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Celtics, Bruins, highly unlikely baseball stat

Tuesday 3/14/23

Quite a number of sports-driven entries in this record of late. I'm sure that will be evened out soon. Has just worked out that way.

I stayed up to watch the Celtics lose to the lowly Rockets last night. I don't think the Celtics are going to win it all this year. I watch Jayson Tatum, and I see a player, to use an older phrase, who does not have his head screwed on right. He was a no-show in the fourth quarter, and missed a clean lay-up opportunity to tie the game on the Celtics' final chance. He doesn't have the "it." I think he cares about certain things more than winning. His sneaker line, how he's perceived as a star in the league, the All-Star game MVP, the All-NBA team. I also don't think he's clutch. Jayson Brown was playing much better last night, and yet when it came time for the final shot, the final drive to the bucket, it was Tatum who was automatically going to do that. Why? Star privilege? He's not that much better than Brown, and Brown has more stones.

I had written in these pages a little while back that the Bruins no longer had the Jeremy Swayman problem that I had believed they did. I spoke too soon. They do. He is a problem. The Bruins were bad Sunday and got it handed to them for most of the game by Detroit. That's three games in a row they haven't played well.

Is it the new acquisitions and how that's disturbed the team balance? I don't know. I don't like Zacha being on the third line. That Czech line should be kept intact. I question Jim Montgomery there.

As for Swayman--he let in another soft goal on a half-wrister from distance. Proved to be the difference in the game. Enough with the platoon system. Swayman is not 1A to Ullmark's 1. He's a back-up. Have him be the back-up. Ullmark should be playing more. He's the best goalie in the league? If he's really that, play him. Don't rotate. Let Swayman spell him. Not take turns with him. Those are really my first two criticisms of Jim Montgomery this year.

Here's a most odd baseball stat. Ivan de Jesus was a light-hitting shortstop who had a fifteen-year MLB career. He finished that career with 21 home runs, 324 RBI, a .254 average, and a 77 OPS+. So that's not so good. He didn't win a Gold Glove. I don't think people understand how hard it is to stick in a professional sports league. A fifteen-year career with a decent chunk of those years as a starter and at shortstop? But there's virtually nothing that stands out about de Jesus. He was never an All-Star, for instance. But there is one thing, and it's a major thing: One time de Jesus led the National League in a category, and it was a major category: runs scored, with 104 in 1978.

Very odd. But what is odder yet is that you can't really figure out how he did this. He played 160 games, so that helped. He hit 3 home runs, so he only drove himself in those three times. He hit .278, so it's not like he was a batting average machine. He did walk 74 times, which was decent. He only had 24 doubles. But it gets stranger. de Jesus played on an offensively anemic Chicago Cubs team. These are the home run totals of their starting nine: 3, 5, 4, 3, 1, 28, 1, 9. The entire Cubs team only hit 72 home runs. (By the way: the 28 you see belonged to Dave Kingman.)

How did this player lead the league in runs scored? I honestly don't know. A lot of weirdness and flukiness had to be involved, but I would also deduce that de Jesus must have been a very good baserunner. He was a singles hitter on a team with next to no power and runs scored is a major category. Usually the very best players lead in runs scored. It did help that he stole 41 bases, because that's how he tended to be in scoring position that year. No one on the team had 80 RBI. Kingman had 79, and Bill Buckner had 74. It is also worth noting that though he missed time to injury, the mighty Kong had an OPS+ of 132.

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