The American League is all messed up.
For more than a year now, stories of suts, counter-suts, litigations, and proxy votes in the A.L. have filled what we laughingly call the "sports pages," while news about on-the-field action has been buried or forgotten.
The focus on business instead of sport was bad enough, but worse was the threat to baseball's sacred records. Obviously, eight additional games will not affect some marks; most pitching records (games won and lost, strikeouts, walks, and shutouts) have not been approached in years, anyway. And Jim Perry of the Indians may take advantage of one or two more starts to set a new record for yielding home runs, but he probably would have made gopher ball history, regardless.
But picture a devoted fan when, in the 162nd game of the season, Mickey Mantle of the Yankees (or maybe Ted Kluszewski of the Los Angeles Angels) whales his 61st home run, breaking Babe Ruth's record of 60, which has endured since 1927. He won't know whether to cheer or to shoot himself, and as he alternately chokes on and cries in his beer, he will curse the nouveau riche who made things so.
Besides all this, the Calibre of play in the A.L. stinks. With the retirement of Ted Williams, the A.L. has only one bona fide, redblooded star--Minnie Minoso of the White Sox.
It is only partly wrong to say no one will finish first in the American League this year.
But, for what it's worth:
Tenth: The worst team in baseball history has Bennie Daniels and Dick Donovan as top starters, aging Gene Woodling as the big star, and a complete flop in the person of Danny O'Connell to lead the infield. The new Washington Senators haven't got a prayer.
Ninth: The Los Angeles Angels might not be too bad. Their small park should be so nice to come home to for sluggers Kliszewski, Bob Cerv, Steve Bilko (a PCD legend after years with 37, 55, and 56 home runs), and Eddie Yost (a base-on-balls specialist who has hit 35 four-baggers in two seasons). But the Angels' pitching is just awful; their ace, Eli Grba, couldn't pitch batting practice in the N.L.
Eighth: Pitcher Ray Herbert, 14-15 with a 3.27 ERA last year, should be the brightest star in a pretty dark season for the Kansas Athletics. Norm Siebern in left field and Andy Carey at third base give the A's a touch of class.
Seventh: This will surprise
Sixth: For years, people
Fifth: The Boston Red
Fourth: The Chicago
Third: Cleveland, which
First: the team to watch, and this is only half kidding, is Minnosota. And their big man is going to be a 20 year-old rookie shortstop named Zorro Versalles. What could he neater? Zorro is a tough little 150-pounder who gives the transplaned Twins somebody on which they can at last found an infield. Harmon Killebrow is for real; he proved it last year with 31 homers after a late year start. Jim Lemon can hit for distance, Lennie Green for average, and Bob Allison, who should recover from sophomore slump, for both. Earl Battey is the best catcher in the A.L., and Camilio Pascual and Pedro Ramos are two of the top huriers.
The A.L. flag-winner, whoever it is, will lose the World Series in five games