They are an odd pair, the pima cotton MacPhail and the dolorous skipper who always looks like a damp sock in need of darning. "Tom and I are as different as night and day," MacPhail says. "What we have is a genuine respect for the game and our functions in the game. Do you think he likes to see Jack Morris leave? Of course not. Does he understand it? Yes."
In 1987, with MacPhail dealing for Reardon, Gladden, Newman, Joe Niekro and Steve Carlton, among others, the Twins won the championship. The next spring he sent Brunansky to St. Louis for Tommy Herr, a dismal deal. "My father will give me advice, and I'll listen," says Andy. "I'd be a fool not to. The only trade I ever made that he didn't like was the Tommy Herr trade—and he was right." He redeemed himself in 1989 by sending Viola, the 1988 Cy Young winner, to the New York Mets for five young pitchers, including Kevin Tapani (16-9, 2.99 ERA last year) and Rick Aguilera (42 saves, 2.35). Now that Viola has left New York and signed as a free agent with the Boston Red Sox, that trade can be categorized as one of the biggest heists an American League G.M. has perpetrated on the Nationals since Lee MacPhail sent Milt Pap-pas from Baltimore to the Cincinnati Reds for Frank Robinson back in '65.
But in the wake of their world championship the Twins' fortunes fell, and by 1990, with the team playing poorly, the local press had dubbed the young G.M. Andy MacFail. "But in 1990," says MacPhail, "we saw Tapani and [pitcher] Scott Erickson come on, and [second baseman] Chuck Knoblauch had a good year in the minors. We saw progress. My father gave me a sense of perspective. If baseball becomes your sole focus, you can only expect life to be a rough roller coaster, because that's how the game's designed. I try to read a lot of biographies, and my problems, compared with those Churchill was facing in 1945, don't amount to anything. That's helpful when you're in last place and people are writing that you shouldn't have your job."
As it turned out, MacPhail was right about Erickson and Knoblauch and Tapani—they were keys last season. And this year? "I don't think that anybody in our division significantly improved their pitching," he says. "It'll be an interesting division." The telephone rings. It is Pohlad. "Well, Carl," MacPhail tells him, "I think we're pretty well positioned to see what happens." As a G.M. in the '90s, one can never be too cautious.
MacPhail's success may even help perpetuate the family trade into the next century. In Baltimore there is a husky 22-year-old who began interning with the Orioles as soon as he was old enough to drive. "In no way do I think I'll ascend to the top as quickly as Andy did," says Lee MacPhail IV, Lee Ill's son, Andy's nephew and a full-time scouting assistant for Baltimore. "But I'd like to be a general manager."