Now that National League expansion to Denver and Miami seems a sure thing, it's time to turn some attention to the need to realign the NL divisions.
Get out your atlas and answer this question - Which two of the following four teams are further west: Chicago, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Atlanta.That's right, Chicago and St. Louis. It would make sense, therefore, if those two teams competed in the NL West, instead of current NL West teams Cincinnati and Atlanta, right? Right, but making sense isn't the highest priority here. With Denver and Miami falling logically (and respectively) into the West and East divisions, it's unlikely realignment will occur soon.
NL expansion chief Doug Danforth said recently that realignment isn't as simple as it looks. The problem, he said, is that "TV contracts and advertising commitments have been made for two or three years out."
Why is it that everytime something silly occurs, or is allowed to continue occurring, the magic word "TV" pops up?
TRIVIA QUIZ: Phillies pitcher Tommy Greene is getting a lot of attention these days for his 5-0 record, 2.13 ERA and recent no-hitter. So here's the question: When Greene was traded to the Phillies a couple of years ago, who was the "throw-in" player who came along with him?
HAVE A BRAIN: Stupid voting for the All-Star game starting teams is probably inevitable, but it can't be allowed to go on uncriticized. Through last Sunday, for instance, Oakland's Mark McGwire still led in the balloting for American League first basemen, by some 19,000 votes. McGwire is hitting .205, and batted in the .230s the past two seasons. At least five of the seven guys immediately behind him are more deserving.
At catcher, Cleveland's Sandy Alomar is hitting .202 and leads Chicago's Carlton Fisk (.291, 3 HR, 21 RBI) by 117,000 votes. Minnesota's Brian Harper (.331, 3, 25) and several others also merit more votes than Alomar.
If the game were held today, and if there was justice in baseball, the starting AL outfield would consist of Oakland's Dave Henderson, California's Dave Winfield and Toronto's Joe Carter. The fans, however, have Ken Griffey Jr. way out in front, followed by Rickey Henderson and Dave Henderson. Carter's in sixth, Winfield 10th.
STALKING DEER: Keep your eye on Detroit's Rob Deer as he approaches a couple of major-league milestones. Through 55 games he had whiffed 71 times, putting him on a pace for 209 strikeouts. That would annihilate both Deer's own AL record of 186 and Bobby Bonds' major-league mark of 189. Deer also looks likely to become the first player in history to make 300 trips to the plate without hitting the ball at all. He's already up to 108 such trips, with 38 walks and the 71 Ks.
TRIVIA ANSWER: The "throw-in," of course, was actually the "name" player in the deal, outfielder Dale Murphy. Looking back, either Murphy or Greene alone would have made the deal profitable for Philadelphia. The Braves got reliever Jeff Parrett and outfielder Jim Vatcher from Philly. Parrett was 0-2 with a 6.64 ERA this season before Atlanta sent him back to the minors, and Vatcher is out of the league. Murphy is hitting .255.
SHORT STUFF: If Minnesota continues its recent tear and takes over first place, it will mean every team in the AL West will have spent at least a day on top of the division . . . We've mentioned before in this column that teams that win one-run ballgames tend to be division-title contenders. In case you were wondering, the Twins and White Sox have the best one-run game records in the AL, the Padres and Cubs the best in the NL. The White Sox, by the way, have won 12 games in their last at-bat.
California's Wally Joyner (BYU) was recently honored as Father of the Year by the Father's Day Council on behalf of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation . . . Chicago's Cory Snyder (BYU) had a chance for some revenge against his former team, the Cleveland Indians, recently. After sitting out the first two games of the White Sox-Indians series, Snyder got a start in right field for the third game. High drama? Not exactly. Snyder struck out in all three trips to the plate, left four men on base, and saw his batting average drop to .165.