TORONTO, SEPT. 25 -- Jack Clark's latest injury almost surely has cost him the National League Most Valuable Player award, and Shane Rawley may have blown the NL Cy Young trophy with a recent 0-3 streak against the Cardinals, Mets and Expos.
So, the Chicago Cubs have a chance to do what no other team has ever done -- finish last and have the Cy Young and MVP winners.
They appear halfway there already. It may be unfair to say Andre Dawson backed into an MVP award because he leads the NL in homers (46), RBI (129) and is among the leaders in slugging percentage, hits and game-winning RBI. But had Clark not twisted his ankle, he would have won. Clark reinjured the ankle Friday and is sidelined for the remainder of the year with 35 homers and 106 RBI despite missing 34 games.
So even though Dawson has played far from the heat of a pennant race, he has been relentlessly good. Most impressive, when he hits, the Cubs win. Through Thursday, he was hitting .369 in victories, .211 in losses.
The Cubs' Rick Sutcliffe also has been tremendous. He is 18-8, but pitched seven games after having a wart removed from his pitching hand. The incision had to be drained twice and was sore for almost a month, but Sutcliffe wouldn't come out and went 0-4 with a 5.87 ERA.
He has made 25 healthy starts this season, and gone 18-4 with a 2.99 ERA. He was 15-4 when he had the surgery, and, at the time, was better than his record because reliever Lee Smith blew leads of 2-1, 4-3, 2-1 and 2-1 for him . . .
Cardinals rookie pitcher Joe Magrane, a nonstop talker and first-rate thinker, hit his first major league home run last Saturday, and, just as he began his trot, stumbled, missed first base and had to go back and touch it.
"I was so enthralled that I missed first base," Magrane said. "I did not trip. I just took an alternative route." When told the IBM Tale of the Tape had measured his homer at 333 feet over a 330-foot fence, Magrane scoffed. "I'd rather they went back to the Pythagorean theorem," he said. "That was more accurate." . . .
If Kirby Puckett can hit three more homers, the Minnesota Twins would become the first American League team to have four 30-homer players, joining Kent Hrbek (33), Gary Gaetti (30) and Tom Brunansky (31).
And while the Twins will draw two million fans for the first time, they have to be disappointed about playoff ticket sales. Even after a mail lottery, more than 20,000 seats remain for each game. The Twins will finish with a weird home-road split, having gone 55-23 in the Metrodome and 28-47 on the road. If they win their final six road games, they'll still finish with the worst road record of any first-place team in history. The previous worst was a .429 winning percentage by the 1902 Athletics.
Meanwhile, the San Francisco Giants will draw a club-record 1.8 million fans to Candlestick Park, and all their playoff games are close to being sold out. They'll turn a profit for the first time since 1978 and are only the fourth team to go from 100 losses to first place in two seasons. The 1914 Braves, 1967 Red Sox and 1969 Mets also did it . . .
The silver lining to the Baltimore Orioles' dark cloud is that they'll have the second or third pick in the amateur draft next June. The No. 1 pick in the 1986 draft, outfielder Ken Griffey, Jr., finished with a good rookie season, hitting .320 with 14 homers and 40 RBI in 178 at-bats for Billingham of the Class A Northwest League. The Seattle Mariners are hopeful he can advance to the big leagues in 1990 . . .
The Pittsburgh Pirates apparently would like to talk to the Philadelphia Phillies about outfielder Glenn Wilson. The Pirates already have two of the best outfielders in the NL in center (Andy Van Slyke) and left (Barry Bonds) and think Wilson would be nice in right. He would fit in nicely on a team that is building for a 1990 pennant around defense and young pitchers.Better Than Any Cardinal
Former Giants catcher Mike Sadek was almost obsessed with getting Pope John Paul II to autograph a baseball on his tour of the United States. He'd written the Vatican and talked to local church officials and was consistently told the pope won't do anything like that.
But while the pope was at Candlestick, someone from the local archdiocese handed him a ball. He signed it "JP II." Sadek has been showing it off, saying, "As far as I know, it's the only one of its kind." . . . Cecil Cooper and the Milwaukee Brewers will end an 11-year relationship this winter when Cooper is released. The club had planned to do it at the all-star break, but couldn't negotiate a settlement for the remaining $1.5 million on his contract. So he hasn't gotten an at-bat since the break and will get all of his remaining money . . .
On Tuesday, Seattle's Mickey Brantley became the first Mariner player to get thrown out of a game. A day later, Texas' Larry Parrish became the 11th Ranger to be ejected . . . The Rangers have lost 17 games in the ninth inning or later . . . Boston's Al Nipper has beaten the Yankees, Blue Jays and Tigers five times this season. The Orioles had beaten those three teams four times through Friday . . .
The California Angels abruptly released third baseman Doug DeCinces this week, apparently because had he remained on the roster until the end of the year, his 1988 contract ($850,000) would have kicked in. To get out of that, the Angels would have had to pay $141,667.
After his meeting with General Manager Mike Port, DeCinces said, "It was the first time he talked to me all year, and even then, he didn't look me in the eye. I understand how the business works, but it's still hard to grasp the ways you get treated. It wasn't a very positive move on which to end." Of Port, he said, "There isn't a player on this club that respects him anymore."
DeCinces hopes to play one more year, preferably for the Dodgers, and it appears he may get his wish.