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TOM SEAVER: PORTRAIT OF A PERPLEXING PITCHER

By Marty Noble

March 17, 2019

Dementia. Damn it!

Sad to say I saw it coming. And I hardly was the only one. At the very least, I had disturbing suspicions, some from four and five years ago.

But now this episode in the life of Tom Seaver comes with a diagnosis, an unsettling one and a future for a most accomplished former athlete that no one wants to contemplate.

Now it seems official. As a result, it also sounds more ominous. And it feels worse than it sounds for those of us who have known Seaver for decades.

Now, the diagnosis has removed whatever hopes we’ve had for him and prompted us to suspect that the worst case scenario is unfolding. How bad is it?

We know he won’t participate in the Mets’ June weekend saluting the team Tom pushed to a World Series championship 50 years ago. He’ll be home in Calistoga, Calif. when Koosman, Cleon, Krane and Rocky come to the Big Citi. It will seem like the Beatles without John.

Travel had become an unwanted ordeal for Seaver long before we heard of the diagnosis. He hated merely getting to an airport and going through all the checkpoints. Who doesn’t?

And now what? Would he recognize Koosman? Does he recognize Nancy? Is he still obsessed with his vineyard?

We’re unsure of what to think, don’t know whether he knows us or to what degree this insidious malady has affected him. We might be in the same circumstances as he – we don’t know what we don’t know. We can hope, we can fear, but we cannot know. We can remember, and someday that will have to be enough. It isn’t right now.

George Thomas Seaver was to have aged gracefully, become an octogenarian with all his wits about him and a baseball memory as pinpoint as his best slider on the black. He was to have joined the party at the firepit behind the Otesaga in Cooperstown in the summer of 20-something and regaled those gathered with tales of drop-and-drive dominance, anecdotes about his dirty right knee, reviews of his magnificent cabernet, narratives of his conflict with M. Donald Grant and his feud with Dick Young. And, of course, expressions of his abiding appreciation of Gil Hodges.

Seaver would do that. He would fill an hour with a brilliant, impromptu monologue that was entertaining and baseball-educational. Perhaps he still can. But we can’t know whether he …

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BRYCE HARPER, THE $330 MILLION TAMPERER

By Murray Chass

March 10, 2019

On the second day of 1977 Bowie Kuhn, then the commissioner of Major League Baseball, levied a one-year suspension against Ted Turner, the irrepressible owner of the Atlanta Braves. Earlier Kuhn fined Turner and the Braves $10,000. Kuhn had found Turner guilty of tampering with a free agent, Gary Matthews, before he became a free agent. At a World Series cocktail party, Turner had told Bob Lurie, owner of the San Francisco Giants, for whom Matthews had played, that he, Turner, would get Matthews no matter what Lurie offered to pay him.

“I’m thankful he didn’t order me …

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HARPER, BORAS WIN WITH CONTRACT; WILL PHILS LOSE?

By Murray Chass

March 3, 2019

Portrait of a $330 million player:

* Hitting .249 last season, Bryce Harper placed 97th among 139 major leaguers who qualified for the batting title.
* His .496 slugging percentage ranked 30th.
* He was ninth in on-base percentage with .393.
* His 34 home runs tied him for 16th.
* He drove in 100 runs, which were 15th.
* He drew a major league-most 130 walks, which explain his uncharacteristic standing in on-base percentage.

Bob Waterman of Elias Sports Bureau, who provided Harper’s standings, alertly pointed out that “Harper and his new teammate, Rhys Hoskins, had remarkably similar totals last season. The only real difference is that Harper draws an amazingly high number of walks (#1 in MLB) while Hoskins finished just outside the top ten in MLB (13th)” …

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