Cubs, Sox still in chase—must be spring

When those balmy March winds first slap the faces of NIU students and DeKalbians, it’s a sure sign that somewhere, far south of here, grown men are shagging flies and playing pepper.

Yes, spring training 1989 is underway. Spring training. It’s a time for big leaguers to begin their seven months of hard labor while the rest of us defrost. It’s a time when every team, including the White Sox and the Cubs, can imagine it is in the thick of a pennant race. And it’s a time for the players to shake off the layer of dust they’ve accumulated over the winter, get in shape and try to finetune their games.

So while the boys of summer, or in this case spring, break out the bats and balls and get to work, here are a few suggestions about how a number of individuals and teams should use their training camps:

The Cubs and Sox should lobby for a shorter season since it usually takes about a dozen games before they’re out of it.

All Cubs players should be required to take a strenuous first-aid course so they can reassemble Scott Sanderson the next time the Chicago hurler blows out an elbow, or hurts his shoulder, or pulls his hamstring, or gets a hangnail, or …

The Sox should try using two left fielders instead of a left fielder and a third baseman. At least that way the Sox could knock down some of those ground balls before they reach the wall.

New White Sox Manager Jeff Torborg should buy his bus ticket now. I’m a Sox fan, but with a team that bad, he won’t last long.

If the Texas Rangers are serious about winning their division, they should stop their current player-buying binge and just buy the entire Mets roster.

If the Mets are serious about winning their division, they should invest in a set of custom-made muzzles. They also might want to buy Darryl Strawberry a box a tissues, so he can keep crying about his tiny $1.4 million paycheck.

Detroit Manager Sparky Anderson should be taught that the word “not” doesn’t always have to be followed by the word “no.”

Kirk Gibson should spend less time using Rawlings and Spalding products and more time with Gillette and Aqua Velva.

Cub shortstop Shawon Dunston should be rigged with wires that give him a slight shock every time he lunges at a low-and-away curveball. I bet each of Pavlov’s dogs could make better contact at the plate.

Wade Boggs should spend less time hitting on women and more time hitting .400.

Don Mattingly should start making room in his trophy case for the Most Valuable Player Award he’s going to run away with this season.

Kirby Puckett should persuade the Twins to trade him to a National League team below the Arctic Circle so he could get a little recognition. It must be frustrating to put up such great numbers and still be considered third or fourth best in the American League (behind Mattingly, Jose Canseco and Boggs).

The Cubs should start engineering their next trade for an imaginery bullpen ace. They’ve already traded Keith Moreland for Goose Gossage and Rafael Palmeiro for Mitch Williams. What’s next—Ryne Sandberg for Doug Bair?

As for the Goose, he could be a lot of help to Chicago as a hitting instructor. After all, he helped many opposing players break out of batting slumps last season.

Finally, someone, anyone, kill the Chicken. Please.