The problem in Minnesota's Metrodome concerns too little lighting on one side of the field and too much on the other. The Yankees filed an unsuccessful protest last week after losing a game in which they had difficulty finding a few pop flies to the left side, where there isn't enough light. However, the Twins say they signed a contract for $100,000 well before the protest to add lights in time for this year's All-Star game. The problem in right is that lights installed just before the season are too bright because no one remembered to preburn them. So until they fade a bit, rightfielder Tom Brunansky is playing with sunglasses, an odd sight in an indoor stadium.
"What takes place in the Metrodome," says George Steinbrenner, "is not a ball game, it's a circus."
"We might have to protest when we play at Yankee Stadium because that sky is very distracting," retorts Twins manager Billy Gardner. "I've had outfielders tell me they've lost balls in the Big Dipper."
Recently, INSIDE PITCH offered its second annual Managers Most Likely To Be Fired Sweepstakes. White Sox skipper Tony LaRussa was the favorite in the betting, at 8-5. Jerry Reinsdorf, the White Sox' chairman of the board, disagrees with that morning line, and he sent a telegram to prove it.
"I'll put up whatever money you're willing to cover at 8-5 that Tony LaRussa will not be ['the next manager to go,']" Reinsdorf said in his wire.
Now that's a vote of confidence.
Julio Franco, who used to be the Indians' very talented but erratic shortstop, is now their very talented but erratic second baseman. In a move that defies logic, the Indians traded for Johnnie LeMaster, the veteran Giant shortstop with the .226 lifetime average, and benched Tony Bernazard, their weak-fielding but stronger-hitting second baseman. "For us to improve," said general manager Joe Klein, "we have to catch the ball better. LeMaster will be a steadying influence and all the input from the staff is that Julio can play second."
Perhaps he can. But LeMaster is only slightly better than average at short, he's 2 for 27 so far this year and he hit .217 last season. Bernazard, who batted .221 in '84 after averaging .266 the previous three seasons, has only one error this year and is hitting .318 with a team-leading three homers.
Franco's first reaction to the trade: "I never played second base before in my life and I'm not going to play it now."
After his second game at second, Franco, still in uniform, met with manager Pat Corrales and batting coach Bobby Bonds in the club's executive offices. "I don't think there will be any more stink about Julio playing second," Corrales said after the meeting.
Last Thursday Mike Schmidt, a Gold Glove third baseman the past nine years, criticized some of his teammates for being "lethargic defensively." He also said the Phillies, who had 161 errors last year and have 33 in 28 games (10-18) this season, were a "free-swinging team that plays bad defense."
Phillies president Bill Giles wasn't thrilled about comments from someone hitting .196 with two homers. "I'm disappointed in his remarks and I'm disappointed in his play," said Giles. "He's the main veteran on this team and I think he's got to look in the mirror a little closer than he's been looking." On Friday Giles said that Schmidt, who has six errors already, will move to first base if the Phillies decide that Rick Schu, their hotshot third-base prospect in Triple A, is ready.
"We've talked to Mike and he's ready," Giles said. "We have to find a spot for Schu." As for Schmidt, he was preparing for the move even before he spoke out. In midweek he was seen sitting in front of his locker, mink-oiling a new first baseman's mitt.
When Dave Concepcion got his 2,000th career hit this weekend against Houston, the Reds became the first team ever to have four players with that many—Pete Rose, Tony Perez, Cesar Cedeno and Concepcion....
Pittsburgh's gambles on George Hendrick and Steve Kemp aren't working. Hendrick is hitting .213 with one homer and seven RBIs, while Kemp is batting .276 with no home runs and four RBIs....
Giants reliever Greg Minton isn't getting along with his manager. Jim Davenport. After Minton, who isn't pitching well, got chewed out for being late to the park last Thursday, he said, "I'm in his doghouse, he's in my doghouse. We just try to avoid each other."
...Jim Rice, who set a major league record grounding into 32 DPs in '84, has 12 in his first 27 games. At that pace, he'll hit into 72....
The A's pitchers have allowed 47 homers and their collective ERA is 5.33. Take away starter Chris Codiroli and stopper Jay Howell, and the staff ERA is 6.47....
Kirk Gibson and Dave Rozema, Tiger teammates the past five years, are best buddies who will marry sisters this December. But this year Rozema is a Ranger, and last week he faced Gibson for the first time. Rozema said he didn't look at Gibson; he was trying to keep a straight face. It's a good thing he didn't look. Gibson blew him a kiss. Then he grounded out.
FOCUS ON SPORTS
While Candy kicks about his cheap flights...
...Proud Truth, with Veitch, can't bridle at his.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
STEVE GARVEY: The San Diego First baseman batted .500 with two homers, three doubles and eight runs scored. He raised his average to .355 and took over the major league lead in hits with 44.
THE PLANE TRUTH? PROUD TRUTH FLIES IN STYLE
The Pirates have the worst record (9-20) and the second-worst attendance in baseball, and owner Dan Galbreath has put the franchise on the market. Naturally, the Bucs are trying to save bucks. On a West Coast trip last week, the club saved $30,000 by taking scheduled flights rather than charters. But the lack of amenities and the long delays at airports had the players whinnying. "They've got us traveling on super, super savers," said Pirate reliever John Candelaria. "Galbreath's horses travel better than we do."
Actually, Candelaria has a point. While it cost the Pirates $258 to fly Candelaria to and from the coast on a USAir super saver (the team must buy three seats for every two players), Galbreath paid $5,333.33 to fly his thoroughbred Proud Truth from New York to Churchill Downs—where he finished fifth in the Kentucky Derby—and back. John Veitch, Proud Truth's trainer, says, "His flights are quicker than scheduled flights, and he doesn't have to wait for his luggage." On charters a horse gets a nice stall with plenty of legroom.
This spring, Veitch flew Galbreath's entire Darby Dan stable of 34 horses from Florida to New York, one way, at a cost of about $42,000. That's roughly $29,000 more than it costs to fly a traveling baseball party of 34 round trip from Pittsburgh to California. "We're talking about $100 million worth of horses," says Veitch. Actually, that may be what the Pirates need—a few more horses.
"If you lose five in a row in New York, the general manager gets fired," said Royals catcher John Wathan after G.M. John Schuerholz signed a contract through the year 2000 the day the team lost its fifth straight game. "Here, he gets a lifetime contract."