..leading off is the shortstop, Diomedes, son of
perennial All-Star, many observers rank him among the best ever at
his position. With a fearsome bat, he's more like Alex Rodriguez than
Ozzie Smith, but his defensive skills have earned him more Golden
Gloves than he has room in the closet. And as far as swiping bases?
This guy knows how to steal, all right. (Four words: "The horses of
Rhesus." Need we say more?) Rock-steady and a clubhouse leader,
Diomedes is one of the few players with the confidence to stand up to
Agamemnon when the mercurial manager launches one of his famed
tirades. There's definitely a spot for this Argive in Cooperstown,
unless Olympus gets him first.
Batting second, Ajax, son of Oileus. Long ago
reconciled to the
nickname, "The Lesser Ajax," the scrappy third baseman is known for
his hustle and competitive zeal. Think Jose Reyes, or for you older
fans, Pete Rose. If Diomedes gets on base, the Lilliputian Locrian
won't just move him over, he'll follow him home. He's got a good arm
for those throws across the infield-- "surpassing all Achaeans and
Hellenes with the throwing spear," said Homer-- and lightning speed on
the basepaths. (Let's remember the blind bard called him "Swift
Ajax," not "Little Ajax.") The one worry we have is whether he can
keep his hands off the priestesses until the season's over.
Batting third, the right fielder, Ajax, son of
Telamon. What can
you say about the big guy that hasn't been said already? He'd be the
franchise player on any other ball club, but the Salamis Slugger has
given a hint that he resents the attention paid to the sullen
superstar playing next to him - or covets his spot as cleanup hitter.
He long ago disproved that "great player from the neck down" libel,
and it's baffling why the Carl Yastrzemski tag still follows him
around. With a catapult for an arm- eat your heart out, Roberto
Clemente- and the strength to hit the porches in any direction, The
Greater Ajax is a right fielder for the ages.
Batting cleanup, nobody but Achilles son of
mean, "son of Peleus."
(Sorry- that "mama's boy" slur is a cheap
shot.) But where do we begin? The center fielder has power, he's got
speed. In terms of raw talent there's never been another like him:
think Barry Bonds at his steroid prime or- since his defensive skills
put Bonds to shame- a healthy Mickey Mantle, but even better. The
"best player ever?" Maybe. However... and it's a big however...
there's no getting around one fact: the guy's a prima donna. In terms
of work ethic and clubhouse influence, think Rickey Henderson on a
We've all heard the story: King Priam of Troy said, "The only
thing worse than facing Achilles would be managing Achilles."
Apocryphal? Maybe, but there's a lot of truth there. You should be
able to build a winning team around this guy, but a lot of managers
have tried and failed. How will Agamemnon make out? Ask us at the end
of the season.
Batting fifth, the first baseman, Tlepolemus,
son of Herakles.
Yeah, yeah, wait a minute... come on now- if your dad's the greatest
hero that ever lived, people are bound to call you a disappointment,
too. Yes, this guy has seen better days, and he's wasted nearly as
much potential as Darryl Strawberry, but the dude has a lot of RBI
left in his bat. A beefy slugger in the Jimmy Foxx mode, no one will ever
mistake Herk's son for Keith Hernandez on defense, but he'll do the
Batting sixth, the left fielder, Patroclus.
Okay, we've all heard
the rumors. "He's only on the team because Achilles needs him
around." Sure, the two of them came up in the minors together, and
okay, even as high-paid major leaguers they room together on the
road... not that there's anything wrong with that! But do
Agamemnon would send any player out on the field every day if he
couldn't produce? Sports fans, Patroclus wants to win, and he's got
the skills, and the guts, to make it happen. Let's not forget, when
his famous pal was holding out in that nasty contract dispute, the
son of Menoetius took the field every game and played as if his life
depended on it- even wearing his buddy's jersey one day to boost the
Continued on page S32
Continued from page S1
Now... the problem spot. The original plan was for Philoktetes,
son of Poeas, to cover the keystone corner, but a freak accident
involving a snake ended his season before it began and left the
Greeks scrambling for a second baseman. Right now a lot of hopes are
riding on Idomeneus, son of Deucalion: the "spear-famed" Cretan
swings a good bat, and with a wide-ranging shortstop like Diomedes,
you don't need a Mazeroski at second. Possible mid-season trade in the
The bottom line for the number-eight hitter is, "Don't make the
last out and leave the pitcher leading off next inning," so who else
would you stick in that slot but The Wily Odysseus?
The son of
Laertes can foul them off all night until a worn-down pitcher makes
that one mistake. This crafty catcher knows the ins and outs of the
game better than just about anyone who ever played his position, and
he's got an arm that can fire an arrow through a dozen axes, or cut
down a runner before he's in swimming distance of
second. Look for
Odysseus to slide right into a managerial job when his playing days
are over... if his messy personal life does not distract him.
Finally, on the mound, Menelaus, son of Atreus.
brother no longer has overpowering stuff, but he's turned into an
unmatched finesse pitcher. Want evidence? He convinced this gang of
superstars to play an exhibition road game that was really nothing
more than his own personal grudge match. I'm not sure Matthewson or
Koufax could have put that pitch over.
So that's the starting lineup that Agamemnon,
son of Atreus, will
bring to the plain of Scamandros. Sitting next to him, as always,
will be bench coach Nestor, son of Neleus,
otherwise known as "Don
Zimmer without the metal plate." Their biggest worry is the bullpen:
Menelaus is not as young as he used to be, and it's doubtful the
Spartan southpaw will get past the sixth inning. Middle relief is weak, and
the team desperately needs a closer. Look for some pretty intense
horse-trading just before the deadline.