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Baseball's two most prominent hostages, Bert Blyleven and John Candelaria, were freed from last place last week in a couple of strange and interrelated deals. The Angels, who coveted Blyleven, dealt for the Pirates' Candelaria the day after Bert went from the Indians to the Twins. Minnesota, the club with which Blyleven started his career, got him for reliever Curt Wardle, minor league shortstop Jay Bell (who has committed 55 errors in 105 pro games) and minor league outfielder Jim Weaver. Said one American League G.M., " Cleveland got screwed, waylaid and parlayed."
Candelaria, who will become a starter again as an Angel, went west with reliever Al Holland and outfielder George Hendrick, as the Angels, who had lost six of seven when they made the deal, sent outfielder Mike Brown, rookie lefty Pat Clements and a player to be named later to Pittsburgh. Hendrick, who was hitting .230 with two homers, wanted out, and Angel general manager Mike Port, who knows Hendrick from his days in San Diego, chose Silent George after talking to him—no mean trick.
On July 25, commissioner Peter Ueberroth fired Jim Wilson, the unpopular director of the Major League Scouting Bureau, without consulting the general managers on the bureau's board of directors. After the board sent him an angry letter demanding a conference call to discuss the matter, according to Peter Gammons of The Boston Globe, Ueberroth began the call with "This isn't going to be a conference call. I'm doing the talking. I got your letter, tore it up and threw it in the wastebasket."
"His problem," says one G.M., "is that he has a bad habit of talking down to people. You know, some of us might not be the smartest people, but we're not stupid. It was inevitable that Wilson was going to go after this year, but I don't like the dictatorial way things are being developed in baseball."
Score it 8-6-2-2, a not-so-routine double play that had to be seen to be believed. No one was out in the seventh inning Friday night at Yankee Stadium with the Yanks and White Sox tied 3-3 in a game New York would eventually lose in extra innings. Bobby Meacham was on second, Dale Berra was on first when Rickey Henderson hit a shot to Death Valley that centerfielder Luis Salazar just missed.
Meacham was tagging up at second, with Berra a few feet behind him, when the ball fell and madness began. Meacham stumbled leaving second, and Berra almost ran up Meacham's back. That meant third-base coach Gene Michael, who wanted to hold Meacham at third, had no choice but to send him home. Berra was right behind him, and Michael threw up his arms in bewilderment. The relay from Salazar to Ozzie Guillen to Carlton Fisk beat Meacham by yards, and after the two collided, Fisk lunged forward to tag Berra, who himself had stumbled rounding third base. Obviously, this has not been a banner year for some members of the Berra family.
There was another base-running extravaganza last week, but the defense did the blundering in this one by allowing four stolen bases on one pitch. The Cards were in Wrigley Field Thursday and had rabbits Vince Coleman and Willie McGee on second and first. They took off on a double steal, but Coleman's headfirst slide carried him well past the bag. As Ron Cey started after him, Coleman jumped up and kept going, forcing a rundown. He scored after two throws when first baseman Leon Durham and pitcher Scott Sanderson both forgot to cover home. During the ruckus McGee tiptoed into third. The double double steal gave Coleman 74 thefts on the season—he flew right past the modern-day rookie record of 72—and McGee 41.
The Mariners were waiting to see if there was going to be a strike before making a $200,000 deferred payment due July 31 to Gorman Thomas. Thomas, who had to file a grievance to get his deferred money last year, could end up a free agent, a la Catfish Hunter. Win would the Mariners upset someone who has 24 homers, including 10 in his last 14 games? Because front-office bungling is a Mariner tradition.... Yankee owner George Steinbrenner has changed pitching coaches again. When his team came off an 11-game road trip with a 3-8 record, he fired pitching coach Mark Connor and replaced him with minor league coach Bill Monbouquette. That gives the pitching coaches a 21-12 lead over the managers in the number of times changed by the owner since 1973.
When the Phillies' 42-year-old Jerry Koosman heard that the White Sox' 40-year-old Tom Seaver asked for an extra day between starts last week to rest a tired arm, the lefty half of the 1969 Mets' Tom and Jerry Show cracked, "That guy's too old to pitch."