Minnesota's Kirby Puckett, Oakland's Jose Canseco and Toronto's Jesse Barfield in the AL, with the Dodgers' Mike Marshall, Montreal's Tim Raines and San Francisco's Chili Davis in the NL. Both Puckett and Canseco should be givens, while Barfield's power (17 home runs), speed and defense make him the pick over Jim Rice. How can Marshall be leading the NL in homers when no one pitches to him? Davis, who's leading the league in RBIs, edges out Dave Parker and Tony Gwynn, both of whom are having their usual fine seasons.
Lance Parrish, Detroit, and Jody Davis, Chicago. Sure, Gary Carter has more homers and RBIs than Davis, but run scoring hasn't been a Cub specialty. Anyway, Davis has thrown out nearly 50% of opposing base runners; Carter is closer to 20%.
Incidentally, this year's ballot includes a questionnaire on the back. Some marketing types want to know each voter's "occupational group" from among professional, managerial, office employee, service, homemaker, student and retired. They must assume that nobody who wears a blue collar ever goes to a game.
YANKS ON A SHORT SHOPPING TRIP
Having destroyed Bobby Meacham's confidence and sent him to Columbus, the Yankees are out shopping for a shortstop, as well as a pitcher. They have thus far shown no interest in Rick Burleson, who is buried in California and would like to play shortstop on an everyday basis. The New York media were pushing for a Ken Griffey-Rafael Ramirez deal with the Braves, but Atlanta doesn't want to trade Ramirez and prematurely thrust rookie Andres Thomas into the pressure of playing every day. What the Braves really need is pitching. They had one win from a starter other than Rick Mahler in their last 29 games through Sunday.... Astros ace Mike Scott, who was only 3-3 during a stretch of 10 starts in which he never once allowed more than two earned runs, is also displeased with an Astros promotion for his newfound strikeout prowess. Management hands out placards with a red K to fans to wave each time he gets to two strikes. "Now I tend to overthrow when I get two strikes on a hitter," said Scott. He also lost two wins when Dave Smith surrendered homers to Chili Davis and Eric Davis, prompting someone to ask Smith how he thought he would fare against John Davis, the Astros' travel secretary.... In any list of trade steals for '86, add the name of Eric Steven King, the hard-throwing righthander the Tigers plucked out of the Giants system in the Juan Berenguer-Dave LaPoint deal last October. The new San Francisco regime got mad at King because he hurt his leg in a motorcycle mishap and couldn't pitch in the Instructional League, so they included him in the deal even though the Tigers had evaluated him as the second-best pitching prospect in the organization behind Terry Mulholland. King has been consistently clocked at 92 mph, and after taking La-Point's spot in the rotation, he has impressed Sparky Anderson with his nerve. When he beat the Orioles on June 18, he knocked down Larry Sheets with two outs in the ninth inning and a 6-1 lead.... Management types won't like hearing this, but technically Montreal has carried 25 players on its roster. When the Expos bought Bob McClure from Milwaukee on June 8, they told him not to report for five days because they had to clear a spot on the roster. McClure wasn't with the club, but for those five days the Expos had 25 eligible players.... While the amateur draft was being conducted, Commissioner Peter Ueberroth called Mark Belanger at the Players Association and told him that his son Rob, an infielder for Dulaney High in Baltimore, had been drafted in the 11th round by Texas. Belanger hadn't expected it, but he excitedly called home, and Rob went off to tell his friends the big news. When Belanger called Rangers G.M. Tom Grieve to thank him, Grieve acted surprised. Five minutes later, he called Belanger back and told him that they had drafted Mike Belanger (no relation) from Cal State-Fullerton, so Belanger had to make a very difficult follow-up call to Rob.... Padres president Ballard Smith met with players to clear the air about criticism of his decision to ban beer from the clubhouse, and when he came out, he was surrounded by the media. Smith angrily called the reporters "flies." When reporters went into the clubhouse the next day, they found that all the Padre players had been equipped with flyswatters.
THE HAWK SWOOPS DOWN
Ken Harrelson's firing of manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan was inevitable, but how the White Sox fare the rest of this season will determine the future of Harrelson and the people he has brought into the organization. Board chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, whose attention was riveted on his NBA Bulls while some of the Sox changes were being made, was not pleased with Harrelson's earlier firing of assistant G.M. Dave Dombrowski. If things don't change with La Russa's departure and Dombrowski hasn't taken any of the half-dozen jobs he has already been offered, he could return. The Hawk feels that much of the heat comes from the media and executives who have never played in the big leagues. "Some people out there certainly hope we fail because we're trying something against the grain," says Harrelson. "A lot of things had to be changed to whip this thing into a major league organization, and I'll take the heat to do it."...New White Sox manager Jim Fregosi was a little reluctant to take the White Sox job, because as the Louisville skipper, he was getting a salary of about $100,000, a car, a condominium, membership in a swank country club and private boxes at local racetracks, including Churchill Downs.... The week's two most interesting internal conflicts came from the American League East. First, when Tiger coach Billy Consolo read the lineup last week and included Chet Lemon's name, Kirk Gibson bellowed, "Wally who?" a reference to Wally Pipp, whose one-day headache put Lou Gehrig in the Yankee lineup for 17 years. Gibson then smiled, but Lemon sensitively snapped back, "Are you trying to say my injuries weren't legitimate?" Gibson and other teammates knew that Lemon had been sleeping in the clubhouse during a recent game, and Gibson replied, "Yup," to which Lemon responded, "You of all people. I've been here five years and you've only played two of them—the World Series year and your free-agent year." Gibson answered, "My injuries were legitimate." Lemon had been out of the lineup eight straight games and had missed 18 of the first 59 games.... In Baltimore, after Alan Wiggins made three errors—two nights after being tagged out on the hidden-ball trick by Detroit's Dave Bergman—the Diamond-Vision scoreboard flashed the nightly WHO AM I? contest. The mystery Oriole turned out to be Wiggins, which elicited raunchy booing from the fans. The often-troubled second baseman went into a tirade. "I come here and bust my [tail], and when I make an error, I get booed," Wiggins shouted in the clubhouse. "I've put up with this for a year, and all I've done is hit .285 and produce. This game ain't worth all this [stuff]. I didn't ask to come to the great Baltimore Orioles
. They wanted me. All I've done is take 60 drug tests, stay clean and produce. If they don't want me in Baltimore, they should do something about it." Earl Weaver told reporters, "I always said I gave Mike Cuellar more chances than I gave my first wife. I've given Wiggins more chances than I gave Cuellar. I don't know how many chances I have left in me."
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]