Look sharp, be sharp and sharpen those write-in pencils, the 1977 baseball All-Star Game ballots have been printed. And all those who'd rather see selection revert to vote of players, managers and coaches, forget it. Commissioner Bowls Kuhn endorses the concept of public election, again - "We never dreamed it would reach the 1976 total of 8.57 million ballots."
So, the cards will carry eight nominees at each position for each league, including 15 first-timers. But only one player on each of the expansion teams has been deemed worthy of being shown in print on the computer cards available at the ball park and, no doubt, your neighborhood razor-blade outlet: Steve Brann, Seattle outfielder, and Alan Ashby, Toronto catcher. You know the enthusiastic followers of the Martiners and Blue Jays will be writing in others of their heroes if they're hitting .250 by May or June.
But if they play like true expansion athletes, with the requirement that every club have at least one player on the squard, that just waters down the chances of the now-14-team American League beating the 12-team National for only a second time in 15 years.
The ballot was announced at Yankee Stadium, where the 48th game between the two leagues will be played July 19.Said Billy Martin, who will manage the Americans, "we're tired of this losing staff and we're going to win this year." NL president Chub Feeney needled, "How?" Martin, winning votes for non sequitur of the day: "They're gonna let us use the designated hitter in spring training next year and we'll kill you."
For the All-Star Game, Martin will have to get along without the DH against Sparky Anderson's Nationals . . .
Billy Martin, Billy Martin. He showed up at the stadium yesterday with the mustache he'd worn since October shaved off (and his upper lip nicked - was he using the brand affiliated with the All-Star ballots?) and fit into critics of his floundering Yankees.
"Every time I pick up a paper, I read it's Martin against Reggie Jackson; it's Martin against George Steinbrenner," he ranted before the upstart Blue Jays pinned yet another loss on his wealthies. "It is a lot of bull and I am getting fed up with it." The skipper thereupon instructed that the writers be cleared from the Yankee clubhouse and bench 25 minutes before each game. "If they're gonna be in the paper, I'll be a in the clubhose" . . .
George Steinbrenner, George Steinbrenner. The Yank owner indubitably was feeling more chipper than his skipper. Steve's Friend, which won the $227,500 Hollywood Derby - $140,000 winner's purse - at a whopping 34 to 1 (had George bet a bob or two?), is owned by none other than George III. The colt's trainer, (John Fulton, 28, said, "I'm sure Mr. Steinbrenner will send him to the Kentucky Derby," though Steve's Friend is batting only .250 (three, wins in 12 starts) . . .
Look who esle wants to join the baseball owners' fraternity, Ed DeBartole Sr. of Youngstown, Ohio, the Cleveland racetrack owner who bought the San Fransico 49ers last month, is negotiating to buy the Cleveland Indians for about $10 million.