What They Said At The Time… Previewing the 1984 Season
Sports Quarterly published their 1984 baseball preview in the spring of 1984. Inside this magazine are Yankees specific articles on George Steinbrenner and Ron Guidry (as well as many other players) in addition to their baseball preview. (See the Table of Contents at the end of this post.)
For this article, we took their words from their preview of the 1984 Yankees:
It was the worst kept secret of all time—the 1983 New York Yankees had the most talent but were certainly not the best team. To try and rectify that situation, principal owner George M. Steinbrenner left the team intact, added a few utility players, but made room at the top by replacing Billy Martin with Lawrence Peter (Yogi) Berra.
Steinbrenner finally believes that happiness is just a thing called love, and he believes the high-priced Yankees will now play for Berra the way the DID NOT for Martin. It is another poorly kept secret that at least half a dozen key Yankees refused to play for Martin. They might have put on their uniforms and performed, but they did not P-L-A-Y.
Ron Guidry, 21-9, league-leader in complete games, was the rock of the year. Ken Griffey, unhappy, Still hit (.306) and bettered the .300 mark for the seventh time in his career. Free agent Donnie Baylor was another rock and was the only Yankee to hit when the chips counted (for whatever the pot was worth) and wound up at .303, with 21 homers and 85 RBIs. Dave Winfield (not a Martin fan) pounded 32 homers, knocked in 116 runs, and had the league lead in game-winning hits (21) until the last weekend of the season when Chicago’s Harold Baines passed him with 22. Winfield, however, was thoroughly frustrated by Orioles pitching in all the key series, and hit less than .150 against the birds. Oriole pitchers merely pitch around him and do not care who follows him at bat.
Bodies-as usual-moved all over the place for the unsettled Yankees. Steve Kemp collided with Jerry Mumphrey and Willie Randolph in the first week of the season and hurt his shoulder. His swing was affected. When he failed to produce-according to Martin- he was benched. The miserable season ended on September 8 when half his face was caved in after he was hit by a line drive during batting practice.
The Yankees have re-signed captain Graig Nettles (.266, 20 HRs, 75 RBIs) and Lou Piniella (.291, ever-dangerous in the clutch) and have no-hit Dave (14-8) Righetti (he could wind up in the bullpen) and potential star Shane Rawley as starters and will mix in the Eddie Lopat-type Ray (8-2_ Fontenot. Their bullpen of Mike Armstrong, George Frazier, and Dale Murray (and Righetti) is effective-but is without Rick (sic) Gossage. They have added 45-year-old Phil Niekro as another likely starter.
Throw Omar Moreno into the pot, add a contented catching duo of Rick Cerone and Butch Wynegar, add harmony among the coaches (something that was disastrous in 1983) and the Yankees have the talent and chemistry to battle for the top spot throughout the year. They will come out of the box quickly, establish themselves early, settle into stride, and then come again late. The question is: Are the Tigers really too tough for them?
Note – The Tigers came out hot in 1984, won 104 games, and cruised to the AL East title and the World Series. The Yankees went 87-75 and finished in third place 17 games back. Yogi Berra was fired early in the season. In protest, he stayed away from the Yankees until 1998…