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End will be merciful for Brewers

By KEVIN KELLY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 25, 2002

In the city where the $400-million retractable-roof stadium leaks and the All-Star Game ended in a tie, a strike might be the lone salvation for a Brewers franchise suffering through its worst season.

With a 44-83 record and .346 winning percentage (entering Saturday), the Brewers are the Rays of the National League.

The franchise has threatened 100 losses 10 times, coming within two during the 1969 season before now commissioner Bud Selig bought the bankrupt Seattle Pilots and moved them to Milwaukee.

The joke around town is that the aging members of the Brewers' 1982 pennant-winning team, which included Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, Ben Oglivie and Cecil Cooper, could beat the current product.

About the most notable player news is shortstop Jose Hernandez's chase to break Bobby Bonds' record 189 strikeouts in a season. Manager Jerry Royster, who replaced the fired Davey Lopes in April after a 3-12 start, could be out of a job after the season.

And attendance is way down.

The Brewers will attract fewer than 2-million fans after drawing 2.8-million in 2001. That might have something to do with the Miller Park roof that drips on paying customers and nearly forced a rain delay Wednesday when water streamed onto the field and on top of the Brewers dugout.

So not only might a strike prevent 100 losses and save about $7.5-million in salary, but roof repairs could be finished before the first snowfall.

AU REVOIR?: Should there be an extended work stoppage and baseball follows through on its plan to contract or move the franchise, it's possible the Expos played their final home game Monday.

Montreal beat San Diego 4-0 but isn't scheduled to play at home until Friday against the Braves.

"Hopefully we'll be back," outfielder Brad Wilkerson said. "This is a great city and a great place to play baseball. We all realize this could be the last game in Montreal. Hopefully they'll get something under control."

A CONTINUING TREND: Though the Angels are hanging with Oakland and Seattle in the AL West, they cannot seem to escape the team trend of bad luck in August.

Anaheim was cruising in 1995 until shortstop Gary DiSarcina got hurt and missed the playoffs. Two seasons later, Chuck Finley and Todd Greene went down and another playoff spot slipped away.

With a partially torn rotator cuff, pitcher Aaron Sele became the first Angels starter to go on the disabled list Wednesday. Anaheim is 2-2 since.

MORE TO THE MAN: The reports of John Roseboro's death Aug. 16 noted how the former Dodgers catcher was attacked with a bat by Giants pitcher Juan Marichal during a game in 1965. Marichal was suspended eight days and fined a then-NL record $1,750.

But what wasn't mentioned was Roseboro's credentials as a player: four-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glove winner and twice the batterymate for Sandy Koufax when the lefty pitched a no-hitter.

"I hate to see all some people remember is the Marichal incident," said Tommy Lasorda, Dodgers vice president. "They forget the great years Roseboro had. When you talk about blocking the plate, he was as good as anybody I'd ever seen. ... When Roseboro was here, we had what I think was the best pitching staff this team ever had, and he handled it like a general."

ODDS AND ENDS: By pitching in the seventh inning against the Expos last Sunday, Jonathan Johnson helped the Padres break the record for pitchers used in a season. The 2000 Indians set the previous record (32). ... Cincinnati outfielder Adam Dunn went 0-for-5 with five strikeouts Tuesday. He was the 39th player to do so and first Reds player to do it since Eric Davis in 1987. ... A Houston Texans practice Tuesday drew 38,000 while the Astros home game against the Cubs drew 32,663. ... Astros starter Roy Oswalt is 30-9 and ranks fifth among major-league starters with a .769 winning percentage since the start of 2001. Ahead of him are Roger Clemens (.811), Curt Schilling (.811), Randy Johnson (.796) and Pedro Martinez (.793).

-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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