Weaver's winning ways; Ozzie on AstroTurf
No major league manager runs a ballclub quite like Earl Weaver of the Baltimore Orioles. Weaver has always made extensive use of charts that show exactly what his hitters have done against practically every opposing pitcher in the league and vice versa.
When Earl benches a .300 hitter and replaces him with one who is batting only .200, it's because their averages over the years have been reversed against the pitcher who happens to be working against them that day.
For example, Weaver started a lineup against Cleveland recently that had four Baltimore irregulars in it, with a combined lifetime average of .413 against Indians' pitcher Lary Sorenson. By the time Sorensen got knocked out in the fourth inning, that figure had grown to .427.
Perhaps the main reason for the Orioles' strong late-season run in the American League East against the league leading Milwaukee Brewers is the clever way Weaver has juggled the pitching staff, which has never stopped fighting injuries. In fact, for most of the season Baltimore has been eighth in the A. L. in hitting and eighth in pitching, figures not normally associated with a pennant contender.
In his autobiography, ''It's What You Learn After You Know It All That Counts ,'' Weaver explains a lot of his unorthodox decisions as a manager, including his disdain of the sacrifice bunt. ''In my first spring training as Baltimore manager I made my offensive philosophy clear to everyone. Basically, I like to get three men on base and have someone hit the ball out of the park. But I knew some of my beliefs ran counter to those of other managers that my players had known. Some managers like to try a squeeze bunt almost anytime they find themselves with a man on third, less than two outs, and a mediocre hitter up.
''I disagree, because a slow ground ball or fly ball can get that run in, so why give up an out when you've got the chance for a bigger inning? I don't believe in giving away an out at any time. You've got only 27 in a nine-inning game, so why cut that number? The only occasion that might call for a squeeze bunt is late in a game when your hitter is known to strike out a lot against the pitcher on the mound.''
It is expected that third base coach Cal Ripken, who has been a member of Weaver's staff since 1976, will replace the retiring Earl as Baltimore manager at the end of the season. Ripken's son, Cal Jr., is the Orioles' regular shortstop and has had a fine rookie year, especially in the all-important department of runs batted in. Ozzie and artificial turf
Ozzie Smith of the St. Louis Cardinals, generally regarded as the best fielding shortstop in the majors, says he finds it easier playing on synthetic turf than grass. ''Grass is OK and is probably easier on your feet, but almost any ground ball is going to bounce through on AstroTurf.'' You can also play deeper on a synthetic surface than on grass and dirt because the ball gets to you so much quicker.
''While it's true that a ball is more apt to skip by you on AstroTurf, an infielder can eliminate a lot of that by learning the hitters and then anticipating their habits,'' Ozzie continued. ''On what I call routine throws, I try to take my time and use my whole body - like a pitcher - when I release the ball so that I won't strain my arm.
''But I also do specific exercises regularly to help strengthen my arm from the elbow down. I do this so that I can snap a throw to first on plays where there isn't time to get set and I'm definitely putting extra pressure on my muscles. When you have confidence that you're not going to injure anything, you can't help but throw better.'' Around the majors, briefly
The American and National league division races are so tight that the Commissioner's Office reportedly has told at least 14 teams to print playoff and World Series tickets, which may be a record. . .Philadelphia's Steve Carlton, the majors' first 20-game winner and a top candidate for his fourth Cy Young award, might just have the best slider in either league. Carlton's last shutout (against the Cardinals) was the 51st of his career. . .Pitcher Vida Blue's fourth consecutive victory for Kansas City (against Seattle) was not only a shutout, but one in which he allowed only one hit, to the Mariners' Bobby Brown. The win was Blue's third career one-hitter. On Sept 21, 1970 , Vida threw a no-hitter for Oakland against Minnesota.
Still just a rumor at the moment, but with formal talks expected to begin right after the World Series, is a trade that would send Dodger outfielder Ken Landreaux and rookie Mike Marshall to the Pirates for catcher Tony Pena and outfielder Omar Moreno. Two pitchers, one from each club, may also be involved. The Dodgers, 29-14 on the road since mid-June, are banking on a four- man pitching rotation of Bob Welch, Fernando Valenzuela, Jerry Reuss, and Burt Hooton to get them home ahead of the Atlanta Braves in the N. L. West. Atlanta, of course, has the better bullpen. . .
''I don't think any manager likes to platoon, but when your personnel lends itself to that kind of strategy, then I think you're making a mistake if you don't,'' said Bobby Cox, who has done a fine job as manager of the Toronto Blue Jays. ''One of the reasons I have platooned so much is because so many of my reserves are just as good defensively as my starters are.''. . .California outfielder Reggie Jackson, en route to a truck dealership in Costa Mesa last week, immediately stopped his car when he heard a house burglar alarm go off in the neighborhood. Jackson got out, rounded up two male suspects, held them while neighbors called the police, and ended up saving some homeowner the loss of considerable jewelry. Said Jackson, ''I own a couple of unattended homes myself, and hope that someone would do the same for me in similar circumstances.'' Now that the Angels have passed the 2.4 million mark in home attendance, Reggie reportedly collects 50 cents on every Angel ticket sold, part of a bonus clause in his contract. So far, he has reportedly earned an extra $ 63,183. . .
Since Atlanta Braves owner Ted Turner made the statement that, ''San Francisco is just a bunch of old men,'' the Giants have won seven in a row from the Braves. . .Seldom has a team buried itself so completely as the New York Mets did in August, when they had a horrendous 5-24 won-lost record. . .The Chicago White Sox are thinking of shortening the power alleys in Comiskey Park by about 50 feet.