JOTTINGS FROM THE JOINT
Denny McLain writes a monthly column for the Detroit-based Sports Fans' Journal from the Talladega, Ala., federal prison, where he is serving a 23-year sentence for racketeering, extortion, conspiracy and drug trafficking. His May column is titled "It's Time To Defend the Owners."
A FEW DOME IDEAS
Toronto's domed stadium, which is scheduled to open in 1989, will be known as the SkyDome. The name was chosen from among 12,878 entries in a name-that-dome contest. Some of the losing suggestions: the Pierre Truedome, Dome Kopf, Dome Perignon, Tax Payer Gets Ripped Off Again Dome, and Home T Dome T.
JUSTICE GENE MAUCH AND THE LAW
On the afternoon of May 12 in Detroit, Gene Mauch was recounting how he used to study the rule book when he was a manager in Puerto Rico. "I'd visualize situations, searching for loopholes," he said. "There were many more loopholes then."
In the third inning of that evening's game, with Angels on first and second, Detroit's Dan Petry threw a pitch that catcher Mike Heath momentarily lost in the dirt before scooping it up with his mask. Mauch immediately charged first base umpire Rick Reed, claiming that Heath had violated a rule. Reed and home plate ump Durwood Merrill agreed. The violation? Rule 7.05(d) forbids a player from deliberately obstructing a thrown ball with any part of the uniform. Heath, who says he has used his mask to scoop up balls for nine years, was charged with an error, and both runners were awarded the required two bases. Mark McLemore was waved home from second, and Brian Downing went from first to third, later to score on an error. Those were the only Angel runs in a 15-2 loss.
THE LIVELY BALK DEBATE
National League president Bart Giamatti has directed his umpires to crack down on pitchers who don't come to a complete stop following their stretches and before delivering. As a result, through last weekend, NL umps had called 72 balks, compared with only 26 in the American. NL base stealers still had a 68% success rate, same as in 1986.
?Off-season pickups Charles Hudson, Rick Rhoden, Pat Clements and Cecilio Guante had 14 of the Yankees' first 24 wins and just five of their first 13 losses. Hudson was the first Yankee pitcher to start off 5-0 since Doug Bird in '81.
?Five of the 10 pitchers on the Astros staff—Mike Scott, Jim Deshaies, Nolan Ryan, Larry Andersen and Dave Smith—are averaging more than a strikeout per inning. Houston is on a pace to eclipse its 1969 major league record of 1,221 strikeouts.
? Texas beat Phil Niekro, Steve Carlton and Tommy John in consecutive games. Proving that youth can get the better of experience, the Rangers' 39-year-old Charlie Hough beat 300-game winners Niekro and Carlton back-to-back.