Abbott & Costello were only kidding when they made up that "Who's on First" routine. How could they have known they were really writing baseball's theme song for the 1980s?
That's what has happened, though, as once again a new season opens with 100 or so players wearing different uniforms and the fans just as mixed up as Bud and Lou ever were.
Baseball has always had its share of off-season transactions, of course, but in this free agent age they've become much more frequent. Also, unlike the old days when the bigger the star, the more likely he was to spend all or most of his career with one team (Joe DiMaggio, Ted, Williams, Stan Musial, etc.), it's the superstars who are now in the vanguard of the team-hopping game. This season's crop, for instance, includes World Series heroes, home run and RBI kings, batting champions, pitching leaders -- a veritable All-Star squad right down the line.
Outfielder Dave Winfield got the most publicity among the 1981 free agents and tradees, primarily because he got the most money (an estimated $13 million in a long-term deal with the New York Yankees). Others whose moves produced plenty of fanfare include former American League MVP Fred Lynn, 1979 major league home run leader Dave Kingman, 1974 World Series star Rollie Fingers, and All-Star catcher Carlton Fisk.
Even this list just scratchs the surface. Also moving on are Ted Simmons, perhaps the game's top all-around catcher; Bruce Sutter, generally considered the National League's best relief pitcher; All-Star shortstop Rick Burleson; pitching ace Don Sutton; ex-MVPs Joe Morgan and Jeff Burroughs; ex-Cy Young Award winners Randy Jones and Gaylord Perry; base stealing whiz Ron LeFlore and slugger Greg Luzinski.
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