As Stephen Strasburg speeds toward his big-league debut next Tuesday against Pittsburgh, agent Scott Boras says that "no college coach has ever prepared a player better than Tony Gwynn."
Gwynn, the Hall of Famer and San Diego State University baseball coach, oversaw the growth and development of the right-hander (along with pitching coach Rusty Filter) while all the while resisting the temptation to overuse him even as Gwynn's Aztecs team was fighting to qualify for its first NCAA tournament berth in more than a decade.
He also helped school Strasburg on the media attention, and stepped in with rules to limit his availability when the kid was on the verge of being overwhelmed.
"Tony recognized that he was a unique talent, and he did a remarkable job," Boras says. "And that player also got that program into the Regionals, too.
"It says a lot about how right the system can work in getting high school players to go to college around people who understand both the collegiate and pro marketplace so they can really develop players."
In Gwynn's case, of course, he not only understood the college game -- he played at San Diego State in the 1970s -- but also, of course, knows the major leagues. As his eight batting titles attest.
Mostly, Strasburg pitched once a week, on Friday nights.
"Tony was extraordinary," Boras says. "The interest of the player came first throughout. And oh, by the way, it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that Tony Gwynn's son is a major-league player. I mean that, because he did the same thing with him. They talk about Tony Gwynn being a great player, let's talk about Tony Gwynn as a great coach, father, mentor and everything else he did. Because this man is a Hall of Famer, but you've got to remember that Tony has crossed lines here where most Hall of Famers don't go. They're teachers, mentors, they're all those things. I think a great deal of credit needs to go to him because of what he's doing currently and the fact that he's taking the time to be a college coach.
"He could be a broadcaster. He could probably make triple the income he's making and live a very different life, and a lot easier life than what he's doing now. And I think we're all privileged that he's doing that for young men, for college baseball and for baseball in general. Tony Gwynn is doing something that impacted both college and professional baseball."
Likes: The Cardinals and Reds this week in St. Louis battling for first place in the NL Central. ... Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Tim Lincecum on Memorial Day. Jimenez is unbelievable. Lincecum will find his control. Pitchers slump, too, you know. ... Michael Cuddyer playing second base for Minnesota on Monday in Seattle for the first time since July, 2005. Leave it to the Twins. ... Memorial Day Weekend. Summer's here. ... Case in point: A large group of men playing Ultimate Frisbee on Tuesady in one of the parks I cruise through during my daily runs. Usually, with the kids still in school, the place is quiet on a workday. ... The shrimp that emerged perfectly from my grill the other day. ... New concert DVD from Bruce Springsteen, London Calling -- Live in Hyde Park, in about three weeks. ... Finished Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin. Really, really terrific. A gripping read by Hampton Sides.
Dislikes: Nice job of working the plate the other day, Bill Hohn. In ejecting Astros ace Roy Oswalt, he gave a textbook example of how not to ump. Following in the immediate aftermath of Joe West and Bob Davidson. ... Bad caps worn by all on Memorial Day. Bad, bad caps. Can we just wear the uniforms that the clubs are supposed to wear and stop with all the alternate jerseys/caps stuff? I know there's money to be made, but do we have to squeeze every last penny out of everybody? There are other ways to honor the Veterans -- as they deserve to be honored -- on Memorial Day. ... It's Complicated, with Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, is not even worth renting. Brutal. We shut it off after an hour or so the other night. I mean, Meryl Streep is usually fantastic, but she over-acted something fierce in this dog. Every scene, she giggled, laughed or cried. Totally distracting. Ugh.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"I’m gonna write a truthful song over an eighties groove
"I’d like to let you know I’ll always be straight with you
"I stole my personality from an anonymous source
"And I’m gonna pay for it too, I don’t feel bad about that
"Give me my chance back"
-- Hockey, (Tomorrow's Just) A Song Away