Wrong To Ellis Burks Needs To Be Set Right

Justice HillCorrespondent IDecember 16, 2009

SEATTLE - AUGUST 4:  Designated hitter Ellis Burks #23 of the Cleveland Indians runs the basepaths during the MLB game against the Seattle Mariners on August 4, 2002 at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington.  The Indians won 10-8.  (Photo by Otto Greule/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

 

"Hey," said Ellis Burks, waving his hand to catch my attention. "Let me talk to you about something that's been bothering me."

Burks was in the Indians dugout as I walked over to the where he sat. I plopped down next to him, and Burks, frustrated, proceeded to spell out something that had been eating at him for five or six seasons. He said he didn't know who might take up his cause, but he figured he had a good one.

As Burks told me on that summer day in 2002, he had been robbed. No, it wasn't armed robbery; no dangerous weapon was used. The robbery was an intellectual one -- a statistical decision that robbed Burks of a batting title.

The decision puzzled him when it happened years earlier, and other ballplayers in the National League felt the same way, Burks told me.

All had a good point.

His frustration was rooted in the 1996 season, one of the best seasons any outfielder had had in a while. Playing for the Rockies, Burks hit 40 home runs drove in 128 runs, stole 32 bases and batted .344, second best in the league.

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