Facebook Twitter



Pitcher No. 2 is watching nervously from the Oakland bullpen.

There are two outs, the bases are loaded and the count is 2-2 on the menacing Cecil Fielder."Please get him out," pitcher No. 2 pleads to himself.

The pitch is ball 3, and pitcher No 2 begins the trek to the mound because the pitch was also the starter's 50th of the game. That's all any A's pitcher is allowed.

The late Bill Veeck must be smiling down on Oakland manager Tony La Russa, who has become so disenchanted with his pitchers that he's decided their pitches should be limited.

Veeck's smile would be caused by the fact that La Russa's action might upset some owners and/or purists. At least, there's no commissioner to upset.

"I don't even mess with saying I truly understand what's going on," pitcher Ron Darling said of La Russa's decision to limit each pitcher to 50 pitches and to use so-called starters every three days.

The 50-pitch limit probably will mean at least three pitchers a game, and presumably so-called starters will take turns in being No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3. If not, a pitcher could start 30 games and never get a win. A starter must go at least five innings to get credit for a victory.

Could this be start of a trend? Will managers of other mediocre teams follow La Russa's lead? That the 50-pitch limit is being introduced in the American League should come as no surprise. After all, the AL is the league where a midget once came to bat for the Veeck-owned St. Louis Browns in 1951. It is the league where the owners decided baseball is a 10-player game and introduced the designated hitter.

Perhaps in this era of increased ticket, food and parking prices, the time is ripe to try another Veeck stunt on a regular basis. Veeck once had someone hold up signs, such as "Hit and Run," "Steal" and "Bunt" and then had fans in certain sections vote on what the Browns should do.

Wouldn't it be worth paying through the nose to get a chance to vote that Barry Bonds bunt?

If La Russa's plan proves a failure, perhaps the A's will try something the Chicago Cubs tried. In the National League Green Book, under where it lists past managers for the clubs, for the Chicago Cubs for 1961-65 it reads, "None." In those years, the club was managed by a committee of coaches.

It worked about as well as anything else the Cubbies have tried since last being in the World Series in 1945.