Baseball: Kelly pursues World Series double

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The Independent Online
TOM KELLY is only 41, but already the Minnesota Twins manager has won two World Series, more than anyone currently managing in baseball bar the grand old man of the game, 64-year-old Tommy Losorda of the Dodgers, who has two, and 58-year-old Sparky Anderson of Detroit, who has four.

With the Twins at the top of the American League West with a line-up as impressive as last year's, they have a good chance of becoming the first team to win consecutive World Series since the New York Yankees in 1977-78.

Born in a small town on the Minnesota prairie, Kelly moved to New Jersey as a child, but returned to his roots in the mid-1970s to sign for a Twins' minor league team. He has been a one-club man ever since.

Doleful of expression and dishevelled in appearance, Kelly is from the school of management that spits tobacco juice from the side of the mouth. He did not take easily to the media circus of American sport and had coaching lessons a few years back on 'keeping the answers short, turning negatives into a positive, that sort of thing'.

The advice came in handy one day when the team were stuck in an airport lounge, and Kelly, on his way to the toilet, was approached by a reporter. 'Right now, I am going to urinate,' was Kelly's succinct reply.

The success of teams such as the unfashionable Twins is refreshing at a time when baseball is gradually polarising into wealthy teams with huge local television markets (Yankees, Mets, Dodgers) and those small-market teams (Pittsburgh, Seattle, Minnesota) who have to trade their best players to survive.

'The Twins recruit good players with good hearts,' the club's third baseman, Mike Pagliarulo, said. 'They breed unselfish players who play as a team, win or lose.'

Kelly has his own theory as to how team chemistry is best maintained. 'If you go out and pitch good,' he says, 'you're going to have a good atmosphere in the clubhouse, because the players will feel they have a chance to win. The batting may be strong, but if the pitching isn't there, attitudes will quickly deteriorate.'

The tightness of the Twins' budget puts a lot of pressure on the general manager, Andy MacPhail. With total revenue this year of dollars 40m, MacPhail has done well to keep the salary bill down to dollars 27m (pounds 14.2m), 10th in the AL. But the reckoning will come at the end of the season when left fielder Kirby Puckett qualifies for free agency.

Last winter MacPhail caused a stir by trading the World Series Most Valuable Player Jack Morris to Toronto. On Sunday Puckett, who leads the AL batting averages, reminded Minnesota folk what they may be missing next year, driving in three runs with three hits as Minnesota won their third of four games from Boston, to stay three games clear of Oakland.

----------------------------------------------------------------- MAJOR LEAGUE RESULTS AND STANDINGS ----------------------------------------------------------------- AMERICAN LEAGUE: Texas 6 Baltimore 2; Cleveland 2 Kansas City 1; Milwaukee 15 Chicago White Sox 4; California 4 Detroit 3; Oakland 9 Toronto 1; Seattle 8 NY Yankees 5; Minnesota 8 Boston 2. East Division W L Pct GB Toronto . . . . . . . . . . . 58 39 .598 - Baltimore . . . . . . . . . . 54 43 .557 4 Milwaukee . . . . . . . . . . 52 44 .542 5 1/2 New York. . . . . . . . . . . 47 50 .485 11 Detroit . . . . . . . . . . . 47 52 .475 12 Boston. . . . . . . . . . . . 45 50 .474 12 Cleveland . . . . . . . . . . 41 57 .418 17 1/2 West Division Minnesota . . . . . . . . . . 59 38 .608 - Oakland . . . . . . . . . . . 56 41 .577 3 Texas . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 48 .520 8 1/2 Chicago . . . . . . . . . . . 47 49 .490 11 1/2 Kansas City . . . . . . . . . 43 54 .443 16 California. . . . . . . . . . 42 55 .433 17 Seattle . . . . . . . . . . . 38 61 .384 23 NATIONAL LEAGUE: Montreal 4 LA Dodgers 3; Philadelphia 7 San Francisco 2; San Diego 1 NY Mets 0; Pittsburgh 5 Atlanta 4; Cincinnati 7 St Louis 6; Chicago Cubs 8 Houston 5. East Division Pittsburgh. . . . . . . . . . 52 45 .536 - Montreal. . . . . . . . . . . 50 47 .515 2 New York. . . . . . . . . . . 48 49 .495 4 St Louis. . . . . . . . . . . 47 49 .490 4 1/2 Chicago . . . . . . . . . . . 45 51 .469 6 1/2 Philadelphia. . . . . . . . . 41 56 .423 11 West Division Atlanta . . . . . . . . . . . 57 37 .606 - Cincinnati. . . . . . . . . . 56 40 .583 2 San Diego . . . . . . . . . . 52 46 .531 7 San Francisco . . . . . . . . 46 50 .479 12 Houston . . . . . . . . . . . 44 53 .454 14 1/2 Los Angeles . . . . . . . . . 41 56 .423 17 1/2 -----------------------------------------------------------------

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