Beyond these three, Chicago has ace Greg Maddux and a lot of question marks. Should a Cub fan have faith? Will this be the year they get enough pitching? Get loose, Doug.
6. Montreal Expos Watch Gary Carter smile for the camera. Watch him do interviews, sign autographs and tape promotional ads. Watch him pump his fist and high-five his teammates during rundown drills in spring training.
The Kid is back with the Expos. He'll be 38 next week and is well past his prime, but he's still loved in Montreal. His return after a seven-year trip through New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles is all part of Les Expos' new image this year. Je suis positif ("I'm positive") is their slogan. After last season's 70-91 embarrassment, in which manager Buck Rodgers was fired, general manager Dave Dombrowski resigned and Olympic Stadium all but collapsed and had to be closed for a month, an attitude change was clearly needed.
"Last year couldn't have been worse," says first baseman Tim Wallach. "There was so much bad stuff, it was terrible. But this spring has been upbeat."
The Expos have new, attractive uniforms, a new third baseman (Bret Barberie), first baseman (Wallach), catchers (Darrin Fletcher and Carter) and closer (John Wetteland). They have the same second baseman, Delino DeShields, but you'll never recognize him. He has ditched his hightop spikes, pulled his pants up to his knees to show full stirrups and shaved his head. He is using a bigger glove, he smiles once in a while, and he says he won't argue with umpires anymore. All this in hopes of atoning for a .238, 151-strikeout season in 1991.
The best form of advertising for the new Expos has been televising exhibition games back to Montreal: The Expos won 15 of their first 22. The starting pitching was good, and Wetteland's fastball was clocked in the upper 90's. "He's an animal," says Expo ace Dennis Martinez.
Montreal is the most improved team in the division, but that may not be good enough for manager Tom Runnells, who seems to be wound a little too tight. Before a March 9 exhibition game against the Yankees, he said, "We have to win this one." Easy does it, Tom. Someone has to finish last.