Here it is the first week of August, the Astros are on top of the
National League West and the Mets' Tim Teufel and Ron Darling have
generated more publicity in Houston than the city's own Bill Doran,
Mike Scott, Kevin Bass or even Jose Cruz. Such is the lot of players
who perform in cities where high school football is king or who toil
on teams already stocked with media stars. To give due credit to
players who seem to get less publicity than off-duty Houston
policemen, here are the Billy Doran All-Stars:
-- Catcher -- Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles Dodgers. His offensive
numbers this season don't rival Gary Carter's, and his noseguard
approach constantly lands him on the disabled list, but for handling
and leading a pitching staff he has no peers in the National League.
A modern day Bill (Rough) Carrigan.
-- First Base -- Greg Walker, Chicago White Sox. After missing
nearly a month with a pulled hamstring, he has slowly started to
regain his usual statistics. He has been one of the White Sox's best
clutch hitters and, perhaps most important, is gradually assuming
the mantle of clubhouse leader.
-- Second Base -- Doran, Houston Astros. He hits (.274), steals
bases (34) and is an exceptional defensive infielder, but hardly
anyone knows him. ''If it weren't for Ryne Sandberg,'' says an
opposing coach, ''he'd be the All-Star second baseman in a walk.''
-- Third Base -- Mike Pagliarulo, New York Yankees. Two years ago
the Yankees brought him and his .212 average up from Columbus because
the Roy Smalley-Toby Harrah left side of the infield was so immobile
that Ron Guidry and Dave Righetti were afraid to throw their sliders
to righthanded batters. Now Pags is a .280 hitter and challenging for
the home run leadership. ''Great work habits do pay off,'' says
teammate and friend Don Mattingly, who should know.
-- Shortstop -- Alfredo Griffin, Oakland Athletics. No one plays
harder and with more esprit. He has batted around .290 most of the
season and is a team leader wherever he goes -- Toronto, San Pedro de
Macoris or Oakland.
-- Outfield -- Len Dykstra, New York Mets. Four years from now he
may have bounced off so many walls that he'll walk like Foster
Brooks. But this season he has been invaluable, hitting .345 in the
leadoff spot and driving opponents crazy. ''Frank Robinson was
arrogant; Len Dykstra is cocky,'' says Mets manager Davey Johnson.
''When you've got 500 homers, you're arrogant.'' Oh, yes. Dykstra
has also helped make George Foster a bench warmer.
-- Outfield -- George Bell, Toronto Blue Jays. Bell should be
regarded as a star. He's among the Top 10 in batting and Top 5 in
homers and RBIs, and he can run. The problem is, George has a way of
saying and doing things that make Joaquin Andujar seem like Senator
Steve Garvey, so the All-Star team selectors tend to forget that Bell
is a terrific player.
-- Outfield -- Mel Hall, Cleveland Indians. Here is another player
whose personality keeps him out of the lineup, although his hot-dog
image in his first two seasons isn't really valid anymore. ''Mel's
not only a helluva guy, he's good in the clubhouse,'' insists his
manager, Pat Corrales. ''He's having just as good a season as Joe
Carter and no one mentions him.''
-- Starting Pitchers -- Kirk McCaskill, California Angels, and
Mike Scott, Astros. McCaskill has chalked up 8 of his 11 wins after
team losses, has 3 complete games in which he allowed 3 hits or less,
and has held opponents to a .175 average in his last 6 starts. Scott
may be only 10-6 for the season, but he's first in strikeouts (187),
third in ERA (2.35) and hasn't allowed more than 2 earned runs in 16
starts -- a tribute to his 91 mph fastball and his mastery of the art
of cutting the ball.
-- Reliever -- Jeff Reardon, Montreal Expos. At his rate, Reardon
will win and save more than 90 games over a two-year period. He has
never been classed with Sutter, Gossage, Fingers et al., but he
belongs there. He has great stuff -- the rare rising fastball and
hard slider -- and unusual grit.
TONY TOMSIC Doran plays over most people's heads.