AN INDIAN SUMMER NEXT YEAR?
So, now the Indians?
After six different winners in six years in the American League East, can the Indians make it seven out of seven next year? "It's not out of the realm of possibility," says Cleveland general manager Joe Klein with a smile. "We have to keep improving, but the core of talent is there."
There are few around the American League who would argue with the contention that the Indians and the Blue Jays put the most talent on the field night after night. Cleveland has the backbone star in Joe Carter, a blossoming Dale Murphy in Cory Snyder and offense up and down the lineup. Klein also feels that Greg Swindell, who has won four straight after his 24-5 debut loss, can be for this team what Roger Clemens is for the Red Sox. Klein now must decide what everyday player he will trade to get the 15- to 18-game winner and the one or two relievers he will need. Minor league pitchers John Farrell, Mike Murphy and Kent Murphy are close, but the Indians need a proven winner. After all, 14 of the 18 AL East winners have led the division in earned run average.
Snyder might be able to play shortstop as well as third or rightfield, so the choice for a trade seems to be between shortstop Julio Franco and third baseman Brook Jacoby. Rumors are already circulating about a Jacoby-for-Rick Rhoden deal with Pittsburgh, but Klein may try to judge the market value of the talented but erratic Franco, who generally plays when the feeling strikes him. The Indians in first place. Just the thought of them blaring the Michael Stanley Band's This Is My Team out across Lake Erie will make for a pleasant winter's dream.
THEY EXCLAIM, 'GREAT SCOTT!'
It was ironic that Giants manager Roger Craig had to sit in the opposing dugout and watch Mike Scott's historic division-clinching no-hitter in the Astrodome. Craig turned Scott's career around two winters ago by teaching him the split-fingered fastball. Scott was the only big league pitcher Craig worked with the winter after he retired from the Tigers. "Why did it have to be me who taught him the damn thing?" says Craig. "Now he throws it as well as anybody ever has. The really amazing thing is how hard he throws it. I was on the other side when Don Larsen pitched his perfect game, but this was the most overpowering no-hitter I've ever seen." The Red Sox cable station New England Sports Network carried the game live because Boston had an off day, and most of the Red Sox watched. "That's the most unhittable thing I have ever seen," marveled pitcher Bruce Hurst....
Giants players voted Candy Maldonado their MVP despite the fact he was a pinch hitter for much of the season. His 16 homers rank second on the team, and—take that, L.A.—his 75 RBIs are more than any Dodger's....
Now that he has hired former Indians farm director Bob Quinn as Woody Woodward's assistant, George Steinbrenner is expected to ax G.M. Clyde King as an excuse for his own poor judgment....
Sources close to the Orioles swear that at a meeting this month Baltimore owner Edward Bennett Williams asked manager Earl Weaver and general manager Hank Peters, "Do you think the commissioner would allow us to sign Lance Parrish?"
THE HAWK FALLS PREY
Ken Harrelson's resignation after one year is more of a reflection on owners Eddie Einhorn and Jerry Reinsdorf than on the Hawk. Harrelson made one bad trade with Texas and mishandled l'affaire LaRussa. But he did build a decent pitching staff and hired some very capable instructors. The ownership never should have let the office factions still loyal to Roland Hemond undermine Harrelson. The Hawk plans to look for another broadcasting job....
The Expos' front office called a clubhouse meeting to assure players that they would make a concerted, honest attempt to sign free agents Andre Dawson and Tim Raines. After getting three hits in each of two games in Chicago on Sept. 22 and Sept. 23, Dawson was asked if his priorities were the National League, natural grass and day baseball. He smiled and said, "That pretty well sums it up." In nine games at Wrigley this year, Dawson was 12 for 36 with 4 doubles, a triple, 2 home runs and 5 runs batted in, and his career daytime average is nearly 50 points higher than his nighttime average....
Some of Sal Bando's old pals say he will become the Brewers' manager now that George Bamberger has resigned. There is also talk that ex-Cub manager Jim Frey is in the running....
The Padres plan to play Gary Green—son of 1960 Pirate reliever Fred—at shortstop and move Garry Templeton to third....
Friends like to kid Toronto G.M. Pat Gillick about his signing of good athletes from other sports. When he was with the Astros, he signed hockey stars Clark Gillies and Bobby Bourne. In New York he signed soccer star Damaso Garcia. In Toronto he signed current Redskins quarterback Jay Schroeder out of UCLA, Maryland All-America linebacker Chuck Faucette and Boston Celtic Danny Ainge from BYU. When he recently lured hockey star Tom Quinlan away from the Calgary Flames, he received help in the form of a phone call to the 18-year-old shortstop from Ainge.
BETWEEN THE LINES
HOW I SPENT MY DIVISION-CLINCHING WEEK
The Houston Astros:
Monday, Sept. 22. Fernando Valenzuela became a 20-game winner for the first time in a 9-2 Dodger rout of the Astros.
Tuesday. Jim Deshaies set a major league record by striking out the first eight Dodgers and finished with a 4-0 two-hitter.
Wednesday. Nolan Ryan took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, and he and Charlie Kerfeld pitched a two-hitter against the Giants.
Thursday. Mike Scott became the first pitcher ever to throw a clinching no-hitter with a 2-0 victory over San Francisco.
•Darrell Evans missed his $25,000 incentive bonus for a Detroit season attendance of 1.9 million by 563 paid customers. If he had bought 563 bleacher seats, it would have cost him $2,252 to make $25,000.
•Chuck Tanner, who could become the first manager to finish last three straight seasons since Preston Gomez suffered through the 1969-71 Padres, will miss out on a $100,000 attendance incentive; the Braves will fall far short of the required 1.5 million.
•The Pirates became the last of the 26 clubs to draw one million this season when 30,606 showed up at the final home game. They made it by 917 fans. This is the first time in baseball history that every major league team has drawn at least a million fans.
THE INDECISION BLUES
The Mets are 25-7 in Ron Darling's starts, but he has had 13 no-decisions; in his last 10 no-decisions he has a 2.10 earned run average.
CAN YOU IMAGINE THE STREET VALUE?
A student theater group from Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, Calif., ordered tickets for its fall play from a printing company in Arkansas. Instead they received more than 50,000 Mets World Series tickets.
Not being business majors, they sent the tickets on to the Mets.
IT'S PROBABLY JUST A COINCIDENCE
When Tony La Russa managed Chicago, the White Sox were 4-0 against the Athletics. When he managed Oakland, the A's were 5-1 against the White Sox.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
•"I wonder if the Red Sox would mind if I went out and jumped on the pile to see what it feels like."—Brewer outfielder Rick Manning on the possibility that Boston would clinch in Milwaukee.
•"Some guys just always get the green light."—Astro pitcher Nolan Ryan on why he attempted to steal second.
THE JOAQUIN ANDUJAR QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"I just like to see how tough I am."—on why he finished a game despite a pain in his elbow.
WELCOME TO LOTUSLAND
With a division title imminent, California's odd fans responded with crowds of 22,678 and 22,684 on Sept. 23 and Sept. 25, both 10,000 below the club's season average.
•Tiger ace reliever Willie Hernandez has allowed 13 earned runs in 17⅖ innings since Aug. 1, and in two years, after Aug. 1, he is 4-8 with a 6.05 ERA.
•The run at the homer and RBI titles by Oakland rookie Jose Canseco reminds one that the last rookie to become the home run champ was Al Rosen and the last rookie to win the RBI title was Walter Dropo, both in 1950.
•The only teams with losing home records are the Pirates, the Expos, the Orioles and the White Sox.
•Royals lefthander Danny Jackson has allowed eight earned runs in his last five starts and has one win.
•Bert Blyleven tied Robin Roberts' gopher-ball record of 46 in three fewer starts and 42‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬® fewer innings.
•This was Earl Weaver's first losing season since 1957, when his Fitzgerald, Ga., Class A team went 65-74.
•Mike Kingery Night at the Metrodome on Sept. 23 drew 700 fans from his hometown of Atwater, Minn., not bad considering that Atwater has a population of 1,128. Kingery also got four hits.
Presenting the second annual Iron Glove Awards, to those players deemed to be the worst at their positions in a confidential poll of players and coaches:
C—Jerry Willard, A's. "He ought to leave his glove in the dugout and just use his chest."
1B—Don Baylor, Red Sox. Rarely plays there, but he was at first when Roger Clemens struck out 20 Mariners. "If he hadn't dropped a pop-up in that game, Clemens would have only had 19."
2B—Steve Sax, Dodgers. He's getting better, but "the ground between him and Mariano Duncan is Adventureland."
SS—Howard Johnson, Mets. Ten errors in just 32 games at shortstop. He might have swept the whole left side of the infield but for...
3B—Bob Brenly, Giants. He sewed it up with a record-tying four errors in one inning. "I could have broken it if they'd hit another ball to me," said Brenly.
OF—Gary Matthews, Cubs. "The worst. No one comes close. And he keeps getting worse."
OF—Lonnie Smith, Royals. "When he goes after a ball, it looks like he's running on a water bed."
OF—Franklin Stubbs, Dodgers. "And any other infielder the Dodgers put out there."
P—Sid Fernandez, Mets. "He doesn't know what to do when he gets the ball, but that's okay because he doesn't get to that many."