there is a feeling that Bombastic Bushkin, the mysterious financial adviser who urged Johnny Carson to buy stock in the now defunct World Football League and pick up some New York City bonds, may have attended and influenced last week's baseball meetings in Dallas.
Otherwise, how does one explain the Atlanta Braves giving free agent Claudell Washington a $3.5 million contract for five years; the California Angels paying a reported $400,000 a season to free agent John D'Acquisto; and the Houston Astros more than $1 million to free agent Dave Roberts.
Washington is a journeyman outfielder who occasionally hits well and is credited with inventing several original excuse for being late to the ballpark when he played with the New York Mets. D'Acquisto won two games and lost five last season while splitting his time between the San Diego Padres and the Montreal Expos. Roberts, a catcher, hit .238 in 1980 with the Texas Rangers.
In a couple of other major free-agent acquisitions that took place before or after the winter meetings, the Chicago White Sox signed base-stealing whiz Ron Leflore, who played last season for Montreal, and the New York Mets paid a hefty Rusty Staub, who spent four years with them in 1972-75 and has since been with several other clubs.
In addition to all this free-agent wheeling and dealing, several major trades were made in Dallas that will undoubtedly affect the pennant races in the National and the Americn Leagues next season. For example:
The Houston Astros (after earlier signing es-Dodger pitcher Don Sutton as a free agent) traded infielder Enos Cabell and a player to be named later to the San Francisco Giants for pitcher Bob Knepper and outfielder Chris Bourjos. Houston also said it probably would not try to re-sign second baseman Joe Morgan.
The San Diego Padres traded pitchers Rollie Fingers and Bob Shirley, catcher Gene Tenace, and a player to be named later to the St Louis Cardinals for pitchers John Urrea, John Littlefield, Al Olmsted, and Kim Seeman, catchers Terry Kennedy and Steve Swisher, and infielder Mike Phillips. .TThe Cardinals later sent infielder Ken REitz and outfielder Leon Durham to the Chicago Cubs for reliever Bruce Sutter. Still later St. Louis traded Fingers, hard-hitting catcher Ted Simmons, and pitcher Pete Vuckovich to the Milwaukee Brewers for pitcher Lary Sorenson, outfielder Sixto Lezcano, and two lesser players.
The California Angels traded third baseman Carney Lansford, outfielder Rick Miller, and pitcher Mark Clear to the Boston Red Sox for shortstop Rick Burleson and third baseman butch Hobson.
The Atlanta Braves traded pitcher Doyle Alexander to the San Francisco Giants for pitcher john Montefusco and outfielder Craig Landis.
The Seattle Mariners and the Texas Rangers agreed to a 10 player swap that puts outfielder Richie Zisk and four lesser young pitchers in Seattle for pitcher Rick Honeycutt, outfielder Leon Roberts, catcher LArry COx, and infielder Mario Mendoza.
The Pittsburgh pirates traded pitcher Bert Blyeven and catcher Manny Sanguillen to the Cleveland Indians for pitchers Bob Ochinko, Victor Cruz, Rafael Vasquez, and cathcer Gary alexander
Also during the winter baseball meetings, the cardinals signed former Kansas City catcher Darrell Porter as a free agent, the Giants fired Manager Dave Bristol, and American League owners turned down the sale of the ohio baseman Edward De Bartolo.