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BASEBALL
Tim Kurkjian
April 30, 1990
K BOOM
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April 30, 1990

Baseball

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Gibson's game depends on his legs: stealing second, breaking up double plays, taking the extra base. The Dodgers aren't planning to use Gibson merely to pinch-hit. If he can't run, he can't play.

Since his rookie year in 1980, Gibson has missed 626 games. Last year he played in only 71 and batted a dismal .213. The last National League Most Valuable Player to finish with that low an average the year after winning the award was '63 MVP Sandy Koufax, who batted .095 in '64. Even Bob Gibson, the 1968 MVP, hit .246 in '69.

Kirk Gibson is in the last year of his contract, and L.A. is unlikely to re-sign him if he isn't healthy. Gibson doesn't need the money; he has a successful real estate business outside Detroit. However, his 1989 performance embarrassed him, and being the competitor that he is, he has told friends he won't quit until he gives the game one more shot. If he doesn't heal soon, there's a chance his last real shot was the ninth-inning homer he hit to win Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.

BUTTERFINGERS
The Mets may still win the National League East this year, but they won't be an outstanding team until they learn to play better defensively. In its first 12 games, New York committed 15 errors, and its catchers threw out only one of 28 base stealers. After watching the Mets play on April 18, one National League manager made this evaluation: They were starting a DH (Mackey Sasser) behind the plate, a DH (Mike Marshall) at first, a third baseman (Gregg Jefferies) at second, a third baseman (Howard Johnson) at shortstop, a first baseman (Dave Magadan) at third, a DH (Mark Carreon) in leftfield, a second baseman (Keith Miller) in center and a DH (Darryl Strawberry) in right. "The way to beat the Mets," the manager concluded, "is to hit the ball on the ground and keep running until it stops rolling. You might get all around the bases."

SOAP OPERA

The latest episode in All My Padres took place on April 18, when Jerry Kapstein resigned as San Diego owner Joan Kroc's "personal representative" because his wife, Linda Smith, had filed for divorce earlier in the week. If the divorce becomes final, it won't be the first time that Smith, who is Kroc's daughter, will have ended a marriage with a top executive for the Padres. In 1987 she divorced Ballard Smith, who had previously been the club's president. Kapstein, however, may not be out of the picture for long because he has a close relationship with Tom Werner, who's heading the group that recently signed a letter of intent to purchase the Padres. "Anything's possible," says one Padres insider. "I know one thing: The Yankees have nothing on us. The San Diego Zoo is a lot crazier than the Bronx Zoo." ...Phillie pitcher Don Carman struck out three batters in two scoreless innings on April 19, a performance that may have saved him from being released. This is the same guy who two years ago was considered so valuable that the Reds came within inches of trading Nick Esasky and Rob Dibble for him....

On April 18, the A's Jose Canseco hit a low, scorching liner off California's Mike Witt that rocketed over the left centerfield fence in Anaheim Stadium. Said Oriole advance scout Ed Farmer, "I saw Reggie Jackson hit a hand grenade once. This was an atomic bomb."

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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