With two and a half weeks to go before the All Star break, there's still time for American League and National League teams to pull together and break a record set in 1977: Most managers fired before the All Star game, seven.
So far this season, five skippers have been canned. Several others appear to be on shaky ground, and if they're not, they should be. They include:- Brewers' Tom Trebelhorn, whose team is in fourth place and keeps winning just enough to let him hang on to the job. In four full seasons under Trebelhorn, the Brewers have never finished higher than third. It's time for a change. Besides, the ownership keeps giving him votes of confidence, and that's usually a sure sign of imminent ouster.
- Yankees' Stump Merrill. He took over for Bucky Dent 49 games into last season with team in seventh place and inspired them to . . . yep, a seventh-place finish. They made a little noise recently and have climbed to fifth, but it's not going to last. And New Yorkers are very impatient.
- Indians' John McNamara. Coaxed a fourth-place finish out of the Tribe last year, but is mired in last now. This guy has managed six different big-league teams for a total of 17 years and has exactly two first-place finishes to show for it. Then again, at least he was willing to work in Cleveland.
- White Sox' Jeff Torborg. The Sox are on the skids, 81/2 games behind Minnesota and in last place after a second-place finish last season. Like McNamara, Torborg is a proven loser, having managed five seasons with an average finish of fifth.
Three National League managers deserve mention here, but at least two of them shouldn't be blamed for their team's problems. Houston's Art Howe is getting no support from a tight-fisted owner who is more interested in selling the team than winning, and Philadelphia's Nick Leyva was doing some OK things with that team before his players started drinking and driving. Roger Craig seems safe in San Francisco, based on past successes and the fact he has no pitching staff, but how much of the blame for no pitching goes to him? A team with Will Clark and Kevin Mitchell and Matt Williams in last place? Hard to figure.
At any rate, the potential for several more firings - and at least a tie for the record - is clearly present. And while we're at it, is there anyway Marge Schott can get the boot, too?
QUIZ TIME: In the scorebook for a recent game between Detroit and Seattle, one of the outs for the Tigers' Dave Bergman was recorded as 2-3-4-5-3. How did that happen?
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IT'S THE PITS: Adam Peterson of Provo, a pitcher with the Padres, had a tough trip to Pittsburgh last weekend. He was scheduled to pitch Saturday, but while warming up felt some soreness in his arm and took the night off. Mike Maddux started instead and got plenty of offensive support in an 11-0 Padres victory. "Unbelievable," Peterson said. "I could have thrown underhand and won that game."
His bad luck didn't end there, however. Early Monday morning, he stepped out of a cab near the club's Pittsburgh hotel and got mugged. He lost $70 and received a few scratches.
"It always seems to happen to me," he said. "I have to start leading a better life, I guess."
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MINOR STUFF: The next local player you might see in the big leagues is former Mountain View High and BYU star Gary Cooper. Cooper, an outfielder who has been filling in at third base lately for the Triple-A Tucson Toros (Houston Astros chain), hit .571 last week and was named Pacific Coast League hitter of the week and Minor League Player of the Week for the entire minor-league system.
On the season, Cooper is hitting .340 with 10 homers and 36 RBIs.
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QUIZ ANSWER: It seems Bergman struck out on a pitch in the dirt and headed for the dugout. Mariners' catcher Dave Valle, realizing that Bergman could still run to first, fired the ball to first base for the force out. The first baseman, without touching the bag, then fired the ball to second base for the traditional around-the-horn tosses. By the time the ball reached third base the M's got it figured out, however, and Edgar Martinez gunned it back across the infield for the out. 2-3-4-5-3. Just like you figured, right?