If it happens, President Bill Veeck won't be around to enjoy it, because the team's board of directors agreed last Friday to sell the Sox to Edward J. DeBartolo Sr. and his daughter for $20 million. Ever since Veeck and his group bought 80% of the club in 1975 from the late John Allyn for $8 million, they have had money problems that prevented them from investing in high-quality free agents. DeBartolo, who also owns the Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL and a thoroughbred track in Louisiana, would do well to keep the organization intact. While many of the AL West teams use poverty as an excuse, the White Sox truly have suffered from a lack of funds.
They laughed when Charlie Finley hired Billy Martin. They laughed even louder when Martin said he could make the A's a winner. Funny, they're not laughing now. Martin has succeeded in turning the moribund A's around, and he deserves full credit for their rags-to-middle-class story. He has brought them respectability without a quality second baseman or shortstop and without a bullpen. In fact, his starters already have pitched 72 complete games, only five short of the 162-game-schedule record set by the 1968 Giants. Of his best reliever, Bob Lacey, Martin says, "I don't want to see him anymore."
Dan Carnevale, who does Cleveland's advance work, says, "Martin maneuvers his players and always is looking ahead. Give him nine guys and he'll fight you to the finish even if the talent is mediocre." Martin's commando style has produced 13 double steals, one triple steal, seven steals of home in 13 attempts, and 13 suicide squeezes in 19 tries. His outfield of Rickey Henderson (.302, 63 stolen bases), Tony Armas (26 HRs, 81 RBIs) and Dwayne Murphy (.276, 54 RBIs) has blossomed nicely. Pitchers Mike Norris, Matt Keough and Rick Langford deserve a collective Cy Young Award.
Finley thinks he got what he deserved last week when he sold the team for $12.7 million, more than three times what he paid for it in 1960.
From his perch as Detroit's chief scout, Rick Ferrell looks over to the West and says, "It's disturbing the way the league is lined up. There's some talk about Milwaukee going into that division and Chicago coming into our division. It's not a good situation." A better suggestion might be to relocate the front-office talent. Obviously, some of the West teams don't know what to do with good players even when they have them. Their problems won't be solved until they admit that the fault is not in their stars, but in themselves.