And now, presenting the Third Annual Golden Schmuck Awards

BASEBALL

October 07, 1990|By PETER SCHMUCK

The ballots are in the mail for all of the major postseason awards. The votes have been cast for the Most Valuable Player in each league and the two Cy Young Award winners, as well as the managers and rookies of the year. Nothing has been announced yet, but no more debate is necessary. It all has been decided.

The best of the best will be rewarded for their achievements. The best of the rest will be rewarded at contract time. The system works.

But the 1990 headlines were not always dominated by the amazing return of Cecil Fielder, or the record-breaking performance of Bobby Thigpen, or the iron-man endurance streak of Cal Ripken. It was also a year of labor strife and scandal and controversy.

Pete Rose went to jail. George Steinbrenner was forced to give up control of the New York Yankees. Baseball ownership was fined more than $100 million for collusive attempts in 1987 and 1988 to limit salaries and free agent mobility. There was as much bad news as good.

That's why it's time to look back in anger -- to reflect on and recognize some of the more dubious achievements of the season past. That's why it's time to hand out the Third Annual Golden Schmuck Awards, which are distributed each year to the people who make baseball the grating game it is.

The actual awards ceremony will be held later and shown on cable. Cher will show up dressed in something outrageous. Chevy Chase will make a couple of tasteless jokes and do a pratfall. Marlon Brando might even send an Indian princess. No doubt, it will be a gala affair.

This year's trophies even bear a striking resemblance to the Academy Award statuette, featuring a gold-plated figurine of Steinbrenner perched atop a reel of Howard Spira audio tape.

It's no wonder the Oscars and Emmys pale by comparison with the only awards program classy enough to be on a last-name basis. The envelopes, please:

The NLRB Good Conduct Medal: To labor negotiators Chuck O'Connor and Donald Fehr, who emerged from another bitter baseball labor dispute to declare that the negotiations had bred enough mutual respect and trust to leave hope for a less confrontational future. This must have been very comforting to disenchanted baseball fans, many of whom saw long-awaited spring training vacations ruined by a lengthy lockout. Who wants to bet that mutual respect and trust will dissipate just in time for the next labor dispute?

The Stupid Player Trick Trophy: To Boston Red Sox ace Roger Clemens, who bruised his pitching hand punching the clubhouse door Tuesday night after failing to persuade the club to keep the clubhouse closed to the media 30 minutes for a private celebration after the division-deciding game. Clemens' brattish behavior not only showed his disdain for the media (who needed quick access after the game), but also risked an injury that could have damaged seriously his club's chances of winning the playoffs. What he did instead was damage seriously his reputation as a team player, while showing himself to be little more than an overgrown adolescent. Funny how things turn out. The Red Sox ended up clinching the title Wednesday night and '' Clemens missed the celebration altogether, because he had to go to Toronto to be ready for a possible playoff.

The Good Horsekeeping Seal of Approval: To Hank Steinbrenner, who resisted his father's attempt to install him as the New York Yankees managing general partner so he could continue to oversee the family horse-racing interests. Hank understandably was reluctant to spend eight months a year in New York City, where his every move would be monitored closely by commissioner Fay Vincent for signs of fatherly interference. He probably also realized that his first name would fit very easily into those screaming tabloid headlines that the New York press have made so famous.

The Sexist Man Alive Award: Though there were many candidates for this macho-coveted award throughout the world of sports, Detroit Tigers pitcher Jack Morris earned special recognition for sexism in baseball when he refused to answer questions from a female sportswriter in the Tigers clubhouse. "I don't talk to people when I'm naked," Morris said, "and I particularly don't talk to women when I'm naked, unless they're on top of me or I'm on top of them." His statement is a little confusing, but what Morris probably meant to say was that he will -- though reluctantly -- talk to men when he's naked without requiring that they be on top of him or he be on top of them at the time.

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