"He should be a busboy somewhere," said K.C.'s Dan Quisenberry of the slender Saberhagen. "But he knows how to get the ball over the plate. That might sound stupid, but not many people can do that."
Bill Buckner feels he's being held hostage on the Chicago Cubs bench. He's still hoping the Dodgers will ransom him, even though earlier this month Peter O'Malley vetoed a deal that would have sent him back to L.A. Buckner is asking the Dodgers for nothing more than a verbal agreement to a one-year extension of his $600,000-a-year contract if he has a good season.
What must Bill Giles think? The Phillies' president had wanted Buckner included in the deal that sent Gary Matthews and two other Phillies to Chicago for Bill Campbell and Mike Diaz. Giles changed his mind when he found that Buckner wanted not only a contract extension but also a large signing bonus and some help in selling his Chicago condo.
The Cardinals' Ozzie Smith has been considered the best and most creative fielding shortstop in baseball for a number of years. Last week, in the eighth inning of a game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, he made a play to boggle the mind, forcing a runner at second with a 25-foot behind-the-back pass, er, throw.
Smith had to charge a bouncer hit behind the mound by the Cubs' speedy rookie, Henry Cotto. Because Cubs pitcher Scott Sanderson was the runner at first, Smith decided to go to second as he charged the ball.
"But when I looked up I saw I was past second base," Smith said. "What I did was just instinct. It happened before I realized what had happened. But I had done it a couple of times before, taking infield. When I take infield I try to familiarize myself with things that might happen in a game."
When Smith got back to his dugout he was greeted by silence.
"The guys," Smith said, "had their mouths open."
The next day some Cub fans had their mouths open.
"It was 'Hot dog this,' and 'Hot dog that,' " said Smith, who does a cartwheel and a backflip on his way to short before the start of the first and last game of each season. "But I call it flair."