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The Apple Of Their Eye
E.M. Swift
September 23, 1985
New York was a nice place to visit last week as pennant races stirred hope of an oldtime Subway Series
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September 23, 1985

The Apple Of Their Eye

New York was a nice place to visit last week as pennant races stirred hope of an oldtime Subway Series

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An evening that started off on a sour note could hardly end otherwise. Steinbrenner spends much of the ninth inning ripping his team to the press, accusing the Yanks of choking under the pressure and being "out-played, out-front-officed, out-managed and out-ownered." He's particularly miffed that Martin brought Righetti into the game so early. Turning his wrath on Winfield, who has gone 1 for 8, including a double play, in the back-to-back Yankee losses, Steinbrenner says: "Where's Reggie Jackson? We need a Mr. October or a Mr. September. Dave Winfield is Mr. May." Finally, the inevitable pronouncement: "Furthermore, from now on no one except Robert Merrill sings the national anthem here without my permission."

SUNDAY, SEPT. 15

Newsflash: Merrill sings Canadian anthem without incident. Can-Am relations normalized.

But that is more than can be said for Yankee-Steinbrenner relations. Baylor, upset at being platooned, approached general manager Clyde King yesterday and asked to be traded. Winfield's feelings are hurt. He doesn't like being called Mr. May. "I can't help it if they're annoyed," says Steinbrenner as game time approaches. "I get annoyed when I have to sign their big fat paychecks. I pay Winfield $1.2 million to play this game. I pay Baylor $1.1 million. That's big money for big games. I'll tell you what Mattingly's problem has been in this series. They've been pitching around him to get to Winfield. I'm not mad at anyone."

The Blue Jays score six third-inning runs on five singles and two doubles, the final and eventual winning run trotting home from second when shortstop Meacham launches a moonshot relay into the third row of the lower boxes. The Yankees' pitching is bad, the fielding awful, the coaching inept. With one out in the fourth, Toronto up 6-0, Yankee third-base traffic cop Gene Michael waves home Mattingly, who's thrown out by 10 feet. And, finally, their hitting is virtually nonexistent until the game is out of reach. Doyle Alexander (16-8), who is now 40-20 since getting his unconditional release from the Yanks in June 1983, shuts out his former teammates on three hits through seven innings until he tires. Henke mops up the 8-5 game.

"Letting him go was a mistake," says Steinbrenner, "and so was letting Reggie go. We don't have the clutch hitters we had in '78. That's the biggest difference."

No, it's not. Winfield's got 101 RBIs. Mattingly has 125. Baylor 83. That's enough clutch hitting for any team with pitching, which the Yankees don't have. After the game the Yanks announced the acquisition of Phil Niekro's brother, 40-year-old Joe, from the Houston Astros. Though Joe should help the situation, the three straight losses have left the Yanks 4½ back and reeling in disharmony. How long ago that 29-5 stretch seems.

In the Toronto dressing room, the mood is quietly buoyant. Before the largest four-game homestand in AL history—214,510—the young Blue Jays had taken the House that Ruth Built and made it their own, bouncing back from Stieb's loss in the opening game. "We've got a lot of aces," manager Bobby Cox says. "We've always been able to bounce back from a tough loss because we've got good players and good pitching."

Superb pitching—pitching that made a shambles of the loud bats down the hall. One thing's for sure. Connie Mack never told a lie.

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