It was spring training, 1984. Don Mattingly had not won a batting title or Most Valuable Player Award as yet, and the Mets' last-known address was last place in the National League East. As George Steinbrenner visited the Reds' spring home in Tampa, he spoke of the battle for control of the New York baseball market. "The Mets," Steinbrenner said. "never will be No. 1 in New York."
Since then, of course, Steinbrenner's vow has proven to be as empty as his promise to Yogi Berra and his pledge to Bob Lemon. The Mets clearly stand as the No. 1 baseball attraction in New York. Not that the Yankees are as poor a second as the Mets were from 1977 through 1981. Steinbrenner, to his credit, will not allow the Yankees to sink that low.
The Pirates want Mike Marshall. The Dodgers don't. Agreeing on a trade shouldn't pose much of a problem. The Dodgers need a shortstop, but so do the Pirates and so many other teams. The Dodgers have Mariano Duncan playing second base in the Instructional League. Incumbent second baseman Steve Sax, if he remains with the Dodgers, will move to the outfield next season . . . The Dodgers would be delighted to have the Mets' Rafael Santana at shortstop. Santana's value has soared in the past two seasons . . . Would the Cardinals deal their secret weapon, Jose Oquendo? The Pirates, Phillies, Dodgers and Astros want a shortstop . . . The Braves want a centerfielder who would allow them to move Dion James to left. Is Mookie Wilson the answer? Perhaps Bob Dernier, who performed well during the Cubs' collapse. The Mets wouldn't ask too much in return for Wilson, perhaps relief pitcher Paul Assenmacher. Please remain seated