NEW YORK -- There are two Merrills currently playing New York -- Robert, the famous singer, and Stump, for the time being at least the senior baseball manager in the Big Apple.
Gossip continues to spread that Robert, who does George Steinbrenner's favorite rendition of the national anthem, is the only Merrill who will perform at Yankee Stadium next year. Stump still has another year to go on his contract, but the only thing guaranteed is the money.
As the season continues to wind down, Merrill's tenuous occupancy of the manager's office has become a popular subject to debate. But, in a strange turnabout, whatever the Yankees do won't create the stir the Mets have caused by canning Dave Johnson and Bud Harrelson in the last two years.
The firing of Harrelson over the weekend served to increase speculation about Merrill's status, something the Yankees manager expected. "It [rumors of his firing] will start again," he said. "I lived through the first wave [of speculation]. I can turn my back on anything now."
Stump admits that he's aware of the increasing speculation about his job security, or lack thereof. "You can't help but be aware of it," he said. "But it's one thing I don't worry about because I have no power over it. You do the best that you can and live with the end result."
Holding a three-game lead over the Orioles, the end result for the Yankees most likely will be fifth place. They close out their season series against the Orioles tonight, then finish with three games against Cleveland this weekend.
Shortly thereafter Stump will find out if Robert is the only Merrill scheduled for Yankee Stadium on Opening Day 1992.