As was underlined once again this week, beating the American League in the All-Star Game is the National League pastime. The senior circuit prevailed in the contest's 56th renewal 6-1. American League clubs do all right in the World Series, with Detroit and Baltimore winning the last two years, but when you put their best players together the chemistry just isn't there.
No one seems able to explain this embarrassing phenomenon, which has seen the American Leaguers lose 13 of the last 14 mid-season All-Star games and 21 of the last 23.
Media members who vote for the game's most valuable player added further insult this time by selecting the NL's starting pitcher, LaMarr Hoyt, who had come over to the San Diego Padres and the rival circuit from the Chicago White Sox just this year. Hoyt, ironically, was on the mound when the American League scored its lone, unearned run, and only pitched a few innings. But that was enough to get the National Leaguers rolling.
Afterwards he said, ``The American League has some big boppers, but they can be pitched to.'' And indeed, despite a slugger-laden lineup that was supposed to be an asset in Minneapolis's cozy Metrodome (alias, the Homerdome), the AL stars could squeeze just five hits, all singles, from their lethargic bats. They thus became the first squad since 1963 from either league to go without an extra-base hit.
Goose Gossage, the pitcher who ended the evening by striking out the last two American League batters, not only is a Padre teammate of Hoyt's, but also another AL alumnus, having been the Yankees' bullpen stopper from 1978 to 1983.
Second baseman Lou Whitaker of the Detroit Tigers actually had an opportunity to make the best play of the night, but blew it. He forgot to bring his uniform and had to have the team's PR man purchase a replica Tiger jersey and cap at the concession stand. If Lou had been on his toes he would have requested some National League duds.
The Harlem Globetrotters have been getting a lot of publicity this week by conducting a tryout camp for women. The camp, held in Charlotte, N. C., brought together 18 of the finest female players of recent years for the preliminary selection process. The six or eight who make the cut will advance to the team's regular training camp in Los Angeles, where the first two women Globetrotters will be picked in October. Some might ask if this really spells progress for women's basketball or simply represents a way to provide the 'Trotters with a fresh, attention-grabbing gimmick. To a degree, it is probably some of both. Women have obviously made great strides in the sport, and adding women to the Globetrotter roster seems to recognize that fact. But of course, the Globies are entertainers first and foremost and can see the show biz value of going coed.
The star-studded tryout certainly hints at the frustrations women have felt in trying to carve out professional careers. The top players generally must seek post-graduate employment in Europe or Japan, since efforts to get pro women's leagues off the ground in the United States haven't succeeded.
Among the better-known players in Charlotte were Olympians Lynnette Woodard, the US captain, and twins Paula and Pam McGee. Woodard would appear to have the inside track on one of the spots, partly because she's the cousin of recently retired Globetrotter Geese Ausbie. She also has the desired speed, dexterity, and personality. ``If they can catch the ball, we can teach them the tricks,'' said Coach Larry Rivers.
In a rather curious development, Pam Shriver and Elizabeth Smylie are playing doubles together in this week's Virginia Slims tennis tournament in Newport, R. I. Only a week or so ago they were on opposite sides of the net in an exciting Wimbledon women's doubles final, which saw Smylie and her partner Kathy Jordan snap the record 109-match winning streak of Shriver and Martina Navratilova. With Jordan playing in Newport, too, one can't help wondering why Smylie has joined forces with Shriver suddenly. The explanation lies in their prior commitments.
Before Wimbledon even began, Shriver had asked Smylie to play doubles with her at Newport, where Jordan was unentered. Kathy eventually decided to play in the women's first post-Wimbledon event, but only after Shriver and Smylie had firmed up their doubles arrangement.
``I actually gave Liz the option of playing with Kathy here [in Newport], because after Wimbledon it would be nice to play with your partner,'' Shriver said. ``But Liz didn't want to renege on our agreement, which is nice.''
Not surprisingly, Navratilova has taken the week off. During the last two days of Wimbledon, she played four matches, 12 sets, and 157 games. In winning the mixed doubles crown, to go along with her singles title, she and partner Paul McNamee beat Betsy Nagelsen and Scott Davis 6-7, 7-5, 23-21 in a semifinal match. It was the longest mixed doubles battle in history.