The prospect of playing in Denver should be a frightening one for National League pitchers.
In a book published last year titled "The Physics of Baseball," Yale physics professor Robert K. Adair wrote that a home run in Yankee Stadium - at sea level - would travel as much as 40 feet farther at Denver's high altitude.Doesn't that make you wonder how many balls Cecil Fielder hit at sea level last season that died on the warning track? Trade him (or Jose Canseco, or Mark McGwire, or . . .) to Denver, let him play 81 games a year at an altitude of 5,000-feet plus, and forget Roger Maris. In fact, in 20 years, Roger Maris would be so far down the single-season homer list that everyone would wonder why there were ever complaints about his not being in the Hall of Fame.
To offset the thin-air effect, Adair suggests using a less lively ball for games in Denver, or moving the fences back a proportionate amount.GRIPE OF THE WEEK: Is anyone else getting tired of all the griping about baseball players' ridiculously high salaries? Sure, some of them are paid obscene amounts, but they're not the only ones. How about Sylvester Stallone, who has made all sorts of stinko movies (remember "Rhinestone"? Phew.) but can still command $15 million per film? Or a no-talent stiff like Steven Seagal, who gets $10 million for making a movie in which he never changes his facial expression? And then there's Arnold Schwarzenegger (OK, I'll admit, I like this guy), who is getting $15 million for making "Terminator II," which will take about 15 weeks to make. That's a million a week, for those of you without calculators.
Somehow, $3 million a year for seven-plus months of playing a game doesn't seem so bad compared to what these guys are getting.
In a perfect world, stories about athletes' salaries would stop being news. They're boring to write and boring to read, and won't be mentioned in this column again.
Unless it's absolutely necessary.NUMBERS: Some tidbits for the stats junkies: California's Wally Joyner (BYU) hit .360 in 3-2 count situations last season, ninth best in the AL . . . Jack Morris (BYU) was the easiest pitcher to steal on in the AL last season, allowing 45 of 51 baserunners to swipe safely. But he did hold righthanded hitters to a .218 average, 4th best in the league . . . Minnesota's Rick Aguilera (BYU) was 8th in the AL in save percentage in '90, at .821 (32 of 39) . . . Philly's Dale Murphy was worst in the NL hitting against righthanders, at .214, but his .617 slugging percentage against lefties was third highest. Murf was third worst in batting average in late innings of close games, at .129 . . . San Diego's Bruce Hurst (St. George) was 8th in the NL in opponent's batting average, at .228; 10th in strikeouts per nine innings, at 6.519; and sixth in baserunners allowed per nine innings, at 10.14.MORE DENVER: Here's hoping the owners' fears about mile-high homer totals don't keep them from giving Denver a franchise. Our favorite scenario is this: Denver gets a team, and Salt Lake City becomes the team's Triple-A franchise. The Trappers are OK, but when was the last time you saw a Trapper in a major-league uniform? Wouldn't you like to see players go from Salt Lake to the bigs? Wouldn't you pay to see real baseball?LOCALS LOOK: Murphy's three-year slump hasn't ended yet. He's batting .211 . . . Oakland's Vance Law (BYU) is also off to a .211 start, but is saved by the fact that the the guy he was supposed to platoon with, Ernest Riles, is hitting .185 . . . Through Thursday, Joyner was fifth in the AL in batting at .414 . . . The plan in Chicago is to play Cory Snyder (BYU) in left field and DH Tim Raines against lefties, to give Raines' legs a break.