Originally published May 21, 2011
By Bob Elliott
The Best Hitter In The Game Today arrived at his locker an hour after the final pitch the other night to an audience of one.
“What are you talking to him for?” Rickey Romero jokingly asked on his way out, “he was 0-for-3.”
Bautista gave the towel another pass through his hair, looked up and said “actually ... 0-for-4.”
From across the clubhouse came a cat call of mock indignation: “Well, I guess he did cheer us on.”
The BHITGT has not been officially knighted with his title, the way Queen Elizabeth I honoured Sir Francis Drake.
“I’ve heard accolades and find it very flattering,” Bautista said. “You enjoy hearing it.”
Now, some Jays fans are calling Bautista The Best Position Player in Blue Jays History.
While the Best Hitter tag is old news -- he heard it a month ago -- Bautista stops what he’s doing when told where some think he ranks amongst all-time Jays hitters.
“No, no,” Bautista says shaking his head no. “I need to do it for a longer period,. If they’re saying the best for the first seven weeks, maybe. Best ever, no, it’s not me,”
Then an amazing thing happens.
One second you think you are standing in front of the locker of the former Rule V draft, who had 88 at-bats with four different teams in 2004, and then in only his second season of 600 or more at-bats won the home run title in 2010,
Suddenly it sounds like are listening to Jays broadcaster Jerry Howarth or someone who works for the Elias Sports Bureau.
“Look Carlos Delgado drove in 145 runs one year for this club, he drove in over 100 six times I think,” Bautista said. “John Olerud won a batting title, Robbie Alomar is going into the Hall of Fame, George Bell hit 47 homers and won an MVP award, Shawn Green knocked in 123 runs, hit 45 doubles and 42 homers one year. Rickey Henderson helped win a World Series.”
Bautista was right all the numbers
We looked it up hooking up to baseball-reference.
It’s easy to remember numbers when one player is a fellow countryman from the Dominican like Bell.
It is very impressive, almost shocking, when a current millionaire in today’s game rhymes off stats from Green in 1999.
“Why wouldn’t I know stuff like that?” Bautista asked. “I’ve been a ball fan since I was seven.”
We remember standing with Dave Perkins of The Star in Anaheim talking about how Lou Gehrig had 117 RBIs. Jesse Barfield asked what was the big deal since he had knocked in 108.
Gehrig’s 117 RBIs were on the road during his 184-RBI season with the 1931 New York Yankees.
So, the Best Hitter in the Game Today and The Best Position Player in Blue Jays History (disputed) who was the Jays best ever?
“It has to be Delgado, I haven’t done what he’s done,” said Bautista of Delgado, who hit 336 homers, knocking in 1,058 runs, hitting .282, with a .949 OPS for the Jays.
“I’ll have to study the numbers and see whether Robbie Alomar or George Bell is second.”
Briefly: Chicago Cubs centre fielder Brian McRae said it after the third Cubs-White Sox game in the first year of inter-league play in 1997: “This will work when we play the White Sox. Same with the A’s-Giants, Mets-Yankees, Dodgers-Angels and the Blue Jays-Expos too because the English and French Black Hawks players are always teasing each other. The rest of the match-ups? No chance.” In this the 15th year 29 teams average larger crowds in inter-league play than their average attendance. Only the Jays draw less in inter-league than the rest of the season. What happens when 29 of 30 teams make money off an idea? ... Garrett Olerud will hitting line drives in for the Clyde Hill, Wash. Little League. Garrett’s coaches are his grandfather John Olerud (437 hits in the minors, including the 1971 triple-A Winnipeg Whips) and his father John, Jr., (2,239 hits in the majors including the American League batting title in 1993) ... Now that Winnipeg’s NHL team is back to go with the Goldeyes of the independent American Association, will a ‘Bring back the Whips’ campaign begin?
Seen and heard: Nice to see Mike (The Cat) Barnett at the Rogers Centre. The popular former Jays hitting coach attends to the Houston Astros hitters. Most hitting coaches stand behind the cage to give pointers or wait until the round is done to talk hitting. Barnett, like he did with the Jays, quickly paces to the right of the cage to see a side view of right-handed hitter. Then, quickly steps around the cage to get a side view of a left-handed hitter ... Ditto for Scott Ferguson, who you can hear on TSN-radio ... Alfie Payne, one of the best shortstops ever to grace an Ontario diamond is in Princess Margaret hospital. He’s answering emails ... Astro broadcaster Jim Deshaies, who pitched for Houston from 1985-91: “Social media? When I pitched it meant going for a post-game beer with Neil Hohlfeld.” Hohlfeld, who passed in 2008, covered the Astros like a tarp nailed down in tornado weather ... The Jays 2003 emblem (with the muscular bird behind the red ‘T’) and the 1997-99 St. Catharines Stompers made Bleacher Report’s worst 50 all-time, worst logo list.