Gwynn sees past, future both with smile

ON BASEBALL

October 25, 1998|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

SAN DIEGO -- If you're future Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, do you spend the next four months looking forward or looking back?

Probably both.

He can look back on the greatest season in San Diego Padres' history and an outstanding performance in the 94th World Series. He can look ahead to a 1999 season in which he is all but certain to become the 22nd player in major-league history to amass 3,000 hits.

Gwynn, who has always seen the glass as half-full, likely will spend the next few weeks savoring his second World Series, even though the Padres spent it getting summarily crushed by the New York Yankees.

"The World Series just confirms what I've always thought -- that is what the game is all about," Gwynn said. "All the individual things that happen to you, you can throw those off to the side. The game is all about having the opportunity to play for a ring. And even though you get beat, there still are a lot of positive things you can take away from it.

"Hopefully, you'll get another shot, but you just don't know. What I do know is that this was a hell of a year for us."

Maybe next year will be the same. The Padres' organization seems committed to holding the club together to try to defend the club's third National League West title. Gwynn, 38, isn't getting any younger, but he was young enough to bat .321 during the regular season and .500 (8-for-16) in the World Series.

He waited 14 years for a second chance to play in the Fall Classic, but that doesn't mean he won't be back next year.

"We gave it a good run," he said. "Even though we got beat in this series four games to none, we did a lot of things right. The Yankees were just able to overcome everything we threw at them. To be in this position, you have to beat some pretty good clubs. And this team showed a lot of character in doing exactly that. We had a great year."

Bringing back Brown

Padres owner John Moores insists that the team will make a legitimate attempt to keep pitching ace Kevin Brown, who became eligible for free agency Thursday.

"All I know is we're going to make a strong effort to sign Kevin Brown," he told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "We're just going to have to understand where the market is, just as Kevin is going to have to understand where the market is. The question is to spend $10 million on a pitcher or $5 million on two players. Pitching, pitching, pitching seems to be the name of the game in the postseason."

Brown figures to command about $10 million per year. The question is whether another club will be willing to guarantee five years at that salary. The Padres would prefer a three-year window.

Don't be surprised if

The Yankees might have the best team in the history of baseball, but that won't keep owner George Steinbrenner from trying to improve it. The club has six decent starting pitchers, and yet it would not come as a complete surprise if the Yankees are involved in the bidding for Brown and fellow free agent Randy Johnson.

Steinbrenner loves to win and he now is on the verge of creating another true Yankees dynasty. He probably won't pass up any opportunity to do that.

Perfect world

New Los Angeles Dodgers manager Davey Johnson may have felt victimized by the circumstances that led to his departure from Baltimore, but the year he spent away from managing turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

He apparently thought he was in line to manage the Toronto Blue Jays when he quit the Orioles last year, but he'll be in a much better position to maintain his reputation as baseball's can't-miss manager in Los Angeles.

The Dodgers are the perfect Davey Johnson team -- wealthy, talented and underachieving. They'll be in the playoffs next year and they won't go down in three straight games like the last two times they reached the postseason.

Subtle reference

Johnson appeared to take a veiled shot at Orioles pitcher Mike Mussina during his introductory press conference on Friday. When someone asked how he got the most out of players, he gave a relatively stock answer about letting the players know what is expected of them and added an apparently snide postscript:

"I find that the smarter they are -- like if they are from Stanford -- you have to explain it to them every day."

Mussina, a Stanford grad, tangled with Johnson a few times after being removed early from games.

More 20-20 hindsight

The 1998 season was one of the most exciting in recent memory, but the whole affair has to be galling to the Anaheim Angels, who turned down a deal last year that would have put both home run king Mark McGwire and World Series MVP Scott Brosius in their lineup.

Oakland offered both players to the Angels for a package headlined by center fielder Jim Edmonds. In what may have been the corporate miscalculation of the decade, the deal was vetoed by Disney because the company felt that it would not be able to re-sign McGwire.

Now, the hot talk in Anaheim is that the Angels will trade Edmonds away this winter to make room in center field for Darin Erstad.

More trade talk

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