One of my favorite baseball stories goes like this ... In 1977 or '78 or '81 — one of the years the Dodgers were in the World Series — Sandy Koufax was throwing batting practice to the Dodger hitters before a game. Unfortunately Sandy was pitching a little too well, mowing down Messrs. Garvey, Lopes, Cey & co. with his still outstanding fastball. Finally someone put a stop to this mockery of the very idea of "batting practice" and a new pitcher was found, one who wasn't the greatest left-handed hurler of all time.
In Tommy Lasorda's version of the story, it's Tommy himself (of course) who gently informs Sandy that maybe it's not ideal for the Dodgers' lineup to be mired in a slump before a World Series game. Another variation has a 52-year-old Koufax striking out the '88 Dodgers, which, considering that a gimpy Kirk Gibson was the team's best hitter, might be the most plausible scenario of all.
Well, in the grand sabermetric tradition of taking something fun and ruining it for everyone, I'm here to tell you that it's not true. Well, Koufax did throw batting practice for the Dodgers in the 1981 World Series. That part is true, at least, and makes sense, since the Yankees that year featured four lefty starters. But according to Koufax, as quoted in Jane Leavy's Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy, Pedro Guerrero "took him deep." Which actually sounds like a great plan: What could inspire more confidence in a hitter before a World Series game than homering off of Sandy Koufax?
Makes me think the Braves should pry Maddux off the links.