While bouncing from the Mets to the Rangers to the Yankees to the Pirates, Centerfielder Lee Mazzilli has carried a "bad arm" tag. Just how bad was evident during 4-3 and 9-1 Pittsburgh losses last week to the Cardinals. On four occasions, Redbirds took an extra base against Mazzilli that they might not even have attempted against another center-fielder. Three times the perpetrator was Keith Hernandez, who's hardly a whippet on the bases. In the 10th inning of the first game, he tagged up on a shallow fly to center and scored the winning run. Says Hernandez: "Mazzilli's the only guy I would attempt to score against [on such a play] in the big leagues."
The best offer of the season may already have been made by Bruce Sutter of the Cardinals, who last week picked up a win and a save in relief. He's surprised that no one comes to him for tips about throwing his split-fingered fastball. Says Sutter, "I'd be glad to show someone. Be glad to do anything I could to help a guy make a better living for himself and his family."
For years, Angel Executive Vice-President Buzzie Bavasi has given his players four rules to live by. The first three concern the use of drugs, wearing a helmet when batting and showing respect for the flag during the playing of the national anthem. "This year I dropped the fourth rule," Bavasi says. No. 4 used to read: "We prefer that no player borrow money from another player. Should there be an emergency, feel free to see me with regard to an advance." That rule was deleted, Bavasi says, "because players make so much money now that the club will have to borrow from them."
Bavasi's prophecy came true when the Padres recently went to Las Vegas for an exhibition game with their farm club there. When Traveling Secretary John Mattei asked the clerk at the Flamingo Hilton Hotel for keys to the players' rooms, he was told he'd first have to pay the bill in advance—$1,210.62. When the clerk would not honor the club's check, Pitcher John Montefusco peeled off a dozen $100s. Then Mattei handed the clerk an additional $11 and told him to keep the change.
April 24, 1983
Cardinal Joaquin Andujar's 12th victory in a row, including postseason play, was a 9-1 throttling of the Pirates that cut his ERA during that streak to 1.49.... With Omar Moreno gone to Houston, Lee Lacy has replaced him as Pittsburgh's leadoff man and at week's end paced both leagues in steals with 10.... Newest nickname: Pirate rookie Jim Winn, 23, who throws smoke, is called The Boy Cannon, after former Outfielder Jim (The Toy Cannon) Wynn, who hit 291 homers.
A rare accomplishment: Phillie Manager Pat Corrales got an ump to change his mind. He did it after a 3-2 pitch by Met Reliever Neil Allen in the last of the 10th of a 3-3 game bounced across the plate. As Schmidt headed for first, he was stopped by home plate umpire Ed Montague, who said it was only ball three. Out came Corrales, who convinced Montague he was wrong. Schmidt went to first and subsequently scored the winning run.
Seattle Manager Rene Lachemann hit his Mariners with some broadsides after they lost to Oakland 5-3 last Thursday night. It was Seattle's fourth loss in five games, and it came against an A's lineup that was minus five regulars. After his locker-room tirade ended, the usually mild-mannered Lachemann calmed down and went over it again more slowly for the press: "I said I was tired of getting embarrassed. I'm tired of seeing balls go through people, tags not being made, fly balls not being caught and pitchers making mistakes. Either they start playing as well as they are capable, or I'll make changes. I'll go to the bench first. Then I'll go to [our AAA farm club in] Salt Lake City. I'll go to Japan. I'll even go to Russia if I have to and I can get passports." Well, in their next outing the Mariners shaped up, beating the A's 5-1 as Gaylord Perry won the 308th game of his career, tying Hoss Radbourn for 12th on the alltime list.
Earl Weaver's retirement as Oriole manager ended 15 years of tomato-growing contests with Baltimore groundskeeper Pat Santarone at Memorial Stadium. "I was hoping Earl would appoint Jim Palmer as designated grower," Santarone said sadly.
In his first at bat in the majors, Dann Bilardello doubled in the game-winning run in a 5-1 Reds triumph over the Cubs. Afterward the heavy-footed catcher said, "My first thought when I saw the ball skipping off the AstroTurf as I rounded first was that I'd get a triple. Then I remembered who was running."
By beating the Mariners 6-1, Geoff Zahn of the Angels ran his American League career ERA for April to 2.60 and his record for the month to 19-4.... Last Thursday Damaso Garcia of Toronto made his 12th consecutive successful steal of third, dating back to 1981.... San Francisco's switch-hitting Chili Davis, who had three home runs from the right side last year, through week's end had already slugged three as a righty, all off San Diego lefty Dave Dravecky.
Slugging Outfielder Darryl Strawberry is in Triple A ball right now, but the Mets are sure he'll be their Mr. Excitement in the near future. Strawberry, though, came across more like a huckleberry on his first date with Southern Cal basketball All-America Paula McGee, to whom he was recently engaged.
"We met when we helped at the Special Olympics at Compton College in 1981," Strawberry says. "She didn't know anything about me as a baseball player, which was nice. She called me for our first date." That date began with Strawberry watching McGee play basketball for the first time, after which he took her to dinner. "Then we went to my parents' house and she fell asleep on my lap," says Strawberry.
"He's the best hit-and-run man I've ever seen," said Tiger Manager Sparky Anderson after John Wockenfuss came through with an H&R single during a 13-2 rout of the Yankees. "I must have an average of .700 or .800 on the hit-and-run," Wockenfuss said. "People have pitched out and I've still done it."
Last year Atlanta opened the season with 13 straight wins. This year the Braves lost their opener and won the next seven, proving, as the many critics who thought Atlanta's '82 division title was a fluke had suspected, the Braves couldn't get off to a blazing start again.... The Astros were on the verge of a modern NL record for start-of-season defeats when they lost their first nine games and fell behind 6-0 against Montreal in the sixth inning of the 10th game. But while Expo (and former Houston) Manager Bill Virdon looked on in dismay, the Astros battled back to win 7-6 in 10 innings. That left Houston merely tied for the record with three other teams.
When Mike Ferraro was named last fall to follow Dave Garcia as the new Cleveland manager, many of his players hoped he'd be firmer with the umpires than was his easygoing predecessor, who rarely left the dugout to challenge umps. Ferraro is. Last week he followed another Garcia—umpire Rich—while berating him for calling an Indian out on a close play at first base.
George Brett of the Royals believes that topspin will prevent a tailspin. That's why he chatted with Boston's Wade Boggs, a .349 hitter last year, who is adept at using his top hand to produce topspin on a batted ball. Brett, who was hitting .429 at week's end, attributed "the best start of my career" largely to "getting this additional topspin, which has gotten balls through the infield quickly. That's the difference between hitting .300 and .220." Boggs, who has bettered .300 for six straight years in the majors and minors and who was at .396 on Sunday, calls himself a "born hitter."
Oakland President Roy Eisenhardt gave Third Baseman Carney Lansford permission to remain away from the A's "as long as he wishes" after Lansford's 2-year-old son, Nicholas, died of a rare kidney disease.... Tim Lollar of the Padres hasn't had his best fastball or slider yet, causing worry that his arm may have worn down from pitching 233‚Öî innings last season. He was scheduled to see a doctor this week and is expected to miss at least one start.... The Giants, who've taken heat for dealing Al Holland and Joe Morgan to the Phillies for righthander Mike Krukow, felt the temperature go higher when they had to put Krukow on the disabled list because of an inflamed right elbow.
After years of resistance, UPI and AP now provide box scores that list the "Game-Winning RBI." This goes to the player who drives in the winning run no matter when he does so—first inning or ninth—or what the final score is—1-0 or 12-2. It's a bad stat, implying as it does excellence under pressure. If the GWRBI is to carry any credence, it should go only to a player who drives in the decisive run from the seventh inning on.
MEN OF STEAL
At the behest of new manager Doug Rader, the Rangers are much more aggressive on the bases this year. Texas had 63 steals in 1982 but 10 at the end of last week. Call 'em the Raders of the Lost Art.
BALL PARK FIGURES
Of the 650 players in the majors, at week's end 78 (or 12%) were rookies, with 40 in the American League and 38 in the National. The youngest rookies in the respective leagues are: Seattle Pitcher Edwin Nunez, 19, and Houston Catcher John Mizerock, 22. And the oldest are: Minnesota Pitcher Rick Lysander, 30, and Atlanta Catcher Larry Owen, 27. Detroit and Philadelphia are the only clubs that don't have at least one rookie. Here's the distribution by team:
5—Twins, A's, Mariners, Mets
4—Rangers, White Sox, Pirates
3—Red Sox, Indians, Brewers, Cubs, Braves, Dodgers
2—Orioles, Royals, Angels, Expos, Giants
1—Blue Jays, Yankees, Padres, Cardinals
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
MILT WILCOX: The Tiger righthander was within one out of pitching a perfect game against the White Sox when Jerry Hairston hit a pinch single. Wilcox then retired the next batter for his 6-0 win.
"Baseball is my life," says Chicago Pitcher Dickie Noles, who went on the disabled list last week so he could undergo alcohol rehabilitation treatment for the second time. "It's all I want to do, but I won't even be able to do it if I don't stop drinking."