Seen & Heard 5/18

FROM TRACK TO volleyball, football to kid camps, we cover the crimson spectrum in this one. But we're going to start with baseball. More specifically, with chapter eight in the bestselling book <i>Moneyball</I>, where 30 pages are devoted to former Cougar catching standout <b>Scott Hatteberg</b>.

Written by acclaimed author Michael Lewis, it's an absolute page-turner as it explains how the Oakland A's have managed to win more games over the last five years than any team in the American League despite having a payroll that would barely get you to second base in New York.

But I darn near fell out of bed when I turned to page 162 and saw an entire chapter devoted to Hatteberg. Why, you may ask, would so much copy be devoted to a guy who's a .270-type hitter with average power? Because he, in microcosm explains why the A's do so well year-in and year-out.

Scott, you see, is a student of hitting. So much so, that if you look up a couple of offbeat statistical categories -- not swinging at the first pitch, and percentage of total pitches not swung at -- you'll see his name at or near the top every season. What that tells you is that he's selective at the plate. And that means two things: He walks a lot, and therefore has a high on-base percentage, and he forces opposing pitchers to work hard.

The A's call it plate efficiency. It's a hidden statistical aspect of baseball that they covet. So while Hatteberg, the Pride of Yakima, may hit .270 and never make it to the All-Star game, the A's know that his quiet production is prodigious. In fact, in 2002 they calculated how many runs Hatteberg would have generated if he took every at-bat for the team for the entire season. The answer? Forty to 50 more than the Yankees.

That's Moneyball. And I dare say our friends in the front office of the Mariners ought to start doing some night-time reading.

Speaking of the Mariners, since the Major League draft began in 1965, only 17 players have advanced directly to the bigs without playing a minor-league game and the most recent was none other than WSU's very own John Olerud, nabbed in the first round by Pat Gillick and the Toronto Blue Jays back in 1989. The most famous member of the 17 is Dave Winfield, taken by the Padres in 1973.

HAT'S OFF TO WSU senior sprinter Anthony Buchanan, the Pride of Spokane's University High and one-time Cougar receiver, who this past weekend won the Pac-10 100-meter dash title for the second consecutive year. His winning time was 10.21 seconds, his fastest this season and lifetime best time for a non-wind-aided race. Do I sense an Olympic bid coming this summer?

THERE ARE LOTS of fresh faces in the Cougar basketball program all of a sudden. First there's new assistant Ben Johnson, of former player for head man Dick Bennett back in the Wisconsin-Green Bay days. He replaces Mike Burns, who is the new head coach at Eastern Washington.

In addition, Bennett recently signed two prep standouts to national letters of intent -- Kyle Weaver, a 6-5, 180-pound guard from Bennett's old stomping grounds, Beloit, Wisc., and Josh Akognon, a 5-11, 185-pound point guard from Northern California.

Weaver was a first-team All-State selection who averaged 18 points per game this past season. Akognon, who we profiled May 9 in a fascinating story, averaged a whopping 30 points last season and turned down the likes of Kansas and Michigan to sign with the Cougars.

THANKS AND BEST wishes to Cindy Frederick, WSU's remarkable volleyball coach for the last 15 years. She's heading home to Iowa to take over the Hawkeyes.

At WSU she compiled more wins than any coach of a women's sport in WSU history with a record of 278-192. She reached 20-plus wins in seven seasons and took teams to the NCAA tournament nine times. Her 1996 and 2002 clubs reached the Elite Eight and both ended the year ranked No. 7 nationally. Cindy was a great coach and a great Cougar who will be missed immensely.

JUNE AND JULY are going to be busy months in Pullman, with football, basketball, volleyball, soccer and a number of other summer camps going on. If you have a youngster, there's no better place to have them spend a week. For details, click to

NO DEFINITIVE WORD yet the academic standings of the five guys in WSU's incoming class of football recruits who are on the bubble of eligibility for this fall: Randy Estes, J.T. Diederichs, Charles Dillon, Michael Willis and Michael Bumpus. However, Cougar assistant coach Robin Pflugrad said in a CF.C Chat Room discussion last month that all are working hard.

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