Don't expect the change in general managers to make life any more heavenly for San Diego's Padres.
With national television revenue expected to drop by up to $8-million next season, new GM Randy Smith may have no choice but to continue the distasteful dismantling of the once-proud team. Those orders, from the team's Gang of 15 ownership group, are what drove away Joe McIlvaine and has angered many of the players.
Smith, unlike McIlvaine, is trying to put a happy face on the tasks. "The situation here is not unique," he said. "It's happening in all the small markets. We want to build from within and supplement with less-expensive veteran players."
At 29, Smith may be the youngest general manager in the game, but he is no stranger to the role. He is the son of longtime baseball exec Tal Smith and has been planning for years to become a GM. "It just feels right," Smith said. "It feels very natural."
Smith's first task was to extend the contract of manager Jim Riggleman through the 1994 season. But after meeting with the players and talking about bringing stability to the team, Smith's next move may be deciding who next to trade from his shrinking stable of name players. Word is he'll have to trim $7-million by next spring.
"When you talk about Fred McGriff and Gary Sheffield and Tony Gwynn and Andy Benes, they are all very quality players," Smith said. "I'm not going to get into specifics, but if we can improve the ballclub, we'll listen."
Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden has an idea _ he'd like to see Sheffield, his nephew, playing alongside him in New York.
"He's kind of like (Darryl Strawberry) in a sense," Gooden said. "He likes attention. He knows in New York if he's doing well, things come with it playing in front of these type of fans. He loves being in the spotlight."
Delay of game: Realignment into three divisions and inter-league play apparently have been put off until 1995 at the earliest. Teams had too many concerns _ political and economical _ to rush the items to a vote, and owners were wary of sparring with the players union for approval. "There was not enough time to do it right, and I don't think anybody is in the mood for dramatic change that involves discussion with labor," said Phillies owner Bill Giles. The owners are expected to approve an additional round of playoffs, but will have to decide whether to reward the two second-place teams or the two non-division-winning teams with the best records. Either way, the players union has to approve that, too.
Milwaukee Gators? For the third time in two years, the Brewers drafted a Florida State University player _ a quarterback. The Brewers selected Heisman Trophy candidate Charlie Ward in the 59th round, apparently unconcerned that the football and basketball star played one year of baseball at Thomasville (Ga.) High School and none in college. Last year, the Brewers drafted Kenny Felder in the first round and signed him away from FSU. They also selected Dan Kanell in the 19th round, but Kanell passed and is Ward's backup.
Big Cecil: So much for the perception that Detroit's Cecil Fielder is having a bad year. Through 54 games (one-third of the season), Fielder had 12 home runs and 43 RBI. At the same time last year, he had 10 homers and 40 RBI. And in 1991, on his way to league highs of 44 homers and 133 RBI, he had 12 and 43 at the one-third mark. "He's like (Johnny) Bench and (Tony) Perez were in Cincinnati," Tigers manager Sparky Anderson said. "I always said they could hit by sound with the lights out and still knock in 100 runs. I don't ever think nothing about Cecil. I know what he'll do. No one can stop him from hitting 30 home runs and knocking in 100 runs."
Xs and Os: Seattle's Ken Griffey Jr. and Milwaukee's Robin Yount killed some time during Monday's game with a tic-tac-toe match in a centerfield mud patch. Yount won _ when he took two turns in a row. "He's a cheater," Griffey said. "I told him I can't vote for him for the Hall of Fame. He ruined his image with me."
Then what is it? First, GM Larry Himes went on radio saying he wanted the Cubs to be 10 games over .500 by the All-Star break. Then Chicago media reported manager Jim Lefebvre was in trouble if they weren't. Himes got mad and wondered where the story came from. "I'm getting tired of Jim Lefebvre getting beaten up," he said. "The 10 games over .500 isn't a yardstick for Jim Lefebvre. It's more for the team. Jimmy and his staff are putting everything they can into it, but it gets down to performance. It wasn't a gauntlet. It wasn't a deadline. And it isn't a yardstick."
Southern cross: Braves GM John Schuerholz says a 33-29 record and third-place standing is not a cause for concern, but does have him frustrated. "I don't mean to pin our woes on one person but the difference between this year and the last two years has been Terry Pendleton," Schuerholz said. "While we struggled last year and the year before, Terry hitting in the third spot got some real big hits. His offensive statistics were much better and he basically carried that club the first couple months last year." Pendleton, through Friday, was hitting .224 with three homers and 24 RBI.
From A's to Zzz: It sounds hard to believe, but the once-grand Oakland A's have the worst record in the AL. "I can only go by how many times I sit there and say, "I don't believe this,' " manager Tony La Russa said. "I'm shaking my head a lot."
On the mark: Philadelphia's Len Dykstra, batting .189 on April 27, predicted he would be hitting .300 by the end of June. "It's where I belong and I've been chipping away each day," Dykstra said. Since then, he has gone 55-for-171 (.322) and hiked his average, through Friday, to .282.
Numbers game: The A's have not had a win from a left-handed starter since Sept. 11, 1990. The Blue Jays had at least one extra-base hit from April 16 to June 9. Seattle is 2-27 when scoring two runs or fewer.
Worth quoting: Cleveland's Matt Young, who is winless in his past 47 appearances and 0-14 in his past 14 decisions: "You're only as good as your last outing."
Miscellany: Wonder what effect the $141.3-million offer for the Orioles will have on future sales or expansion fees. Playing without third baseman Dave Hollins for a month will be the Phillies' first major test. Expos president Claude Brochu says the Canadiens' success cost his team about 150,000 fans. Baltimore quietly won nine straight to rejoin the AL East race.