A WEEK FOR FAMILY FEUDS
The participants are in the same tax bracket as the Carringtons and Colbys, and their behavior is equally ridiculous. Last week baseball had three concurrent soap operas involving rich people: In San Diego, Goose Gossage and Padre president Ballard Smith went at it; in Baltimore, Eddie Murray and owner Edward Bennett Williams did some hissing at each other; and in New York the longest-running feud of all, Dave Winfield versus George Steinbrenner, added a new episode.
Last Friday, Smith suspended Gossage for the rest of the season—which could possibly cost Goose $250,000 in pay. Earlier in the week, after Smith said he would not sign players with a history of drug use and would limit contract offers to one year, Gossage told News-day's Marty Noble, "I'd rather have a guy like George, who wants to win every game, than have the guy we have here, who doesn't know anything and doesn't care. He cares more about our citizenship than winning. He wants choirboys and not winning players. Ballard just listens to what Mom [owner Joan Kroc] says. If we don't sign some free agents, we'll be worse next year than we are now. And who's going to sign here for a one-year contract, with no beer in the clubhouse? We're past that stage. The attitude here is the worst I've ever seen."
Because of this, Smith suspended the struggling (5-7, 4.37 ERA) reliever, citing major league Rule 13, which gives owners the right to discipline players for "repeated and continuing insubordination and similar behavior that is not in the best interest of the club."
The Padres have been the most disappointing team in the National League, falling into last place with a growing number of disgruntled veterans. The atmosphere in the front office has been stormy ever since Kroc opposed Smith's attempt to oust manager Dick Williams last December. Now, with Jack McKeon trying to make a number of trades involving some of those veterans, the franchise seems as chaotic as it was before McKeon and Williams turned it around. Over the weekend in Montreal, the players seriously considered a boycott of the Montreal games in support of Gossage. They wisely elected to Play.
Murray asked the Orioles to trade him after Williams criticized him over his lack of production and his minimal off-season conditioning. Murray has also been upset with call-in shows that have made him the scapecoat for the collapse of that once-proud team. Granted, Murray is sensitive, but his request was not purely an outburst of emotion. Over the last 18 months he has become increasingly unhappy with the Oriole organization. Part of the frustration is with the front office, which let the farm system slide, forcing the O's to bring in outsiders. Murray was also upset with the manner in which his injuries were handled. A doctor put him on a Cybex machine the day after the All-Star Game to test his hamstring, and he reinjured it.
Murray is hitting .351 with runners in scoring position, which isn't bad. As for the conditioning, Boston's Jim Rice says, "Out in California you've got Reggie Jackson saying he can't hit homers because he worked out too much, and in Baltimore they're knocking Eddie for not working out enough. This game's going crazy."
Things are always crazy in the South Bronx, as Steinbrenner continues to goad Winfield. The Boss was angered at Win-field's criticism of the chemistry of the team after 40 players had run in and out of the clubhouse this season, so Steinbrenner leaked a story saying that he tried to deal Winfield to Minnesota for either Kent Hrbek or Frank Viola and was turned down. Winfield is a 10-and-5 man and cannot be traded without his permission—which he won't give—but that fact was conveniently ignored. Steinbrenner said, "The trouble with Dave Winfield is that he goes around saying, 'It's not my fault.' He points the finger at everyone but himself. When I'm wrong, I say so. I admit I made a terrible mistake in letting Reggie Jackson go. It was probably the biggest mistake I ever made. Winfield can't back up the big 'I Am.' Reggie could do it." When Winfield was honored at City Hall last week for his work with children, no Yankee official even acknowledged the event.
Winfield says, "George said I'm not the player I used to be. He's right. I'm better. Maybe he was old when he was 27 or 28, but not me."
BYE-BYE FOR BAMBI?
Speculation has arisen in Milwaukee that George Bamberger will retire at the end of the season. "To be honest, I don't know," Bamberger replied to a retirement question. "I'm like the weather. One day I say, maybe I should rack it up. Who needs this? The next day I think things are really going to be enjoyable next year. Then I really want to come back."...The Braves are the latest team to take a run at Andre Dawson before he becomes a free agent....
Among the more intriguing players to be called up in September will be 6'6", 182-pound Starvin' Marvin Freeman, a pitcher the Phillies plan to move into the rotation after going 13-6 at Reading. Starvin' is now being called Manute Base-Bol....
White Sox manager Jim Fregosi is sparing no feelings. He held a clubhouse meeting and was asked by reporters if he was implying that some of his players had quit. "Am I implying that?" Fregosi replied. "I'm saying that."...Whitey Herzog is trying to get the lumping Vince Coleman to use a heavier bat and start making consistent contact. "If he would hit four ground balls every night, I know he'd hit .270," said Herzog.
THE ANGELS HAVE WINGS
Reggie Jackson says, "Mike Witt is having as good a season as Ron Guidry did in '78. He's the best there is." Witt is leading the league in innings and complete games, is running neck and neck with Roger Clemens in ERA, is third in wins, and only once in 28 starts has he failed to reach the seventh inning. "Witt and Kirk McCaskill are to this franchise what Fernando Valenzuela and Bob Welch were to the Dodgers when they came along," says the Angels' Don Sutton....
Sutton must be the only pitcher who ices his legs as well as his elbow after games. He claims that it helps him recover 24 hours earlier. It must work. In Sutton's first 20 years, he averaged 34 starts and a 15-11 record. Last year, at 40, he had 34 starts and was 15-10. This year, at 41, he projects out to 33 starts and a 15-11 mark....
Isn't it taking a childish point too far to force teams to use 24 players in the postseason? If they had done it last year there would have been no seventh game of the Series, for the 25th Royal was Dane Iorg. With the 24-man roster we get Don Mattingly and Winfield playing third in the same week (Mattingly did start a double play)....
Sid Fernandez, who has a 6.02 ERA in his eight starts since the All-Star Game, was criticized by manager Davey Johnson for gaining 15 pounds this season. "He ran out of gas because he's overweight," Johnson said after a start last week....
Add Rangers rookie Ruben Sierra to the list of outstanding young American League players. "There aren't many players around with more ability," says one scout.
BETWEEN THE LINES
A LONG, HARD FALL FROM THE '70s
Baltimore's starting pitchers are a combined 48-50. Only one (Mike Boddicker) has a winning record (14-9), and they have yet to pitch a complete-game shutout.
THE SOLID GOLD DANCERS
Dwight Gooden has cut a rap record, "Dr. K," a group of Mets recorded "Get Metsmerized" earlier in the season (a George Foster production) and the whole team appears in the "Let's Go Mets" video. Now Kevin Mitchell is to have a record released. Mitchell is uncertain what song he will record, but he suspects his stage name will be the Rook.
•The Mets' record was 87-43 through last weekend, 44 games over .500. The Tigers' record was 47 over on Sept. 29, 1984. They were 46 over for the season. In the National League the 1976 Reds were 43 games over on Sept. 22 and 25.
•The Mets' record on the road is 46-22, the best in the major leagues by a substantial margin. If they win 8 of their remaining 13 road games, they will exceed by 1 the National League record for most road victories in a 162-game season. The record of 55 was established by the 1971 A's.
THE EIGHTH WONDER OF THE WORLD
Nolan Ryan has allowed 3 hits or fewer in 8 of his last 11 starts. In that stretch he has 89 strikeouts and has given up 38 hits in 72‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬® innings.
LIFE IN THE MONASTERY
On Aug. 28, Tony Gwynn had three hits, stole two bases, threw two runners out at second and another at the plate and took over the major league lead in batting—yet the Padres lost to the Mets 6-5 in 11 innings.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
•"The spark and desire—for reasons unknown—is missing on our team this year. Our farm teams are winning on practically every level. I want the players coming up here with the taste of victory in their mouths. I don't want them observing this."—Cubs president Dallas Green on why he's not bringing up some of his best prospects in September.
•"My flowers just came up, my shrubbery looks good, my grass is really seeded well. To leave all that would be devastating. "—Cardinal outfielder Andy Van Slyke, commenting on trade rumors.
THE GRIM REAPER
Nor only has Tommy John pitched to the son (Danny) of a man (Jose Tartabull) he faced in the '60s, but he surrendered the first two major league hits by Oakland rookie Mark McGwire, whose father, John, is Tommy's dentist. "When your dentist's kid starts hitting you, it's time to go," said John.
•The Orioles, who traditionally disdain both the steal and the bunt, stole a club-record seven bases Aug. 28 in Oakland off pitcher Bill Krueger and catcher Mickey Tettleton. The five players who stole the bases—Juan Beniquez, Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken, Lee Lacy and Larry Sheets—had a combined total of six for '86 until then.
•Before being signed as a released player by the Oakland organization, Dave Stewart was 7-20, dating back to the beginning of the 1984 season. He is 8-1 for the Athletics.
•Three of Ben Oglivie's four homers have been off Bert Blyleven.
•Ranger catcher Geno Retrain, who in May 1985 was working in a Dr Pepper bottling plant, hit a homer in the eighth inning that postponed Roger Clemens' 20th win on Aug. 25. Petralli's cousin is married to Boston manager John McNamara's oldest brother.
•Texas DH Larry Parrish is hitting .455 with runners in scoring position.
•On Aug. 24, the New York Daily News listed the Mets' magic number at 20. The next day the News put it at 21, proving that most journalists were liberal arts majors.
•Of the five managers who took over in midseason, only Oakland's Tony La Russa (30-19) has a winning record.
YOU BE THE JUDGE