Monday, May 17, 2010

The Infamous USA Today Interior Page Jinx Sidelines Andre Ethier

Of course, the weekend immediately following a nice profile piece, Andre Ethier gets his pinky squished. But I still want to call out the Ethier story from Thursday's USA Today, which represented a rare occasion of the East Coast press picking up a great West Coast story:

PHOENIX — He doesn't wear dreadlocks like Manny Ramirez or date celebrity singer Rihanna like Matt Kemp.

Andre Ethier is the other guy roaming the Los Angeles Dodgers' outfield. And he's quietly trying to accomplish something that hasn't happened in baseball in 43 years.

Ethier leads the National League in batting average (.385), home runs (11) and RBI (37). No one has won a Triple Crown since Carl Yastremzski of the Boston Red Sox in 1967.

There hasn't been a National League Triple Crown winner since Joe Medwick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1937.

"It just stands out because it's early," Ethier said. "It's a long year. I'm just carrying the momentum I had last year. I'm trying to hold onto that feeling as long as I can."

Ethier, who hit .272 with 31 homers and 106 RBI last year, has put on a show all season. His batting average hasn't dipped below .329 since April 11, and he's hitting .478 this month with five homers and 18 RBI. He leads the major Leagues with 90 total bases and a .738 slugging percentage.

The Dodgers haven't had a player with a batting average this high into mid-May since Willie Davis in 1971. Little wonder why Ethier's teammates will take his bat out of the rack and slide in theirs, hoping the magic rubs off. Or switch batting helmets as if osmosis can make them hit 100 points higher. You name it, they've tried it.

"You don't expect him to hit .380 all year," says Dodgers catcher Brad Ausmus, "not the way he swings like he's trying to hit the ball over the wall every time. But the thing with him is that when he gets hot, it's not just singles through the hole. It's with damage.

"It's amazing what he's doing."

[...]

"It's very unusual. I don't remember anybody being as heroic as he's been, out of all the guys I've managed," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "He's special. A special talent. A special kid."

If Ethier gets a single, he wants a double. If he doubles, he believes he should have homered. A line-drive out is the same to him as a weak popup.

"He's never satisfied," said Dodgers hitting coach Don Mattingly. "He gets so mad, so emotional, when he doesn't get a hit. He could square up a ball perfectly, and hit a line drive, but he'll be mad because he made an out. To him, he has to be perfect.

"But with that swing, there's not a pitcher in game he can't hit. Nobody."

Get well soon, Andre!

photo: Mark J. Terrill, AP

2 comments:

Dusty Baker said...

The Shin splint pun has been sitting out there all morning; thus far, no takers.

Dusty Baker said...

I was just sitting here thinking about the game tonight. And then I thought, man, Zach Greinke sure has a tiny head.

That is all.