All this cloak-and-dagger intrigue can put general managers in a foul mood. Sabean screamed at San Francisco reporters when he found out they were reporting the details of the VanLandingham incident. Baltimore Orioles general manager Pat Gilliek still is upset that Dombrowski traded righthander John Burkett to Texas last August in a waivers-claim deal after telling Gillick's assistant, Kevin Malone, that the pitcher was unavailable. "The guy lied to Kevin," says Gilliek, who had interest in obtaining Burkett.
Says Dombrowski, 'A good amount of time had passed from the time we spoke. They weren't even one of the teams I was talking to at the [July 31] deadline. Things change all the time."
Until the Blue Book comes out in an abridged edition, however, the unwritten rules of the waiver system will be as vexing as the written ones. If you're having trouble getting a good read on it. you're not alone. "I've tried" Oakland assistant general manager Bill Beane said of curling up with the Blue Book. "It's the kind of subject you could study for four years in graduate school and still not pass the final exam."