Tuesday, October 23, 2007

More Players Come Forward With Stories Of Being Held At Third By Joel Skinner

Support group formed as victims of third base coach's cautiousness grows in number

Cleveland, OH. (Oct. 23) - Two more players have come forward with stories of allegedly being held at third base needlessly by Indians coach Joel Skinner, putting the number of such cases near 30.

"I feel I need to tell my story," minor league shortstop Freddie Hewitt said in a statement. Hewitt plays for the Indians' Buffalo affiliate, and he weaved a tale similar to the dozens of other players, both at the major and minor league level, who say third base coach Skinner prevented them from scoring on "countless" plays when a throw home would probably never have beaten them.

Skinner's alleged past victims have been coming forward ever since Skinner held Kenny Lofton at third base in the seventh inning of Game 7 of the ALCS after a Franklyn Gutierrez single to left field. Replays indicated Lofton would almost surely have scored. Had he scored, the game would have been tied 3-3. The Indians lost, 11-2.

But the final score didn't ease the pressure on Skinner.

Skinner, unable to hold this Indian at third -- because he's just hit a home run

"Joel Skinner has done this to me. He's done it to my friends. And he's done it to my friend's friends," Hewitt's statement read. "He's even done it to my friend's friends' enemies' friends.

"He must be stopped."

Nearly 30 players have come forward, mostly under the cloak of anonymity.

"I could have beaten the Orioles in 2004," one anonymous big leaguer told a Cleveland radio station, but only if his voice was altered to sound like Elmer Fudd. "I was on first base. It was the bottom of the 11th, two outs. The batter hit a double to the gap. I was moving on the crack of the bat. I could have scored easily. Skinner held me up," the player said, his Fudd voice cracking.

"Skinner is sadistic," another minor leaguer said. "When he was coaching in AA ball, he would purposely send guys who he'd knew would get thrown out, to break their spirit. He said he was 'testing' them. Then if the same guy was sure to score, he'd hold him up. He's finally been exposed," the player said of the ALCS blunder.

Some have suggested Skinner isn't incompetent -- just twisted.

Hewitt said he will start a support group for players victimized by Skinner's third base coaching decisions.

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