Lighting the hot stove:
Baseball's free-agent list for Thursday's draft will carry 48 names -- not including that of a potentially prize catch who instead came to terms with his 1980 team before the midnight Tuesday deadline: Dusty Baker.
Bill Buckner, National League batting champion with a no-trade clause in his Chicago Cub contract, has asked the Cubs to trade him -- to somebody willing to renegotiate upward his $280,000-a-year contract that runs through 1984. Rumors have the San Francisco Giants willing to trade enigmatic Mike Ivie for him . . . Lou Piniella of the Yankees was in satisfactory condition at last report in a Tampa hospital, likely to be released shortly, after checking in with chest pains evidently not cardiac in orgin . . . Sal Bando, after a .197, splintery year with Milwaukee, says, "If they can pick up a backup third baseman, then I can retire." With a year left on his megabuck contract? . . . The Texas Rangers, what with George Steinbrenner after all this time yet to tell Dick Howser whether he's in or out as '81 Yank manager, reckon Howser would make a fine Ranger skipper, and got premission from the New York owner to talk about it, after several attempts . . .
As UPI hinted when Astro owner John McMullen fired Tal Smith, that wire service, by writer's ballot, has chosen Smith major league executive of the year . . . The AP, meanwhile, deems Mike Schmidt National League player of the year.
Tim Stoddard and Ron McDole will be among celebs present tonight to recognize Arlington youth at the 24th annual Better Sports Club of Arlington banquet tonight, K. of C. Activity Hall . . .