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FACE OF THE CHANGING RACES

By Murray Chass

August 31, 2014

Two years of college French did nothing for my ensuing 50 or so years of baseball coverage. Given the explosion of Latin players in the majors, two years of Spanish, three years, why not four years, would have been of far greater benefit.

But I have finally found a use for my French: Plus ca change, plus c’est la même chose

This is an old proverb familiar to French students and other French-speaking people, meaning the more things change the more they stay the same.

How does it apply here? I refer you to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

After they loaded up on expensive players for last season, beginning it with a club record $216 million payroll, the Dodgers struggled to a 30-42 record that put them in last place in the National League West, nine and a half games from first.

That was June 21. Two months less four days later, Aug. 17, the Dodgers were in first place, leading the division by eight and a half games. The difference? A remarkable 42-8 stretch that converted into an 18-game swing in the division standings for the Dodgers.

Starting this season with an even fatter payroll, $235 million, the Dodgers, as of June 7, had a 32-31 record and were in second place, both improvements over a year ago. However, they were the same nine and a half games out of first.

“We had a 42-8 run last year,” general manager Ned Colletti said Friday. “We haven’t had that this year. That’s tough to do once, let alone twice. It’s not something you would expect to duplicate.”

OK, so the Dodges haven’t duplicated it, but they did have a two-month (June 7-Aug. 7) 34-19 run that …

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THE JOY OF OFFICIAL SCORING

By Murray Chass

August 28, 2014

In a column last month, I wrote about the system in which Major League Baseball accepts appeals from clubs of official scorers’ rulings.

I offered two criticisms of the system: 1, I don’t care for someone (Joe Torre, executive vice president of baseball operations) sitting in an office and determining whether a play was a hit or an error by watching video replays), and 2, I especially don’t care for MLB keeping Torre’s decisions secret.

Nothing has changed with the system since the column appeared here, but it prompted an e-mail from Bruce Winkworth of Raleigh, N.C., who offered a candid insight into the job of an official scorer. I reprint it here:

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LIAR, LIAR, CAREER BURNS UP IN FIRE

By Murray Chass

August 24, 2014

In the 25 years he has been banished from baseball, Pete Rose has probably uttered the phrase “second chance” as many times as he had hits (4,256) in his record career.

“If they gave him another chance, I would bet he would do the right thing,” Tommy Gioiosa said. “With Pete, I think he gambled out of boredom. He wanted to have fun. It was a big price to pay.”

Paul Janszen offered another view of Rose, who was thrown out of baseball for life 25 years ago today. Janszen and Gioiosa were two of the names most prominently linked to the 1989 John Dowd investigation that resulted in Rose’s banishment by Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti.

Mimicking Rose’s oft-stated position, Janszen said …

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