By assaulting his biographer with a baseball bat, Evel Knievel has played his way onto this season's major league All-Crybaby team. Bert Lance is the team banker, Jimmy Connors the resident tennis pro and Ted Turner the director of protocol. The team would travel by Concorde jet and play on Charlie Finley's farm.
It was a grand year for whining. "The competition was so fierce," said the committee of one cracked-brain typist who did the secret voting, "that Reggie Jackson, for instance, might not have made the team without kicking that little kid. And Joe Morgan - what a finish."
Until the last week of the season, Morgan wasn't even among the leaders: Twice his league's Most Valuable Player, the Reds' second baseman seemed destined by his gentlemanly behavior to again miss out on the Silver Diaper that goes to baseball's best brats.
But when Sparky Anderson, the Reds' manager, sent a reserve to take Morgan's spot at second base, Morgan threw down his glove, threw down his cap and stomped into the dugout. The next day, Morgan wouldn't even sit in the dugout, preferring to pout in the bullpen.
"Out there, I could listen to the Raiders' game," Morgan said.
Beautiful. First a tantrum then a disingenous quote. When the going gets tough, the tough get going, and Morgan, a clutch performer, knew he needed something big the last week to assure his spot in this crib full of overgrown toddlers. He made it look easy.
Here's the team, position-by-position . . .
First Base - George Scott of the Boston Red Sox. The Boston manager, Don Zimmer, dropped Scott to seventh in the batting order late in the season. The Boomer's feelings were hurt. So he refused to play, demonstrating an astonishing ability to put his self-described pride above his team's chances to win a pennant.
Dick Allen, several times a Silver Diaper winner, received honorable mention this time for his refusal to shake hands with his Oakland A's teammates after he hit a home run. "They're a bunch of crybabies," he said.
Second Base - Morgan (though he tarnished the honor by apologizing to Anderson).
Shortstop - Frank Taveras of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He doesn't like Ed Sudol, who was a National League umpire. Of Sudol, Taveras said, "I hope he drops dead." Sudol retired instead.
Third Base - Lenny Randle of the New York Mets. With the Texas Rangers in spring training, Randle leaped upon the manager, Frank Lucchesi, and broke his face. "I've never done anything like that before," Randle said shortly before being traded to the Mets. Lucchesi is suing Randle.
Left Field - Hal McRae of the Kansas City Royals. He didn't like the Chicago White Sox fans, who were having the time of their lives this summer. When a Sox player hit a home run, the fans cheered and sang and kept it up until the hero took a bow. McRae said the fans were bush, that they were embarrassing the Royals. He said the answer was for the Royals' pitchers to hit a few Sox batters in the ear.
Center Field - Reggie Jackson of the New York Yankees. He can't play center much worse than he plays right, so why not? In spring training, he insulted the team captain, Thurman Munson; suggested that a candy bar be named in his honor, and convinced himself the sun revolved around his halo. A 13-year-old boy is suing him for $2 million, saying Reggie kicked him."Not even a Reggie bar could help us," he said of a recent Yankee loss.
Right Field - Dave Kingman of Who Knows Where. He believes he's good. He wants a five-year, seven-figure contract with a no-trade clause. The Mets, Padres, Angels and Yankees said no. Kingman hasn't caught on yet.
Catcher - Thurman Munson of the Yankees. He doesn't like Jackson, he hates the words "Johnny Bench" and Carlton Fisk," and he grew a beard this summer in defiance of owner George Steinbrenner's rule against beards.
Pitchers - Al Hrabosky and Rawly Eastwick of the St. Louis Cardinals, and Nolan Ryan of the California Angels. Told to shave, Hrabosky wouldn't. Cited for insubordination, he shaved. Then he cried and moped so much the Cardinals let him grow the silly mustache.
With the Cincinnati Reds, Eastwick didn't like the manager, Anderson. He called Sparky a liar and said he psyched up for work by pretending he was throwing "at No. 10's head." Anderson's uniform number is 10. It wasn't long after that when the Reds traded Eastwick.
Ryan wouldn't pitch in the All-Star game because he wasn't the first pitcher chosen off the Angels' staff.
Manager - Billy Martin of the Yankees. He deserves a team like this.