San Diego County : Dave Distel : Moreland Returns to the Land of Plenty--of Disappointments
Revisiting Little Big Horn: Keith Moreland coming to San Diego is a little bit like a victim returning to the alley in which he was mugged.
Moreland, of course, was one of the Chicago Cubs who was robbed in Mission Valley in 1984. After lo so many years of frustration, the Cubbies needed to win only 1 of 3 games in San Diego to be a party to the World Series for the first time since 1945.
They won none.
The last out of that National League Championship Series, the one still replayed hereabouts, had Graig Nettles fielding a grounder by Jody Davis and throwing to second base for a force.
The Chicago runner was Keith Moreland.
Call Him McMoreland: The acquisition of Moreland will give the Padres the kind of numbers they lost when they traded Kevin McReynolds to the New York Mets last off-season.
Moreland is a fellow who is going to bat .270 to .300, drive in 90 runs and hit 25 home runs. The local heroes suffered from the lack of such a hitter last year.
But Moreland will provide some intangibles in terms of leadership that McReynolds never provided, much to the frustration of the organization.
McReynolds left the impression--remember, these are intangibles--of being lackadaisical almost to the point of being bored. It seemed at times that he would rather be fishing, and, at times, that may well have been the case.
Moreland, an intense and competitive sort, will be in the midst of the fray. He will be a player to warm the ever-boiling heart of Manager Larry Bowa.
Tying Up Loose Ends: The Padres, having just acquired a power hitter who will cost them $1.2 million a year in salary, then needed to take financial care of the best hitter they ever have had.
That would be Tony Gwynn, of course. And Wednesday, they did just that.
Gwynn had been scheduled to labor for a mere $840,000 this year. That would have been enough to keep his family comfortable and his satellite dish in working order, but it was a stroke of genius in terms of both internal and external public relations for the Padres to raise his roof a bit.
Negotiations to take Gwynn’s contract and extend it through 1992 had bogged down, probably because in the original talks, Gwynn was asking for too long a guarantee . . . even for an individual as dedicated and dependable as he is.
Instead, the Padres essentially tore up his contract and gave him closer to what a player of his value deserves. And that’s an upbeat way to begin spring training.
Alphabet Soup: SLHAWO.
Is it a town in Poland? A new form of judo? An eye chart? A goalkeeper in tonight’s Major Indoor Soccer League All-Star game?
No, SLHAWO is right here in Torrey Pines, where the surf meets the Dow Jones meets Moon River in the Shearson Lehman Hutton Andy Williams Open.
That’s this year’s official title.
San Diego is no longer a part of the name and hasn’t been since the Shearson Lehman Brothers took over sponsorship from Isuzu. San Diego should not feel so bad, however, because Hutton has apparently come between the Brothers and erased them as well.
Eventually, it will come down to a year when Titleist Tom Smith and Pinnacle Pete Jones will be a stroke ahead during the final round, with Shearson Lehman’s own Shearson Lehman Larry Johnson a mere one stroke behind.
Mini-Mega: After weeks of high-powered planning back in the spring of 1984, San Diego was able to woo the just-completed Super Bowl XXII to America’s Finest City.
After months of high-powered controversy, San Diego was able to woo the 1991 America’s Cup . . . though New Zealand maverick Michael Fay is trying very hard to spoil those plans.
And so it has also come to pass that San Diego was able to get the 1990 Major Indoor Soccer League All-Star game.
How did this happen? Did the Greater San Diego Sports Assn. send a delegation to this week’s meetings in Tacoma? Was the mayor there? Was the Board of Supervisors represented? How about the Chamber of Commerce? Or the Convention and Visitors Bureau?
None of the above?
No, Socker Chairman of the Board Ron Cady and President Ron Cady had breakfast Monday with MISL Commissioner Bill Kentling and mentioned somewhere between the corn flakes and the grapefruit that they would sure like to have an all-star game here.
Later Monday, presumably somewhere in between the cocktails and the hors d’oeuvres, San Diego was awarded the 1990 game.
Once again, only in the MISL.
Bulletin: Steve Garvey will be honored by the Padres in ceremonies before an April 16 game against the San Francisco Giants.
It will be much too late for the New Hampshire primary but still early enough for a good presidential push. He likely will be able to choose from the Democrats, who will be down to 17 front-runners, and the Republicans, who will still have 9 or 10 in the fray.
What better occasion for Garvey to throw his helmet into the ring?
On Migrating Geese: Keith Moreland’s arrival marks the departure of one Rich Gossage, who had considerable impact in his four years here. The deal was a good one for Gossage because he now has something he would not have gotten from the Padres . . . a contract for 1989.
This man brought both a fastball and fire to the Padres when he arrived for the 1984 season. He could not tolerate losing, and made life difficult for anyone who could. A picture that most typifies the spirit of Gossage was one of him smashing a bat in the dugout after a 1985 defeat.
Rich Gossage’s fast ball is not what it once was, but his departure represents a loss of competitive spirit . . . fortunately, that’s the same kind of intangible Moreland will be bringing.
Naturally, there are strong ties between Gossage and that 1984 championship series. There is even a tie between Moreland and Gossage.
On that final play, that simple force of Moreland at second base, Gossage was the pitcher.