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Original Issue

Tightening up in Baltimore

Manager Earl Weaver shut the clubhouse door and called Jim Palmer to order. This was no ordinary meeting. Frank Robinson was not presiding over a friendly session of the kangaroo court. The team was not yet voting on World Series shares. On the contrary. There was some feeling that if Baltimore continued in its somnambulant ways the only thing anybody was going to share was chagrin.

Weaver emerged eventually, possessed of a mouthful of bromides, but it was obvious that he had told one of the three best pitchers on The Best Damn Baseball Team in the World! he was playing like an antihero on The Worst Damn Team! It was not that 20-game winners Palmer, Mike Cuellar and Dave McNally were pitching poorly—while not winning, they were not losing either—it was just that heavily favored Baltimore was barely leading Boston and Detroit.

And Palmer was being touchy. In the ninth inning of a game in which he and Cleveland's Sam McDowell were tied 2-2, Palmer paid more attention to the water cooler than he did to Weaver. "I had to make a decision about a pinch hitter," Weaver said, "and I wasn't going to chase him down to the end of the dugout." He should have. Reliever Eddie Watt gave up a home run to Vada Pinson in the bottom of the ninth, and it was Weaver bar the door.

For baseball at midseason there was a positive side to Baltimore's worries. The American League East had a race, and only Oakland among division leaders was enjoying a runaway.