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Baseball : If the Balloting Were Rigged, It Would Probably Go Like This

July 06, 1986|Ross Newhan

Liberty weekend. A celebration of freedom, including the right of self-determination.

Yes, fans, here comes your annual midsummer reprimand, a July flogging for failing to pay attention when submitting your All-Star ballots.

Actually, you can relax some.

While all of the votes have not been tabulated, you're not doing badly.

Aside from a serious mistake or two in the outfield, the rest of it, for the most part, is debatable.

Here's how the voting stands, measured against the column's selections:

AMERICAN LEAGUE

First base--Fans: Wally Joyner. Column: It's a toss-up between Joyner and Don Mattingly, but Joyner probably had the greater first-half impact. Go with Joyner.

Second base--Fans: Lou Whitaker. Column: Whitaker and Frank White are having solid seasons again, but the All-Star nod should go to the Cleveland Indians' Tony Bernazard, who is having a career year, batting .322 through Thursday.

Shortstop--Fans: Cal Ripken. Column: Ripken.

Third base--Fans: George Brett. Column: No way. Brett has been up and down, displaying an uncharacteristic lack of consistency. Wade Boggs has to be an overwhelming choice.

Outfield--Fans: Reggie Jackson, Rickey Henderson and Dave Winfield. Column: You can make a case for Jackson and Henderson, but Winfield is having a bad year offensively. The choices should be Jose Canseco, Kirby Puckett and Robin Yount.

Catcher--Fans: Lance Parrish. Column: Parrish.

Pitchers--Kansas City Royals Manager Dick Howser will select the eight-man staff. The column's nominations: Roger Clemens, Dennis (Oil Can) Boyd, Ted Higuera, Mike Boddicker, Charlie Hough, Kirk McCaskill, Don Aase and Willie Hernandez.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

First base--Fans: Keith Hernandez. Column: Bob Horner's power statistics are better, but it's hard to quibble with Hernandez's overall contribution. Go with Hernandez.

Second base--Fans: Ryne Sandberg. Column: A provincial vote for Steve Sax, though his power numbers aren't comparable to Sandberg's.

Shortstop--Fans: Ozzie Smith. Column: Ozzie has even been a wizard with the bat this year, but the All-Star shortstop, based on first-half production, should be Hubie Brooks.

Third Base--Fans: Mike Schmidt. Column: Tim Wallach and Ray Knight are having excellent seasons but Schmidt, with 16 home runs, deserves to start.

Outfield--Fans: Darryl Strawberry, Dale Murphy and Tony Gwynn. Column: Gwynn, yes. Strawberry and Murphy, no. Tab Tim Raines and Dave Parker, with Chili Davis drawing strong consideration.

Catcher--Fans: Gary Carter. Column: Carter.

Pitchers--Said St. Louis Cardinals Manager Whitey Herzog, who will handle the National League team:

"If you want to be fair about it, there should be 10 Mets on the team, but I don't think Chub Feeney will let me get away with that."

Herzog's 10 Mets would include six pitchers: starters Dwight Gooden, Sid Fernandez, Ron Darling and Bob Ojeda, along with relievers Roger McDowell and Jesse Orosco.

But the indication is that he will settle on Gooden, Fernandez and Orosco, plus Shane Rawley, Fernando Valenzuela, Bob Knepper, Dave Smith and Jeff Reardon. The column would eliminate Knepper in favor of Houston teammate Mike Scott.

The American League's first base vote has the New York Yankees enraged.

Henderson, for example, said that in no way is Joyner better than Mattingly, that they were obviously stuffing ballots in Anaheim. Willie Randolph said: "It's a popularity contest that the fans in California are winning. The players know who the best first baseman is."

And even Mattingly got involved, firing a subtle broadside at the fans.

"I guess it's Wally's world," he said. "Sure I think the voting should be closer, but how can I be upset. I know who's voting."

The Dodgers reached a point where they weren't really sure. The San Francisco Giants have no doubt about it. The Candy Man can. Particularly in a pinch.

Candy Maldonado, who can't break into the outfield on a full-time basis, came off the bench in Cincinnati last week to deliver his fourth game-winning pinch-hit.

Then, in Atlanta, batting against Gene Garber, who had allowed only one previous home run, Maldonado tied it with a pinch homer in the ninth and stayed in to win it with a two-run single in the 10th.

Awed by Maldonado's pinch-hitting exploits, Chili Davis wagged a finger at Manager Roger Craig and said: "Don't you ever start him again."

Maldonado is pleased to be contributing but is still not happy with his role, just as he was not happy being a platoon player with the Dodgers.

He's batting .225 as a regular and .420 (11 for 26) as a pinch-hitter. He has 14 RBIs for the 11 hits, including four home runs, tying the club record (including the team's years in New York). The four pinch homers are only two shy of the major league record.

Said Maldonado: "I don't want any pinch-hit records. I want everyday records."

With nothing else for his Cardinals to shoot at, Herzog is going to let Vince Coleman make an all-out run at Lou Brock's National League single-season record of 118 steals in a season.

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