- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Pittsburgh took six of seven from the Reds and Astros, but Manager Chuck Tanner cast a pallor over the happy home stand by calling Joe West "the worst, most incompetent umpire ever to wear the blue." West had called a balk on Bert Blyleven. Tanner didn't object to that—he hadn't even seen the balk—but he howled when West gave Blyleven a quick heave-ho for disputing the call.
Montreal's (2-4) starting eight hit. 121 with men in scoring position. "My wife met a French-Canadian comedian the other night," said Manager Dick Williams. "He said I should open the sports page and stand on it, because I have a good team on paper."
After 95 consecutive days in last place, St. Louis (4-3) breathed the heady air of fifth place. Pete Vuckovich lifted the Cardinals out of the cellar by allowing just two runs in two games, winning twice and lowering his league-leading ERA to 2.18. New York (2-4) thoroughly enjoyed the visit of San Diego's KGB Chicken. "He's my hero," said Pitcher Jerry Koosman. "I think there should be more of that in baseball. I think the Mets should have a duck." It would be appropriate, too, because the Mets were drowning in last place.
PHIL 64-55 CHI 62-59 PITT 58-62 MONT 58-65 ST.L 51-72 NY 50-72
"I know exactly how they felt," said George Brett of Kansas City (3-5). He was envisioning the fans in California (3-3). "They were going crazy when the score of our first game [a 5-1 loss to Minnesota that dropped the Royals into a first-place tie with the Angels] was posted. And they were giving standing ovations when zeros began showing up in our second game. But when that big '4' went up, the whole stadium was one big groan." Brett was largely responsible for the 4, slugging a three-run homer that powered K.C. to an 11-5 win.
Another voluble Royal was Manager Whitey Herzog. After the Twins hit K.C. Pitcher Doug Bird for—consecutively—a single, double, triple and home run, three of which came on two-strike counts, Herzog said, "Bird's been hurt all his life after getting two strikes on the batter." Turning his venom on Minnesota Manager Gene Mauch, who had pooh-poohed the Mad Hungarian act of K.C. Reliever Al Hrabosky, Herzog fumed, " Gene Mauch is a genius. That's why he's won all those pennants." Mauch hasn't won a pennant in his 18 years as a major league manager, but he did have the sense to unleash rookie Pitchers Roger Erickson and Barry Serum when Dave Goltz and Mike Marshall were ailing. The kids each won two complete-game victories as Minnesota went 7-2.
Chicago (4-3) was windy, indeed. Wilbur Wood, whose 10 wins led the staff, was upset when he was sent to the bullpen so that rookie Ross Baumgarten could be used in the rotation, and Manager Larry Doby was furious when the umpires reversed a decision and gave Detroit's Tim Corcoran another chance to bat. Noticing shoe polish on the ball, the umpires decided it had bounced off Corcoran's foot before rolling fair. "I've never seen brown polish on a black shoe," Doby said. "I saw nothing but dirt on the ball."
There was a bomb scare during one Texas (5-3) game against the White Sox. It developed that the bomb was actually a package of golf balls left for Umpire Larry Barnett. The Rangers won 4-3 as Bobby Bonds had three hits against his former teammates. Then Jon Matlack beat the White Sox 1-0. Finally, there was the Great Locker Robbery. Arriving in Arlington, ex-Ranger Claudell Washington discovered that two gloves, three pairs of shoes, some underwear and a bottle of cologne were missing from his locker. It turned out that Texas clubhouse man Joe Macko was trying to get even for the $158 he claimed Washington owed him. "After Washington got to the park, he sent one of the clubhouse kids to tell me we're even now," Macko said. "But I sent the kid back with the message that we aren't close. I got everything in his locker and I'll do it again next season until I get my $158 worth." The next day White Sox General Manager Roland Hemond paid Macko the $158 and promised he would take it out of Washington's paycheck. Unruffled, Washington singled, doubled and tripled as the White Sox jolted the Rangers 6-2
Seattle was not only playing good baseball (3-2), but also making interesting conversation. After stealing a team-record three bases in a 4-1 win over California, Julio Cruz said, "My body is all tore up. I guess when I get married the lady gonna say, 'What's the matter with you? You always in a fight or something?' "