The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 4, 1997 · Page 37
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 37

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Sunday, May 4, 1997
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Page 37
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D4 SUNDAY, MAY 4, 1997 BASEBALL THE SALINA JOURNAL Cubs, White Sox embarrassing Chicago Chicago's baseball teams struggling in last place this season By MIKE NADEL ssociated Press C HICAGO — On the North Side, routine throws end up in the stands, two-strike pitches end up in the bleachers and base-running blunders end up in punch lines. ; On the South Side, millionaire sluggers are flailing, paunchy pitchers are failing and apathetic fans are bailing. This toddlin' town has a long tradition of baseball futility — the White Sox last won the World Series in 1917, the Cubs in 1908. But this season has produced an especially amazing display of pathetic play. The Cubs lost their first 14 games for the worst start in National League history, set another record with 19 April losses and took a 6-20 mark into the weekend. Despite a $54 million payroll that includes some $18 million for Frank Thomas and Albert Belle, the White Sox were 8-17. Each team had the worst record in its league. "Chicago is the best sports town in the world and the fans here deserve a winner," said Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray, who announced White Sox games from 1971-81. "But I'm so old (77) that I won't be around when one of these teams finally does win something." A Chicago baseball team is guaranteed to win at least three more games — June 16,17 and 18. That's when the Cubs and White Sox meet in the regular season for the first time as part of the sport's great in- terleague experiment. White Sox outfielder Dave Martinez, who played for the Cubs in the late 1980s, said that series at Comiskey Park "will change the whole meaning of cross-town rivalry." For now, the rivalry looks like a race to the 100-loss mark. Though defeat is the norm at 'Wrigley Field and Comiskey Park, 'these Cubs and White Sox have turned futility into a bumbling, •stumbling art form. "I don't think there's a mistake •.aw \ MM MU\ \\\\\\U • -•\\M\\\MM! Chicago Cubs fans hold a banner near the end of an April 15 loss to Colorado, the 11th straight to start the season. The Cubs opened 0-14. Photos by The Associated Press Despite boasting one of baseball's most feared slugging twosomes of Albert Belle (left) and Frank Thomas, the Chicago White Sox are in last place in the American League Central. you can make that we haven't made," Cubs general manager Ed Lynch said. "Bad base running. Bad hitting. Bad pitching. Bad infield play. Bad outfield play. We've done it all. "We have to improve because we can't play much worse." The Cubs finished April with a .228 batting average, a 4.84 ERA and 27 errors. They were outscored 133-95 and out-homered 28-15. "There's no way to sugarcoat it," Cubs first baseman Mark Grace said. "We've played a lot of bad baseball." During their 0-14 start, the Cubs were lampooned by Jay Leno, roasted on local radio and mocked by newspaper columnists. And why not? The Cubbies provided some pretty funny material. "I don't really have any use for the sarcasm and the mean-spirited stuff," said Cubs manager Jim Riggleman, whose job probably isn't in jeopardy because team president Andy MacPhail is known for being patient. "But I've got a sense of humor, and even I laughed at some of the jokes." Laughing hasn't come as easily on the South Side. Unlike the Cubs, who thought they might finish above .500 if they got some breaks, the White Sox expected to be among baseball's very best teams. "I've done a lot of evaluation and it's time to go out and get some wins," general manager Ron Schueler said. "I don't want to hear any more excuses." In other words, manager Terry Bevington is on the hot seat, and several players are sitting right next to him. Owner Jerry Reinsdorf spent $55 million to sign Belle for the next five years and assumed that the combination of Belle and Thomas — two of the game's most feared Braves' Maddux in Cy Young form again -Atlanta ace went 3-1 .with a 1.13 earned run average during April By PAUL NEWBERRY The Associated Press ATLANTA— Cy Young awards ilon't matter much to Greg Maddux. He's got plenty of them. He prefers to focus on the minutiae of pitching: the next team, the next hitter, the next pitch. On this day, relaxing in the Atlanta Braves clubhouse between starts in a season that already has shown Cy Young-like brilliance again, Maddux refused to let the conversation shift to large, sweeping goals. Twenty wins? There are too -many factors that could scuttle such a season, no matter how well lie pitches. A fifth Cy Young? Too far off to ''even worry about. ' "I enjoy watching the game. I just think about what I have to do to make good pitches. That's it," 'said Maddux, whose unprecedented streak of four straight Cy Youngs was broken last season by teammate John Smoltz. "I don't try to collect numbers or win games. I just try to make good pitches." Based on the first month of the season, Maddux might want to go ahead and clear off a shelf for another Cy Young. During five starts in April, he went 3-1 with a 1.13 ERA. He took a scoreless streak of 29 innings into May. One of his starts took all of 1 hour, 47 minutes, to complete — the fastest major-league game in five years. Indeed, Maddux the Magnificent is back, though it's not like he ever left. "For about the 913th time, there is nothing different about Maddux," pitching coach Leo Mazzone said impatiently. "He's consistent as consistent is. He's simply the greatest pitcher in baseball." It's a tribute to Maddux's greatness that 1996 — 15-11 with a 2.72 ERA and, more telling, no Cy Young — was considered a subpar year — only in the sense that it was human. The previous two seasons, Maddux put together performances that statistically rate as the two greatest years for a pitcher in baseball history — 16-6 with a 1.56 ERA in 1994,19-2 with a 1.63 ERA in '95. How do those seasons compare with this season? "I don't even try to do that," he said. "What good does it do me? I'm worrying about (his next opponent). I'm not worried about... 1993 or '94. I don't think it's going to help me." That's the heart of Maddux's brilliance. He keeps looking forward, yet he has the computerlike ability to retain all those tidbits that help him keep the upper hand. hitters over the last five years — would pound opponents into submission. It hasn't happened. Belle had only four homers, 14 RBI and a .206 batting average in the first month. Thomas batted .319 but had just two homers and 15 RBI. And the White Sox were outscored 138-106 in April. From an underachieving rotation featuring chubby left-hander Wilson Alvarez, to a subpar bullpen that probably cost the team a playoff spot in '96, to a defective defense that has set up 27 unearned runs, the White Sox have plenty of problem areas. But they're losing, said Bevington, because "we just haven't scored the runs we thought we would." The often surly Belle already has stopped talking to the Chicago media. Thomas doesn't know what more can be said about the team's offensive woes. Both are obviously frustrated, even though they haul in more cash than any athlete in town not named Michael Jordan. "Regardless of how much money you make ... when things are not going well, money is not a satisfaction," Bevington said. "They are still suffering inside. They want to be performers." The White Sox surely miss a solid performer such as third baseman Robin Ventura, who had 34 homers and 105 RBI last season but broke his ankle in March and might not return until 1998. "You have to go on," Schueler said. "Other clubs have injuries and rally around it. You can't sit there and cry." Some White Sox fans probably have cried, but few have sat in Comiskey Park. The weather has been lousy and there is still apathy from the 1994 strike that many fans feel Reinsdorf orchestrated. An April 9 game against Toronto that was switched from night to day because of the cold drew only 746 fans. And lack of interest caused Reinsdorf to shelve a plan requiring fans to attend three oth- er games if they wanted Cubs-Sox tickets come June. The Cubs, as usual, are faring better at the box office. Even though they have had the same bad weather, average paid attendance; at Wrigley Field was 22,477. and advance sales were strong. That's because going to see the "Lovable Losers" at the "Friendly Confines" on the North Side is considered fashionable. "We have great, loyal fans, but I hate that lovable loser stuff," Grace said. "I don't think we have i losers in this clubhouse. Is Sammy Sosa a loser? Is Ryne Sandberg? Is Shawon Dunston?" '.;' Perhaps not, but they're not helping the Cubs win. Sosa, whose power numbers over the last few years came close to those of Thomas and Belle, went into the weekend with three homers, 14 RBI and a .210 average. The 37-year-old Sandberg and 34- year-old Dunston cover less ground than most other double-play combinations. "It's hard to smile ... but I'm proud to be a Cub," Dunston said. "If we lose, we lose. But it's not the end of the world." PROJECT SALINA, INC, The city that cares about its hungry. Collecting Food For Those lo Need. Participating Businesses and Organizations are collecting food during May to be distributed to five Salina agencies: Emergency Aid/Food Bank, The Salvation Army, Focus on the Future, Ashby House and Salina Rescue Mission. SATURDAY May 17, 1997 Many prizes will be available! Register now for Spring Scramble Registration, Coffee & Hulls 8:00 am Putting Contest at 8:00 am 1:00 pin l.unch Provided. Shotgun Start 9:00 alii Entiy lee: $140 per team (4 per team) Registration deadline, May 10, 1997. Salina Board of Realtors, 210 S. Ohio, Salina. 825-4607. Participating and Organizations ADM Milling Alco Bank of Tescotl Bennington State Bank Bergkamp, Inc. Blue Beacon International Breezy 104.9 (m Broker's Realty Brown Mackle College Bucher, Willis & Ratllff Buyer's Guide Capitol Federal Savings Casinos Central Kansas Foundation Central Mall City of Salina Clark, Mlze & Linville Chartered Clubine & Rettele Ctd. Coldwell Banker Antrim Piper Wenger Realtors Conklin Cars Salina Downtown Lions Eagle Country 99.9 Exide Batteries Corporation Exline, Inc. First Bank Kansas Geoprobe Systems Gibson's Discount Center Great Plains Manufacturing Hampton, Royce, Engleman & Nelson Holiday Mansion IBM/SSI Idelman Telemarketing Jack Parr Associates, Inc. Jim's Pharmacy KCVS 90.7 Im KINA 910 am KQNS STAR 95 KS All 150 am KV94 KS D»pt. of Human Resources KS D*pt. of Transportation Kansas Army National Guard KASA Industrial Controls Key Rexall K-Mart KPL Gas Service KSU - Salina Lamone Candy Love Box Co. Long McArthur, Inc. MarketAide, Inc. Marshall Motor Co. Midwest TV Millwood Really Mowery Clinic National Association of Letter Carriers OCCK Oldies 96.5 fm Payless Cashways Philips Lighting PKM Steel Services Premier Pneumatics Raytheon Aircraft, Machinist Union & Beech Employees Club Realty Associates RE/MAX Advantage Realtors Research Products Co. St. John's Military Salina Airport Authorlty/Avla/Hertz/US Air Express Salina Area Chamber of Commerce Salina Clinic Salina Concrete Products Salina Country Club Salina Family Physicians Salina Jaycees Salina Journal Salina Regional Health Center Salina Supply Salina Vo-Tech Saline County Sam's Club School Specialty Sears Security Savings Bank Sign Pro Smoky Hill Family Practice Sentinel Ins. Group formerly RGB Schmidt Ins. Social Rehabilitation Services Solomon State Bank Southwestern Bell Telephone CWA Local 6411 Statcare Suburban TV Sunflower Bank Superior School & Office The Saint Francis Academy, Inc. Target Tony's Triad Manufacturing Turbine Specialties UMB/Natlonal Bank of America United Way of Salina U.P.S USD 305 U.S. Postal Service Walmart Warta Bulck Drs. Weber, Palmer & Macy Wedel.Wedel, Barker Wels American Fire Western Auto Distribution Center Wilson & Company Woods & Durham YMCA YWCA FOOD ITEM Baby Food Boxed Meals Canned Fruit Canned Meat Canned Soup Canned Tomato Sauce Canned Vegetables Cereal(Hot/Cold) Crackers Dried beans Flour Hamburger Helper Instant/Scalloped Potatoes Jam/Jelly Jello/Pudding Milk - Powder/Canned Muffin Mix/Biscuit Mix Pancake Mix Pancake Syrup Pasta/Egg Noodles/Spaghetti Peanut Butter Pork & Beans Rice Shortening/Cooking Oil Sugar Tuna PROJECTED NEED 175 jars 7,200 boxes 15,500 cans 10,800 cans 3,600 cans .:: 5,850 cans ' 13,700 cans 3,350 boxes 2,650 boxes 3,100 Ibs. 1,750 Ibs. 5,900 boxes 3,275 boxes 4,400 jars 3,700 boxes 3,900 Ibs. 3,650 boxes 1,950 Ibs. 2,400 bottles 2,000 Ibs. 2,975 jars 4,220 cans 1,080 Ibs. 1,625 Ibs. 3,800 Ibs. 7,500 cans 120,050 items Thanks for Caring! Public Message Sponsored by The Salina Journal

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