For the last few years, the White Sox in general—and Carlton Fisk in particular—have had a reputation for taking their sweet time to play baseball, a rap that angered manager Tony LaRussa whenever the subject was brought up. Now, even LaRussa admits that his team, which is averaging a major league high 2:53 a game this year, should get a move on. "It's something we have to address. When I'm out in the street, whether it's the grocery store or a restaurant or whatever, people are talking more and more about the length of our games. Even when we're on a winning streak, I don't think people walk out of here as happy as they should be."
Bullpen coach Art Kusnyer offered a suggestion to speed things up. "Strap the reliever into an ejection seat and—whoosh—shoot him to the mound," he said. Of course, that won't prevent the reliever from having the usual summit conference with Fisk on every third pitch.
Was it his 1-8 record that caused Pascual Perez to jump the Braves? Or the fear he wouldn't get his long-term contract? Or his aching shoulder? Or his wife's return to the Dominican Republic? Or the lack of rapport with new manager Eddie Haas, who told him to cool his hot-dog act on the mound? Actually, a spiritualist whom Perez consulted in New York last week claimed "demonic spirits" led to his four-day disappearing act.
"I always like to play baseball, but it's no fun now," Perez said when he finally surfaced. "I lose everything on mound. No motion, no location, no fastball, no wins." And no money: He was put on the restricted list, which will cost him a reported $2,500 a day in lost salary. The spiritualist, Victor Sanchez, a Queens resident, said Perez sat on a stool while he offered an incantation. "I rejected the evil spirits. Pascual felt there was something demonic forcing him to do things he did not want to do in his pitching and his personal life." Sanchez also made like a chiropractor, manipulating Perez's shoulder. "The pain went right away. He left here a believer."
Pittsburgh's Jose DeLeon, he of the great arm, has been sent down to Triple A Hawaii after losing 23 of his last 26 decisions, including 14 of 16 this year. "I don't want DeLeon to lose 20 games, because he may never forget it," said Pirate G.M. Joe Brown. "I was beginning to think I would never win," said DeLeon, who had 116 Ks in 122‚Öì innings.... Here's one more reason why the Pirates have the worst record in the NL. They're the only team in the bigs not to have come from behind to win a game in the ninth.... Dickie Thon, who was so frustrated in his attempt to come back from last year's beaning that he put himself on the DL in May, is 16 for 37 (.432) since July 1. "I'm waiting more on the ball," says Thon, who's hitting .254 on the year.... The Mets are terrified that Gary Carter may need arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, which would put him on the disabled list for several weeks. "I told him, 'You've got to nurse this knee,' " said manager Davey Johnson. " 'You don't have to prove to me you'll run it out on a broken leg.' "...How hot is John Tudor? The Cardinal lefty is 11-1 with five shutouts in his last 12 starts. How cold is George Hendrick, who was traded to Pittsburgh for Tudor? He's hitting .230 with two homers.... The poor Cubs. Within the space of a week they lost three starting pitchers: Steve Trout went on the disabled list when he blew out his elbow; Scott Sanderson reinjured his sore elbow; and Rick Sutcliffe pulled himself out of a game with three ailments—a pulled hamstring, a pulled groin and a sore shoulder. The Cy Young jinx continues.
It took 34 games, but Orioles manager Earl Weaver was finally asked to leave a game. Career thumb No. 90 came on July 22 in Minneapolis, courtesy of ump Dale Ford, after Earl argued an out call on a fly that Minnesota leftfielder Randy Bush either did or didn't catch while running into the Twins' foul-line bullpen. After getting the thumb, Weaver calmly strolled out to left to converse with Bush as Ford listened in.
Said Weaver after his team lost 5-4, "I said, 'Tell him you didn't catch the ball.' What's Bush going to say? He didn't say anything, [but] he had a guilty look on his face."
Baltimore's once-impeccable pitching remains in total disarray. The staff ERA is 4.35, 10th in the AL, which helps to explain the team's fifth-place status. After another loss the next night, Weaver tried to change his luck by getting a permanent. In four of the next five games, the O's held opponents to two runs or less.
Is the pressure getting to Bobby Cox? For the second time this season, the manager of first-place Toronto mistakenly used hair spray on his armpits instead of deodorant and had to excuse himself from postgame interviews because of the sting.... First it was Yogi, now it may be Dale Berra who will be told to take a hike by the Yankees. Andre Robertson looks better and better as a righthanded-hitting third baseman, and Billy Martin would like to release Dale, who has nine errors and seven RBIs.... Last Wednesday was a night of milestones for the Royals: Frank White hit his 100th homer, Hal McRae played in his 1,900th game and Steve Balboni struck out for the 100th time in 1985. When Balboni showed up at his locker after the game, he found a bottle of iced champagne, compliments of McRae.... On Thursday night in Fenway, Billy Swift, a product of South Portland (Maine) High, started for the Mariners. On Friday night, Jim Beattie, another South Portland grad, started for the club. Both of the former Red Riots were shelled, however.
Al Bumbry of the Padres has always been considered one of the game's good people. Now there's even more reason to think of him that way.
While San Diego was playing in Pittsburgh on May 1, the four children of Franklin Park, Pa. resident John Bozic began to cheer and call out to Bumbry. After the game, Bumbry had the family come down to the railing for a chat. The Bozics returned for the Padres' second visit last month and, after getting Bumbry's attention during BP, 11-year-old Adrienne gave him a letter, which Bumbry stuffed into his pocket. It was an invitation to a family barbecue. The next day, much to the astonishment of Bozic, Bumbry called to accept. The day after that, he had lunch at the Bozics' house, meeting their neighbors and signing dozens of autographs. As Bozic wrote in a letter to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "I now find myself much less of a cynic than I was a week ago."
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
ODDIBE McDOWELL: The rookie centerfielder for the Rangers went 13 for 27 with five home runs, 10 runs and three game-winning RBIs. On Tuesday he went 5 for 5 and hit for the cycle.
"I just ordered some new bats," said Cubs backup catcher Steve Lake, who is hitting .141. "Can you believe it? They sent me a whole shipment of bats and not one set of directions."