It has been called everything from the worst to the least to the deceased.
Through games of Friday, however, the AL West had yet to be devoured by the beasts of the East.
The hapless Texas Rangers were 13-27 overall and 11-23 against the East, but each of the other Western teams was holding its own.
Kansas City and Chicago, having opened against the East and survived, were 18-17 and 17-16, respectively. Minnesota, Seattle and the Angels were all 11-10. Oakland was 10-11.
Of the seven Eastern teams, only Toronto (21-11), Baltimore (15-10), New York (16-11), and Detroit (14-12) had an advantage over the West.
The numbers seem to confirm a view expressed by Angel Manager Gene Mauch as his team began a run of 32 straight games against the East. Mauch said he did not accept Eastern superiority and that the Angels were capable of beating anyone when playing their best.
Said Kansas City Manager Dick Howser, having finished 33 straight games with the East and now embarking on 41 in a row against the West:
"It's not like it's going to get easy for us now. I feel the West is better than people give it credit for. Minnesota and Seattle have young teams with a lot of talent on the way up. The White Sox have pitching. California has proven players who have been through it before."
Said Sparky Anderson: "This will shock some people, but the West is much stronger than last year."
It has even shocked Anderson's Tigers, who were 57-27 against the West last year.
Said Anderson of Detroit's wire-to-wire march to a World Series title: "1984 was very simple. That was like a date with Bo Derek. That's over. She doesn't like the atmosphere anymore."
In the great tradition of David Clyde, who was called the franchise when he exchanged his high school uniform for Texas Rangers doubleknits and then soon disappeared, the Rangers could now be jeopardizing the future of touted Oddibe McDowell, the former Arizona State and Olympic star.
McDowell had 50 hits and a .400 average in 31 games at Triple-A Oklahoma City, his only minor league experience, when recalled last week. He has found the AL to be a different league.
Through 19 at-bats, McDowell got the ball out of the infield once, for his only hit. He struck out five times and hit the ball back to the pitcher five times.
Words to Live By Dept.: In the June issue of Texas Sports World, Ranger owner Eddie Chiles is quoted as saying:
"I don't know why it has become standard procedure in baseball to fire the manager if things are not going well. I don't think that makes much sense. So just because the team might not do well doesn't mean we'd blame Doug Rader. It certainly doesn't mean he'd be fired."
Rader was fired three days before the magazine reached the newsstands.
It took new Texas Manager Bobby Valentine only a few days--a few hours, really--to start his first feud.
Losing patience--as many others have--with the deliberate play of the White Sox under Manager Tony LaRussa and catcher Carlton Fisk, Valentine reacted to a 3-hour 21-minute game last week by saying: "Sometimes, watching the White Sox play, you'd think they get paid by the hour."
Responded LaRussa: "I didn't appreciate that. It was a bleep comment. Cliff Johnson (the Texas DH) takes enough time at the plate for five batters. Maybe he's trying to be cute, but it was bleep."
Bobby Grich, now the senior Angel in point of continuous service, reflecting on six Angel rookies--Bob Kipper, Pat Clements, Kirk McCaskill, Craig Gerber, Urbano Lugo and Jack Howell:
"We talked all spring about how the young players were pushing the veterans and how they give us improved depth. Now, we're seeing it.
"Injuries are going to happen. You can't help it. But this is the first time since I've been here that we've been able to go to the farm system and bring up players who can step right in. We can have confidence in them because of what we saw in the spring."
Returning to Oakland with the New York Yankees this weekend, Rickey Henderson reflected on the likelihood of big crowds and said:
"Two-thirds will come to see me, two-thirds to see Billy (Martin) and two-thirds to see the team."
Which means, of course, that the games will draw twice the number of people who can get in.
The Cleveland Indians announced at the time that outfielder Mel Hall and traveling secretary Mike Seghi had been injured in a car accident in the parking lot of the Arlington, Tex., hotel at which the team was staying earlier this month. The fact is that Seghi was cited for running a red light. His car was broadsided in the intersection.
Hall suffered a concussion, broken rib and back injuries, and will be out two months. Seghi suffered a concussion, but his real headache may be the fact that his position with the club is said to be tenuous, particularly now that his father, Phil Seghi, is no longer general manager.
It is also of no help to Seghi that Hall was batting .319.
Ernie Camacho, who subscribes to the theory that relief pitchers have to be a little flaky, is recovering from surgery for removal of bone chips in his elbow. Actually, Camacho still has the chips. He keeps them in a jar in his Cleveland locker.
Dave Kingman has played 11 games at Fenway Park and has eight home runs there. Said teammate Dave Collins: "If he played there all the time, people would think he changed his clothes in a phone booth."