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Peter Gammons
September 08, 1986
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September 08, 1986


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Eric Davis






D. Strawberry







The participants are in the same tax bracket as the Carringtons and Colbys, and their behavior is equally ridiculous. Last week baseball had three concurrent soap operas involving rich people: In San Diego, Goose Gossage and Padre president Ballard Smith went at it; in Baltimore, Eddie Murray and owner Edward Bennett Williams did some hissing at each other; and in New York the longest-running feud of all, Dave Winfield versus George Steinbrenner, added a new episode.

Last Friday, Smith suspended Gossage for the rest of the season—which could possibly cost Goose $250,000 in pay. Earlier in the week, after Smith said he would not sign players with a history of drug use and would limit contract offers to one year, Gossage told News-day's Marty Noble, "I'd rather have a guy like George, who wants to win every game, than have the guy we have here, who doesn't know anything and doesn't care. He cares more about our citizenship than winning. He wants choirboys and not winning players. Ballard just listens to what Mom [owner Joan Kroc] says. If we don't sign some free agents, we'll be worse next year than we are now. And who's going to sign here for a one-year contract, with no beer in the clubhouse? We're past that stage. The attitude here is the worst I've ever seen."

Because of this, Smith suspended the struggling (5-7, 4.37 ERA) reliever, citing major league Rule 13, which gives owners the right to discipline players for "repeated and continuing insubordination and similar behavior that is not in the best interest of the club."

The Padres have been the most disappointing team in the National League, falling into last place with a growing number of disgruntled veterans. The atmosphere in the front office has been stormy ever since Kroc opposed Smith's attempt to oust manager Dick Williams last December. Now, with Jack McKeon trying to make a number of trades involving some of those veterans, the franchise seems as chaotic as it was before McKeon and Williams turned it around. Over the weekend in Montreal, the players seriously considered a boycott of the Montreal games in support of Gossage. They wisely elected to Play.

Murray asked the Orioles to trade him after Williams criticized him over his lack of production and his minimal off-season conditioning. Murray has also been upset with call-in shows that have made him the scapecoat for the collapse of that once-proud team. Granted, Murray is sensitive, but his request was not purely an outburst of emotion. Over the last 18 months he has become increasingly unhappy with the Oriole organization. Part of the frustration is with the front office, which let the farm system slide, forcing the O's to bring in outsiders. Murray was also upset with the manner in which his injuries were handled. A doctor put him on a Cybex machine the day after the All-Star Game to test his hamstring, and he reinjured it.

Murray is hitting .351 with runners in scoring position, which isn't bad. As for the conditioning, Boston's Jim Rice says, "Out in California you've got Reggie Jackson saying he can't hit homers because he worked out too much, and in Baltimore they're knocking Eddie for not working out enough. This game's going crazy."

Things are always crazy in the South Bronx, as Steinbrenner continues to goad Winfield. The Boss was angered at Win-field's criticism of the chemistry of the team after 40 players had run in and out of the clubhouse this season, so Steinbrenner leaked a story saying that he tried to deal Winfield to Minnesota for either Kent Hrbek or Frank Viola and was turned down. Winfield is a 10-and-5 man and cannot be traded without his permission—which he won't give—but that fact was conveniently ignored. Steinbrenner said, "The trouble with Dave Winfield is that he goes around saying, 'It's not my fault.' He points the finger at everyone but himself. When I'm wrong, I say so. I admit I made a terrible mistake in letting Reggie Jackson go. It was probably the biggest mistake I ever made. Winfield can't back up the big 'I Am.' Reggie could do it." When Winfield was honored at City Hall last week for his work with children, no Yankee official even acknowledged the event.

Winfield says, "George said I'm not the player I used to be. He's right. I'm better. Maybe he was old when he was 27 or 28, but not me."


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