Johnson: Schedule is nearly 'inhumane' Late getaway games, spread-out trips cited

Sidelight

July 07, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF

Davey Johnson's indoctrination to American League baseball has been rough.

The designated hitter. Twenty-run games. Four-hour games.

The Orioles schedule isn't making it any easier, Johnson says.

In fact, Johnson, who managed in the National League for 10 years, said their schedule this year is one of the harshest he's ever seen. He's also upset with the preliminary versions for next year. Johnson said the two very tentative drafts he's seen are both worse than this year's schedule.

"It borders on inhumane treatment," Johnson said. "It's so bad that we ought to be able to make out our own schedule [for next year] with what we've had to deal with this year. If I didn't know better I'd say some money has been changing hands here."

Phyllis Merhige, AL vice president of media affairs, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Merhige responded to complaints about the Orioles schedule a few weeks ago, however. Merhige said at the time that Johnson's views are not unique. She said managers frequently complain about their schedules and often believe their schedule is tougher than those of other teams.

Derek Irwin, the AL's director of finance, is in charge of making the league's schedule, and he, too, said complaints are a natural part of the process.

Johnson stated several reasons for his strong feelings.

He's upset that the Orioles have not had the chance to take road trips that cover similar geographic locations all at once. For example, the Orioles will not get to visit Toronto, New York and Boston all on one trip. Nor will they get to swing through Oakland, Anaheim and Seattle consecutively.

Johnson's other problem is with late-starting games to end a series. Twice in June the Orioles arrived in cities after 6 a.m.

In mid-June they played an 8: 05 Sunday night game in Kansas City and had to fly to Baltimore well after midnight. They played an 8: 35 game in Texas in the last week of June and opened up a series in New York the next night. Last Wednesday, the Orioles played a 7: 35 game in Toronto and were on the field at Camden Yards early the next day for a 4: 05 start.

August won't provide much of a relief. The Orioles play 18 games on the road and 12 at home. Of the road games, Cleveland is the closest the Orioles get to the East Coast.

Johnson said he believes the AL East-leading New York Yankees have a much easier time of it. The Yankees hit Oakland, Anaheim and Seattle in a row on both of their West Coast trips.

Johnson said he spoke with league representatives in New York earlier this year and indicated he would continue voicing his opinion of the schedule to them.

"The only thing I know is you gotta squawk," Johnson said. "Maybe they fix the wheel that squeaks the loudest. And I hope we squeak the loudest."

Pub Date: 7/07/96

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