BASEBALL Bonanza awaits free agents

SINCE MAJOR-LEAGUE baseball’s re-entry draft last November, 15 free agents¬†have signed contracts worth more than $55-million.

Even Ted Turner, the free- spending Atlanta Brave owner, might consider $55-million to be a lot of money, but it could be a pittance compared with the kind of loot that may be in store for players entering the 1985 free- agent market.

Many of the players eligible for free agency after the coming season will sign new contracts with their clubs before reaching the re- entry draft, but there are at least 100 players at the moment who are in a position to leave their current employers next November.

And many of the names are impressive. Consider these high- profile players and the salaries they could command: Shortstops Ozzie Smith of the St. Louis Cardinals and Garry Templeton of the San Diego Padres; catchers Carlton Fisk of the Chicago White Sox, Darrell Porter of the Cardinals and Butch Wynegar of the New York Yankees; outfielders Willie Wilson of the Kansas City Royals, Kirk Gibson of the Detroit Tigers, Dave Parker of the Cincinnati Reds and Jim Rice of the Boston Red Sox; infielders Rod Carew and Bobby Grich of the California Angels, Ken Oberkfell of the Braves and Al Oliver of the Philadelphia Phillies; pitchers Nolan Ryan, Bob Knepper and Joe Niekro of the Houston Astros, Phil Niekro of the Yankees, Scott McGregor of the Baltimore Orioles, Geoff Zahn of the Angels, Larry McWilliams of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Willie Hernandez and Aurelio Lopez of the Tigers, Al Holland of the Phillies, Bob Stanley of the Red Sox and Bill Caudill of the Toronto Blue Jays.

And speaking of Caudill, don’t be surprised if he files for arbitration against the Jays later this month. The Braves had no interest in re-signing utility man Jerry Royster, and they make no attempts to camouflage why. “He’s too old,” Atlanta spokesman Doak Ewing said.

Royster is 32 but, according to the Padres, that’s young. That’s why they signed him. The Padres are on a senior-citizens kick. They seem determined to become the Wheeze Kids West by establishing an old folks home. They already own Graig Nettles, 40, Steve Garvey, 36, Kurt Bevacqua, 37, Champ Summers, 36, and Rich Gossage, 33.

Now, insiders tell us that the Padres are negotiating to sign a couple of outfielders who other clubs have written off as ancient history – 39- year-old journeyman Jay Johnstone and 37-year-old Al Bumbry. Has Jay pitcher Luis Leal’s knee tendinitis flared up? Leal missed a few starts in the Venezuelan League recently and his club there says tendinitis is the reason. But the Jays think that may be an excuse to calm the natives. They say their plan from the outset was to give Leal a light workload in winter ball so that he won’t be tired in the dog days of August and September. On the subject of Jay pitchers, Jim Acker says he isn’t sure if he can be classified as one. “I have no idea what they plan to do with me,” says Acker, whose Toronto contract has expired. “I really can’t worry about it. I know we have 12 major-league pitchers and can only afford to go with nine or 10.

That may leave me out, but it’s not my decision. Hey, I’m just glad when I wake up in the morning.” You can classify this as meaningless, but the Montreal Expos have reached agreement on a new contract with free-agent Miguel Dilone. Look for an announcement soon. . . . The Expos would like to sign free-agent pitcher Bruce Kison. The Jays have also expressed mild interest in Kison. . . . Jay pitcher Bryan Clark on his lifestyle in Venezuela: “I only leave my hotel room to play ball. It’s not safe to go out. You could get shot.” . . . Free-agent reliever Rollie Fingers says he has reason to believe that the Oakland A’s, for whom he starred in the 1970s, are interested in re- signing him.

Cricketer Botham out on bail

Cricketer Botham out on bail.

Cricketer Botham out on bail.

English cricket star Ian Botham and his wife have been arrested on suspicion of alleged drug offences, police said yesterday.

A police spokesman said the Bothams were arrested at their home at Epsworth near here on New Year’s Eve and have been released on bail until Jan. 25 pending further inquiries.

The British domestic news agency, Press Association, reports a substance was found during a police raid and is being analyzed by forensic scientists. It did not identify the substance.

The agency said it has not yet been decided whether the cricketer and his wife, Kathy, will face charges.

Botham, one of the world’s leading cricket all-rounders and a former England captain, decided to miss his country’s current tour of India because he wanted a rest from the game after years of uninterrupted play.

Last March, Botham filed suit against a Sunday newspaper over an article which alleged he took drugs during England’s tour of New Zealand. Six months later, Botham was cleared by New Zealand police of all allegations.

World champion West Indies suffered its first cricket defeat in 28 Tests, going down by an innings and 55 runs to a rejuvenated Australia yesterday. Skipper Clive Lloyd was playing his last Test after leading the West Indies in more than 100 Test matches.

He was given a standing ovation by the Sydney Cricket Ground crowd after scoring 72 runs in an attempt to stave off defeat on a crumbling wicket.

The West Indies won the series by taking the first three Tests and drawing the fourth.

Australia scored 471 for nine wickets declared in its first innings, the West Indies being forced to follow on after replying with only 163.

The tourists then crashed to be all out for 253 in their second innings 19 minutes after tea yesterday, the fourth day.

Legspinner Bob Holland, who took six first-innings wickets for 54 runs, struck again yesterday by taking four more to finish with match figures of 10 for 239.

Aussies claim rival’s language just wasn’t cricket

Aussies claim rival's language just wasn't cricket

Aussies claim rival’s language just wasn’t cricket

West Indies cricketer Viv Richards was accused yesterday of using foul language during what degenerated into an acrimonious Test series against Australia.

The charge was levelled by three Australian players following an onfield verbal slanging match in the fifth and final Test, won by Australia.

The committee said Richards, after repeated foul language, also suggested a fist fight to settle differences.

The incident marked another low point in player relations during the series, in which the West Indies won the first three Tests and drew the fourth. When the series began in Perth on Nov. 9, both sides agreed there should be no sledging – cricket’s term for verbal abuse aimed at distracting opponents.

As the Tests progressed, frustrations set in and the gentlemen’s agreement began to slip. Richards became involved in a heated argument with Australian keeper Steve Rixon and skipper Allan Border.

Umpires Mel Johnson and Ray Isherwood, whose stop-arguing orders were ignored for several minutes, reported Border and Rixon for conduct detrimental to the game.

They were accused under the Australian players’ code of behavior, which does not cover the West Indians because it does not apply to touring teams.

The umpires’ report was considered yesterday by the Australian players’ committee of Kepler Wessels, Graeme Wood and Andrew Hilditch.

That players’ committee, after consideration of facts at its disposal, dismissed the complaint against Rixon and Border, leaving the umpires 24 hours to consider whether to appeal to an Australian Cricket¬†Board arbitrator.

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