Baseball Digest - April, 1980

Based on the 1979 team, many prognosticators like George Vass believed that it was the beginning of the end for the late-1970s NL East powerhouse Phillies. In many ways, they may have been correct, though that demise was a bit later in coming (after Bill Giles sold his soul- and the team's future- to win the 1983 pennant with the 'Wheeze Kids'), but 1980 was to become the fruition of the potential that was so frustratingly tardy in being realized by this Phillies team. Vass failed to pick even one division winner, though to be fair the Dodgers did push the Astros to a playoff game for the NL West crown. He did pick two of the last place finishers (Blue Jays and Padres).

How Major League Pennant Races Shape Up For 1980

By George Vass


Here they are again, 26 teams champing at the bit to get the 1980 season underway, some with justified high hopes of winning a division title, others with modest expectations of making at least "a run at it," plus a few that would be content merely to get out of last place or the pew next to it.


Since last season a plethora of outstanding players has transferred operations. Strikeout king Nolan Ryan, the "Million-Dollar-A-Year Man," will try to lift the Houston Astros. Outfielder Ron LeFlore is putting his bat and speed at the disposal of the Montreal Expos. Outfielder Ruppert Jones has been rescued from the "wilds" of Seattle to show if he can glitter in Manhatten as a mainstay of the New York Yankees.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, falling shockingly from grace in 1979, have bolstered their pitching with solid right-hander Dave Goltz, snatched from the Minnesota Twins, and reliever Don Stanhouse, lifted from the Baltimore Orioles.


The peripatetic Bobby Bonds will display his undoubted skill and uncertain temperament in St. Louis, the Cardinals hoping he may be the extra ingredient needed to fulfill the promise they displayed last season.


You could go on and on listing the changes because baseball's mercenaries transferred loyalties last winter in great numbers, and the trade marts again were busy, with the Yankees conspicuous in both areas, trying to restore the grandeur that crumbled last season despite all the efforts of managers Bob Lemon and Billy Martin to shore it up.

On top of the player shuttling, the usual managerial whirligig continued and no less than seven managers- new for all practical purposes- will be trying to get more out of their teams than their predecessors were able to last season.


We say "new for all practical purposes," because Dave Bristol finished out the '79 season for the San Francisco Giants as did Dallas Green for the Philadelphia Phillies. But Dick Howser of the Yankees, Bobby Mattick of the Toronto Blue Jays, Preston Gomez of the Chicago Cubs, Jim Frey of the Kansas City Royals and Jerry Coleman of the San Diego Padres are starting fresh.


Despite more than 100 years of major league baseball, no one yet has indisputedly proved that managers in themselves greatly affect the over-all performances of teams. In other words, either you have the material with which to win or you don't.


A simple recent example should be instructive: In the middle of the '78 season, the Yankees replaced Martin with Lemon and won, and 1979 they replaced Lemon with Martin and lost. The difference was that in '78 the players came through and in 1979, because of injury and aging, they did not. Changes in managerial methods counted for zero, given the shortage of player talent.


Yet since managerial changes are inevitable, sometimes even without good reason, and are symptomatic of man's eternal hope that just doing something different will help, it's worth inquiring whether a particular type of personality is likely to be more successful today than some other type.


Do the times require a strong, silent sort, like Gil Hodges or Walter Alston, the tough, blustering street-fighter like John McGraw or Leo Durocher, the garrulous personality exemplified by Tom LaSorda of the Dodgers and Chuck Tanner of the Pirates or the almost invisible man in charge, such as Bill Virdon of the Astros?


To put it another way, what sort of man is likely to succeed or fail in the job of managing a big league team at the start of the 1980s?


The question was put to Gene Mauch, Minnesota Twins manager, a man who should have some idea if for no other reason than he is the indisputed "dean" of pilots, having been on the job for 20 years. Though he has yet to show a title for his efforts, Mauch is widely regarded as a top-flight manager, who always seems to get the most out of a team. Last season, for instance, he kept the Twins, despite the heaviest free agent losses of any club, in the A.L. West division race until the last week.


Mauch started out by insisting there's no formula for an ideal manager.

"Every size and shape of personality has had a shot at managing," he said, "from McGraw to Alston and from Joe McCarthy to Durocher. Alston and McCarthy succeeded with their quiet personalities, McGraw and Durocher succeeded with theirs.


"It doesn't matter if a manager is gruff or boisterous, or if he's quiet. No matter what, he has as good a chance as anybody."

According to Mauch, most managers steer a middle course between gruffness and geniality.


"There's no longer any such thing as a Walt Alston type manager or a Gene Mauch type," Mauch said. "You manage the way your players can play.


"It used to be if a player couldn't conform to a particular style of play, the style of the Dodgers or Cardinals or Yankees, the manager got rid of him. But there aren't that many players around today. You keep the players you have and find a way to capitalize on what they can do."

No one has done better than Mauch, consistently getting a good performance of a team annually riddled by free agent losses, the latest being Goltz and relief pitcher Paul Thormodsgard, who skipped to Philadelphia.


Mauch's approach to managing is clearly practical, with an attempt to adjust to every type of player, a flexible method he recommends to all managers.


"A manager has to assume a stance with each player," said Mauch, "a position that affords you the opportunity to get the most out of the player. You have to be firm with some and you go easy on others. With some of them it's a downright hassle."

But he cautions that it's impossible to truly judge a manager's effect on a team.


"You can't put it into a number of games," he said. "Game strategy is not just when to swing away and when to bunt but being aware and able to take advantage of the vulnerabilities of your opponents. And it also helps if you have a damn strong bullpen."


That's the kicker, of course, the quality of the bullpen. When all is said and done, in the modern game, a manager will go only as far as his bullpen can carry him.


That's true for Green, Bristol, Howser, Frey, Gomez, Coleman and Mattick, as it is for those who've been in charge a little longer. And for Green, Bristol, Howser and Frey the bullpens will be vital because their teams are expected to contend for division titles.


Howser can look at his own Yankees for confirmation. A thumb injury sidelined key relief pitcher Rich Gossage for 82 days last season and helped put the Yankees in reverse gear. Frey's Royals also were hurting for relief, with he predecessor, Whitey Herzog in desperation turning to youngsters Dan Quisenberry, Renie Martin and Gary Christenson when Al Hrabosky, Marty Patin, Steve Mingori and other veterans faltered.


But that's history. As Mauch noted, a manager probably can go only as far as his bullpen carries him. That's true of the new ones as well as the old.


And the bullpen, as ever, to a large extent will determine the outcome of this year's division races, though overall team strength and depth will play their part. Let's take our annual look at the divisions, one by one, focusing on the contenders.


American League East


This may be the strongest division in baseball, with six of its seven teams over .500 last season, the Cleveland Indians coming on strong under manager Dave Garcia to finish with an 81-80 record in sixth place. The fifth place Detroit Tigers were 85-76, only 4½ games behind the fourth place Yankees.


But the Tigers and Indians are relatively young and building teams and can't be regarded as genuine contenders. Still, there are enough of those, no less than four, the defending Baltimore Orioles, the oncoming Milwaukee Brewers and the old standbys, the Yankees and Boston Red Sox.


The Orioles, winners of 102 games last year, will be difficult to unseat, despite the loss of ace reliever Stanhouse. An off-year by top pitcher Jim Palmer because of physical problems, dropping his record to 10-6, couldn't slow the Orioles, and he may well bounce back.


Oriole manager Earl Weaver, whose club "blew" the World Series to the Pittsburgh Pirates after leading three games to one, is confident as usual, though he seems to harbor second thoughts about losing Stanhouse.


"It's not easy to lose a guy like Stanhouse (7-3 with 21 saves)," said Weaver, "but the other three relievers didn't get enough work because of him. The only thing we don't know is that if we made a good decision to let Stan go. Only time will tell.


"We just ran out of runs the last three games against Pittsburgh.


"But we think we have some ball club and have something to work for this year. I also think we can win more ball games than last year. I expect a good year from Palmer, and that should be a big help."


The Orioles relied largely on pitching, with the best staff ERA in the league, but also had adequate power and were strong defensively down the middle, though flawed somewhat on the outfield flanks. And they do have a fine starting staff in Scott McGregor (13-6), Palmer, Mike Flanagan (23-9), Dennis Martinez (15-16) and Steve Stone (11-7).


But certainly no one, including Red Sox manager Don Zimmer, is going to concede the race to them. The Red Sox, whose top gunners, Fred Lynn and Jim Rice, each pounded out 39 homers, led the league in hitting and, according to Zimmer, have better pitching than some people suspect.


"People ask me about out pitching," said Zimmer, "I point out that we won 97, 99 and 91 games the last three years.


"Other than Baltimore, name me a club with three pitchers who are going to win more than my top three- Dennis Eckersley (17-10 in '79), Bob Stanley (16-12) and Mike Torrez (16-13). I haven't had an answer to that yet."


Yet Zimmer admits a great deal depends on the recovery of catcher Carlton Fisk, who started just 35 games last season because of an elbow injury. Fisk was missed behind the plate and at bat.

"I'd swim the ocean for a Carlton Fisk who can catch 120 games," Zimmer admitted.


The addition of Tony Perez as part-time first baseman and designated hitter, and of relief pitcher Skip Lockwood may help the Red Sox. But their depth is suspect, particularly in the bullpen.


As for the Yankees, they're breaking up that old gang with the departure of first baseman Chris Chambliss, center fielder Mickey Rivers and others, and there's reason to think the patchwork won't lift a team that's clearly on the downgrade.


Jones should perform well as a center fielder, but some of the other pick-ups - pitchers Rudy May and Tom Underwood, catcher Rick Cerone, third baseman Eric Soderholm and first baseman Bob Watson - aren't likely to provide long-range answers.


Much more of a coming team are the Brewers, our choice to win the division title, though they made few changes over the winter.


They really didn't have to beef themselves up. After all, they won 95 games with their best hitter, Larry Hisle, virtually useless because of an injury. He participated in only 26 games after averaging 117 RBI and 31 home runs in the previous two seasons.


With Hisle back in form, the Brewers will field five sluggers each capable of 25 or more homers, including Gorman Thomas, who belted 45 last season, and an exceptional infield keyed by second baseman Paul Molitor (.322) and shortstop Robin Yount.


A strong pitching staff headed by Mike Caldwell figures to get plenty of support.


As first baseman Cecil Cooper, a .308 hitter with 24 homers and 106 RBI in 1979, noted happily, "The last two years showed the guys we can compete with the other teams. With a break here, a break there, we can win it all."


We think the Brewers will win the division title, though they'll get a stiff fight from the Orioles and Red Sox.



American League East Club Analysis




Milwaukee Brewers

Power, speed, pitching depth, infield and outfield defense, adequate catching

Ready to take over

Baltimore Orioles

Starting pitchers, solid up the middle, good power, fair defense

Tough to unseat

New York Yankees

Power, keystone combination, starting pitchers, right-handed relief

Showing wear

Boston Red Sox

Dangerous punch, catching, right-handed starters, adequate bullpen

In need of repairs

Detroit Tigers

Fair power, middle of infield, fair catching, right-handed starters

Could move up

Cleveland Indians

Infield defense, behind plate, good pitching potential, fair power

On the rise

Toronto Blue Jays

Young infield, added punch, fair starting pitchers, improving bullpen

Lots of work needed



American League West


With all due respect to Mauch's genius, and the hopes of teams such as the Texas Rangers and Chicago White Sox, this figures to be purely a two-team race, with the California Angels trying to stave off the Kansas City Royals.


Somehow Mauch kept the Twins in the race last year, until they finally sank into fourth place with an 82-80 record. But he got an exceptional season out of Jerry Koosman (20-13) and Goltz, who's gone now, won 14. He'll be hard to replace.


The Twins will do well to linger around .500. As for the Rangers, they're still short starting pitchers, particularly with the doubt surrounding left-hander Jon Matlack, who underwent elbow surgery last September. He was almost a total loss last year (only 5-4) and the Rangers suffered.


But they suffered all over, with second baseman Bump Wills and outfielder Richie Zisk having disappointing seasons. The Rangers lack the depth to overcome slumps by top players despite all of owner Brad Corbett's frantic wheeling and dealing. None of their off-season acquisitions were impressive.


The same can't be said of the Angels, who landed another free agent "plum" in former Pirate right-hander Bruce Kison (13-7). And does his acquisition offset the defection of Nolan Ryan.


And the Angels also dealt a solid hitting first baseman-DH in Willie Mays Aikens (.280 with 21 homers and 81 RBI) to their chief rivals, the Royals who surrendered outfielder Al Cowens in the deal.

Still, they have plenty of punch, led by Rod Carew and MVP Don Baylor and a new shortstop in Fred Patek, who feld the Royals.


"If Freddie can play 120 games at short we'll be satisfied," said manager Jim Fregosi. "We feel that we're much better off with him at short than we were last year.


"If Carew stays healthy, and our pitching shapes up as I think it will with Kison added, we should be better than we were last year."


But even being better may not be enough because the Angels won only 88 games, merely three more than the Royals, who had an off year because of pitching and power problems.


These are likely to be solved this season, partly because of the addition of Aikens, as well as the emergence of hot prospect Clint Hurdle, who was a disappointment in '79. Hurdle will be in right field, and Aikens, barring the recurrence of leg problems, will be at first.


"There's some risk in getting Aikens," remarked Frey, "but he could be the power hitter we need. He's only 25 and could be our first baseman for a long time."


The Royals are strong in any case, starting from George Brett, the third baseman who may be baseball's best player (.329 with 23 homers and 107 runs batted in) and including speed sensation Willie Wilson (.315 with 83 stolen bases), who'll play shortstop.


Their major question mark is pitching, as Herzog noted when fired.

"You look at the collapse of the pitching staff and you can see that not one of them pitched as well as he did the year before," said Herzog. "But the potential is still there."


The Royals figure to get good pitching from Paul Splittorff, Larry Gura and Dennis Leonard, but their greatest need is a return to his rookie form of Rich Gale (9-10 in -79). That's the key. Young reliever Renie Martin should be able to replace Hrabosky.


"It won't be easy, but we figure the Royals should edge the Angels this time.



American League West Club Analysis




Kansas City Royals

Speed, fair attack, outfield defense, solid catching, promising starting pitching, adequate bullpen

Should bounce back

California Angels

Exceptional scoring ability, fine catching, solid infield, impressive outfield, fair starting staff, bullpen

In the race all the way

Texas Rangers

Potential power, tops in catching, fair infield defense, experienced pitching in starters, relievers

Can't be discounted

Chicago White Sox

Solid left-handed starters, improved speed, fair outfield defense, some punch

Not in the running

Minnesota Twins

Good hitting, solid up the middle, fair starters, adequate bullpen

On treadmill

Seattle Mariners

Improved infield, power dangerous dh, fair right-handed pitching, bullpen

Not a chance

Oakland A's

Some pitching, fair catching, adequate around second, modest speed

Out of the picture



National League East


It was ironic, perhaps, that the Philadelphia Phillies fell on their faces after adding Pete Rose last year. He did all that could be expected of him, playing first base adequately and hitting .328, but it didn't help.


And even if Rose does as well this season, it won't be enough. The Phils could point to injuries, particularly those to second baseman Manny Trillo and shortstop Larry Bowa, as dragging them down last year, but their problems are more deep-seated.


Their pitching was rag-tag, with age beginning to show. Their team ERA was next to the worst in the league. And it's not going to improve this year. Forget the Phils, though they'll still beat out the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets.


St. Louis came on strong last season, finishing third, 10 games above .500 with an 86-76 record. They were the best hitting team in the N.L., led by Keith Hernandez' .343. They did lack home run punch, but Bonds may help out there this year.


Still, the Cardinals are defensively dubious, catcher Ted Simmons and shortstop Garry Templeton both being better with the bat than with the glove. And their pitching is particularly far from solid, with no pure stopper on the staff. In addition, Lou Brock's .307 will be missing from the outfield with his retirement.


"We've got as good a regular lineup as any club in the league," said manager Ken Boyer, "and we made a lot of progress last year. This time we figure to contend if we can get the pitching, particularly from our bullpen."


The Cardinals are a threat, but the race in this division really figures to be between the World Series winning Pirates and the Expos, who made such a thrust last year.


The Pirates are deep in every area excluding perhaps pitching, particularly with the loss of Kison. A comeback from Don Robinson, a 14-game winner as a rookie in 1978 who fell off to 8-8 last year, would be a big help.


But as Pirate manager Chuck Tanner remarked, "There's no reason we shouldn't do as well or even better than last year. We've got players we didn't have at the start of last season, particularly Bill Madlock, who did such a great job for us after we got him in June. We've got infield and outfield depth, power, and the pitching potential.


"I'm just as confident this year as I was last that we can win."

Madlock, a classic hitter, adds another dimension to the Pirates, being able to play third base, second and first, as well as swing one of the best bats in baseball.


Pittsburgh will be hard to gun down, but the Expos might do it. Their exceptional outfield of Ellis Valentine, Warren Cromartie and Andre Dawson has been bolstered by LeFlore and Rowland Office.


Dawson might be moved to first base to replace the departed Perez, but the Expos figure to boats a lineup almost as strong as that of the Pirates. Rodney Scott certainly proved himself at second base last year and third baseman Larry Parrish blossomed (.309, with 30 homers and 82 RBI). Gary Carter may be the best young catcher in the game.

"We have the pitching, though we could always use another guy," said Expo manager Dick Williams. "But who couldn't?


"We have a lot to look forward to this year. We had something like 20 doubleheaders in the last month of the season and that took wear and tear on our bats, not pitching."


The Expos will be in the race to the end, but we'll stick witt the Pirates to win.



National League East Club Analysis




Pittsburgh Pirates

Power, balanced pitching, good bullpen, adequate defense

Enough to repeat

Montreal Expos

Exceptional outfield depth, speed, strong starting staff, catching, bullpen balance

Might be the year

St. Louis Cardinals

Infield, catching, fair power, starting pitching

In the running

Philadelphia Phillies

Exceptional infield, catching, outfield, fair pitching

Declining longshot

Chicago Cubs

Bullpen, right-handed starters, outfield punch, shortstop

Unlikely to improve

New York Mets

Outfield speed, some starters, fair catching

Sure to struggle



National League West


The Cincinnati Reds won this division title last year, and the Houston Astros made a gallant charge, only to fall short. But the best team finished third. And that's the Los Angeles Dodgers.


The Astros made life in the Astrodome exciting with good team speed, fair singles hitting, and strong pitching by Joe Niekro, the late-bloomer, and James Rodney Richard, with Ken Forsch doing his bit. And now the Astros have Ryan, the strikeout king.


It may not be enough. We're not saying the Astros did it with mirrors, but they were never an impressive team and particularly not so on the road where they were only 37-44 compared with a 52-29 record at home. They just don't have enough big guns.


The Reds are another matter, though to some extent last year's victory was sort of a reflex based on the glory years earlier in the '70s. The Dodgers left a vacuum and the Reds filled it.


It's true that George Foster, their biggest gun, missed 44 games, and that regular right fielder Ken Griffey was lost for half a season. That the Reds overcame this is impressive.


But now Joe Morgan, the second baseman sparkplug, is gone, too, and the effect is hard to calculate, though Reds manager John McNamara isn't worried.


"Give me Griffey for another half season and Foster healthy for another 40 games and I'll take my chances," McNamara said. "That's not ever mentioning guys like Frank Pastore, Mike LaCoss and Mario Soto, who will just get better with experience. And we might just have that left-handed starter we need in Charlie Leibrandt or Sheldon Burnside."


Young Pastore saved the Reds' hide down the stretch when the Astros were still threatening. And LaCoss (14-8) was superior. But the continued uncertainty over right-hander Bill Bonham and the departure of lefty Fred Norman to the Expos might damage the Reds beyond repair.


Yet they'll give Los Angeles quite a fight, though we rate the experienced Dodgers a superior team both on experience and talent. What the Dodgers did last year was fold in the first half, then prove themselves the team everyone expected in the second. Only it was too late.


Injuries helped do in the Dodgers. The injuries to pitchers Doug Rau and Terry Forster were particularly destructive.


"What hurt us most was our pitching," said general manager Al Campanis. "So we set out to get the best starting pitcher available and the best relief pitcher this winter and I believe we've done just that."

In Goltz and Stanhouse, the Dodgers certainly did strengthen their staff. And if the other pitchers return to form they'll be solid.


While the Giants, a disappointment last year, may also poke into the race, the odds are they'll be more pesky than threatening. Yet they have a chance.


Still, it figures to be a Dodger year again.



National League East Club Analysis




Los Angeles Dodgers

Solid pitching, great punch, adequate defense

Ready to bounce back

Houston Astros

Pitching depth, top bullpen lefty, starters, speed, fair defense

May challenge for top

Cincinnati Reds

Good hitting, hair infield defense, impressive pitching potential

Still a threat

San Francisco Giants

Pitching depth, improved infield, good outfield potential, fair bullpen

Changes might work

Atlanta Braves

Great young power, fair infield defense, mediocre pitching in starters, bullpen

Still building up

San Diego Padres

Speed, defensive potential, some pitching, right-handed relief

Continuing to stumble



Here's What To Expect in the 1980 Major League Season

By John Kuenster


There was a morning many years ago when your host columnist sat at the kitchen breakfast table, outlining plans to our expanding young brood for a trip to the local zoo. With appropriate grimaces and growls and exaggerated gestures, we described the different animals the kids would be viewing.


The act elicited a noisy response from the youngsters who probably thought their father should have been a slapstick comedian instead of a baseball writer.


Finally, one of the kids stopped the show cold.


"Boy, daddy," she said, "wait until the monkeys see YOU!"


Gulp, what a neat, though innocent, putdown.


The comment, so unexpected, reminds me to this day that delightful surprises, verbal or otherwise, should be savored. They don't come along that often.


In baseball, as in life, however, surprises can't always be categorized as delightful. Sometimes they're grim or maddening or devastating. The team's leading pitcher blows out an elbow and winds up on the disabled list. In a tie game, a hitter rounds second with the winning run, falls on his face and gets tagged out. The club's big RBI man gets a fist mashed by a fastball in May and doesn't hit a lick for two months.


You play long odds in drawing up a list of potential surprises for the 1980 major league season. It is relatively safe, however, to predict what to expect this year if you qualify your choices with a probabiliy scale of one-to-ten.


So, without fear or favor, here's our chart of what to look for this season (one represents the lowest probability; ten, the highest):


The Tigers, under Sparky Anderson and with the addition of lefty hitter Richie Hebner and lefty pitcher Dan Schatzeder, will move up in the standings (8).


Al Oliver of the Rangers will complain he's under-rated and not getting enough ink (9).


Earl Weaver of the Orioles will get tossed out of at least three games (10).


Four players will say they no longer will talk to baseball writers in the clubhouse (9).


Pete Rose of the Phils will fall shy of getting 200 hits, winding up with 194 (5).


Fergie Jenkins of the Rangers will become the fourth major league pitcher to win 100 games in both the National and American Leauges (10). He has 149 wins in the N.L.; 98 in the A.L.


Bob Horner of the Atlanta Braves will miss out on the Triple Crown by two points, hitting .322 to Bill Madlock's .324, while leading the league with 47 homers and 138 RBI (4).


Shortstop Robin Yount and second baseman Paul Molitor of the Brewers will form the best middle infield combo in the majors (9).


With an injury prone Carlton Fisk, problems at third base and a fading Carl Yastrzemski, the Red Sox will fall short of winning 90 games (8).


A key play on the field will be missed by an official scorer whose eyes are riveted on a curvaceous blone strolling down the aisle behind home plate (9).


The Montreal Expos, with strong young pitching arms, will be tough all season long (10).


Reggie Jackson will strike out less than 100 times (4).


Dave Kingman will strike out more than 100 times (10).


The National League will trounce the American League in the All-Star game at Dodger Stadium in July (8).


Ron Guidry will win the ERA crown in the A.L. again (7).


Scott McGregor and Mike Flanagan will both win 20 games for the Orioles (6).


The American League MVP award will be a tossup between Eddie Murray for the Orioles and George Brett of the Royals (5).


Willie Wilson of the Royals will become the fist player in American League history to steal 100 bases (8).


The Cleveland Indians will be an early-season surprise, climb in the standings, but fade in the second half (7).


Bill Veeck will stage another wild "Disco Demolition" night as one of his promotions at Comiskey Park (0).


The Cubs will announce plans to install lights at Wrigley Field for the 1981 season (0).

Nolan Ryan and J.R. Richard of the Houston Astros will stikeout more than 600 batters between them (7).


The Angels will have the best infield in the majors with Carney Lansford at third, Fred Patek at short, Bobby Grich at second and Rod Carew at first (7).


Jim Rice will hit a ball in on his fists and drive it over the left field fence (pick the park) for a home run (8).


There will be shouts of "Balk!" from the fans in the stands when, in truth, no balk was committed by the pitcher (10).


Umpires will be cheered when their names are announced before a game (0).


An excited fan will spill beer on your back when the local home run hitter belts one out in a close game (6).


Dan Ford of the Angels, if he recovers fully from knee surgery, will continue to rank as one of the genuinely underrated players in the game (9).


Baseball Digest will receive dozens of letters from readers who (a) want to know if the editor is demented for making such outrageous statements or (b) uncover a statistical error with they want corrected (10 on both counts).