In Boston, Wade Boggs has been heard singing I Love L.A. and California Here I Come. In Baltimore, the Orioles are so desperate for a second baseman to replace weak-hitting Rich Dauer that they are considering the Padres' Alan Wiggins, who just finished a drug rehab program. In Toronto, where announcer Tony Kubek has passed on a number of trade rumors over the air, the game press notes recently included the following message: "With the abundance of rumors circulating about the club, the Blue Jays announced today the installation of an audio phone. Fans interested in the latest gossip concerning the club are invited to call 416-59-KUBEK."
Yes, it's that time of year again. The trade deadline is June 15, and Boggs is available because the Red Sox need pitching and because he got $1 million after arbitration last winter. The Dodgers want him but do not want to trade Orel Hershiser, a pitcher of great potential. The Orioles see an ideal leadoff man in Wiggins, who carries a four-year, $2 million contract. The Padres are in first place without Wiggins and have said he will not play for them this year.
Some other names being bandied about include Pirate lefty John Candelaria, who can start or relieve but became a 10-and-5 man last week, which makes him harder to trade; the Rangers' power-hitting Larry Parrish, who can play the outfield or third and could be had for a frontline pitcher; and the Indians' Bert Blyleven, a starter who can make a team a winner, just as former Indian Rick Sutcliffe did for the Cubs.
Before a recent game in L.A., Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda lectured the media on negativism. They had had the gall to point out that the Dodgers, who have 62 errors in their first 49 games, are thoroughly rotten fielders.
"You guys," Lasorda says, "have made them well aware of their inability to catch the ball. What they need is encouragement. It wouldn't hurt to write some nice things about them. They need to be told they're a good team." In the game that followed, the Dodgers committed three more errors.
If they keep this up, the Dodgers will commit 205 errors, the most since the '62 and '63 Mets (40-120 and 51-111), who booted 210 both seasons. O.K., Tommy, the Dodgers are a good team.
Kirk Gibson, a former college football star who is 6'3" and 220 pounds, is one tough Tiger, as you might suspect. Would you believe he got hit in the face with a fastball from Oakland pitcher Tim Birtsas (a good friend of his) the other day and never went down, even though he needed 17 stitches to stop the bleeding? Of course you would.
But Jim Gantner, who is 5'11", 175, is one tough Brewer, and you might not have known that. Take a game last week against the Indians. Gantner was caught in a rundown between third and home when he barreled into 6'4", 225-pound pitcher Don Schulze. Schulze got the out, but he hit the ground. He got up and angrily went after Gantner, who didn't back down. They bumped, and then Schulze realized that another Brewer was heading for third. His hurried throw was wild, and the runner scored.
Schulze was still on the mound when Gantner got his next at bat. Schulze knocked him down. Two pitches later, Gantner hit his first homer of '85.
On May 7 the last-place Giants traded Johnnie (Disaster) LeMaster to the last-place Indians. He was supposed to play shortstop, with Julio Franco moving to second. That experiment lasted eight games before LeMaster was benched and Franco returned to short.
On May 29 the Indians, still in last place, traded LeMaster to the last-place Pirates, giving him the distinction of playing for three cellar teams in only 23 days. In case you're wondering, the Texas Rangers, the last-place team in the AL West, are not looking for a shortstop at the present time.
When the Cardinals arrived in Atlanta last week, they led the majors with 90 steals in 116 tries. When they left town after three games, they still had 90 steals, but in 120 tries. The Braves' catchers aren't that good. Score this one for the grounds crew.
Just before a game on a grass field, the home team usually gives the base paths a light sprinkle to keep the dust down. But the Braves kept their hoses going. And going. And going. When they were through, the Cardinals' rabbits needed flippers. "You're not going to steal a base here," yelled one grounds-crew member at Vince Coleman, the leading thief in the majors. "You'll drown." Coleman commented, "Why don't you put a bridge over this thing?"
"If I was the Atlanta Braves and I was playing the St. Louis Cardinals," said Cardinal manager Whitey Herzog, "I'd do the same thing." But he added a warning. The next time they play in St. Louis, "we're going to run every chance we get. We'll run if we're 10 ahead."
Life is difficult for world champions. Ask the Tigers, who find themselves five games behind Toronto and now stand accused of being cheap. It seems that reliever Bill Scherrer had his World Series ring appraised recently for between $90 and $250. The stone in the middle is really a piece of glass. Tiger management decided to base the quality of rings on the size of the postseason share voted to each player. Scherrer didn't join the team until 34 days were left in the season so he got one of the cheap rings. "I've seen better rings around the collar," Kirk Gibson said.
"When I first got my ring, I said, 'I'm going to give it to my dad,' " Scherrer said. "But I wouldn't give this to my dad. I wouldn't give it to my little boy."
"What does he expect?" said team president Jim Campbell. "Nobody ever told them it was a diamond."
The players have one other gripe. Owner Tom Monaghan gave replicas of the World Series trophy to the board of directors of Domino's Pizza, and now the Tigers want them, too.
How bad are things going for the fifth-place Phils? "I'm rapidly approaching the mentality of an ax-murderer," rookie manager John Felske told his troops before one game.... When pitcher Jay Tibbs of the Reds was knocked out in the third inning of a game against the Cubs, he was losing 6-0. Figuring his record was going to drop to 3-8, Tibbs changed into running shorts, left the park and ran five miles through downtown Cincinnati. "Sometimes when I need to think, I just go out and run," he said. When he got back, his team was on the way to a 13-11 victory.... Montreal's Jeff Reardon, with a new manager (he never liked Bill Virdon), and without an aching back, is 15 for 15 in save opportunities.
The Yankees are 11-1 at home for Billy Martin, who says, "This is my home. Really. Look at my driver's license." Indeed, under home address it reads: "Yankee Stadium."... When Angel catcher Bob Boone was ejected by Vic Voltaggio last Wednesday in New York it was Boone's first thumb in 14 years. Angered that Boone had disputed a call, Voltaggio said, "Do that again and I'm chasing you." Boone replied, "Why don't you chase me now?"...Tiger shortstop Alan Trammell is struggling at the plate, batting only .272, but it took him 48 games to commit his first error, and even then the official scorer apologized because it came on a bad hop.... Kansas City lefthander Charlie Leibrandt (5-3, 2.67) has become one of-the AL's most effective pitchers in less than a year, and one recent outing prompted Royal teammate Willie Wilson to say, "That's not Leibrandt, that's Rembrandt."
Who's on first? After 1,779 games at third, this Phillies star must now hold runners on base.
SCHMIDT MOVES TO A NOT-SO-HOT CORNER
Mike Schmidt may have committed 26 errors last year and nine so far this season, but he remains skeptical about the Phillies' decision to move him from third base to first to accommodate rookie Rick Schu. "I think everybody's probably wondering how this is going to help the club, bringing in another inexperienced young righthanded hitter," says Schmidt, a Gold Glove winner the last nine seasons even though he did not deserve the award last year. "You sort of weaken yourself at two positions. Let's just be glad the first eight games with that sort of lineup will be on the road."
Schmidt survived his maiden start at first Thursday in L.A.—but just barely. He had to execute a severe stretch and split on the first play he had. "I've never stretched like that since I've been in baseball," said Schmidt, who had to ice his left knee after the game. "I felt something weird in the knee, and this ice is just to make sure I can go back out there tomorrow night."
Schmidt made all the plays that came his way in the first five games, and he looked reasonably comfortable. Of more concern to the Phils, however, was his bat. After going 4 for 18 as a first baseman, Schmidt was still hitting .218. And Schu was 3 for 17 in his first five games.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
CARLTON FISK: The White Sox catcher, hit .500 with five homers and 13 RBIs, two of which were game-winners. On Wednesday he had two HRs, and Thursday he reached the Comiskey Park roof.
"The thing I'm really concerned about," said Lance Parrish, the Detroit catcher, after getting kissed Saturday by Morganna (The Kissing Bandit) Roberts, "is that after she kissed Fred Lynn, he went 3 for 40."