Latest expansion rumors have owners adding two National League teams for the 1993 season, then waiting at least five years for any further expansion.
The plan to have 32 teams by the end of the century may not have as much support as it once did, although sources insist it will be discussed. If only two francises are awarded in the near future, the early competition among Tampa, Miami, Phoenix, Denver, Buffalo and Washington will be fiercer than ever. . . .
When major-leaguers receive their annual lecture about the perils of associating with gamblers and drug dealers, they’ll be warned about not reporting the wads of cash they sometimes take away from baseball-card autograph shows.
“Everyone knows it goes on,” Commissioner Peter Ueberroth said, “but there’s never been a word printed about it. We see it on the horizon as a potential big negative for baseball. We’d like to run this problem off the street before it becomes a real problem.”
A former IRS agent has been hired to tell players “that they have the same responsibilities as every other citizen has” in regards to the IRS.
“The government agency that will get you behind bars the fastest is the IRS,” Ueberroth said. “The message is: Don’t play with it, gentlemen. Pay your taxes. Don’t take cash. Insist on checks.”
Questions on Gibson: The Los Angeles Dodgers are worried that Kirk Gibson’s left knee won’t be ready for opening day. If it’s not, there’ll be some interesting front-office discussions about why it wasn’t taken care of well before now.
Despite three strong innings on Friday, the Dodgers are still concerned that Fernando Valenzuela has been unable to get back his consistent velocity or good screwball. “It’s going to take time,” Manager Tommy Lasorda said. “I imagine four starts during the spring and two in the regular season.”
His recovery is even more crucial, since there are doubts that rookie Ramon Martinez is ready for the big leagues. . . .
Unexplainable stat of the week: Cincinnati flier Eric Davis has 14 triples in 1,657 career at-bats. That’s one fewer than Pittsburgh’s Andy Van Slyke had last season. Davis’ three triples in 1988 were one fewer than Tim Flannery, Steve Jeltz, Jeff Treadway and Ken Oberkfell.
“If I played in a park like St. Louis, where the gaps are deeper, I might get more triples,” he said. “Outfielders play me deep all around.” . . .
Dallas Mayor Annette Strauss had declared April 4 to be Tom Landry Day until someone pointed out that was also the day of the Rangers’ home opener. Landry will get his day on April 11. . . .
When Geraldo Rivera does a show on baseball wives (and mistresses) this week, one of his guests will be Texas pitching coach Tom House, who has completed work on a Ph.D. in sports pyschology and written a book called “The Jock’s Itch” about what he sees as--say it ain’t so--terminal adolescence in athletes.
Lead Imperils Health-Injury of the week: St. Louis second baseman Geronimo Pena broke his right wrist while swinging a weighted bat in the on-deck circle. . . . Florida State running back Deion Sanders, who is in camp with the New York Yankees, probably will go to Class AAA Columbus and await the NFL draft before deciding on a career. . . .
A trade for Dale Murphy is looking more unlikely by the day. The Mets and Padres say they’re unable to satisfy Atlanta General Manager Bobby Cox, and the Astros last week rejected Cox’s request for outfielders Kevin Bass, Gerald Young and Eric Anthony for Murphy. . . .
After Cincinnati owner Marge Schott settled a contract dispute with outfielder Kal Daniels by coin flip, first baseman Todd Benzinger was so mad he refused to sign the contract his agent had negotiated. However, Kansas City General Manager John Schuerholz, citing the unpredictability of arbitration, likes coin flips.
“I think it’s a hell of an idea,” he said. “We could save a lot of money, a lot of acrimony, a lot of attorney fees and a lot of trips to Chicago.”
Disowning Garvey: In San Diego, they’re passing out bumper stickers that boast: “Steve Garvey is not my Padre.” . . .
California Angels Manager Doug Rader has been so impressed with Jim Abbott that he’s not discounting the possibility of the pitcher making the club out of spring training. “When you see someone with his talent and you admire the person on top of that, it’s tough to stay objective,” Rader said. “If you’re perfectly objective about Jim Abbott, he’s certainly one of the 10 best pitchers in our organizaton. If that’s the case, he should make the club..”..
The Chicago Cubs say they’ll bat first baseman Mark Grace behind Andre Dawson. Grace should get Dawson a few more pitches to hit, but who would you rather pitch to? Grace had 144 hits last season, 110 of them singles. He had a .403 slugging percentage compared with Dawson’s .504. . . .
His teammates don’t much care for him, and his ex-mistress goes around the country slicing him to ribbons. What’s the effect on Wade Boggs? After going hitless in his first spring game, he went on a 10-for-17 tear. . . .
The Red Sox are also encouraged that Jim Rice may have another season left. After going hitless in his first five at-bats, he went 10 for 18 with two homers and 10 RBI, leading his team in both categories. . . .
The St. Louis Cardinals, already thin on pitching, are expecting the worst Sunday when right-hander Danny Cox will have his injured right elbow checked by Dr. Frank Jobe. Early indications are that Cox will be sidelined most of the season, which would force 23-year-old Cris Carpenter into the rotation. Carpenter is a highly regarded prospect, but only two years out of the University of Georgia. . . .
The New York Mets say the offers for Rick Aguilera have been so poor they’ve pulled the right-hander off the trade market. He’ll pitch in middle relief and be an extra starter, making the game’s richest pitching staff even richer. He’ll team with Terry Leach and Don Aase to be setup men for Randy Myers and Roger McDowell. . . .
After three exhibition games, the Philadelphia Philles had allowed 45 hits, made eight errors and been outscored, 26-7. So last Monday, when their regulars were split up for “A” and “B” games against the Cardinals, they decided to stack their “A” lineup to get a sure victory. They were beaten, 9-3. . . .
The top active hit leaders: Bill Buckner, 2,669; Buddy Bell, 2,499; Dave Winfield, 2,421; Robin Yount, 2,407; Jim Rice, 2,403, and George Brett, 2,399.