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Whitey Went Fishing, Leaving Wally on a Hook

Thought for the day:

“Business before pleasure, except when the walleye are biting, and Wally Joyner isn’t.”

--Old American folk idiom, updated by Whitey Herzog. And some others:

Four Reasons to Believe the Angels Are Preparing for Life Without Wally Joyner Any Day Now.

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1. Angels President Richard Brown hands the complete and unabridged Joyner contract file to Whitey Herzog--Joyner and Angel General Manager Dan O’Brien have had an acrimonious past--and tells Herzog, in essence, “Get back to us when you have a deal.” Days before the deadline Brown eventually sets for Joyner, Herzog is in Arkansas, taping a fishing show for ESPN. Go Fish is a card game, not often a winning maneuver in the contract negotiation game.

2. The deadline. Brown knew Joyner wasn’t returning from his Hawaiian vacation until Friday afternoon. If Joyner was truly vacationing, he should have been nowhere near a fax machine.

3. Vibes. The Angels’ $27.5-million offer to Bobby Bonilla, Option No. 1, with Jackie Autry saying she sincerely doubts Gene Autry’s payroll can accommodate both Bonilla and Joyner. Gene Autry’s thundering on-the-record silence. The stray, off-the-cuff comments heard around Anaheim Stadium this season--that Joyner’s uniform requires too little laundering, that Joyner values dollar signs over hit-and-run signs, that the new front office really likes Lee Stevens.

4. Lee Stevens. When Joyner was 23, he batted .283 with 12 home runs and 73 RBIs for Edmonton. The next year, he replaced Rod Carew. Stevens batted .314 with 19 home runs and 96 RBIs for Edmonton this season. He turned 24 in July.

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Five Reasons to Believe Collective Pride and Ego Will Be Swallowed and Everybody Will Look Back On This and Laugh Someday. 1. Left field is where Herzog really wants Stevens in 1992. If Joyner leaves, Stevens plays first, meaning Luis Polonia returns to left, and nobody wants that.

2. Turnstiles. Joyner doesn’t turn them the way he did in 1986, but wait and hear how they sound without him.

3. The Dodgers. If they scoop up Joyner, how could the Angels ever live it down? Dodger fan to Angel fan, Freeway Series, 1992: “Glad we could take that big contract at first base off your hands. Say, how’d Fernando work out for you guys?”

4. The Royals. Sure-to-happen headline, late October, 1992: “Joyner Home Run Lifts Royals Past Braves in Game 7.”

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5. “Lee World.” Besides a syllable, it loses something.

Should Joyner Stay Or Should He Go? For Further Consideration ... 1. The Angels can say they never won a pennant with Joyner, but that’s easier said than examined. Joyner took them to the brink in 1986; he played three games, hit .455, hit a home run at Fenway and had the Angels one up on the Red Sox, two games to one. Then came the then-mysterious leg injury, since diagnosed as a staph infection, and a lot of other events that remain a mystery.

2. If Joyner leaves, and Dick Schofield follows--and the latter is the leader in the probability stakes--Lance Parrish will be the dean of the Angel regular position players. (Parrish joined the Angels in 1989.) Unless Herzog dumps the last year of Parrish’s hefty contract on someone else. Do that, and Luis Polonia (acquired from New York, April 29, 1990) becomes the dean.

3. Joyner has had his off-years--namely 1988, 1989 and 1990--but he is already fifth on the Angels’ all-time RBI list, seventh in home runs, fourth in extra base hits and third in career batting average. He is the only Angel to have driven in 100 runs in more than one season, a feat he’d have accomplished three times with four more RBIs in 1991.

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One Trade The Angels Would Like to Have Back If They Could. (Sorry, Limit Is One.)

Dec. 2, 1990: Devon White, Willie Fraser and Marcus Moore to the Toronto Blue Jays for Junior Felix, Luis Sojo and Kenneth Rivers.

It’s not so much what White did for Toronto, which was bat leadoff all the way into the playoffs. It’s what Felix and Sojo did for the Angels. This week in Miami, Herzog and Buck Rodgers would like to replace both if they could, which is why free-agent center fielder Otis Nixon and Montreal second baseman Delino DeShields now grace the top of their look list.

What Flavor Is The Angels’ Pie in the Sky? Barry, as in Bonds. If the reports out of Pittsburgh are true, the trade will never happen. In exchange for Bonds, heading into his free-agent season and worth, oh, $1 million-a-year more than Bobby Bonilla, the Pirates are said to want Jim Abbott, Lee Stevens and another prospect. Abbott is as close to untouchable as it gets it Anaheim, and if Stevens goes, and Joyner goes, who’s on first?

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Then, if they get Bonds, they have to sign him or risk losing him after 1992. And how might those negotiations develop? By comparison, Joyner-Angels is a warm-up act.

Most Foreboding Development in the Wally Joyner Negotiations. According to Barry Axelrod, Joyner’s legal representative, all the numbers on the Angels’ contract offer are in place. The only hitch, Axelrod says, is “the distribution.”

That’s what Frank Deford said about The National, too.


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