The Philadelphia Daily News’ Bill Conlin purports to interview (sorry about this) “the left hemisphere” of Pat Burrell’s brain.
First, I want you to take a deep breath, close your eyes and try to clear everything out of your left hemi. Ever hear of Joe DiMaggio?
PB: The guy who sold those Mr. Coffee machines, right? I remember those ads when I was a kid. And wasn’t he married to that fat actress, Marilyn somebody?
Marilyn Monroe. He was the most famous baseball player in America. She was the No. 1 Hollywood sex goddess back when models and actresses wearing shag sweaters weren’t mistaken for pipe cleaners. She never had to walk into a plastic surgeon’s office and say, “Fill ’em up.” Joe was also a great hitter who had that 56-game hitting streak in 1941.
PB: Oh, that guy. Remember, I’m half-brained right now. But I do remember a tune my folks used to play that had a line, “Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?… “
Pat, DiMaggio wound up hitting .357 in ’41. He only hit 30 homers because he missed 15 games with injuries and the leftfield power alley in Yankee Stadium was 415 feet. Guess how many times he struck out in 541 at-bats?
PB: High-average power hitter? Probably put the ball in play. Maybe 100 to 125?
How about 13! That’s thirteen strikeouts. What a coincidence. In 2005, when you had one of your better seasons, your numbers were similar to Joe D’s 1941 in some areas. You had 562 ABs, just 21 more. You hit 32 homers, two more – of course you were playing home games in a ballpark with an alley 70 feet closer than Joe’s yard. But you struck out 160 times. That’s 147 times more than DiMaggio struck out in just 21 more at-bats.
PB: Yeah, but he never had to face closers. And setup men. And guys throwing close to 100 mph.
And you never had to face big-league pitching at a time when there were just 16 teams and major league baseball dwarfed every other sport in importance. Bob Feller won 25 for Cleveland that year. He was clocked at 100 mph when he was 18. And the fastball was his second-best pitch. He threw a curve in the mid-80s that used to hiss like a snake when it broke 12-to-6 and letters-to-knees. He would have turned you into the mother of all right-bracket parentheses.