It was not a good week for major-league managers who were members of the original expansion Los Angeles Angels. Buck Rodgers was fired by the California Angels, and Philadelphia Phillies manager Jim Fregosi inadvertently got himself into hot water with a derisive statement about baseball fans from South Philadelphia.
And his week didn't get any better. The day that the controversy erupted, pitching ace Curt Schilling suffered his seventh consecutive loss and the club scheduled him for elbow surgery. The Phillies have been playing better of late, winning eight of their past 10 games, but they continue to scrape the bottom of the National League East. "Cubs win! Cubs win!" That's our imitation of Harry Caray last week at Wrigley Field. Long-suffering North Siders watched the Cubs snap out of a 2-14 home slump to sweep the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants. . . . When was the last time you saw someone called out for batting out of turn? It happened on Saturday to the Cincinnati Reds, when Brian Dorsett and Bret Boone fell victim to a batting order brain cramp. At least they weren't wearing earrings at the time. . . . Best division update: The NL Central temporarily takes the prize after a 21-10 week that restored some parity with the seemingly stronger East.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are beginning to look very real in the two-team NL West, where the favored Giants are struggling and the other two teams in the division are fast becoming nonentities. The Dodgers pounded the Reds yesterday for their 11th victory in the past 14 games and increased their lead to 3 1/2 games over the Giants, who were in the wrong place at the wrong time when the law of averages caught up with the Cubs last week at Wrigley Field. . . . The most interesting thing about the Dodgers surge is that they probably have Darryl Strawberry to thank for it. If he doesn't go AWOL, the Dodgers might not have developed the chemistry that has led to the fantastic performances of young outfielders Raul Mondesi (.335) and Henry Rodriguez (.352). . . . If you were around for the 1988 Orioles, you have to feel for the Padres, who ended a 13-game losing streak with a 7-6 victory over the Houston Astros yesterday. He may not be well-liked in Baltimore, but Toronto manager Cito Gaston is highly regarded in a front office that has put a premium on stability. That's why the Blue Jays removed any doubt about his status with a contract extension through the 1996 season. . . . If Buck Showalter lasts into September, he'll have the longest continuous tenure of any New York Yankees manager in the George Steinbrenner era. Even The Boss has learned that stability breeds success, a concept that is totally lost on the pennantless Angels (but that will be addressed in the AL West section). . . . Rookie of the Week Award: Detroit Tigers shortstop Chris Gomez had a terrific week, going 8-for-15 (.533) with two home runs and nine RBIs. Six of the RBIs came in Tuesday's 13-6 victory over the Blue Jays.
The Minnesota Twins' seven-game winning streak come to an end against Boston ace Roger Clemens yesterday, but not before their 12-1 rush had taken them from divisional doormat to the fifth-best record in the AL. . . . The Milwaukee Brewers have replaced them at the bottom of the standings, thanks to an 11-game losing streak that has spoiled their respectable start. The Orioles can help them tie a club record by beating tonight at Milwaukee County Stadium. . . . Apparently, streaking is in again this year, judging by the number of lengthy runs -- in each direction -- during the first seven weeks of the season. That volatility has been more noticeable because of realignment, but the schedule has not changed. It probably has something to do with the talent gap that has developed in the aftermath of last year's expansion.
Now, for the rest of the story. Buck Rodgers was fired by the Angels to exorcise the personal demons of insecure club president Richard Brown, who recently had confronted him with rumors that Rodgers was privately questioning his knowledge of baseball. Rodgers claims otherwise, but he wouldn't be the first person to wonder about Brown, another corporate type who has confused fan interest with baseball expertise. . . . It's getting almost sad. The Washington baseball wannabes recently approached the Oakland A's with an offer to buy the team and move it to D.C. but were told that the $85 million bargain price tag applied only to groups interested in keeping the team in the Bay Area. The Capitol gang also has made overtures to the Padres, but may have to settle for watching Andy Benes pitch in Baltimore later this year.