call for repeal of the Designated Hitter rule.

Not going to happen, because the DH is used in minor league and college games, in addition to American League games. The National League is the only holdout. The Players Association would also battle against dropping the rule because a designated hitter gets a much higher salary than the 25th player on the roster, who he replaces.

There is one change I’d like to see, which was proposed by former Channel 2 sportscaster Gary Park at the time the DH was adopted: Since the DH is replacing the pitcher, he should bat in the ninth spot in the order, as the pitcher does. That would certainly change the manager’s strategy. Now, AL managers often use the ninth spot for a second leadoff-type hitter. If the designated hitter batted there, he would be more like a second clean-up hitter, so it would make sense to have hitters just ahead of him who had high on-base percentages.

JUST ASKING: What do you call “March Madness” when the NCAA tournament finals are in April?

NO MORE THREES, PLEASE: Baron Davis has made a tremendous difference to the Warriors, but he needs to lay off the three-point attempts. He’s not been very successful with them (o-for-8 in Friday night’s win over the Phoenix Suns) and he’s much more help to the Warriors when he’s penetrating. He has the ability to weave through traffic like a running back going through holes that don’t seem to be there, and he can either go to the hoop or dish to a teammate when he does.

It was encouraging to see Mickael Pietrus again getting big minutes, 27 on Friday night, and taking advantage of them with a career-high 28 points. Coach Mike Montgomery should make certain Pietrus gets at least 25 minutes each night, even if that means less than 20 minutes for Derek Fisher. Pietrus obviously plays better when he’s in the game longer, and he has a bright future. Fisher doesn’t even have a bright present.

Meanwhile, with Davis in the lineup, power forward Troy Murphy is going to have to be more active inside, picking up rebounds and putting them back up for baskets. Murphy likes his points, and he was one of the chief options before, but with Davis taking as many shots as he does – and getting the ball to Jason Richardson and Pietrus – there aren’t as many shots for Murphy. Obviously, it makes more sense for Murphy to change this game than for Davis to start looking for him more often.

FILLING THE HOLES: The 49ers still need help in many positions, but the free agents signings of offensive tackle Jason Jennings and defensive end Marques Douglas have been positive signs.

Douglas, whom 49ers coach Mike Nolan coached as defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens, is a good fit for the defensive end in the 3-4 alignment Nolan wants to play this year.

That’s a smart signing because Nolan, who inherited a roster that is strongest at linebacker, is fitting the system to the players. The Raiders did just the opposite last year with Warren Sapp, who wasn’t suited for the 3-4 but was played there, anyway. Of course, Sapp didn’t do much when the Raiders went to a 4-3, either.

STORMS AT THE MASTERS? It’s God’s revenge. She doesn’t like the way they’ve treated women at Augusta National.

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