BASEBALL

July 03, 1988

FATAL DISTRACTION

The $6 million palimony suit filed last month against Boston Red Sox third baseman Wade Boggs by a California woman named Margo Adams, who claims that she was his companion on the road for four years, is beginning to gnaw away at a team already beset by internal problems. "It can't help but affect us," says second baseman Marty Barrett. The Boston Herald has been playing up the story every day as if it were the Watergate scandal—with exclusive interviews with the two principals—and Adams has appeared on national TV telling her version of the facts. To make matters worse, Adams's attorney is in the process of subpoenaing 11 Red Sox players and several wives to give depositions in the case.

Tension has been so high on the club that a shouting match broke out between Boggs and first baseman Dwight Evans June 19 on a bus ride from the Cleveland airport and continued with other players getting involved when the team reached its hotel. Boggs apologized to his teammates in a private session Friday night for the embarrassment the suit had caused them. Earlier in the week he also admitted that he had had a two-year affair with Adams but had tried to break it off when it had gotten out of hand. "I'm just sorry that everyone has to go through it with me," he said. "That's the problem. This is my problem. Let's deal with it one-on-one."

The Boggs crisis comes at a time when the franchise's leadership is too divided to deal with it effectively. Manager John McNamara's failure to seek out and reprimand a player who threw a stink bomb on a commercial flight the evening of the Boggs-Evans clash and his inability to quell the melee that followed the flight indicates that the manager has lost control of the team. Still, majority owner Jean Yawkey (along with John Harrington, who is president of Yawkey's corporation and the power behind the throne) wants to delay firing McNamara until the end of the season in hopes that she will then get a crack at hiring someone like Tom Lasorda or Jim Leyland as a replacement. In the past McNamara has been protected by his old friend Haywood Sullivan, the Red Sox minority owner. But Sullivan, whose main title is chief executive officer, no longer has any real power in the Red Sox organization, and Yawkey will ask him to give up his position as CEO at the end of the season because of his recent backstage campaigning against Yawkey and Harrington. In addition, she plans to make Sullivan an offer for his shares in the club. She offered him $7 million last year, but this time she may not be as generous.

Don't expect the Boggs case to blow over soon, either. If it goes all the way to court, Boggs's lawyer, Jennifer J. King, says she will subpoena some big-name players from other teams to testify about their alleged relationships with Adams.

NAME YOUR PRICE
The Detroit Tigers' Bill Lajoie is widely considered one of the game's best general managers. But his $115,000 salary is probably the lowest in the majors, and the Tigers are considering adopting a policy—already in effect at owner Tom Monaghan's other company, Domino's Pizza—against giving contracts to nonuniformed personnel. So come October, Lajoie could be the most valuable free agent in baseball.

ROSE BASHING
The other day Oakland A's outfielder Dave Parker was evaluating his former manager Pete Rose: "He's just another guy. He's won two batting titles and so have I. He's won an MVP and so have I. To me, Pete's irrelevant." Actually Rose has won three batting crowns. But the main thing Parker neglected to mention was that Rose had 4,256 hits in 24 years, an average of 177 a year, while Parker has 2,241 in 15½ years, for an average of 145 hits a season. Relevant facts, don't you think?

WHERE'S THE BANG?
Oakland slugger Mark McGwire has hit only two home runs since May 17, and his teammates and coaches cite three principal reasons: 1) Since he was beaned in April, McGwire seems gun-shy, and some opposing pitchers believe he is afraid at the plate; 2) he is being thrown far more fastballs this year, and he is basically a breaking-ball hitter; and 3) he got a lot of his 49 homers last year on first "get a strike" pitches, says A's hitting coach Jim Lefevbre. "They're pitching him tougher now."

MOVE OVER, MATTINGLY
The best player in baseball—and you heard it here first—is Detroit shortstop Alan Trammell. Not only is he one of the five best shortstops in either league, but also, at age 30, he has developed into a powerful cleanup hitter. Since May 8, 1987, he has hit .349, slugged .557 and hit 37 homers. During that same period he had only 135 RBIs, but Detroit's first three batters don't get on base as often as their counterparts on the New York Yankees and the A's do. On June 21, Trammell showed just how valuable he can be when he hit a grand slam with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to push the Tigers past the Yankees 7-6.

TALKING BIRD
When the Baltimore Orioles were in Toronto last week, former Oriole Mike Flanagan gave them something to laugh about. Asked what he thought about Baltimore's nosedive since he was traded to the Blue Jays last August. Flanagan replied with a straight face, "It shows me the value of one player to a team." Describing the travails he has gone through pitching in Canada, he said, "They clocked my fastball at 88 last year. But with the exchange rate, it's 83."

BUZZWORDS

As midseason nears, here's what some key observers are saying:

•"The Toronto Blue Jays aren't the same because [shortstop] Tony Fernandez isn't the same," says an American League scout. "His elbow and knee haven't come around, he can't throw runners out from the hole, he can't steal bases, he's gotten shy around the bag and he's lost his aggressiveness. He looks like he's always unhappy, which is the opposite of what he was as a kid." Fernandez may be coming back to life, though. On Thursday he had two key RBIs and made three brilliant defensive plays as the Jays beat the Orioles 5-2.

•"If [outfielder] Tony Gwynn and [first baseman] John Kruk were healthy, the San Diego Padres would be in the running for the division title," says a National League scout. "But Gwynn's thumb injury makes him a totally different hitter, and Kruk's bad shoulder has made him a lot less dangerous."

•Some laughed last year when Yankee manager Lou Piniella said Boston outfielder Mike Greenwell was in the same class as Boggs and Yankee first baseman Don Mattingly. No more. At week's end, Greenwell was in the top three in hitting, slugging, on-base percentage and RBIs. "He's got to be on the All-Star team," says Minnesota Twins manager Tom Kelly.

•Oakland manager Tony La Russa says Milwaukee Brewers infielder/designated hitter Paul Molitor "is the best base runner in the league," as well as being a brilliant hitter. But, even though Molitor was leading in the voting at week's end, he does not deserve to be a second baseman on the All-Star team because he has yet to play an inning at that position.

TUDOR STYLE

On June 23, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher John Tudor's shoulder was so sore he doubted that he would be able to make his scheduled start against the Philadelphia Phillies. So manager Whitey Herzog had three other pitchers ready to take his place when Tudor began warming up. But Tudor started—and threw a 91-pitch, two-hit shutout....

Most veterans could not recall a more uncomfortable afternoon than that of the June 22 game in Veterans Stadium between the Phillies and the Chicago Cubs, when the temperature on the artificial turf reached 135°....

Dodger outfielder Mike Davis, who was hitting .202 with one homer through Sunday, hinted last week that he wanted to be traded if he wasn't going to play regularly. The only hitch: Who's going to be willing to pay his $987,500 salary?...

Texas Rangers manager Bobby Valentine, who accused Oakland relief ace Dennis Eckersley last week of cutting up baseballs, isn't the first person to notice the pitcher's handiwork. The Yankees, Twins and California Angels claim to have collected some of Eckersley's sculpted balls, as well. "He really gets deep railroad track marks into the ball with heavy-gauge sandpaper," says one Twins coach. "They're the same marks Joe Niekro made. The only difference is that Niekro's balls didn't do anything."

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PHOTOAPThe palimony suit Adams filed against Boggs has shaken the Red Sox. PHOTOBILL SMITHTrammell's bat makes him the one. CHARTJOHN GRIMWADE PHOTO© THE TOPPS COMPANY, INC.Happy 34th to the '78 Series ace.

BETWEEN THE LINES

NIXON REDUX
Last week brothers Otis and Donell Nixon returned to the majors, with the Montreal Expos and San Francisco Giants, respectively, while former President Richard M. Nixon was sighted June 22 at Shea Stadium watching the New York Mets beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-0. If the ex-prez had been at Olympic Stadium the next day, when the Expos took on the same Pirate team, he would have seen history reverse itself. This time Johnson replaced Nixon, as Expo infielder Wallace Johnson pinch-hit for Otis in the ninth inning.

IT'S SUPER STRAW!
Before Pittsburgh arrived in New York last week for a three-game series, centerfielder Andy Van Slyke told reporters that because the Mets' Darryl Strawberry was hitting like Superman, the Pirate pitchers were planning to use Kryptonite balls. Strawberry responded by slamming a three-run homer and two balls to the warning track in the series opener, which the Pirates won 8-5. Asked what had happened, Van Slyke replied, "He used a lead bat."

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Chicago White Sox manager Jim Fregosi, on making it through two years with the team: "Some baseball jobs last longer than marriages."

JUST CALL FAST DON
The frenzy over the premiere night game at Wrigley Field Aug. 8 has gotten so out of hand that Chicago Cub manager Don Zimmer has taken to answering his phone, "Hello, I have no tickets for the first night game in Chicago."

GAMBLING MAN
Detroit Tiger rookie lefthander Paul Gibson made a friendly bet with his mother. Genie, that he would strike out New York Yankee slugger Dave Winfield the first time he faced him. On June 21, Gibson got his chance, and much to his mother's surprise, he fanned Winfield on a high fastball.

THE HAND IS QUICKER THAN THE BRAIN
Lefthander Randy Johnson, who pitches for the Triple A Indianapolis Indians, was about to be recalled by the Expos after six consecutive quality starts. But while working against the Richmond Braves on June 15, he knocked down a hard line drive with his left hand and had to leave the game. Johnson was so angry with himself that, on reaching the dugout, he punched the bat rack with his right hand. The next day, X-rays revealed that Johnson's pitching hand was fine, but his right hand was broken. He'll be out of action for at least a month.

WHO DID YOU SAY THAT WAS?
When Milwaukee Brewers fan Jane Meyer showed up at County Stadium on June 15 for a game against the Seattle Mariners, she inadvertently got into a line to buy upper grandstand tickets, which—because of her arthritic condition—would have been too difficult for her to reach. After waiting a few minutes, she discovered her mistake and asked someone which line she should move to next. A man standing nearby overheard the conversation and asked her what kind of seat she was looking for. Then he disappeared into the ticket office and came back with a box seat ticket behind home plate. It was only later that Meyer learned that her benefactor was Brewers owner Bud Selig.

MISCELLANEOUS

•Houston Astro reliever Dave Smith hasn't allowed a regular-season homer since July 19, 1986, and has been successful in 98 of his last 116 save opportunities.

•Third baseman Chris Brown has missed 31 of the San Diego Padres' first 75 games, but he has yet to be put on the disabled list.

•Seattle Mariners rightfielder Glenn Wilson, whose RBI total dropped from 102 in 1985 to 84 in '86 to 54 last year, is right on schedule this season. So far he has driven in only 15 runs in 62 games.

•Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Steve Jeltz has broken up no-hitters by the Mets' Dwight Gooden and the Expos' Dennis Martinez in the sixth inning and by the Mets' David Cone in the eighth.

BETTER LATE THAN NEVERbr
Last week the Detroit Tigers swept the New York Yankees, winning all three games in their last turn at bat. Through June 25, here are the teams with the highest and lowest averages of runs scored from the seventh inning on.

AMERICAN

NATIONAL

TOP 3

TOP 3

Toronto

1.80

New York

1.74

Minnesota

1.64

Houston

1.71

Detroit

1.59

Montreal

1.64

BOTTOM 3

BOTTOM 3

Cleveland

1.19

Atlanta

1.14

Texas

1.19

Philadelphia

1.06

Baltimore

0.93

San Diego

0.95

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

AWAY

0

0

1

1

0

1

1

HOME

1

0

0

1

0

1

SOURCE: STATS INC.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)