At least it’s a good one, though. From the Baxter Bulletin’s Sonny Elliot.
With Major League Baseball under fire for steroid use and the game preoccupied with the home run, the days of the stolen base are long gone.
Herzog, appearing at a fundraiser in Cotter, laments the death of that game.
“Basically, you won’t have that again,” said Herzog. “Now I’m not going to talk about the steroids or anything, but the small ballparks, the jacked up ball, every game now is decided by a home run.
“We couldn’t hit a home run, we used to try and break (Roger) Maris’ record as a team,” he added. “When we won the World Series in 1982, my team only hit 67 home runs. I had five division titles besides that in Kansas City and St. Louis combined. One year in Kansas City, we hit 64 home runs and we won the division. I don’t think we ever hit more than 100 home runs in any year that I managed, except in 1977.”
In his address at the banquet, Herzog pointed out that steroids were not an issue during his tenure. The former Cardinals and Kansas City Royals’ manager cited substance abuse as his biggest off-the-field concern.
A lack of power and ballparks suited for speed dictated Herzog’s plan of attack.
“We had to manufacture runs and run (the bases). We did have speed, and speed is the only thing in baseball you can use on both sides of the ball,” he said. “Now, the way they’ve shortened up the ballparks, the gap defense in the outfield isn’t a big a thing anymore. Defense is still important and speed is still important, but speed will never be utilized again the way we used it in the ’80s.”
His success without the home run ” and working on a limited budget ” makes Herzog very proud of what his teams accomplished.
“We couldn’t hit home runs, but it seemed like every year we finished first or second in runs scored,” he said. “I had a good bunch of guys. They understood the concept of team baseball. With a man on second, hit the ball to the right side and then it doesn’t take a base hit to score him.
“A ground ball or a fly ball ” and we hit a lot of high hoppers, which was our forte ” and we would pick up runs like that,” Herzog continued. “If we picked up runs in the first five innings of the ballgame, then we didn’t need the three-run homer. That’s the reason we were able to win.”