A plan to let only one season be ruined . . .

BASEBALL

August 28, 1994|By TOM KEEGAN

Sports talk radio sends so much hot air spilling out of the speakers, a good idea is bound to find its way through the bluster by accident once in a while.

Ed Coleman, one of the hosts at the nation's best all-sports station, 50,000-watt WFAN out of New York, came up with a brilliant idea and planned to tout it on the air all weekend.

"People are talking about the players being out until next June or July," Coleman said. "Instead of coming back then, why not just wait until Aug. 12 next year and pick everything back up then? Just pick up the season with this year's schedule and standings and this year's statistics."

Under the Coleman Plan, only one season would be lost, instead of two being ruined.

When the 1994-95 baseball season resumes, Matt Williams could continue his chase of the late Roger Maris. Frank Thomas could continue his quest for the Triple Crown.

Sid Fernandez could take up his assault on the Orioles' record for home runs allowed and might even do so 40 pounds lighter and one day later in the baseball season, thus setting another record.

Fernandez, the Orioles have been told, is working out with a personal trainer and has lost six pounds since the strike started. Fernandez has been losing more than weight during the strike. He stands to lose $500,000 if the strike wipes out the rest of the season.

If the strike continues well into next season and the Coleman Plan is put into effect, at least Fernandez will not lose his shot at an Orioles record.

The 1994-95 season, played to a 162-game schedule, has more appeal than two shortened seasons.

"The NBA and NHL have split seasons as it is now," Coleman said. "Why can't baseball do it one time?"

No reason, unless the labor canyon is closed in the next couple of weeks, or settled before Opening Day 1995.

Cause for optimism

Every time talks between the Player Relations Committee and the Major League Baseball Players Association break down, pessimism spreads. In reality, the opposite should apply.

When the owners are talking with the players, they aren't talking to each other. When they aren't talking to the players, they are talking with each other.

Talks among owners are more productive because they have little about which to talk with players. The owners want to impose a salary cap and the players won't entertain any such talk.

Owners agreeing upon a strategy that does not include a salary cap is where the productivity lies. They can't very well do that with players union officials sitting at the table.

Get a life, loser

The Toronto radio station that carries Blue Jays games decided to broadcast a fantasy game between the 1961 Yankees and the 1992 Blue Jays, enacting the results from a Strat-O-Matic board game between the teams.

The '61 Yanks won, 4-1. Maris hit a home run and a two-run single off Jack Morris, the losing pitcher.

After the broadcast, the announcers solicited reaction from listeners.

Said the first caller: "I'd like to know why Cito started Jack Morris. He could have started Jimmy Key."

Cito Gaston was second-guessed for a fantasy game managed by someone else. Unbelievable.

Team on way out in Seattle?

The latest cost estimate for a new baseball stadium with a retractable roof in Seattle is $252 million. That's not going to happen.

Meanwhile, Mariners ownership claims that if the strike kills the postseason, the team will lose $19 million in 1994, running the owners' deficit to $43 million since purchasing the club 2 1/2 years ago.

Signing left-hander Greg Hibbard to a three-year, $6.75 million contract before the season didn't help the job security of Mariners general manager Woody Woodward. Hibbard's shoulder problems have clouded his future, not to mention Woodward's.

Band boxes

Anaheim Stadium led the major leagues in home runs hit with 167 this season. Tiger Stadium (161) ranked second, Camden Yards (145) third, Fenway Park (135) fourth, Jacobs Field (131) fifth.

Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium ranked last with 85.

Around the horn

The Colorado Rockies could save more than $7 million by not picking up the option on Howard Johnson's contract ($1.7 million), by not re-signing right-handers Greg Harris ($1.9 million) and Mike Harkey ($600,000) and third baseman Charlie Hayes ($3.05 million). . . . Teams in the market for a second baseman or a utility infielder will give Joey Cora a look. The Chicago White Sox are prepared to dump Cora and let Ray Durham and Norberto Martin compete for the job next spring . . . .

White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf reportedly has built a $40 million war chest with profits from seasons past in preparation for the strike, yet he was among the first to order his scouts pulled off the road . . . . Atlanta Braves pitchers have allowed 37 home runs at Fulton County Stadium, the fewest in baseball for a home park . . . .

Oakland Athletics farmhand Ben Grieve, the second player chosen in the June draft and the son of Texas Rangers general manager Tom Grieve, is batting .333 with 49 RBIs in a rookie league.

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