It's amazing the lengths that some major-league teams are willing to go to lure fans back to the ballpark.
The Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago White Sox have had so much trouble drawing this year that they are turning to alternative forms of entertainment to enhance the baseball experience -- apparently including regular fight nights.
In Saturday night's main event at Comiskey Park, White Sox manager Terry Bevington and Brewers skipper Phil Garner got into a wrestling match near third base during the second bench-clearing incident between the two clubs this year. Both managers could face disciplinary action from the American League office, though cynical fans probably would rather see them paired with their respective owners for a tag-team Battle Royale.
Just the thought of Bud Selig -- in tights -- putting the sleeper hold on Jerry Reinsdorf might be enough to heal the psychological wounds left by baseball's lengthy labor dispute.
New York Yankees fans were surprisingly forgiving yesterday when Jack McDowell made his first trip to the mound since flipping off the Yankee Stadium crowd earlier in the week. The booing was relatively light when he was introduced and the boos turned to cheers when he took the mound and retired the Texas Rangers in the first inning. McDowell helped ameliorate the situation when he apologized soon after the incident. It also doesn't hurt that the Yankees are winning again -- five straight at last count. . . . Slumping Player of the Week: Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Joe Carter is in a 4-for-52 slump, but that just means that he'll be due for a major turnaround when he gets traded to the Orioles. . . . The Detroit Tigers have been in a self-destruct mode for the past two weeks, but their recent 1-10 tailspin hasn't completely scuttled their 1995 division drive. They only lost 2 1/2 games in the standings and are seven back.
Never mind. The Rangers were supposed to be poised to run away with the AL West race in the second half, but now they appear to be losing their poise -- and everything else, for that matter. The Rangers went 0-7 last week while the California Angels were solidifying their hold on the division lead. By week's end, manager Johnny Oates was showing signs of wear and tear, but who wouldn't after a weeklong free fall that included another injury to big bopper Juan Gonzalez. . . . The other big gun in the AL West also went down last week. Mark McGwire, bothered by heel problems the past several years, went on the disabled list with a deep bone bruise in his left foot. . . . And a fond farewell to A's pitcher Dave Stewart, who retired yesterday. Class act.
The Cincinnati Reds may have pulled off the steal of the year when they sent Deion Sanders and four minor-leaguers for veteran pitchers Mark Portugal and Dave Burba and outfielder Darren Lewis. They got three major-league players to solidify a very strong club and saved themselves the headache that Sanders can become once football season begins. The playoff-bound Reds don't need that kind of instability, but they did need pitching help and they were able to get a quality center fielder in the process. The biggest loss may have been first baseman Dave McCarty, who could develop into an outstanding player. . . . The second-place Astros got a big week from Jeff Bagwell and Derek Bell to keep from losing significant ground to the Reds. They combined for two homers and 21 RBIs for the week. . . . The struggling Chicago Cubs scored 17 runs on the way to an 0-7 record last week. They combined to bat .224.
It had to happen sooner or later. Former Orioles pitcher Sid Fernandez ended his year-long losing streak by defeating the St. Louis Cardinals. He struck out 10 and looked a lot like the pitcher the Orioles thought they were getting when they spent $9 million to bring him to the American League. So it was only appropriate that his former New York Mets teammate Lenny Dykstra also ended a lengthy drought, hitting his first home run since May 22, 1994.
The San Francisco Giants looked as if they might buy enough time to get Matt Williams back from foot surgery, but time may be running out on their chances of overtaking the first-place Rockies. The Giants have dropped five of their past six games to cede four games in the standings, now lying nine games out with three teams ahead of them. . . . The Rocks just keep rolling. Third baseman Vinny Castilla has to be the NL West Player of the Week. He had a homer yesterday and went 14-for-28 for the week.