Baseball: Winter heralds major league madness
Known for his commentary on international relations and US politics, Rupert Cornwell also contributes obituaries and occasionally even a column for the sports pages. With The Independent since its launch in 1986, he was the paper's first Moscow correspondent - covering the collapse of the Soviet Union – during which time he won two British Press Awards. Previously a foreign correspondent for the Financial Times and Reuters, he has also been a diplomatic correspondent, leader writer and columnist, and has served as Washington bureau editor. In 1983 he published God's Banker, about Roberto Calvi, the Italian banker found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge.
Friday 14 November 1997
Imagine Arsenal giving Arsene Wenger his marching orders, or Manchester United announcing that Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Dennis Irwin, Andy Cole et al had to be sold. That is what happening as America's national pastime goes into the winter break.
Last week Davey Johnson of the Baltimore Orioles was named the American League manager of the year, after a 98-64 regular season in which the Orioles led their division throughout. Within three hours Johnson had been sacked, the third manager to suffer that fate at the hands of the Os owner, Peter Angelos, in four years.
Ostensibly, the reason was a row over a charity donation. In truth it was Angelos' refusal to countenance anyone with a mind of their own. So he jettisoned Johnson, owner of the best career record of any active major league manager.
But the 1997 world champions, the Florida Marlins, are behaving equally weirdly. They have put the whole team up for sale. This time the reason is salary costs, even though Marlins' owner, Wayne Huizenga, of Blockbuster Video fame, is one of the richest men in America. The team's best hitter, Moises Alou, has already been traded. "The fans won't like it," said a spokesman, "but they're all available."
Baseball has not yet gone completely mad. Yesterday Ken Griffey Jnr, the Seattle Mariners outfielder generally reckoned the best all-round player in the game, was unanimously voted AL's Most Valuable Player on the basis of his 56 home runs and 147 RBI's. Which means the Mariners will probably get rid of him.
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