Tuesday, January 26, 2016

1983 and the brewing storm...

     By request...

     The 1983 season was relatively uneventful on the field. The post season participants all changed from the previous season. The White Sox made their first post season appearance in the divisional era, buoyed by two twenty-game winners for Tony LaRussa.
     The Baltimore Orioles, being led on the field by young shortstop Cal Ripken, were led off the field by Joe Altobelli, who replaced the retired legend Earl Weaver.
     Tommy LaSorda took the Dodgers to the playoffs once again, meeting the aging Phillies. The Phils were helmed by Paul Owens, who replaced Pat Corrales halfway through the season. Called the "Wheeze Kids" because of their very veteran lineup, featuring three cogs of the Big Red Machine of the 70's; Joe Morgan, Tony Perez and Pete Rose.

     No review of the 1983 season would be complete without mention of the events of July 24th. The now legendary "Pine Tar Game", where Kansas City third baseman George Brett homered in the top of the ninth off of Rich Gossage of the Yankees, to give the Royals a 5-4 lead in the game. Yankees manager Billy Martin came out of the dugout as Brett was circling the bases and asked home plate umpire Tim McClellend to inspect Brett's bat, in order to determine whether there was too much pine tar on the handle. The rule was that there could not be a substance on a bat more than 18 inches from the handle. After measuring the bat against the 17 inch wide home plate, the umpire determined that the bat, in fact, was illegal, and as a result, he ruled George Brett out, negating the home run, and causing the runs to be erased, keeping the Yankees in the lead 4-3. Brett was a little upset at the judgment:

     The story that I heard is that Martin and the Yankees knew that Brett's bat had too much pine tar, and were waiting for an opportune moment to have it checked. At this point, the Royals/Yankees rivalry was winding down, but any chance that Martin had to get in his opponent's heads, he jumped at.
     Anyway, the Royals protested the decision, which was upheld by the American League commissioner, who decided that the game would need to be replayed from the home run. The Royals officially would up with the win, in a game completed on August 18th. Yankee starting pitcher Ron Guidry played center field, and Don Mattingly played second base for the final defensive out of the ninth inning, and the Yankees went down quietly in the bottom of the ninth, three weeks after the fact.

     Dave Winfield of the Yankees struck and killed a seagull during warm-up throws at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto.
     Fred Lynn of the Angels hit the first Grand Slam in All-Star Game history, taking Atlee Hammaker of the Giants deep in the third inning. Hammaker had also allowed a homer to Jim Rice of the Red Sox earlier that inning. The American League won the game 13-3.
     (Although the All-Star Game was allegedly meaningless at the time, this win by the AL broke an eleven game losing streak in the Mid-Season Classic)
     Off the field, however, major changes were underway. Bowie Kuhn's contract had not been renewed, and an active search for a new commissioner was underway. If was not to be fruitful, and the owners asked Kuhn to remain in office until a replacement was found.
     Among the names discussed were Tal Smith, Jack Valenti, Peter Uberroth, Bart Giamatti, Lee Iacocca, Brendan Byrne, Frank Cashen and James Baker. Hank Aaron expressed interest in a letter sent to all of the 26 owners, but despite being interviewed by several members of the search committee, he never was a serious candidate.
     Kuhn's tenure, easily one of the more contentious in major league history, was marred by labor woes, including the first mid-season work stoppage in Major League history. His battles with both George Steinbrenner and Charles Finley were played out in newspapers from coast to coast. He made some very unpopular rulings, acting 'in the best interest of the game'. Two of those rulings involved banning legends Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle from the game for taking jobs with casinos.
     Both Mantle and Mays were hired by casinos in Atlantic City as 'greeter', which basically meant their jobs were to meet and greet the high rollers that would come through, maybe get a round of golf in with the Hall of Famers. Kuhn's directive was meant to ensure that the players that were associating with known gamblers, were not a part of organized baseball. Both men were re-instated when they left their positions. At the time of the ban, Mantle was a guest batting instructor for the Yankees, showing up at Spring Training to essentially hang out with Billy Martin and Whitey Ford. Mays was also an honorary hitting coach for the Mets, but was also working for their front office on occasion.
     Kuhn voided Finley's sale of three players in 1976. He tried to sell Joe Rudi and Rollie Fingers to the Red Sox for $2,000,000 and Vida Blue to the Yankees for $1,500,000. Kuhn decided those sales would ruin the competitive balance within the league, and canceled them. Again, acting in the 'best interest of baseball, term which today, is no longer in the commissioner's job description.
     And Bowie Kuhn also handed George Steinbrenner his first expulsion from the game, lasting two years year at the outset of his ownership run. Steinbrenner was banned for his involvement in a bribery scandal involving funneling money to a President Nixon re-election campaign in exchange for future favorable business considerations. he pleaded down to avoid jail time, but was still a convicted felon. (He would later by pardoned by President Reagan)

     More importantly, in a situation that would haunt the rest of the decade, the 'Kansas City Four' were implicated in a cocaine distribution ring that landed them in jail. Cocaine became the buzzword in baseball, and quite a few players would eventually wind up in rehab at one point or another for cocaine addiction.
     Willie Aikens, Vida Blue, Jerry Martin and Willie Wilson were all charged in conjunction with an FBI investigation, and all agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge. They agreed to cooperate with said investigation, in exchange for a lighter sentence. All four were sentenced to one year in federal prison, with nine months of that suspended. The four were suspended from baseball for one year for their drug involvement by the commissioner.
     Also earning a one year suspension for drug involvement was Dodger pitcher Steve Howe. Howe, who had been suspended and fined by the Dodgers on three different occasions during the 1983 season, would eventually rack up more suspensions during his major league career, but the 1983 suspension was his first.

     For some reason, I looked at some of the minor league numbers for this season as well. There were some outstanding achievements that bear mentioning here, particularly in one statistical category in particular.
     The landscape of baseball in the early 80's were dominated by expansive stadiums, with big alleys and artificial turf. The teams that played in these parks built their teams around the speed game, and there was in increase in stolen bases over the previous homer happy decade. By my count, there were twenty-six players that stole 50 or more bases, five of those with 90 or more. Donnell Nixon, no relation to Otis, stole 144 bases for Bakersfield of the California League. That placed him second in the minors, behind Vince Coleman's 144 steals for Macon of the South Atlantic League.
     And the Louisville Redbirds, the St. Louis Cardinal AAA affiliate in the now defunct American Association, set the all time minor league attendance record by drawing 1,006,103 fans to Cardinals Stadium Like

     But, onto the playing field. As I mentioned earlier, none of the four playoff teams repeated from the previous year. And none of the pennant races were 'down to the wire'. The closest race was in the NL West, where the Dodgers were 3 games ahead of the Braves.
     Statistically speaking, it was a better year for pitchers in the American League. But we'll address the offense first, along with their stats and award vote. Overall stats first:
  1. George Brett                        Royals             25 93 .310     no votes
  2. Eddie Murray                      Orioles             33 111 .306   MVP 2nd
  3. Carlton Fisk                        White Sox        26 86 .289     MVP 3rd
  4. Cecil Cooper                       Brewers           30 126 .307   MVP 5th
  5. Ted Simmons                      Brewers           13 108 .308   MVP 19th
  6. Cal Ripken                          Orioles             27 102 .318   MVP 1st
  7. Lance Parrish                      Tigers              27 114 .269   MVP 9th
  8. Dave Winfield                    Yankees           32 116 .283   MVP 7th
  9. Jim Rice                              Red Sox           39 126 .305   MVP 4th
  10. Wade Boggs                       Red Sox             5 74 .368     MVP 12th

Then compared to their team's performances, the rankings are:
  1. George Brett                       Royals              above
  2. Jim Rice                              Red Sox           above
  3. Wade Boggs                       Red Sox           above
  4. Larry Parrish                      Rangers            26 88 .272     no votes
  5. Eddie Murray                     Orioles             above
  6. Cecil Cooper                      Brewers            above
  7. Ted Simmons                     Brewers           above
  8. Pat Putnam                         Mariners          19 67 .269      no votes
  9. Carlton Fisk                       White Sox        above
  10. Kent Hrbek                        Twins               16 84 .297      no votes

Combined performance, individually and compared to the league and their teams, the top offensive players were:
  1. George Brett                       Royals
  2. Eddie Murray                     Orioles
  3. Jim Rice                             Red Sox
  4. Cecil Cooper                      Brewers
  5. Ted Simmons                     Brewers
  6. Carlton Fisk                       White Sox
  7. Dave Winfield                    Yankees
  8. Cal Ripken                         Orioles
  9. Lance Parrish                     Tigers
  10. Lloyd Moseby                    Blue Jays          18 81 .315      MVP 14th

The AL MVP Vote for that year (top ten) was:
  1. Cal Ripken                         Orioles
  2. Eddie Murray                     Orioles
  3. Carlton Fisk                       White Sox
  4. Jim Rice                             Red Sox
  5. Cecil Cooper                      Brewers
  6. Dan Quisenberry                Royals
  7. Dave Winfield                   Yankees
  8. Lou Whitaker                     Tigers                12 72 .320
  9. Lance Parrish                     Tigers
  10. Harold Baines                    White Sox          20 99 .280

     Not sure why George Brett didn't fare well in the post season voting. He played in 123 games, tied for 8th in batting average and on base percentage, and led the league in slugging percentage.

     There was a mid to late season trade between the Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Rick Honeycutt went from Texas to LA in exchange for Dave Stewart and cash. However, since he populates the following lists, I will include him, but with a dreaded asterisk. It's hard to vote for a League Award if a player doesn't at least finish the season in that league. I will use his AL numbers for the AL lists.
     The raw numbers give us this:
  1. Rick Honeycutt*               Rangers       14-8 2.42 56 Ks   no votes
  2. Mike Boddicker                Orioles        16-8 2.77 120Ks   Rookie 3rd
  3. Ron Guidry                       Yankees       21-9 3.42 156Ks  CY 5th MVP 21st
  4. LaMarr Hoyt                    White Sox    24-10 3.66 148Ks CY 1st MVP 13th
  5. Rich Dotson                     White Sox    22-7 3.23 137Ks   CY 4th, MVP 20th
  6. Dan Quisenberry              Royals           5-3 1.94 45 svs    CY 2nd MVP 6th
  7. Rich Gossage                   Yankees       13-5 2.27 22 svs    no votes
  8. Jack Morris                      Tigers           20-13 3.34 232Ks  CY 3rd MVP 21st
  9. Moose Haas                     Brewers        13-3 3.27 75Ks      no votes
  10. Dave Stieb                       Blue Jays      17-12 3.04 187Ks  no votes
  11. Scott McGregor               Orioles         18-7 3.18 86Ks       CY 6th

And compared to their teams numbers, we have:
  1. Dan Quisenberry              Royals            above
  2. Rick Honeycutt*              Rangers          above
  3. Ron Guidry                      Yankees          above
  4. Ken Schrom                     Twins              15-8 3.71 80Ks    no votes
  5. Dave Stieb                        Blue Jays        above
  6. Mike Boddicker               Orioles            above
  7. Moose Haas                     Brewers          above
  8. Bob Stanley                     Red Sox           8-10 2.85 33 svs   MVP 15th
  9. Geoff Zahn                      Angels              9-11 3.33 81Ks    no votes
  10. Rick Sutcliffe                  Indians            17-11 4.29 160Ks  no votes
  11. Jack Morris                     Tigers              above

Overall, here's what we look like in the AL:
  1. Rick Honeycutt*             Rangers
  2. Ron Guidry                     Yankees
  3. Dan Quisenberry             Royals
  4. Mike Boddicker              Orioles
  5. LaMarr Hoyt                  White Sox
  6. Dave Stieb                      Blue Jays
  7. Rich Dotson                   White Sox
  8. Moose Haas                    Brewers
  9. Rich Gossage                 Yankees
  10. Jack Morris                     Tigers
  11. Ken Schrom                    Twins

The Cy Young vote in the AL was:
  1. LaMarr Hoyt                   White Sox
  2. Dan Quisenberry             Royals
  3. Jack Morris                      Tigers
  4. Rich Dotson                    White Sox
  5. Ron Guidry                     Yankees
  6. Scott McGregor              Orioles

Looking at the National League, offense first again, we have these raw numbers:
  1. Dale Murphy                   Braves        36 121 .302         MVP 1st
  2. Tim Raines                      Expos         11 71 .298 97SB MVP 5th
  3. Andre Dawson                Expos         32 113 .299         MVP 2nd
  4. Mike Schmidt                  Phillies       40 109 .255         MVP 3rd
  5. George Hendrick             Cardinals    18 97 .318           MVP 11th
  6. Darrell Evans                   Giants         30 82 .277          MVP 14th
  7. Pedro Guerrero                Dodgers      32 103.298         MVP 4th
  8. Jose Cruz                         Astros          14 92 .318         MVP 6th
  9. Gary Carter                      Expos          17 79 .270         MVP 12th
  10. Terry Kennedy                 Padres         17 98 .284         MVP 10th

Their performances over their team's averages:
  1. Dale Murphy                    Braves         above
  2. Daryl Strawberry              Mets            26 74 .257       Rookie 1st
  3. Pedro Guerrero                 Dodgers      above
  4. Mike Schmidt                   Phillies        above
  5. Gary Redus                       Reds            17 51 .247       Rookie 4th
  6. Darrell Evans                    Giants          above
  7. Jose Cruz                          Astros           above
  8. Terry Kennedy                  Padres          above
  9. George Hendrick              Cardinals      above
  10. George Foster                   Mets             28 90 .241      no votes

And then their total numbers bring us to this:
  1. Dale Murphy
  2. Mike Schmidt
  3. Pedro Guerrero
  4. Darrell Evans
  5. George Hendrick
  6. Jose Cruz
  7. Gary Redus
  8. Terry Kennedy
  9. Tim Raines
  10. Andre Dawson

The NL MVP voting went this way:
  1. Dale Murphy                          Braves
  2. Andre Dawson                        Expos
  3. Mike Schmidt                         Phillies
  4. Pedro Guerrero                       Dodgers
  5. Tim Raines                             Expos
  6. Jose Cruz                                Astros
  7. Dickie Thon                            Astros            20 79 .286
  8. Bill Madlock                           Pirates            12 68 .323
  9. Al Holland                              Phillies
  10. Terry Kennedy                        Padres

The pitching breaks down this way...first the raw numbers:
  1. John Denny                              Phillies       19-6 2.37 139Ks    CY 1st MVP 13th
  2. Jesse Orosco                            Mets            13-7 1.47 17 svs    CY 3rd MVP 17th
  3. Atlee Hammaker                     Giants          10-9 2.25 127Ks    no votes
  4. Mario Soto                              Reds             17-13 2.70 242Ks  CY 2nd MVP 14th
  5. Bob Welch                              Dodgers        15-12 2.65 156Ks  CY 8th
  6. Steve Howe                             Dodgers         4-7 1.44 18 svs     no votes
  7. Nolan Ryan                             Astros            14-9 2.98 183Ks   CY 9th
  8. Lee Smith                               Cubs                 4-10 1.65 29 svs  no votes
  9. Charlie Lea                             Expos             16-11 3.12 137Ks  no votes
  10. John Candelaria                      Pirates            15-8 3.23 157Ks    no votes

Against their teams numbers:
  1. Mario Soto                       Reds     above
  2. Lee Smith                        Cubs     above
  3. Atlee Hammaker             Giants     above
  4. Jesse Orosco                    Mets       above
  5. John Denny                      Phillies  above
  6. Charlie Lea                      Expos     above
  7. Steve Rogers                   Expos    17-12 3.23 146Ks     CY 4th
  8. Nolan Ryan                     Astros     above
  9. Bob Welch                      Dodgers  above
  10. John Candelaria              Pirates     above

And then overall performance:
  1. Mario Soto                        Reds
  2. Jesse Orosco                      Mets
  3. John Denny                       Phillies
  4. Lee Smith                          Cubs
  5. Atlee Hammaker               Giants
  6. Bob Welch                        Dodgers
  7. Charlie Lea                        Expos
  8. Steve Howe                       Dodgers
  9. Nolan Ryan                       Astros
  10. Steve Rogers                     Expos

The Cy Young voting in the NL that season went like this:
  1. John Denny                     Phillies
  2. Mario Soto                      Reds
  3. Jesse Orosco                    Mets
  4. Steve Rogers                   Expos
  5. Larry McWilliams          Pirates      15-8 3.25 87Ks
  6. Al Holland                      Phillies      8-4 2.26 25 svs
  7. Craig McMurtry             Braves      15-9 3.08 105Ks
  8. Bob Welch                     Dodgers
  9. Nolan Ryan                    Astros
    Lee Smith                       Cubs

So, in review, the top five players in each league, were:
  1. George Brett                             Dale Murphy
  2. Rick Honeycutt                         Mike Schmidt
  3. Ron Guidry                               Pedro Guerrero
  4. Mike Boddicker                        Mario Soto
  5. Eddie Murray                            Darrell Evans
  6. Jim Rice

This is a really cool book, due in time for Spring training. Has some great stories and a bunch of baseball related activities for the kids (and grown ups as well)

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