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Jack Morris and Chili Davis, Twins. Both have contracts laden with incentives. Morris, for example, has a base salary of $2.5 million for 1991, but he can earn $500,000 in bonuses if he pitches 230 innings.
For baseball's sake, let's hope no player is held out of a crucial game against a pennant contender in September just to prevent him from reaching an incentive, thereby saving his team a few dollars. Baseball is a business, but business considerations should not be allowed to affect the integrity of the game. Not putting your best lineup on the field against a team going for a title would be, to quote Bradley, "sickening."
Back, in the Hunt
As the Reds and Dodgers stumbled to start the second half of the season, losing their first eight and seven games, respectively, the Braves moved into second place in the National League West by winning seven of their first eight. Atlanta gained six games in eight days on division-leading Los Angeles, prompting Braves manager Bobby Cox to call it "the most amazing week I've ever seen." Through Sunday the Braves were three games out of first.
The Braves made their surge without first baseman Sid Bream or outfielder David Justice, who both went on the disabled list late in June. Bream is out with an injury to his right knee and could be back this weekend. Justice has been bothered by a strained lower back and probably won't play for at least two weeks. But the team has been bolstered by surprising performances from outfielder Otis Nixon (at week's end he led the National League with 48 steals and was hitting .332) and third baseman Terry Pendleton (he was hitting .339, one point behind the league leader, San Diego's Tony Gwynn). Outfielder Ron Gant (19 homers, 54 RBIs, 16 steals) has also come on strong after a very slow start and has a good shot at his second straight 30-homer, 30-stolen base season. Pitcher Tom Glavine is the leading candidate for the National League's Cy Young Award. As of Sunday he led the league in wins (13) and ERA (1.89).
If the Braves win the division, they'll be the only team ever to go from the cellar one season to the top of the standings the next. Unless, of course, the Twins do likewise in the American League West.
Doing What Comes Naturally
The thick-headed antics of Phillie outfielder Lenny Dykstra—i.e., his poker playing losses and his car wreck after teammate John Kruk's bachelor party—are well documented, but don't ever question how much he means to his team. Dykstra missed 61 games with a broken collarbone, broken cheekbone and rib damage suffered when he drove his car into a tree on May 6, after which he was charged with drunken driving. He returned to the lineup on July 15 and reached base in seven of his first 14 plate appearances. In doing so, he led the Phillies to a three-game sweep of the Dodgers, their first series sweep of the season. Ignoring warnings by doctors not to slide headfirst, Dykstra belly-flopped into second while stealing a base in his first game back, thus positioning himself to score a key run in a 9-8 victory.
"The fact that Lenny is back in the lineup changes our whole outlook," says Phillie reliever Mitch Williams. "If this team could have played in the first half the way it played the last few days, imagine what could have happened. Lenny changes the look of the team. He's our heart."
Of that headfirst slide, Dykstra says, "When I was little and I used to play football, my dad told me that the people who get hurt are the people who are afraid of getting hit. I thought about it before the game, and I figured that if I'm going to play the game, I'm going to play it the way I know how."