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Abbott Deserves This Nod

U nconventional wisdom for a Friday morning . . .

Jim Abbott: It’s September and, yes, the Angels are in a race. Who wins the AL Cy Young Award--Chuck Finley, Mark Langston or Abbott, whose never-ending saga gets better with every start? Early May, Abbott is 0-4 and people are lining up around the block waiting to punch his ticket to Edmonton. Gratefully granted permission to stay, Abbott has since gone 16-4, lowered his earned-run average to 2.92 and won seven decisions in a row. Tonight, he goes for victory No. 17--with a better bullpen, he’d already have 20--and everybody, of course, believed in him all the way. If there is any poetry in this baseball season, Abbott gets the plaque.

Marcel Lachemann: He was there when Abbott was 0-4, issuing a he-goes, I-go ultimatum. Look at Lachemann’s staff: Abbott has not pitched a day in the minor leagues, Finley made the jump after 41 Class-A innings, Bryan Harvey is a converted softball player, Kirk McCaskill is a converted hockey player and Mark Langston has been resurrected after his left-for-dead 1990. Buck Rodgers has made it official--Lachemann will be his pitching coach in 1992--but, really, there was never a choice.

Kirk McCaskill: Don’t forget about the hockey player. Rodgers bumped McCaskill out of the rotation to take a look at the youngsters, which makes sense, McCaskill being the most bumpable of the incumbent Angel starters. But the Angels could do worse than to re-sign a 30-year-old pitcher who has embodied true grit on a team whose edge has been too buffed for too long. It is no coincidence that McCaskill has been at his best (17-10 in 1986, 15-10 in 1989) when the Angels have been at theirs.

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Robert Delpino: The Ram equivalent to a spot starter; in case of emergency, break him out. As good as he has been, and he has been the Ram MVP so far, he’s merely minding the store until Marcus Dupree is ready.

Marcus Dupree: Starting tailback by, when, the San Diego game?

Irv Pankey: He has come full circle, opening holes for Eric Dickerson again, but wouldn’t the Rams be better off with him closing the hole created by Jackie Slater’s shoulder?

Jimmy Connors: They serve a Black Forest ham and brie sandwich at the U.S. Open. Whenever Connors played this year, spectators could have their ham and eat it, too.

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Stefan Edberg: Duller than Borg, true, but Borg never won in New York.

Monica Seles: “And I want to thank my good friend, Mr. Trump, who was the only one who believed I could win here this week.” I don’t know what she needs more, a better haircut or better advice.

Norm Charlton: It runs in the Cincinnati pitching staff, it runs in the family. Charlton’s younger brother, Craig, is a pitcher at Rice, and last spring, he incited a bench-clearing skirmish with Cal State Fullerton by whizzing a fastball behind the head of Jason Moler. What’s wrong with Norm? Stealing signs is a bigger, more time-honored part of the game than stealing bases. What’s wrong with the Reds? Throwing baseballs past people was just too easy last year. Hitting human targets, some of them moving--now there’s a challenge.

Fay Vincent: He says baseball is interested in the possibility of allowing players to sign professional contracts while maintaining their college eligibility. So, no doubt, is Augie Garrido.

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Rick Leach-Jim Pugh: Davis Cup status: Undefeated, unemployed. Now, not even winning is everything.

Scott Davis-David Pate: Davis Cup status: No experience, no victories on clay this year, set to meet the Germans on Kansas City clay next weekend. Tom Gorman is gambling. With Andre (When The Going Gets Tough, I Make Another Commercial) Agassi playing two rounds of singles, he’d better be right.

Devon White: He was never going to have this kind of season in Anaheim--too much baggage, not enough artificial grass--but he should have brought the Angels a better return than a .244-hitting second baseman and a one-home-run-hitting center fielder.

Big West: The conference is 1-9. Excluding Fresno State, the conference was outscored, 295-88, last weekend. Cal State Fullerton is 0-2 and hasn’t come close, losing by scores of 47-3 and 41-7, and yet the Titans rank third in the Big West in average points allowed. (Last-place Pacific checks in at 69.5.) Excluding Fresno State? It happens in 1992. Fresno State can hardly wait.

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Goodwill Games: Orange County has rescinded its bid for the ’98 event. Not a terrible thing to have happen. Orange County had nothing to gain but Ted Turner’s losses.

Miami Dolphins: The fourth-best team in the state.

Braves-Dodgers: How should an NL West champion enter the postseason? With a youthful spring in the stride? Or by back-pedaling?

Seattle Mariners: Since attendance is so poor, owner Jeff Smulyan is pushing for a change of address. How does Above .500 sound?

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Tom Kelly: He is the worst quote in the business, he thinks charisma is hazardous to one’s health and he’s worth every penny of the two-year extension the Minnesota Twins just gave him.

Mike Tyson: The Guardian Angels are protesting his title fight. Says Guardian Angel spokesman Curtis Sliwa: “Your honor as a human being should be more valuable than the heavyweight fight. The only way to recover that honor is in a court of law.” When did honor as a human being have anything to do with professional boxing?


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