"They're blaming me for ruining their organization?" Fernandez said. "How silly is that? Jerry Reinsdorf is a very smart man, and he'll put the blame on anyone but himself. Obviously, [Ron] Schueler is doing the same thing. When you come out publicly and say you have no chance to win the division when you were only three games out, then something's wrong there.
"It's hard to swallow. I'm sure Sox fans are very upset, and it's upsetting for me because I want those guys to win."
Fernandez also said that if the White Sox had made it clear during the 1996 season that they wanted to sign him to a long-term extension, he probably would have stayed in Chicago.
"It's hard for a 26-year-old to turn down that kind of money, not knowing if I was going to become a free agent," Fernandez said. "They offered me a deal only 24 hours before they knew I was going to get the [service time] to become a free agent."
Hart on Hargrove
Cleveland Indians general manager John Hart flatly denies reports that he came close to firing manager Mike Hargrove on Aug. 11, the day before he gave Hargrove a vote of confidence.
"There is always speculation around the game and in organizations," Hart said. "This guy doesn't like that guy. People have different opinions of managers. But ultimately I'm the guy who makes that call.
"There are some things I don't like about Mike as a manager. But there are a lot of things I like about him. I believe in the guy and I trust the guy's character. Believe me when I say firing him was never an option."
From the home office
With the usual apologies to late-night talk-show host David Letterman, here's my top 10 list of reasons arbitrator Henry Bloch was right to reinstate Angels outfielder Tony Phillips:
10. Major-league substance-abuse policy only covers cork and pine tar.
9. Phillips has an airtight alibi. He was with Michael Irvin that night.
8. Disney officials created double standard by condoning use of "fairy dust" in Peter Pan animated feature film.
7. Arbitrator saw new realignment plan and figured everybody in baseball is on drugs.
6. Players association lawyers made strong case that since they have won every grievance filed since 1976, there was no precedent for ruling in favor of the club.
5. This is America. You're innocent until proven guilty and sometimes you're innocent even after you're proven guilty.
4. Phillips was just helping with filming of new "Cops" episode.
3. Decision to discipline Phillips was made without knowledge of AL president Gene Budig, who was ready to hammer him with stiff two-game suspension.
2. Anaheim police failed to inform Phillips that he had the right to speak with 13 union attorneys.
1. Suspension violated baseball's "Six strikes and you're out" get-tough policy on drug abuse.
Not a loss leader
The Pittburgh Pirates mathematically eliminated the possibility of losing 100 games when they won their 63rd game of the season on Wednesday. That -- 100 losses -- was considered a foregone conclusion when they opened the season with a $9 million payroll, but they refuse to give up their unlikely run at the National League Central title.
"When the season started, I thought I'd probably break out the champagne when we got to the 63rd win," said Pirates manager Gene Lamont. "We surprised all the so-called experts but, honestly, we've probably surprised ourselves a little bit."
The first-place Houston Astros appeared to take control of the division when they went on a midseason tear, but the Pirates climbed back to within striking distance of the division lead by gaining 3 1/2 games in five days last week.
"We've surprised people all year," said right-hander Jason Schmidt, "but why stop now? Let's keep surprising them. Let's keep going and win the division. That'd be the biggest surprise of all, wouldn't it?"
* Jose Canseco has 30 home runs and 82 RBIs against the Boston Red Sox during his career. The rest of the youthful Oakland Athletics' roster has combined for 13 homers and 35 RBIs lifetime against Boston -- and five of those home runs and 10 of those RBIs came in Thursday's 13-6 blowout.
* One of the reasons the Cleveland Indians seem to be back in gear offensively: Outfielder David Justice went 20-for-39 with six home runs and 15 RBIs on the just-completed 12-game homestand.
* The Detroit Tigers have 35 percent more victories than they did at this time last year, but their attendance is up only 9 percent. They expect to draw about 1.3 million this season.
* The last-place Philadelphia Phillies entered Friday's game with a 21-16 record since the All-Star break, better than 10 National League teams. Only the Houston Astros (24-15), Los Angeles Dodgers (24-16) and San Diego Padres (23-17) have better second-half records.
Pub Date: 8/24/97