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September 18, 1987 - Image 14

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-09-18

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Page 14 -The Michigan Daily-Friday, September 18, 1987
McLain released

4

too quickly

By IAN RATNER
Thirty-one-game winner. C y
'Young champ. Convicted for
racketeering, not to mention
extortion, conspiracy, and drug
trafficking. Appeal. Released.
Autograph sessions.
The charmed life of former
Detroit Tiger pitcher Denny McLain.
Vermin.
After serving only 28 months of
a 23-year prison sentence, Denny
McLain, whose weight ballooned to
over 300 pounds soon after his
career, was released from a federal
-correctional facility in Talladaga,
Ala., following an appellate-court
ruling that Judge Elizabeth
Kovachevich had not conducted a
proper trial. McLain is a free man
}pending a government decision
whether to have him tried again.
A Upon being released from prison,
,McLain made the quixotic remark,
"My ambition is to be the husband
;and man I was."
What kind of husband and man
was Denny?
Although he dominated baseball
during the late Sixties while.

THE SPORTING VIEWS

pitching for the Tigers, McLain
proved unable to conduct himself
properly outside of the white lines of
the diamond. Even McLain's 31-win
season was tainted by a game in
which he intentionally served up a
belt-high gopher ball for the retiring
Mickey Mantle who was seeking his
535th home run for sole possession
of third place on the all-time list.
Mantle hit the home run and
exchanged good graces with McLain
as he rounded the bases.
He rightfully earned the nickname
Sky. King for his frequent between-
game flights to Las Vegas were he
eventually squandered all of his
money through gambling.
During the stretch run for the '67
pennant, McLain broke his foot,
claiming he incurred the injury while
chasing a raccoon in his backyard.
Sports Illustrated countered b y

reporting that his foot was crushed
by underworld individuals because
McLain had failed to pay off
gambling debts.
The 1970 season saw McLain
suspended on three different
occasions for gambling involvement
and illegal possession of a firearm.
One of society's premier role
models.
Denny McLain's first occupation
following his abbreviated prison
term will take him to baseball-card
shows where he will autograph
pictures (reflecting his playing
weight) for adoring fans young and
old.
Why is such an abominable
character signing autographs in
Albany, N.Y. this weekend instead
of counting ceiling tiles in a prison
cell?
After Denny McLain's two Cy
Young trophies were burned in a
house fire three years ago, the Tigers
invited McLain back to Detroit,
amidst great fanfare, to replace them.
A short while after McLain was
sitting tight in a Florida jail where
he awaited sentencing for
racketeering, extortion, and drug
possession. McLain pawned the

trophies.
The ability for society to forgive
and forget the atrocities which
McLain committed knows no
boundaries.
He is still lauded in the local
press as illustrated by The Detroit
News' flowery and apologetic
coverage of his release which
resembled something out of
Goebbel's Der Angriff ( See:
...despite pleas of leniency from
McLain's friends in Major League
baseball, Judge Kovachevich
sentenced McLain to the long term
in prison.") Touching stuff.
McLain will be allotted fresh
capital for his habits compliments of
The Sporting News , which will
publish McLain's forthcoming
literary masterpiece, "Strike Out,"
undoubtedly filled with gambling
tips and effective methods of
extortion.
"I learned what Lee Trevino
meant when he said, 'Pressure is
playing $50 a hole when you have
$5 in your pocket,"' said McLain in
a moment of thoughtful reflection.
But the greatest irony of the
Denny McLain saga are the
concessions made by his wife,
Sharyn. Said she, "Ballplayers
gamble. You go to the dog track,
you see ballplayers. They play cards.
What else do you do with all that
free time?"
If the Tigers capture this year's
divisional race, look for Denny to
throw out the first ball... belt-high.

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THE SPORTING VIEWS
Baseball's Eastern races to
bring a Met-Tigers Series?
By SCOTT SHAFFER
Baseball fans of North America, consider yourself lucky. The final
two and a half weeks of the regular season are upon us and you couldn't
ask for two better pennant races than the eastern divisions of both
leagues.
While Detroit and Toronto are less than a game apart in the'
American League East, the Mets are hot on the Cardinals' trail, only a
game and a half off the pace. And the action figures to get even more
intense because the Tigers face the Blue Jays seven more times before
the end of the season. Diehard fans should circle Friday, October 2 on
their calendars. That is the day both sets of contenders begin season-
ending, three-game series with each other.
In the NL, St. Louis definitely rates an edge over the world champs
not only because of their modest lead, but beacause the Cards have more
remaining home games than the Mets. More importantly, the October
showdown will take place in Busch Stadium, a place tailored to the
Cardinals. With artificial turf instead of grass, its no coincidence that
speed and defense have been trademarks of recent Redbird teams. Vince
Coleman and Ozzie Smith's skills more than make up for the team's
lack of home run power.
But even if the Mets need a sweep to win the division, they should
not be counted out. Earlier in the year, the Mets came away from St.
Louis with a sweep that they needed to remain in contention. And a true
Met fan will remember that it was a four-game sweep in St. Louis that
set the tone for the Mets' domination of 1986. And the news that Jack
Clark will be sidelined for at least a week can only help.
Mets manager Davey Johnson deserves Manager of the Year honors.
Despite having six of his top seven starters plus his top reliever spend
significant time on the disabled list this year, he has guided the Mets
into serious contention after trailing St. Louis by 10 1/2 games.
Although he has averaged 98 wins per season, this award has somehow
eluded him, just as it probably will this year in favor of Roger Craig.
While the NL race is tough to figure, it seems like a TV Guide
crossword puzzle compared to the A.L. East race. Both teams have been
through pennant races before, including 1984, when the Blue Jays made
the Tigers sweat just a little bit after Detroit's 35-5 start, so there is no
experience edge to either side.
Both teams are going with four-man starting rotations from here on
in and both have legitimate Cy Young candidiates leading their staffs.
Jack Morris, 18-8, and Doyle Alexander, 6-0 in the A.L., are rock solid,
and Walt Terrell is dependable, but Frank Tanana has been a horror
show lately, and Nate Snell is far from proven.
Blue Jay manager Jimy Williams has shown he means business by
demoting the greatest Blue Jay of all-time, Dave Stieb, to the bullpen.
Jimmy Key, 17-6 leads the starters, but it is the relief crew that is the
pride and joy of Toronto. In addition to Stieb, Ron Musselman, Mark
Eichhorn and Tom Henke form the nucleus to the best bullpen in
baseball. That is definitely a mark in Toronto's favor.
However, with Alan Trammell having a banner year and Darrell
Evans about to become the first man over 40 years old to hit 30 homers
in a season, the Tigers have no shortage of heroes, either.
As a New Yorker who began life at the University of Michigan in
the midst of Tiger Fever '84 and enjoyed the Mets '86 triumph instead
of studying for exams, a New York-Detroit World Series would be the
perfect matchup for this writer's senior year.
There is little doubt that campus violence would increase should
Dwight Gooden and company pay a visit to Motown come October. All
the friendly "New Yorkers are obnoxious" and "Michiganders are hicks"
jokes wouldn't be so cute any more. Tempers would fly off the handle
at a moment's notice in bars and dorm lounges. Wouldn't it be great?

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