Mariner owner George Argyros created a storm of controversy last week when he replaced the popular Rene Lachemann with Del Crandall, who managed Milwaukee from 1972 to '75 and most recently has directed the Dodgers' successful AAA team in Albuquerque. "I don't have to ask the fans," said Argyros. "Nobody said if you're going to lead something you have to be a populist." He didn't ask the players, either. In the clubhouse, Outfielder Richie Zisk said, "It's the first time that I've had tears in my eyes while in a baseball uniform since I dropped a fly ball that cost us the state championship in Little League."
Lachemann was acclaimed last season for guiding the Mariners to a 76-86 record, the best in their six-year history. At the time of his dismissal, Seattle was 26-47 and clearly missed two players from last year whom the front office failed to sign—Bruce Bochte (.297 in '82) and Floyd Bannister (12-13).
On the day of the Lachemann firing, Seattle also dropped Pitcher Gaylord Perry—he was 3-10 with a 4.94 ERA—and Shortstop Todd Cruz, who hit .230 last season and had 16 homers. This year he'd batted .190 with seven homers. Perry, who has a 310-261 career record, and Cruz could be picked up by other clubs or sent to the minors.
Pittsburgh used its lumber to end its slumber last week. The Pirates, who had been 23-36, went on a .321 hitting tear as they ran off eight straight wins, their longest streak since 1980. During that spurt they had 93 hits—at least 10 in all but one game—and 12 of their 29 extra-base hits were homers. Catcher Tony Pena led the way by batting .478. And fleet Marvell Wynne, acquired two weeks ago in a trade that brought him up from the Mets' AAA Tidewater club, established himself in centerfield by going 10 for 32 and keeping his average at .313.
Dodger Second Baseman Steve Sax, who made 19 errors in 1982, committed three last week to run his total to 21 for this season. This projects to 48 errors for the year; the modern National League record for a second baseman of 55 was set by George Grantham of Chicago in 1923.
When Sax missed two games last week because of food poisoning, it was suggested that he got it from eating his glove. Actually, his glove has not been at fault; it has been his arm. Almost all of Sax's errors have come on throws, the majority on routine plays when he has had ample time. "It's just a mental thing," says Sax. "Sometimes I pick up the ball and think too much instead of throwing it."
Correcting the deficiency, Los Angeles Shortstop Bill Russell says, "isn't going to come that easy for Steve. He got into the habit of lobbing the ball."
Rookie Outfielder Mel Hall of the Cubs is such a loud and relentless talker that his teammates have put up a clubhouse picture of a long-eared dog, beneath which is this inscription: "My ears got this way from listening to Mel Hall for just three innings." ...The 10 homers hit by Gary Redus, who was batting .244 at week's end, are the most by a Cincinnati rookie since Bernie Carbo had 21 in 1970.... Kansas City second baseman Frank White set a club record by getting one or more RBIs in 11 straight games.
"His fastball is working, and he should use it more," said Detroit Catcher Lance Parrish recently of Pitcher Jack Morris with whom he'd been at odds about pitch selection. Last week, according to Morris, the two "had a little talk before the game. The main thing is we've got to believe in each other. If I shake him off, he shouldn't get upset. And if he feels strongly enough about something, he has the right to come to the mound to talk about it. I benefited from our talk, and he benefited from it." They must have: Morris gave up four hits while beating Milwaukee 6-2. "I threw my fastball more because I had a good, live one," Morris said. "Some days I don't, and that's why I use other pitches to set it up."
During their last 37 games through Sunday, Padre relievers had pitched 89‚Öî innings and had a 7-3 record, 11 saves and a 2.01 ERA.... Rick Honeycutt of Texas, who was 10-3 with a major league-leading 1.45 ERA at week's end, had given up one run or less in 11 of his 15 starts.... Boston's John Henry Johnson has become the consummate mop-up man: He's been in 12 games, all losses, during which the Sox have been out-scored 98-39.... The Phillies will unveil their $4 million, 31½' X 42' video screen this week.... With three veterans on the disabled list, the A's are carrying five rookies on their pitching staff.
Two of the National League's finest pitchers—Joaquin Andujar of the Cardinals and Steve Carlton of the Phillies—have been struggling. Over his most recent 15 starts through Sunday, Andujar had a 4.50 ERA and had lost 10 of 11 decisions. Following a 2-1 loss last week to the Mets, Andujar was a jumble of emotions. First, he emptied six or so cans of beer into a bucket and dumped the contents over his head. Next, he kicked over a trash can in the training room and threw a bottle, which shattered near the shower room. Then Andujar sat down and politely answered reporters' questions. Later he said, "I be all right. Mentally, I all right now. I have a strong mind. I not keeping my head down." And then he said, "I can't believe it. I going to go crazy." One thing that has hurt Andujar is that in his 10 defeats St. Louis scored only eight runs while he was still in the game. Cardinal Catcher Darrell Porter pointed out two other problems: "His control's been off. And he hasn't had the slider he had last year."
After being shelled by Montreal on June 20, Carlton had given up 16 runs in 20‚Öì innings during his last three starts and was 1-6 in his last seven starts. "He didn't throw one Lefty-type fastball all night," said Philadelphia Pitching Coach Claude Osteen after the Montreal bombing. "He tried to finesse his way through." Four days later Carlton evened his record at 8-8 by beating New York 6-3. Carlton didn't have his best stuff in that game, either, but he did regain the alltime strikeout lead from Houston's Nolan Ryan (3,551 to 3,548) by fanning six Mets.
Last season Kansas City Pitcher Bud Black was 4-6 and had a 4.58 ERA because he was "too fine all the time, going for the black." Now in his mind's eye he has divided the plate into thirds, giving him more room to hit on each side. And even if he pitches down the middle third, Black feels he doesn't have to worry. "It's not that I gave hitters too much credit, but I sure wasn't giving myself enough," says Black, 25, who at week's end was 3-1, with a 2.82 ERA. "Even the very good hitters make an out two out of every three times. I'm not afraid of making mistakes now, which is the biggest problem for most young pitchers."
With his second five-year term as president of the American League ending later this year, Lee MacPhail, 65, had planned to retire. Thus, it was surprising that MacPhail recently added the role of president of the Player Relations Committee to his league duties. That position had been vacant since the April 7 resignation of Ray Grebey.
"I really didn't want the job," MacPhail says. "I told Dan Galbreath [chairman of the PRC and president of the Pirates] the only way I'd take it would be if all 26 teams wanted me. To my amazement, they all voted for me."
With the current contract with the Players Association scheduled to expire at the end of 1984, MacPhail's main task will be to hammer out a new agreement. Then he will retire for good.
Cincinnati's Dave Concepcion was in arrears after this ball-less tag of Claudell Washington.
When mild-mannered Oakland Manager Steve Boros goes out to argue with an umpire, one of the things he doesn't do is argue. Instead, Boros calmly listens to the ump, nods, objects ever so briefly, nods, shrugs, throws up his hands and leaves—often while the umpire is still yakking.
BALL PARK FIGURES
According to an SI poll of major league infielders, these stadiums have the worst infield playing surfaces:
1. Olympic Stadium, Montreal
2. Fulton County Stadium, Atlanta
3. Candlestick Park, San Francisco
4. Shea Stadium, New York
5. Jack Murphy Stadium, San Diego
1. Municipal Stadium, Cleveland
2. Oakland Coliseum
3. Anaheim Stadium, California
4. County Stadium, Milwaukee
5. Comiskey Park, Chicago
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
CLIFF JOHNSON: The Blue Jays' designated hitter raised his average 32 points to .280 while going 11 for 22. He hit three homers and had 12 RBIs, including three gamers, as the Blue Jays went 5-2.
"When I was a DH, I learned a lot about getting ready to hit," says the Mets' Rusty Staub, who tied Dave Philley's single-season major league record with his eighth straight pinch hit last week. "In the dugout, you have to keep your body heat up, and at the plate you have to be aggressive. But there's no explanation for this streak. It's just something that's happening."