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DEAR JOHN...LOVE, DAVE
It's only natural that Dave Winfield, the top prize in baseball's 1980 free-agent draft, would have personal preferences as to where he'd like to play. Still, one wishes the San Diego Padre slugger hadn't tried to cloak those preferences in the mantle of magnanimity, which he did in sending letters to 15 clubs suggesting that they not waste first-round draft choices on him. Winfield explained that he would love to play for a contender but, more important, that he needed "a metropolitan area" in which he could "make a significant contribution to young less fortunate children."
Winfield is doubtless sincere in saying he'd rather play for a contender—what player wouldn't?—and he's to be commended for the good work his Dave Winfield Foundation has done with disadvantaged children, providing them with, among other things, tickets to baseball games in various cities in sections designated as Winfield Pavilions.
But the list of teams to which Winfield sent his letter aroused all kinds of suspicions. It included Baltimore and Pittsburgh, both pennant contenders and both situated in metropolitan areas with no shortage of social problems waiting to be tackled by a charity-minded baseball star. On the other hand, Winfield's preferred list—in other words, the teams that didn't receive letters—included the Mets, who wouldn't figure to be a contender even with Winfield in the lineup.
What most of Winfield's choice teams do seem to have in common are owners willing to part with big bucks. In fact, many baseball observers felt Winfield's letter was calculated to make sure that the free-spending Yankees wouldn't be shut out of the bidding. Because they had the best record in baseball last season, the Yankees were to draft last and, under the rules, would have had a shot at Winfield only if 12 or more clubs ahead of them passed on him. When the draft was held last week, enough teams did pass on Winfield that the Yankees were able to draft him. But the 6'6" Winfield wound up a mite diminished in stature in the process.
DETOURS & SHORTCUTS
As far as anybody knows, the course for the recent New York Marathon was faithfully followed by all of the runners. This was in sharp contrast not only with the '80 Boston Marathon—remember Rosie Ruiz?—but also with:
1) The Boise State Invitational cross-country meet on Oct. 24, in which James Rotich, Mike Musyoki and Suleiman Nyambui, all of defending NCAA champion Texas-El Paso, were running one-two-three when they and three pursuers took a wrong turn. The race was won by Weber State's Doug Friedli, who had been trailing the leaders by 200 yards but kept on the course, which was marked by arrows. Said Friedli of his lost rivals, "Maybe when you're running that fast you can't see the arrows."