Four weeks after Atlanta obtained Pitcher Len Barker from Cleveland for three players to be named later, Braves Outfielder Brett Butler found out from Atlanta owner Ted Turner that he was one of the three. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn fined Turner $25,000 for telling Butler before the end of the season.
"When Brett asked me if he was one of the players to be named later, to stay within the rules I should have said, 'I can't tell you,' " Turner said. "And then I should have winked at him. I was just thinking of Brett as a human being who wanted to know about his future."
Turner added that the fine was fair and not a form of retaliation for voting against Kuhn when he came up for reelection in November 1982. "I was going to change my vote this year if some of the others had," Turner said.
"Half you guys had better start looking in the mirror," said Indian Manager Pat Corrales after his team had blown a 7-0 lead and lost to the Brewers 11-7. Although Corrales then garbled his syntax, he got across the rest of his message: "I've been in meetings ever since we came back from Detroit, and nobody wants half of you back."
Chairman of the Board Andrew McKenna of the Cubs insists that the hiring of Jim Finks, who had recently resigned as general manager of the NFL Chicago Bears, was mostly to relieve McKenna of duties he was too busy to handle. However, it may also be that Finks, a savvy businessman, was brought in to put some reins on impulsive General Manager Dallas Green. Finks was quick to stress that Green will continue to be in charge of baseball operations, negotiating contracts and making trades. But with Finks above Green in the club's hierarchy, the parent Tribune Co. may well be hoping that Green, who has increased dramatically the Cubs' player payroll in two years, will be held in check. Chances are Finks will also handle the continuing controversy over the installation of lights at Wrigley Field more delicately than Green, whose frankness had tended to unite the opposition.
Baltimore Pitcher Jim Palmer indicated that if the Orioles don't pick up the option on his contract, which expires after the season, he'll probably become a free agent. "I know I'm the fifth or sixth starter here, but I won't be the fifth or sixth if I go someplace else next year," Palmer said.... The A's have talked with Bruce Bochte, a lifetime .286 hitter who quit the Mariners at the end of last season, about joining them. Boston is also interested in Bochte, a 32-year-old first baseman. But his respect for deposed Seattle Manager Rene Lachemann is so strong that, should he decide to return to the game, he may well wind up with whatever team hires Lachemann as its skipper.... Milwaukee's precipitous decline in the American League East was accentuated by a 10-game losing streak that set a club record before it concluded Sept. 19.... Mariner DH Richie Zisk was asked by Manager Del Crandall to be Seattle's batting instructor for the rest of the season. Crandall also told Vada Pinson, the club's hitting coach, to stop working with the batters, whose league-worst .239 average was 15 points lower than last year.... White Sox President Eddie Einhorn says that building his organization's first championship squad since 1959 "wasn't that hard. It's something that should have been done a long time ago."...Boston outfielders Jim Rice and Tony Armas were first and second, respectively, in home runs in the American League with 37 and 36 and hitting into double plays with 30 and 29.
Several Cardinals were irked at Expo Catcher Gary Carter for spiking the ball after St. Louis' Floyd Rayford struck out and for slamming his bat down and glaring at Cardinal Bob Forsch, who had thrown a couple of close-in pitches while walking Carter. "What's with Carter?" St. Louis Manager Whitey Herzog asked. "Is he going to get mad every time they throw a ball inside? If I were a pitcher, I'd knock him on his butt every time up." Cardinal Pitcher Dave LaPoint said of the ball spiking, "We're losing now, but don't embarrass us." Of the Cardinals' reactions, Carter retorted, "I just get excited. They can't take that?"
George Brett of the Royals, who had never hit more than 24 home runs in any of his 10 previous big league seasons, said recently he felt that his 22 round-trippers by Aug. 25 "might have been my worst enemy. I've seen my name among the league leaders in a lot of categories, but when I kept seeing it up there with the home-run leaders I started thinking, 'Hey, this is neat.' That's when I started overswinging, uppercutting, popping up. I think I just got overconfident. Early in the season I was perfect, and I started believing I could do no wrong." Last week it was found that there was another reason why Brett's average had plummeted from .373 on July 2 to .308 on Sept. 25: a congenital back problem.
"Muy malo [very bad]," said Dodger Pitcher Fernando Valenzuela after Centerfielder Derrel Thomas loped after a fly ball to make a basket catch and wound up grabbing it almost at grass level. "I don't think he should be making catches like that," added Valenzuela through an interpreter after beating Houston 2-1.... The Padres had won nine of the 11 games that Catcher Doug Gwosdz (pronounced Goosh) had started, and during those games San Diego pitchers had a 1.78 ERA. Reliever Gary Lucas feels one reason for Gwosdz's success is that his size—he's 5'11", 180 pounds; regular Catcher Terry Kennedy is 6'4", 220—enables "Doug to give a lower target." ...Add Marty Decker of the Padres to the growing list of players whose careers have been saved in operating rooms. Decker, a righthander who has had surgery on both shoulders, his left ankle and his right elbow, made his major league debut by working two innings of shutout relief against San Francisco.
This domed stadium would cost $50 million, seat 46,000 and be ready for a 1986 opening.
THE MESSAGE FROM FLORIDA: HAV-A-TAMPA
The Tampa Bay Baseball Group, which is highly optimistic about having a major league club based in Tampa by as early as 1986, last week hired Yankee Executive Vice-President Cedric Tallis to be its managing director, effective Nov. 1. And this week the TBBG will begin meeting with American League owners in order to get their expeditious approval for a relocation of the Minnesota Twins. If the TBBG succeeds, the Tampa Sports Authority plans to issue bonds for the construction of a $50 million, 46,000-seat air-conditioned domed stadium that should be ready for the 1986 season. The TBBG has the land for it—a 145.5-acre tract adjacent to Tampa Stadium; last month the group began making payments on a 75-year lease. It has also offered Calvin Griffith $24 million for the Twins and has promised Griffith an executive position if the Twins move to Tampa.
Ideally, the TBBG would like a deal with Griffith and the 75% approval required from the other American League owners for the shift to be all wrapped up by Nov. 1. One of the group's strongest arguments is that a team in Tampa would add considerable money to the coffers of all American League clubs. The international accounting firm of Laventhal & Horwath predicts that a Tampa-based team would draw "between 2,100,000 and 2,400,000 per year during the first five seasons."
Griffith is playing his hand well, refusing to commit himself publicly, saying that talk about a move is "premature" and adding that "we also have propositions from three or four other cities." These offers have been forthcoming because franchise seekers feel that Griffith may try to exercise a clause in his contract with Minnesota's Metrodome that would permit him to move the Twins if their average attendance for 1982, '83 and '84 is less than 1.4 million. To reach that figure, Minnesota would have to draw about 2.4 million in 1984. So far, no big-money buyers have surfaced to try to keep the Twins where they are. In any case, an SI source says Griffith has given the TBBG his assurance he wants to move to Tampa.
"Mr. Griffith told us, 'Some local people have come by, but none of them has any money,' " says Ray Bennett of the TBBG. "How interested is Calvin in Tampa? Well, he's down to where he's selecting the spot for the toilet in his private office."
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
JOE MORGAN: The Phillies' second baseman batted .484 with 15 hits, six of them doubles, in 31 at bats, scored seven runs and drove in eight. He also had two home runs, both on his 40th birthday.
"I want people to think of me as an iron man," says Baltimore Shortstop Cal Ripken, who has played every inning of every game this season. "I feel as strong physically as I did earlier in the season, but there have been times when it's been tough mentally. You get tired of thinking and tired of concentrating, and then as you pop up or strike out, you say, 'How did I do that? I wasn't even thinking.'"