American League : Twins Appear to Be at Odds With Themselves
That one-for-all, all-for-one spirit of those young, anonymous Minnesota Twins apparently is dissolving in a schizophrenic season.
The Twins, in just 47 games, have had a nine-game losing streak, a 10-game winning streak, and a 10-game losing streak. They started a weekend series with the Chicago White Sox having lost 12 of their last 13 games, including one Tuesday night to Toronto, after which pitcher Frank Viola was critical of shortstop Roy Smalley’s play.
“It’s frustrating when you’re working your butt off out there and people behind you are playing without intensity,” Viola told reporters.
Catcher Tim Laudner, lockering next to Viola, heard Viola and later, along with Smalley, had an argument with Viola in the middle of the clubhouse, prompting Viola to storm out.
Smalley reacted Wednesday to that and to a report that Viola had said that he would no longer pitch when Smalley played shortstop. Smalley said: “I hope it’s not that he’s concerned about intensity only when’s he out there every five days. He doesn’t have a good barometer for team intensity because he has enough problems doing his own job. I hope it was just frustration.”
Manager Billy Gardner aired it all out in a team meeting Thursday, a day off. Viola reportedly apologized to Smalley, but the mood lingers.
Pitcher Mike Smithson said that the pitchers, frequently criticized for their inability to reward one of the league’s most productive offenses, “have a feeling of alienation from the rest of the team. I never thought I’d feel that here. I just hope we have enough class and self-esteem that when we lose 1-0 and 2-1 games we don’t start throwing the blame on someone else.”
What are the odds of a team’s having losing streaks of 9 and 10 games, along with a 10-game winning streak, in a span of just 47 games?
The Minneapolis Tribune asked a pair of math professors at the University of Minnesota. The professors, using the Twins’ 81-81 record of last year as a base, reported the odds at 67,000 to 1.
The odds of it happening in 162 games: 165 to 1.
Said one of the professors, Larry Gray: “What a statistician would conclude from this is that the streaks must be due to some other factor than random chance. They (the Twins) must be very affected by what happens to them, but I’ll leave that to the psychologists.”
The Tribune also contacted Bill James, author of “Baseball Abstract.” James put it succinctly, saying the Twins are baseball’s “manic depressives.”
Injuries to a promising young pitching staff have left the Seattle Mariners sinking slowly in the AL West.
Mark Langston, 1984 rookie pitcher of the year and league strikeout leader, was the latest to fall. He was put on the 21-day disabled list the other day because of a strained elbow tendon.
Three other starters were already out. Mike Morgan is on the 60-day list with a torn groin muscle, Salome Barojas is on the 21-day list with shoulder tendinitis, and Mike Moore is on the 15-day list with a strained groin muscle.
The Mariners, now in Cleveland, also sent Karl Best, their top relief pitcher, back to Seattle Thursday for treatment of an inflamed tendon in his elbow.
Said relief pitcher Ed Vande Berg: “We don’t need to talk to (pitching coach) Phil Regan. We need to talk to President Reagan. This staff should be called a national disaster area.”
The President may be Seattle’s only hope. General Manager Hal Keller hasn’t made a deal or signed a free agent since last June 27.
Takes-one-to-know-one dept.: Yankee Manager Billy Martin, appraising last Sunday’s performance by Chuck Cottier in which the Seattle manager uprooted a base and ultimately threw bats and helmets in response to what he considered a bad call:
“On a scale of 1 to 10 I gave it a 20. I really enjoyed it.”
Even in mid-tantrum, though, Cottier remembered his manners. He asked Dave Winfield, who had been awarded a walk on a checked swing, to get off first base before he tried to throw it.
“I can’t throw 240 pounds,” he said later. “I asked him politely to get off.”
First base coach Deron Johnson retrieved the base and gave it to Cottier as a souvenir. That Johnson was able to swipe the base broke tradition. In his 16-year career as a player, he stole only 11 bases.
Bert Blyleven, still the subject of trade talks between the Angels and Indians, didn’t name names but seemed to take a jab at the media after beating Texas with a five hitter Thursday, 9-1.
“People say I can only shut out the lower division teams,” he said. “I don’t know who I’m going to shut out.
“Let those guys play the game. They don’t know anything about baseball.”
Blyleven is 4-6 with a 0.25 earned-run average in the games he has won and a 6.11 ERA in the games he has lost.
Milwaukee’s Ted Higuera, who shut out the Angels with a four-hitter in early May, now has a three-game winning streak, reviving comparisons with Fernando Valenzuela.
“It’s hard not to say he’s a lot like Valenzuela,” catcher Ted Simmons said. “He’s from Mexico. He’s left-handed. He throws the changeup like a screwball. But until he starts winning like Valenzuela, they just look alike.”
First, Yogi Berra went. Now Dale Berra?
The Yankees are reportedly thinking of moving Andre Robertson into the third base platoon with Mike Pagliarulo, benching Berra, who already has nine errors, not to mention no homers, six RBIs and a .256 average in 86 at-bats.
Willie Hernandez had not allowed a home run in 92 innings when Seattle’s Phil Bradley beat him with one in the 12th inning Tuesday. Two batters later, Hernandez hit Alvin Davis with a pitch, exchanged words with the Seattle bench and was ejected.
Credit umpire Jim Evans with a save.
“He told me that the reason he threw me out was that there were 25 guys who wanted to beat me up,” Hernandez said.
Boston Manager John McNamara seemed to be taking a shot at his general manager, Lou Gorman, when he said the other day, “Any idea about trading Wade Boggs is absurd.”
The league leader in complete games is Boston’s Dennis (Oil Can) Boyd, who has seven. That’s more than 11 major league teams have.