Philadelphia Inquirer Baseball 1980 Preview - April 10, 1980
A guide to good eating – coming, going, or at Vet
By Bill Collins, Inquirer Food Columnist
Phillies fans are a hardy lot. Thousands of them seem to actually thrive on ballpark junk food. For the true believer, hot dogs, mustard stains and paper cups of suds may be integral parts of the Complete Vet Experience.
But maybe, just maybe, you are an exception. Maybe you'd rather not include heartburn as part of your agony of defeat. Maybe your doctor has warned you against the possible combined effects of the thrill of victory and four slices of pizza. Maybe you just like good food as much as you like good baseball.
There are plenty of options. Among the hundreds of restaurants that have opened in and around Philadelphia in recent years are dozens of decent-to-excellent spots located along main routes to and from Veterans Stadium, some of them handy even if you're using the subway. There is also that increasingly popular piece of survival equipment, the brown bag.
Let's deal with the brown bag first. It needn't be brown, and it doesn't even have to be a bag. The way a young woman in the Veterans Stadium management office explained it, the rules on what provisions can and can't be taken in through the turn-styles are liberal and logical. The banned items are bottles and cans, which could conceivably be used as dangerous projectiles, and alcohol, which might prove conducive to such use. Picnic hampers, lunch boxes and even Thermos-type bottles are OK.
Pack as plain or fancy a picnic as you like. A steak sandwich or hoagie from your favorite shop is probably the easiest way out, although these delicacies tend to wilt in the midseason humidity. Lots of groups bring along fried chicken, potato salad, hard-cooked eggs, sandwiches, fruit, iced tea and soft drinks. Regular church suppers.
There is, of course, another on-premises alternative to the fast junk food route. The Stadium Club is reached by way of an elevator just inside the Eagles' entrance, next to Gate H on the southeast side, and is open during baseball (but not football) season to anyqhe with a ticket to the game.
For regular night games there are two seatings, the first starting two hours before the game, the second at game time. Reservations are pretty much a must. There is a $9.50 minimum for dinner and credit cards are not accepted.
If you order carefully the $9.50 will see you through dinner, plus a drink. There is a nightly $6.95 special dinner, beer is $1.25 and bar drinks are mostly $1.75. The menu is strongest on beef but includes veal, lamb and some low-cal dishes. The top item is lobster tails at $14.50.
Also worthy of note is the 160-or-so-foot Stadium Club bar, which may be the longest in the city. For the $5 minimum, which will buy four beers, or almost three mixed drinks, you get a glassed-in look at everything but right field and, unless you're pretty tall, first base. There's also a banquet room where groups of up to 90 often have pregame cocktails.
The main problem with the club during gametime is that none of the seats is very good, and there is only a 60 percent chance you'll be able to see much more than the other customers. There is closed-circuit TV, but there is closed-circuit TV in a lot of South Philly bars and restaurants that you don't have to buy a ticket to patronize. Still, it's a fine place for a hungry fan who wants to watch batting practice and certainly the handiest sit-down meal available. There is a dress code: No bare feet, tank tops, short shorts.
Beyond the gates of the Vet, I have picked a fistful of places where the game-bound (and sometimes homeward-bound) fan can stop for a good meal without having to make a major detour. These are not necessarily the top "gourmet" restaurants in the city, although a couple of them are. They are selected largely for their locations and hours.
Some consideration was given to whether they can handle groups of six or more fast enough to get you to the park in time for the first pitch, and to available parking (it's costly enough to drive without having to pay two parking fees). Reservations are recommended for all of them.
NORTH OF THE VET
You can take the Broad Street C bus (or, less advisably, the subway) from center city or the Stadium to Philips, (Tel. 334-0882), at 1145 S. Broad, just below Federal. This has long been one of the best southern Italian restaurants in town, both in its food and the dignified Roman decor. The prices are medium-level (entrees from about $6.50; figure $11 to $15 per person for a full meal). American Express, Diners Club and Visa cards are honored. Closed Mondays.
Driving up or down Front Street, you have quite a choice. On the block between Market and Chestnut there is P.T.s, 6 S. Front (922-5676), a large, handsomely bright restaurant-lounge with good drinks, sometimes music and a full array of sandwiches, burgers, etc., along with a full Continental menu. Prices are decent, and you can eat there even after extra innings. Open all week until 2 a.m. starting weekdays at 11:30 a.m., Saturday at 1 p.m., Sunday at 4 p.m. American Express, Mastercharge, Visa.
Downey's Drinking Establishment and Dining Saloon, at Front and South (629-0526), has become so famous that even with the beautiful new upstairs dining room-lounge,, it is almost always packed. Fine steaks, chops, corned beef and cabbage, and the best Irish coffee this side of Dublin. Dinner seven days a week, with Sunday brunch. Fairly expensive. American Express, Cart Blanche, Diners Club, Mastercharge, Visa.
Two blocks closer to the Vet, Rick's Cabaret at The Bistro, 757 S. Front (389-3855), offers live jazz andor Dixieland several nights a week, along with "Philly-French" food, an inflation-fighting supper for $6.95 and a view of the Delaware River and 1-95 from a mostly glass house. Parking can be a problem. American Express, Diners Club, Visa.
If you're making the trip via Dela ware Avenue, the place is The Riverfront Restaurant, at Delaware Avenue (925-7000). Although promoted primarily as a dinner theater, the non-show dining room offers a wide range of excellent seafood and Continental fare, along with a lovely river view. Prices are medium-high. Closed Mondays. American Express, Diners Club, Mastercharge, Visa.
TO THE SOUTH
The place that's closest with the most to offer is The New Leaf at the Sheraton Airport Inn, across from the Overseas Terminal (365-4150). This is a very elegant place and jackets are required, but it's not all that formal. It's a good place to take a VIP before the game. The fare is French-Continental (lots of truffles, some game dishes, etc.), the prices are high but well below the level of center city's most expensive places. The service is at times almost too much. Dinner only. Closed Sunday. American Express, Cart Blanche, Diners Club, Mastercharge, Visa.
TO THE NEAR EAST
Visiting teams usually stay at the Stadium Hilton Inn (755-9500), which Luzinski or Schmidt might almost, reach with a windshot over the left-field stands. After the game you may spot a ballplayer or two in the coffee shop, or even in the Franklin Room. Despite a rather mottled history, part of which involves a brief ownership by an wine merchant who reportedly bought it with a $25 down payment, this is a handsome place and, next to the Stadium Club, as close as you can get to the field. Upper-middle price range. Dinner all week, 5 to 10 p.m. American Express, Cart Blanche, Diners Club, Mastercharge, Visa.
ACROSS WALT WHITMAN BRIDGE
Rexy's Bar and Restaurant, 700 Black Horse Pike, West Collingswood Heights, N.J. (609-456-7911), is a favorite hangout of the Flyers. Any, place that serves steaks the Broad Street Gummers can savor is worth looking into. Dinner all week, kitchen open late most nights. Master-charge, Visa.
Cavanaugh's Country House Tavern, 1521 Black Horse Pike, Turnersville, N. J., (609-227-2500), has gained an excellent reputation with – surprise – a largely Italian menu. Try the Cioppino seafood stew or the Steak Cezanne with prosciutto and cheese. Dinner all week, until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, until 11 Friday and midnight Saturday. Mastercharge, Visa.
ACROSS BEN FRANKLIN BRIDGE
Chubby's 1½ Hearth, on the Black Horse Pike at Collings Avenue, West Collingswood, N. J., is one of the best steak houses on either side of the river. Lots of food, well prepared and well presented. Dinner from 5 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday, , from 3 p.m. Sunday. American Express, Diner's Club, Visa.
Zog's, 2101 Ferry Ave., at 1800 Pavilion Rd., Camden, can be reached by toll bridge or the Lindenwold High-Speed Line (Ferry Avenue station). Hearty Continental and American food, reasonable prices. Dinner 5 to 10 Monday through Saturday. Bar open until 2. Closed Sundays. American Express, Diners Club, Mastercharge, Visa.
A new home run show at the Vet this year
By Don McKee, Inquirer Staff Writer
Back in the good ol' days of baseball, which is roughly defined as after the advent of night games but before Marvin Miller, the general manager spent his time on, believe it or not, baseball. In those days the GM could be found leaning against the batting cage watching minor leaguers cope with major league "heat," driving miles to watch an 18-year-old kid in a Legion game, or burning up the telephone wires trying to unload a shot pitcher before anybody else caught on. Trade talks occupied the World Series meetings (and kept interest high during the off-season), and the winter was spent on contract negotiations.
Now, with free agency the driving force in baseball, the owners do the negotiating with the players' agents, and the terms of the contracts often dictate not only who can be traded but where.
Nowadays the successful baseball executive earns his pay through promotions – the fine art of putting people in the seats. The greatest promotion baseball has, of course, is the free-agent auction itself. The Phillies' pursuit of Pete Rose in the late fall of 1978 kept the entire region palpitating with anticipation. The immense interest generated in the Phillies is something that probably cannot be computed. But it was huge.
Not so huge, but just as important, are the assorted Bat Days, Cap Days, Jacket Days, T-Shirt Days and, yes it's true, Gym Shorts Day.
But the Phillies biggest promotion in 1980 will be an improvement in Veterans Stadium itself. Would you believe strobe lights? As part of vice president Bill Giles' long-held belief that coming to the park should be an experience beyond just seeing a game, the Phillies have created a brand new home run spectacular in the outfield.
Mounted above the outfield fence is a graphic scene 20 feet high and 190 feet long. Only Garry Maddox covers more ground. The graphic is a depiction of Philadelphia landmarks, both cultural and historic.
Created and designed by David Quigley of Elverson, Pa., the scene includes the fountain at Logan Circle, the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul, the art museum, City Hall, downtown office buildings, Society Hill townhouses, Independence Hall, the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and the Delaware River.
The graphic is made of a background of navy blue vinyl mesh fabric. The featured buildings are overlays of different color fabrics stitched to the blue fabric like a quilt.
Both City Hall and Independence Hall are outlined in lights, similar to the houses on boat house row of East River Drive.
The lights will flash when a Phillie hits a home run, as will 150 strobe lights that simulate a firework and fountain pattern.
The new scene replaces Philadelphia Phil and Philadelphia Phyllis, who used to hit the Liberty Bell with a bat when a Phillie launched one out of the park. They have been auctioned off colonial dress is out, strobe lights are in.
The Phillies also have several new promotions, some of which are still in the formative stages. A Phanatic Olympics is planned, as is Fan Package Day and Sun Hat Day. Jacket Day will now be an entire Jacket Weekend. There will be two "Businesspersons Specials" with 12:30 p.m. starts, a Tube Sox Day and a, Back to School Kit Day in late August.
Here's a complete list of Phillies promotion days, who's eligible, and what you get:
Fan Package Day – Sunday, April 13 (Montreal): Every fan gets a free package including a plastic tote bag, a schedule litter bag, a pocket schedule, a Phanatic Poster schedule, bumper stickers, a Phanatic decal, a Phanatic button, and other "surprises". Cosponsor: Tastykake
Jacket Weekend – Friday, Apr. 25, Saturday, April 26 and Sunday, Apr! 27 (St. Louis): Every fan 14 and under, accompanied by a paving adult, will get a blue jacket Friday, a white jacket Saturday and a red and white jacket Sunday. Cosponsor: English Leather.
Phanatic Birthday Party – Sunday, May 3 (Los Angeles): Every fan gets a free Tastvkake plus a free Phanatic face mask with flexible tongue. Mascots from the area are invited to parade around the big birthday cake in the infield prior to the game. (Interested mascots can contact promotions director Frank Sullivan al H03-6000).
Sun Hat Day – Sunday, May 4 (Los Angeles): Women 15 and over get a white sun hat with red trim.
College Night – Tuesday, May 7 (Atlanta): All college students get a $1 discount on all box and reserved seats.
Camera Night – Saturday, May 24 (Houston): Fans with cameras are a allowed on the field prior to the game to get close-up photos of their favorite players.
Sweat Shirt Day – Sunday, May 25 (Houston): All children 14 and under accompanied by a paying adult get a white sweat shirt with red sleeves, lettered Property of Philadelphia Phillies. Cosponsor: Ginos.
Memorial Day Fireworks Display – Monday, May 26 (Pittsburgh): A special 6:05 pm. start with the world champions will be followed by a huge fireworks display.
Businesspersons Special No. 1 – Thursday, May 29 (Pittsburgh) A 12:15 p.m. start for fans who want to take a half day at the office and catch a game in the afternoon.
T-Shirt Day – Sunday, June 1 (Chicago): All children 14 and under accompanied by a paying adult get a white T-shirt with the Phillies logo.
Teen Night – Friday, June 13 (San Diego): Al teenagers get a $1 discount on all box and reserved seats.
Cap Day – Sunday, June 15 (San Diego): All men 15 and over get an adjustable Phillies cap.
Fourth of July Fireworks on June 29th Day – Sunday, June (New York): Since the Phillies are on the road on the Fourth, the annual fireworks display will be held following the Mets game June 29.
Phanatic Olympics – Sunday, July 13 (Pittsburgh): The Olympic events (which have net vet been defined) will be held before the game.
Gym Shorts Day – Sunday, July 17 (Atlanta): Al children 14 and under, accompanied by a paying adult, get red and white gym shorts.
Helmet Day – Sunday, Aug. 3 (Cincinnati): Al children 14 and under, accompanied by a paying adult, get a red Phillies batting helmet.
Businesspersons Day No. 2 – Thursday, Aug. 21 (San Diego): A special 12:30 pm start.
Celebrity Night – Saturday, Aug. 23 (San Francisco): Assorted celebrities (two years ago the gang from Happy Days was in the Vet) will be on the field prior to the game.
Back to School Kit Day – Sunday, Aug, 24 (San Francisco): Al children 14 and under, accompanied by a paying adult, get the back-to-school kit, which includes pencils, a pencil sharpener, book covers, note book, and other goodies. Cosponsor: Tastykake.
Tube Sox Day – Sunday, Sept. 14 (St. Louis): Al children accompanied by a paying adult will get red and white Phillies tube sox.
Fan Appreciation Night – Saturday, Sept. 27 (Montreal): Every fan wa gel a free gift and prizes worth $25,000 will be handed out to lucky fans.
Poster Day – Sunday, Sept 28 (Montreal): All kids get a free Phillies poster.
Those are the planned promotions. Others may pop up as tie season develops.
Baseball’s millionaire club getting bigger
By Allen Lewis, Special to the Inquirer
Eight years ago, catcher Ted Simmons and the St. Louis Cardinals were in a bitter contract dispute that went on for most of the season. Finally, Simmons, then nearing the end of is third National League season and his second, as a .300 hitter, signed on Aug. 9, for two years at $37,500 per year. He now draws $655,000 each season.
Prior to spring training in 1980, , third baseman Bob Horner of the Atlanta Braves, with only one-and-a-half seasons of professional experience, signed a three-year contract for $400,000 per year.
Those examples and the fact that in 1972 the game's six highest-paid players had a salary of $125,000 each illustrates how dramatically the financial picture has changed in less than eight years for both players and owners.
Eight years ago, $125,000 was a princely salary. In 1980, that is below average major league salary. There are 15 players scheduled to draw $600,000 or more in salary this year, and more than 90 players will earning more than $300,000.
The free-agent era – coupled with record attendance totals – is response for the dramatic increases. In 1976, the first year of free agency, 24 players who went through the re-entry draft signed contracts worth almost $25 million, and their average annual income was $260,000. In 1980, the 22 free agents signed for a total of $32 million with an average salary of $367,000.
That's only a part of the picture. In order to keep their players from opting for free agency, major league clubs paid out equally big money to retain players they had. Of the 46 players who will be drawing salaries of $400,000 or more in 1980, only 14 went through free agency.
Each year since the free-agent system started, there were predictions that this time the owners would not engage in wild bidding for players. Each time, contrary to that belief, he bidding became more frantic.
Prior to last season, Dave Parker, the rightfielder of the Pittsburgh Pirates, signed a contract that was then deemed by some to be the ultimate – $1 million a year for four years. But it will, apparently, no more be the ultimate than when Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio broke the $100,000 barrier more than a quarter century ago.
Since last season, Parker has been joined in the million-dollar class by pitchers Nolan Ryan, who played out lis option with the California Angels and signed with the Houston Astros, and Phil Niekro, who signed with his only major league team, the Braves.
Ryan and Niekro are two of the 17 new multi-millionaires in 1980 who signed for $400,000 or more, and two of the four who signed since last season ended for more than $750,000.
Following Parker, Ryan and Niekro on the salary scale is Rod Carew, the first baseman of the Angels who is now in the second year of a five-year contract paying him $900,000 a year. Houston pitcher J.R. Richard was rewarded for his mound feats with the Astros with a four-year contract that will pay him $850,000 per season, and first baseman Keith Hernandez, in one of the most surprising contracts yet, signed with the Cardinals for five years at $760,000 a year.
Completing the top 15, each drawing at least $600,000 a year, are first baseman Pete Rose of the Phillies at $745,000; pitchers Vida Blue of the San Francisco Giants and Bruce Sutter of the Chicago Cubs, outfielders George Foster of the Cincinnati Reds and Jim Rice of Boston Red Sox at $700,000; shortstop Garry Templeton of the Cards at $667,000, catcher Ted Simmons of the Cards at $665,000; second baseman Rennie Stennett of the Giants and pitcher Craig Swan of the New York Mets at $600,000. Of those top 15, only Ryan, Rose and Stennett went through free agency; the rest signed with their old team for whopping raises.
Although the New York Yankees have been the biggest spenders, the National League has more players making more than $400,000 than does the American League by a 29-17 margin. And only two of the top 15 making $600,000 or more are from the American League.
The Yankees have five players making $400,000 or more, and another five making more than $300,000. The Phillies also have 10 players in the $300,000-plus class, half of them making at least $400,000. While the San Diego Padres have seven over $300,000, but only one at $400,000. The Cards, Reds and Red Sox all have four players making $400,000 or more, but there are 10 big-league teams with none in that bracket, and seven without a single player making more than $300,000.
Not surprisingly, since they form approximately 40 percent of each 25-man squad, pitchers lead players in the top salary brackets. There are 19 pitchers getting $400,000 or more and at least 30 in the $300,000-plus class.
It’s time for harvest on the Phillies’ farm
By Allen Lewis, Special to The Inquirer
Since Branch Rickey demonstrated the importance of a farm system half a century ago, major league clubs that developed players themselves have generally been the most successful. And, despite the free-agent scramble of recent years, that's still true.
The Phillies won their last National League pennant back in 1950, and the key members of that team were farm-system products. The same is true of the Eastern Division title-teams of 1976, 1977 and 1978.
If the Phillies are to be contenders this year and in the future, it will be because of the quality of players their minor league system produces.
The Phillies fielded six minor league teams last year, a Triple-A club in the American Association at Oklahoma City, a Double-A club in the Eastern League at Reading, A clubs in the Carolina League with Peninsula and in the Western Carolina League with Spartanburg, and two Rookie classification clubs – Bend, Ore., in the Northwest League, and Helena, Mont., in the Pioneer League.
In 1979, Oklahoma City, Bend and Helena all finished first in their division, while Reading wound up second, and both Peninsula and Spartanburg were third.
Winning at any time is better than losing, but major league clubs are more concerned with developing players capable of playing in the major leagues than they are about what place the farm clubs occupy. In that regard, the Phillies feel they rate with the best.
Talk to Dallas Green, who served for more than seven years as head of the Phillies minor league system until he was named manager last Aug. 31, and he gets excited about names like Marty Bystrom, Scott Munninghoff, Dickie Noles, Bob Walk and Jim Wright among the young pitchers, or catchers Keith Moreland and Don McCormack; infielders Luis Aguayo, Jay Loviglio and John Poff, and outfielders Lonnie Smith and George Vukovich.
Noles, Moreland, Poff and Smith all got a taste of major league life in 1979, and one or more should make the grade for all of 1980. But all of those just mentioned are given excellent chances of playing regularly in the major leagues some day.
Bystrom, whose chances of making the Phillies this spring were ruined by a severe muscle pull at the opening of training camp, is the kind of pitcher who excites baseball scouts. A 6-foot, 5-inch,. 200-pound righthander, Bystrom is only 21 and, after two outstanding years in class A ball, jumped to Oklahoma City last season and posted a 9-5 record. In his three seasons, he's averaged almost six strikeouts a game, and in 1978 pitched a perfect game for Peninsula, only the third in Carolina League history.
"He's an outstanding prospect," Green said. "He has a live fast ball, his slider has improved and all he needs is experience."
Munninghoff, a No. 1 draft choice in 1977, also needs experience and apparently he will get it with the parent club this season after a 14-9 year at Reading last season and an excellent showing in spring training. He has a fine sinker and slider and, according to Green, must learn "to come inside more with his pitches to win in the majors."
Noles started 14 games for the Phillies after injuries decimated the staff last season, when he also pitched at Oklahoma City and Reading.
"He's got the kind of temperament a relief pitcher needs, and he can throw hard," said Green, anxious to improve the Phillies pitching staff.
Walk had a 12-7 record last season at Reading, led the league in earned run average (2.24) and strikeouts (135), and may soon be ready for the majors after getting Triple-A experience.
Wright was a top prospect who has had serious injuries in recent years, including a broken arm suffered while making a pitch in a spring training game in 1979. If he fully recovers, he's regarded as a sure-fire major leaguer.
Moreland was an all-America third baseman at the University of Texas who was converted to catching after the 1976 season, his second in pro ball.
"He is a major league hitter," Green said. "All he needs to do is get more catching experience."
McCormack hit .260 last season, and will have to improve his hitting, but he rates high as a catcher "who blocks the plate as well as any catcher I've seen," says Phillies coach Tony Taylor, who had the 6-3, 205-pounder on his Venezuelan League club in the winter.
Aguayo's future may be as a utility-man, while Loviglio is a second baseman with an outstanding attitude and good tools. He hit .294 last year at Reading and stole 55 bases in 67 attempts to lead the Eastern League.
Poff is a big first baseman with power who could, in the opinion of many, play for some major league clubs right now. His future with the Phillies is doubtful.
Smith's key problem is his outfield defense. He is an exciting offensive player who batted .330 and stole 34 bases last year for Oklahoma City, where he has played since 1976.
Vukovich, a husky six-footer who came out of Southern Illinois University, batted .293 and knocked in 88 runs last year at Reading in his second pro season. This may be his year to latch on with the Phillies.
New blood, new manager, new approach
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
This time a year ago, It was It was commonly agreed that unless there was some team on an inhabitable moon of Saturn we didn’t know about, the Phillies were the best team in creation.
So how come the same bunch of guys are about to start another season and the only thing agreed about them is that they are the best baseball club South of the Bronx and North of Baltimore?
Well, see, the Phillies didn’t follow the normal guidelines for fourth-place teams that finished 6 games over .500 and 14 games out of first.
They didn’t go out and signed eight free Asians at $1.2 billion apiece.
They didn’t replace their manager with Billy Martin.
They were unable to make a deal to acquire a rock band that could drown out Sister Sledge.
They didn’t trade for Bobby Bonds, Willie Montanez, Dock Ellis, Pepe Frias, Rusty Staub, Larvell Blanks or Oscar Gamble.
They didn’t sell the team to a retired cowboy, a fast food entrepreneur or a former witness at the Senate Watergate hearings.
And finally, they even kept the same mascot.
Of course, it’s not as if the Phillies did nothing all winter.
They gave their famed bicycle caravantes it’s outright release. They changed home run displays at the Vet. They replaced their first base coach, their third base coach and their bullpen coach.
Aw, and that’s not even the important stuff.
They did sign one free agent, a righthanded relief pitcher named Lerrin LaGrow. And even though he doesn’t eat paperbacks or hyperventilate and back of the mound, he did have more saves in the past three seasons (46) than Al Hrabosky or Skip Lockwood.
They also have added their most youthful blood since the rookie class of 1973, featuring Bob Boone and Mike Schmidt.
Dallas green, who coincidentally is a former farm director, will carry 5 rookies in 1980 (Keith Moreland, Lonnie Smith, Scott Munninghoff, Luis Aguayo, George Vuckovich). He also has two pictures with a half-year’s big league experience each (Dickie Noles, Kevin Saucier).
“I just think it’s time the Phillies started bringing some kids in,” Green says, “so that when some of our other guys start to reach the age where they can’t help us, will have some guys with experience.”
All of these changes will certainly please program vendors. But whether they will be quite enough to win the National League East is tough to say.
The pirate still have their world-championship stereo system and the Willie Stargell Gold Star Distribution Conglomerate. But they also have pitching questions.
The expo’s still have their fabulous mascot, Youppi, and a brand new Ron Leflore, whose arm doesn’t seem to work, but whose legs will. But they also have pitching questions.
And the Cardinals were this year’s winters in the annual Bobby Bonds Giveaway. Plus they have the defending semi-MVP in Keith Hernandez. But, of course, they also have pitching questions.
So when you come to assess the Phillies, if you start by mentioning they have pitching questions, at least there is the consolation that they are in keeping with popular fashion.
Green admits that except for Steve Carlton is starting pitchers were not “superlative” in Florida. But on the other hand, they didn’t have the last 10 games to start seeking their normal groove. And not one of them was mugged, fell off bicycles or discovered any bone chips in his elbow.
Nino Espinosa (14-12) will start the season on the disabled list (bursitis in his right shoulder). And while that’s a Las, given espinos is dependable early last year, “it doesn’t hurt you that much, not to have him in April and May,” says Larry Bowa. “It’s more important, he gets straightened out for June and July.”
The rest of the rotation has the potential to go anywhere from 20-8 to 8-20.
It is vital that Dick Ruthven (7-5) and Larry Christenson (5-10) spend more time on the mountain in the trainer’s room. And Randy Lerch (10-13) is as weary as everyone else of hearing how great he is going to be.
Carlton? If he merely duplicates his form of spring training (18 strikeouts in 23 innings) you can book him for 19 wins minimum. It wouldn’t matter if he ran the New York marathon, decided he would allow himself to be interviewed only by John Chancellor or insisted that Tim McCarver call all his signs from the TV booth.
Greens other 6 pitchers break down this way: Short relief – Tug McGraw, Ron Reed, sometimes Lerrin LaGrow; middle-inning relief – Munninghoff, LaGrow, Saucier (against lefthanded hitters); spot starting and long relief – Noles.
For all the attention paid to his expertise and yelling, Green’s major contribution should be his pitching expertise. He has a role for everybody, everybody knows what it is and, most important, he plans to use all 10 guys.
“If you don’t use your whole staff, it’s going to eventually catch up with you over 162 games,” he says. “I just believe that if the 10 guys I’m taking can’t do a job for me, they have no business on my pitching staff.
“If somebody isn’t doing it for me, I’ve got to go somewhere else and get somebody else. There’s no sense in letting a guy right there all year and make a change in ‘81. I’m worried about ‘80.”
The mirror establishment of order can’t turn a lousy staff into the ‘54 Indians. But it is perhaps the most important factor in staff success otherwise. The staff has ability, and Green should get the maximum out of it that can be gotten.
The starting ought to look familiar (Rose, Trillo, Schmidt, Bowa, Luzinski, Maddox, McBride, Boone). However, the possibility of a Maddox trade will remain serious until June 15. And Green no doubt will find playing time for Smith and Greg Gross.
This unit again will make its pitchers’ lives easier with unmatched defense. The only questions are how it fits together offensively, whether somebody (Trillo or McBride) can become an effective No. 2 hitter and whether Luzinski (.252, 18 HR, 81 RBI) can turn those 22 lost pounds into his batting average.
“If he’s himself again, he might be worth eight or 10 more games for us,” says Paul Owens, “only because he makes the job so much easier for Schmitty.”
Schmidt had a remarkable year in ‘79 (45 HR, 114 RBI) that was even more remarkable given Luzinski’s slump. Except for September the only times the Phillies won consistently last year was when Schmidt was hot. The normal Luzinski year allows Schmidt the luxury of cooling off once in awhile.
But this is wear green will come in, too. The whole point of Green’s back-to-basics spring training was that the Phillies will have to score runs in other ways, too.
Will squeeze for runs, hit behind the runner for runs, even (gasp) bunt guys over. If this team repeats it’s ‘79 record as last in the league in sacrifices and first in runner stranded, it will hear a lot of yelling and screaming and cursing from its manager.
“Last year all we ever did was wait for the big inning,” says Bowa. “We used to never run with Bull and Schmitty up. Well, they’re not going to hit a home run every time up. We should have another plan of attack. Hey, you score one run an inning, that’s nine runs.”
Having a decent bench can never be overrated, as anybody who watched last season could attest. There are a lot worse benches than this one in the big leagues. But there are questions about whether it contains enough righthanded bats or enough experience.
Keith Moreland (.375, 8 RBI in the final 14 games last September) is the No. 1 right-handed pinch-hitter. Even Moreland has expressed fears that Green might be reluctant to use him because he is also the No. 2 catcher on a 2½ catcher team. Green says he won’t be.
The other right handed pinch hitters are Smith, who scouts a has to play to hit; Aguayo, who was just 21, hit .273 in Triple A and has never sat, and John Vukovich, who had one of his best offensive years ever last season in Triple A (.291), but whose lifetime league average is .161. The venerable Roger Freed is waiting in Oklahoma City.
Green says he is confident Georgia Vukovich and Gross can hit left handers. But Lucavich also has never done much pinch-hitting. And Gross batted .118 (2-for-17) against lefthanders last year, although, granted, he didn’t see a lot of them.
Is the relative youth of this bench (especially Aguayo, Smith, G. Vukovich) a legitimate concern? It is to Bowa, anyway?
“I think the team we have is more talented than the team we had last year,” Bowa said, “but it’s not experienced, and experience plays a very important part of winning a division. The rookie part doesn’t bother me. It’s just the idea of a situation involving 50,000 people.
“There being thrown into the pressure-cooker. It’s a lot different than a spring training game or a Triple-A game. But I guess the only way they’re going to find out is by doing it.”
On the positive side, the youth patrol will have Green’s firm support instead of Danny Ozarks quick hook, which will minimize the pressure. And Green promises he will bring the kids along slowly.
Finally, there is the matter of Green himself. Will “North Dallas 162” be another yelling, screaming, look-in-the-mirror session? Will it feature more episodes of Bowa snarling back or Maddox withdrawing? Or can Green and his players co-exist in a happy, turmoil-free world?
“I think guys still question the way he goes about being manager,” says Bowa. “But I think he’s won our respect (with the professional way, he ran spring training). Before, I don’t know if he had respect or not. And that, to me, is the most important thing in a manager.
“In the last month of the season, guys really didn’t know what he was going to do. They weren’t sure he was going to listen. He just got too excited. But I think now we know he can say things and the next day, still talk to people. I don’t think he holds any grudges.”
Bowa reiterated that Green’s most important contribution will be his “real good rapport with the pitching staff. The other ain’t guys know what they’ve got to do. It’s a matter of the pitchers going out and executing that.
“It’s important to communicate with a pitching staff, which to me he does very well. I’d say here’s a better relationship with his pitching staff, then with his every-day line up.”
Bowa and virtually everyone else believes this team will be as good or bad as its pitching. That could be first place. It could be fourth. There is nothing left to do but hang on to the rail and watch them ride.
Only five Monday night games on the TV schedule
By Lee Winfrey, Inquirer TV Columnist
On television, the biggest change for baseball fans this year will be fewer games at night and more in the afternoon.
ABC (Channel 6) is continuing to cut back on the number of games in its "Monday Night Baseball" series, from 18 games in 1978, to 12 last year, down to only five this season.
"Monday Night Baseball" has been a consistent failure in the all-important Nielsen ratings. "Monday Night Football," a prosperous money-maker, draws an audience more than 50 per cent larger.
All five of this year's Monday night games will be played in June, a month when most people watch little TV of any kind. Obviously ABC has decided to cut its losses after dark.
Instead, ABC's commentators and cameras will be showing up in daylight more often. ABC, which aired three games on Sunday afternoon last season, will broadcast eight of them this year.
The first Sunday afternoon game will not air until Aug. 17. The only baseball that ABC will telecast in July will be the All-Star Game on July 8.
ABC has responded to scattered complaints about its baseball announcers, particularly Howard Co-sell, by ignoring the flak. The same crew of commentators will work its regular season schedule, the All-Star Game, and the championship series of the American and National leagues in October.
ABC uses a three-man announcing team. Two of them will always be Cosell and Don Drysdale. Keith Jackson and Al Michaels will divide the work in the third chair.
ABC expects to sell out its entire schedule to commercial advertisers. They will pay varying rates, such as $42,000 per 30-second commercial on "Monday Night Baseball," which is considered a modest price for prime time, up to $110,000 for 30 seconds during the All-Star Game, the kind of fee that produces a river of black ink.
As usual, NBC (Channel 3) will telecast 26 games on Saturday afternoon, beginning this weekend. Joe Garagiola and Tony Kubek return as the main announcers.
Both ABC and NBC essentially suffer through the regular season schedule, which is not whoopingly successful in the Nielsen ratings, to qualify for the privilege of televising the World Series, which is always an overwhelming attraction.
ABC and NBC alternate in airing the Series. This year it is NBC's turn, with the opening game scheduled for Oct. 14. NBC will charge an average of about $125,000 per 30-second commercial during the Series, compared with $100,000 that ABC extracted from advertisers last fall.
Already signed up for the privilege of giving you their sales pitch during the Series are such familiar sports enthusiasts as Miller beer and Gillette razors. Among advertisers, baseball is considered one of the better ways of reaching prosperous young men, a target audience of high value.
ABC and NBC pay a steep price for the privilege of keeping the third network, CBS, crowded out of the baseball picture. In the overall network Nielsen ratings for the fall quarter, CBS traditionally has a hard time because it always has to buck the enormous numbers piled up by the World Series.
Both ABC and NBC are in the first year of four-year contracts with the big leagues. ABC is estimated to be paying $95 million and NBC $90 million to the big leagues over the course of these pacts, which extend through the 1983 season.
Locally, for the 10th consecutive year, Phillies games will be telecast over WPHL (Channel 17). The 72- game regular season schedule will begin and end with contests against Montreal, the first one next Sunday and the last one Oct. 5.
Channel 17 has added one announcer to its returning trio of Harry Kalas, Andy Musser and Richie Ashburn. The rookie at the microphone will be former Phillies catcher Tim McCarver.
WPHL will divide the chores this way: Kalas and Ashburn will work innings one, two and three; Musser and Ashburn innings four, five and six; Ashburn and McCarver, inning seven; and Kalas and McCarver, innings eight and nine and whatever extra innings may follow.
WPHL declined to say how much the station is paying for TV rights to the Phillies games this year. Broadcasting Magazine estimated last month, however, that Channel 17 and KYW, which has the radio rights, will pay the Phils a total of $3.5 million this season for the privilege.
And what will happen if the baseball players go on strike next month? Chances are that ABC and NBC wouldn't mind too much, since all they really want is the World Series and, to a lesser extent, the two league championship series and the All-Star Game. Only over WPHL, which depends heavily on the Phillies for both revenue and visibility, would dark clouds be likely to gather.
Orioles plan to do it again with pitching
By Dan Shaughnessy, Special to the Inquirer
Earl Weaver was sitting in his dugout, lighting another non-filtered Raleigh as his American League champions were warming up for an exhibition game against the Texas Rangers in Miami. His feet dangled from the bench, barely touching the floor, and his face was lit with a Cheshire-cat smile.
"My old friend Al Neuman tells me - to worry about anything, so I don't worry," says Weaver. (For the uninitiated, Alfred E. Neuman is a Mad Magazine character whose motto is "What, me worry?")
"People that think we're crushed 'cause we lost the Series are the people who only see seven games a year. The way we figure it, we're the only club in baseball that beat the world champs three times in a playoff, and that's not too bad."
So now Weaver is ready for another year, eager even, and for good reason.
There's been a lot of talk about Baltimore's "deep depth," tight defense, long-ball power and fundamental execution this season, but rival American Leaguers fear the Orioles for one reason – pitching.
In 1979, while the Orioles were winning 102 regular season games, the Baltimore pitching staff compiled a team ERA of 3.26, nearly a full run less than the league average (4.22). Six Orioles won 10 or more games and the staff allowed fewer hits and runs than any other staff in the league. Also, every pitcher yielded fewer hits than innings pitched.
And all this happened in a year in which staff ace Jim Palmer, winner of 20 or more in eight of his previous nine seasons, finished with an injury-laden 10-6 record.
Picking up the slack for Palmer was Mike Flanagan, the Cy Young Award winner (Palmer is now referred to as "Cy Old") who compiled a 23-9 mark with a 3.08 ERA.
Scott McGregor, another lefthander, finished 13-6 with a 3.35 ERA and the fewest walks per nine innings (1.22) in the league. McGregor shut out the Angels in the playoffs and won the third game of the World Series. If not for springtime tendinitis in his elbow, McGregor would have been a candidate for 20 wins.
The other starters are Dennis Martinez, who won 10 straight before he slumped to 15-16, and Steve Stone, a free-agent righty who managed an 11-7 record as a fifth starter and long reliever.
Should any of the starters falter, Weaver has a couple of strapping righthanded strongboys in his bullpen. Sammy Stewart was 8-5 and Dave Ford 2-1 with the big club last year. Stewart struck out seven straight hitters in his major league debut and Weaver calls Ford "a future Cy Young winner."
You want more pitching depth? Weaver's got it. "After you get by their starter, if you can, they keep coming at you," says Milwaukee's Sal Bando. "Stoddard, Stewart, Stone, Stanhouse... their names even sound the same."
Don Stanhouse, of course, is gone. Stan the Man Unusual struck the mother lode and went to the Dodgers for $2 million over five years. In his place, Weaver has Tim Stoddard, a menacing 6-foot, 7-inch fireballer best known as the "other forward" when David Thompson and Co. took North Carolina State to the NCAA Championship in 1974. Stoddard was 3-1 with a 1.71 ERA before a muscle tear in his shoulder sidelined him last summer. From the left side, Weaver has Tippy Martinez, who didn't throw a home run ball last year and has a 24-10 lifetime record with 34 saves.
Flanagan isn't likely to match last season, Dennis Martinez has a, sore upper right arm and Stanhouse (protected 25 of 27 leads) will be missed, but there's still enough pitching to wear down most American League teams.
However, as the Pirates proved, the Orioles can be pitched to. Last year's composite .261 batting average surpassed only lowly Cleveland, Toronto and Oakland, but as Weaver likes to point out, "we hit ours a lot farther than they do."
The 1979 Orioles hit a club-record 181 home runs and ranked third in the league. "That's my good friend Dr. Longball," says Weaver. "I leave him a pass, but he don't show up to help us out every day."
Weaver's philosophy of managing is "Pitching and three-run homers wins a lot of ballgames."
Two-thirds of the homers came from the bats of Ken Singleton (35), Gary Roenicke (25), Eddie Murray (25), Lee May (19) and Doug DeCinces (16).
Singleton finished second to Don Baylor in MVP balloting. He'll be in right field with Al Bumbry (.285, 37 steals) in center and Roenicke and John Lowenstein (11 homers, 34 RBI's in 197 trips) platooning in left. Weaver still has the shock troops, too. Pat Kelly, Benny Ayala and Terry Crowley will be around to terrorize relievers in late innings.
The infield is set with Murray at first, Rich Dauer at second, DeCinces at third and either Kiko Garcia or Mark Belanger at short.
Murray is 24 years old and coming off three Xerox seasons. His figures since 1977 average .283, .285, .295; homers 27, 27, 25; RBls 88, 95, 99. Unfortunately he became a national goat by going 0 for his last 21 in the Series.
Dauer had 14 game-winning RBIs and is capable of more than his .257 average. DeCinces had an awful year with a .230 average and 61 RBIs but says his bad back is a thing of the past. Also, this is the final year of his contract, so the whole league will see everything Dougie's got.
Weaver has the scrappy and forever embattled Rick Dempsey behind the plate. Dempsey hit .239 with 41 RBIs but has an arm like a bazooka and plays the hardest baseball this side of that guy Rose.
What gets lost on many of the experts is the fact that very few Orioles had exceptional seasons in 1979. Other than Singleton, Flanagan, and Roenicke, none of the regulars had "career" years.
Palmer had a half season, McGregor missed six weeks, DeCinces dropped from .286 to .230 and Belanger, Lowenstein, and Stoddard suffered disabling injuries.
"I've seen us picked as low as fourth this spring." says Baltimore general manager Hank Peters. "I can't figure that out. All the other teams are counting on big comebacks, but we've got basically the same people, none of whom had spectacular seasons."
"The Yankees have to replace Thurman Munson, Mickey Rivers, and Ed Figueroa is coming back from surgery. The Brewers are hoping Larry Hisle can come back from rotator cuff surgery, and the Red Sox are counting on Carlton Fisk."
"I don't think you'd find many players picking us fourth," says DeCinces. "If they did, I'd laugh in their face. You don't think they remember how we beat them last year? And you don't think they know we can do it again?"
Tradition is certainly on their side. In the last 23 years, the Orioles have won more games than any team in baseball (2079). They've won two world championships, four pennants and six division crowns since 1966. Under Weaver's tutelage, they've won 90 or more games 10 times in the last 12 years.
The diminutive skipper likes to downplay his role. "I'm a push-button manager," he says. "Because that's all a manager does push buttons. We don't scoop up any grounders or hit any sacrifice flies."
"I just use the hot hand. Baseball judgment is the important part of this job. I know we got guys who are capable of doing certain things, and since they've done them before, there's no reason to think they won't do them again."
The pompous people in the AL East think it is the best division in baseball. Six of the seven teams played better than .500 ball last year and Milwaukee, Boston and New York are capable of winning 100 games. But so is Baltimore, and if the Oriole pitching holds up, only Marvin Miller will keep them from winning 100 again.
Pete Rose’s record chast to start again tomorrow
By Allen Lewis, Special to The Inquirer
Pete Rose collects baseball records almost as easily as some people collect coins or stamps or baseball cards. At present, he holds so many that his dossier in the Baseball Register takes up 1½ pages.
The Phillies first baseman is far from finished with his record-setting, however. He sets new ones or adds to ones he already holds every season, and 1980 should be no exception.
The record Rose covets most, Ty Cobb's major league mark of 4,191 career hits, is not within his reach until 1983 at the earliest, but Pete should be moving a giant step closer this year to Stan Musial's National League record total of 3,630 hits.
Rose currently ranks sixth on the all-time list with 3,372 hits. With 144 more this season, he'll move past Honus Wagner and Tris Speaker into fourth place. Pete, who had 208 hits in 1979, needs 259 to pass Musial and 399 to take over second place from Hank Aaron.
The durable Rose, who will be 38 years old on Monday, already holds the major league record for most 200-hit seasons (10), most 600-at-bat seasons (15), most hits by a switch-hitter (3,372), and highest career fielding percentage (.992) by an outfielder in 1,000 or more games.
If Rose plays in 150 or more games this season for the 15th year, he'll set a major league record, and if he has 600 or more at bats he'll set yet another with 600 or more for the 13th consecutive season. And with every single he'll extend his National League record of 2,490. If he collects 151 singles this year (he had 159 last season), he'll pass both Willie Keeler and Eddie Collins and take second place on the all-time major league list. He needs 563 to pass Cobb's all-time record of 3,052, which he could do in 1983.
In addition to hits and singles, Rose is already in the top 10 in total at bats and doubles, and can move into the select 10 this season in games, in runs and in total bases.
Currently fifth in at bats, Rose needs only 149 for third place and would pass Willie Mays, Musial and Collins for second with 606. He'll need at least three more years to surpass Aaron's all-time record total of 12,364 at bats. Seventh in doubles with 612, he needs only 13 to pass Aaron and a repeat of the 40 he collected in 1979 would enable him to take over fifth place ahead of Wagner.
Rose is currently 14th in total games played with 2,668, and would pass Rabbit Maranville, Mel Ott, Wagner and Speaker and take over 10th place by playing in 122 games this season. He can also go by Frank Robinson and Collins into eighth place with 159.
By scoring 83 runs this season, seven less than last year, Rose would pass Jimmie Foxx, Charley Gehringer, Ted Williams, Collins and Frank Robinson and move from 14th place to ninth. Now 18th in total bases, he needs 279, seven more than last year, to jump from 18th to 10th place.
Out of reach for Rose are top-10 rankings in career batting average, triples, extra-base bits and bases on balls. He's currently 67th in average with .312; he needs 36 triples for 50th place, and needs 57 extra-base hits and 87 walks for 20th place in both categories.
Of course, Rose isn't the only veteran moving into high places in the record book. Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox, who last year became the first American Leaguer to get 3,000 hits and 400 home runs in a career, is already in the all-time top 10 in four categories, and can reach that ranking in two others this year.
Yaz is sixth in games played and can pass Mays this year with 35, and go by Brooks Robinson with 131 to take over fourth place. He is eighth in at bats and can move all the way up to fourth with 435 in 1980. In doubles he's 10th and needs 10 for ninth, and in walks he's fifth and will be fourth with 70 more.
With a mere 59 total bases, the Boston star can take over 10th place, and requires only 162 – he had 233 in 1980 – to pass Foxx. Ott and Lou Gehrig and move into eighth place. Currently 13th in hits with 3,009, he needs 144 more for 10th place.
In other categories, Yastrzmeski, starting his 20th big-league season at the age of 40, ranks 18th in home runs, 12th in extra-base hits, 23d in runs, 15th in runs batted in and 23d in strikeouts, and will have to play several seasons to gain a top 10 spot in any of them.
The only other active big leaguer currently in the top 10 in more than one batting department is Willie McCovey of the San Francisco Giants. He's ninth in home runs with 520 and, if he matches last year's production of 15, he'll pass both Williams and Foxx and rank seventh. McCovey, 42, is 10th in strikeouts, but doesn't figure to catch the all-time record holder, Pittsburgh Pirate slugger Willie Stargell, who should add to his record total of 1,851 whiffs.
Joe Morgan of the Houston Astros is seventh in stolen bases with 601 and needs 28 to take over sixth. He's 11th in bases on balls and will be 10th with just 38 this year.
Bobby Bonds of the St. Louis Cardinals is fifth in strikeouts and needs only 92 for second place. He currently trails Stargell by 213.
Among pitchers, only Nolan Ryan of the Houston Astros, and relief pitchers Sparky Lyle of the Texas Rangers and Rollie Fingers of the San Diego Padres are within reach of significant major league records in 1980.
Ryan, who may well become the all-time strikeout king if he plays through 1982, can set the record for walks this season. With 130 bases on balls, a total he has surpassed in seven of the last eight seasons, the big righthander will replace former American League star Early Wynn in the top spot with 1,776.
Lyle needs just five saves and Fingers a mere seven this season to break Hoyt Wilhelm's all-time record of 227.
Phils’ season tickets, $25,000: Sorry, there’s a waiting list
By Gordon Forbes, Inquirer Staff Writer
In the mid-60s, when Judge Roy Hofheintz was overseeing construction of his wondrous Astrodome, he gazed at the worst seats in the house and came up with a novel idea. Bill Giles, Phillies vice president, then the designated operator of the Astrodome's dazzling electronic scoreboard, suggested selling the seats at $1.50 each and letting it go at that.
Hofheintz disagreed. "Aw, why don't we doll 'em up and charge $10?" he said. Hofheintz, of course, was right. Somebody got the idea to call the high-in-the-sky seats "superboxes," and baseball, at least for those who can afford to pay $20,000 or so a season for luxury and privacy, has never been the same.
There are 23 Phillies superboxes at Veterans Stadium, all located on the third base side on the fourth level. The Phillies constructed the private boxes in 1971 and then leased them to patrons, mostly banks and major companies. According to Giles, the companies pay up to $25,000 a season for the superboxes, the price depending on the number of seats within the box.
"We lease them to companies three years at a time," says Giles. "We haven't had one turnover yet. We probably could sell 40 or 50 of them; I think. The kind of companies that lease the superboxes are the local banks, Arco, the Tasty Baking company and Channel 17. Fitz Dixon (owner of the 76ers) has one. He's the only one I know that bought it on a personal basis. The others were all bought by companies. His may very well be charged to one."
Giles estimates that, in addition to the $20,000 to 25,000 paid the Phillies, superbox owners spend another $15,-000 on food and drinks during a typical season. For their money, the companies receive use of the super-box for each of the 81 Phillies home games and eight Eagles games; two VIP parking spaces; the use of a closed-circuit television set, usually located above a small bar; a supply of paper goods (plates, cups, etc.), and the opportunity to buy additional tickets, depending on the size of the superbox, at $8.50 each as late as the day of the game.
Each superbox is actually divided into two glass-enclosed rooms. One features plush seats, a well-stocked bar, thick carpeting and closed-circuit television. The other connecting room is closer to the field and includes the actual baseball seats in earth colors.
"It's amazing," says Bill Giles, standing near the bar of the Girard Bank superbox. "Half the people watch from here and half from the seats. You can watch over closed-circuit from here. But then something exciting happens and everybody runs out to watch." They run because the view of most of the field from the bar area is obscured, unless one stoops into a severe crouch.
"We supply the paper goods," says Giles, "but they bring in their own booze, setups and beer. The boxes are catered either by Nilon or the Friendly Caterers. There is also a concession stand near there. We also supply them with pressbox notes ("Mike Schmidt has hit six home runs against the Houston Astros this year and hit 29 against them in his career Bob Boone has a muscle pull in his left thigh and will not catch tonight.") and we have four or five usherettes assigned to that area."
Giles isn't sure how many companies are on the superbox waiting list. "We have 12 or 15 companies waiting," he says, "but when anyone calls, we just say they are all leased and there's a waiting list. We don't even bother to put their names on the list."
Obviously, companies do much more than simply second-guess managers, like the average fan in the 600 level. "It's strictly entertaining customers and employes," Giles says. "Sometimes they sub-lease the boxes for a night or two."
The Phillies decorated the super-boxes when they were first built in 1971. Since then, individual companies have redesigned the boxes and some have added a second television set to the lower seating area. Companies have also individualized the boxes by decorating the front doors. Fitz Dixon's has part of a basketball being dunked by a hand above a regulation-size rim. Contintental Bank's has a simulated vault.
In other, more simple times, it was "bring me some peanuts and cracker-jack," as the song goes. In the super-boxes, it's roast beef and scotch and water and easy on the ice.
Schmidt has the stats, but he’s missing something
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
Mike Schmidt can pound baseballs 450 feet.
He can clank them off hanging speakers, rattle them off scoreboards, tower them completely over Wrigley Field.
He can do this when the score is 22-22 or he can do it when it’s 8-1.
He can do this off Bruce Sutter or he can do it off Tony Brizzolara.
He can do it once every 15 days or he can do it five times in eight at-bats.
He has hit more homers than anybody in baseball over the last six seasons. And putting balls in orbit isn’t even all he can do.
He has won four straight Gold Gloves. He has averaged 17 stolen bases a year. He has scored more than 90 runs six years in a row. And he has averaged 102 RBIs a season since 1974.
More people have been married to Mickey Rooney than have accomplished anything like this in the ‘70s. So after you consider all that, there is only one question left.
Why isn’t this guy the biggest thing in Philadelphia since Stanley Cup parades?
The reason is simmering in Mike Schmidt’s insides. It has nothing to do with those considerable skills that Mike Schmidt has. It’s what he doesn’t have.
Mike Schmidt just doesn’t have Charisma.
Pete Rose has it. Willie Stargell has it. A lot of other great players don’t. It’s not a crime not to. It’s just a fact.
“Some guys have charisma who have far less ability,” says Phillies vice-president Paul Owens. “Take a Jay Johnstone. Jay didn’t have the ability a Mike Schmidt has, and yet he had a kind of charisma for people. Everybody’s different. That’s why they make 38 kinds of ice cream. If everybody fell in love with the same girl, it would be a helluva world, wouldn’t it?”
It is obvious you don’t get charisma because of what you do. There is nothing more electric than watching baseballs disappear over the horizon. And Mike Schmidt can surely make them do that.
No, charisma evolves from how you do what you do. Johnstone wasn’t a great player, but he wore funny hats. You noticed him.
Mike Schmidt just takes care of business. You notice him, too, but somehow you think you ought to notice him more.
“So much comes easy to Mike,” Owens says, “that I think the impression of a lot of people is that if he’d only push himself a little more, he’d be that much greater. Sometimes people – fans – resent that. But they don’t understand the man personally.
It’s not that people think Mike Schmidt is a bad guy or anything. It’s more that they don’t know what to think of him.
He is a man who can spew out words by the thousands and yet still seem private. He is a man who can power baseballs and catch them spectacularly, and yet still not appear especially colorful. You can’t observe him from afar and comprehend what is making him tick.
What people really can’t see is that Mike Schmidt likes this game. Coolness or no coolness, however he may look when he plays, he would much rather be doing this than selling shoes.
“The thing I really enjoy about the game,” Schmidt says, “is the constant challenge of hitting a line drive. It looks so easy, and it comes so easy sometimes, but technically it’s the most difficult thing to do successfully in sports. There’s so many variables against the hitter. To me, that’s what makes the game so challenging.
“I guess there are some other things that have worn off when you get to be 30 years old. Aw, I guess I really shouldn’t even say tat. I’m not crazy about the bus trips in spring training. And the travel in general in baseball gets a little monotonous.
“But my overall attitude about the game is, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, doing any other thing, at this point in my life.”
The problem, perhaps, in judging Mike Schmidt is that for years we have been concerned with what Mike Schmidt could be instead of accepting him for what he is. And a lot of that, to be sure, is Mike Schmidt’s fault.
If he wouldn’t have these 10-homers-in-two-weeks streaks, if he wouldn’t talk of hitting .300, it would be easier to accept those times when it seems as if ne never hits in the clutch or as if the only thing he is doing offensively is walking.
Schmidt admits that when he is hot, he gets so hot that “people tend to get a little spoiled, including myself. I’m one of the people who gets spoiled.”
He also admits he had dangled the .300 goal in front of people for enough years to get them convinced he should do it.
“I’ve hit .300 for two months,” he says. “Why can’t I do it for six months?”
All this talk made “potential” the word inevitably used when people discussed Mike Schmidt. And Schmidt was as at fault as anybody.
But this spring has been different. Mike Schmidt has finally taken stock of himself. He talks of hitting 40 homers now, not of batting .300. He is accepting himself for the way he is, not the way he has fantasized he could be.
“All it is,” he says, “is a more realistic approach to my batting style. Over the last six years I sort of sense a pattern that leads me to believe I have a swing that just isn’t suited to hitting for a high average.”
But what it also is, says Owens, is maturity.
“If he doesn’t hit .300, I don’t think it will bother him as much now as four of five years ago,” Owens says. “I think he realizes his role with the club. I know I’d rather have him hit .265 with 45 homers than .300 hitting 25 homers.”
It is more a new attitude than a new swing. But Schmidt went down to Florida this spring and crushed seven homers in 13 games. And it was the way he hit them that made you notice.
He muscled two balls out to right field on pitches he was merely trying to fight off. He didn’t hit a home run to right last season until July 8.
There were the two Rockets. One came off the Mets Juan Berenguer in St. Petersburg, a 450-foot monster that went over the fence in left and landed in a parking lot across the street. The other was a similar shot off Ron Guidry in Fort Lauderdale that surely came down in Pompano.
“I’ve got no reason to believe I’m not stronger,” he says. “I weigh more (about 10 pounds). I worked out this winter more than I ever did. And I’ve been hitting the ball harder than I’ve ever hit the ball in my life. So I must be stronger. One big sign is, I can lift more weight.
“And the more strength you have, it’s got to mean your bat speed’s a little quicker. Maybe those balls, dropping over the right field fence are a result of strength. Some of it is a result of wind, too, I think.
“If I could just get the ball to travel five or 10 feet farther – I’m talking those fly balls their land close to the fence – maybe I could turn a few into home runs.”
You wouldn’t find Vegas taking odds that Schmidt would duplicate last year’s numbers (45 homers, 114 RBIs, 109 runs), even if there wasn’t a strike looming. But on the other hand, if this new approach is for real, and if this new strength does mean another 10 feet on those fly balls, and if a healthy Greg Luzinski hits behind him, it becomes hard to say what Mike Schmidt is capable of achieving.
Schmidt knows, however, what he would like to achieve. And it has nothing to do with catching Babe Ruth, winning another Gold Glove or hitting six more homers off Tony Brizzolara.
“What hurts me is that this team hasn’t been in a World Series,” Schmidt says. “Achievement to me is when you look back at your career and talk about the great teams you were on, the great experiences you had winning as a team. These are the things that are important to you. And I haven’t experienced that to the maximum yet.”
Six-inch errors, six-cent fines and baseball
By Tom Peters
Before the start of the 1893 season, the distance from the pitcher's mound to home plate was changed from 50 feet to 60 feet, 6 inches. However, the distance was supposed to have been only 60 feet. Batters received the extra half-foot advantage courtesy of a surveyor who misread the blueprints. That was also the year flat-sided bats were banned.
Jackie Robinson, who joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, is generally acknowledged as the first black player in baseball. Some purists feel that recognition should go to Moses (Fleet) Walker, a catcher for Toledo of the American Association, a rival league to the National League. During 1894 Walker played in 41 games and batted .251.
In 1875, first baseman Charles C. Waite of the National Association's Boston team became the first player to use a glove. Since it was considered effeminate in those days to wear a glove or protective equipment, Waite dyed his glove flesh-colored so it wouldn't be so conspicuous.
In 1975, Topps Chewing Gum held its first bubble-gum blowing contest among major league baseball players. The winner was Kurt Bevacqua of the Milwaukee Brewers. That spring, Topps officials reviewed Bevacqua's record from the previous year and decided he wouldn't be a major leaguer that season. Topps failed to issue a baseball card for Bevacqua.
In 1882, Richard Higham, an umpire for the National League for two seasons, was suspected of telling gamblers how to bet on games he was officiating. Eventually his guilt was established when several incriminating letters were discovered, and handwriting experts proved it was his writing. Higham thus became the first, and to date, the last, baseball umpire to be banned for dishonesty.
During a game between Baltimore and Boston in May of 1894, fiesty John McGraw, then a third baseman with Baltimore, became involved in a punching match with Boston's Thomas (Foghorn) Tucker. Players from both benches streamed from the dugout and began a spirited melee. Soon fighting broke out in the stands, and in the midst of the fray someone set fire to the stands. By the time the free-for-all ended and the fire was doused, the ballpark resembled an ashtray, and more than 170 buildings had been damaged or destroyed. Ten years later, when McGraw managed the New York Giants to the National League pennant and Boston won in the American League, McGraw's bitterness over the incident was still so strong that he refused to allow his team to play Boston in the World Series.
In 1977, inventor and baseball fan Joe Martino of Brooklyn designed a training bat with a hole in the "fat part" of the bat. Martino felt that if a player swung and had the ball pass through the hole it would indicate to the batter that he had made perfect contact. Neither players nor officials fell over each other to take advantage of the invention.
During the first official baseball game played in the United States between the "New York Nine" and the Knickerbockers on June 19, 1846, a New York player named Davis was fined six cents for swearing at the umpire.
During the early 1970s, Charlie Finley suggested that yellow baseballs be used. The other owners – perhaps because the suggestion was made by the maverick Finley – quickly killed the idea. However, nearly 50 years earlier, an experimental yellow baseball was used in a professional game between Milwaukee and Louisville of the American Association on Aug. 28, 1928. It was felt that with thousands of white shirts in the bleachers, the batters could follow the ball better. Although the game was played without mishap, and it was found that yellow baseballs were less easily discolored, tradition triumphed and both National and American League owners quickly dropped the experiment.
During his entire career, Willie Mays always wore the number 24. However, when he was traded to the New York Mets in 1972, Jim Beauchamp was already assigned that number. Guess which Met was asked to change his uniform number after the arrival of Mays?
In a game scheduled between the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Athletics on May 18, 1912, Ty Cobb was barred from playing after he was suspended for climbing into the stands to practice his own sort of justice on a heckler. Cobb's teammates decided if he couldn't play, then neither would they. Detroit manager Hugh Jennings, after discovering that he could be fined $5,000 if he failed to field a team, hired a team from St. Joseph's College to play. The collegians wished they had gone to the library instead, suffering an embarrassing 24-2 loss. All of the Athletics runs were charged to unfortunate Aloysius Travers and established an all-time single-game record that still stands. However, on the brighter side, St. Joseph's catcher Ed Irwin collected two triples in three times at bat and thus enjoys a lifetime batting average of .667.
The Cleveland Indians have the best geographic location in baseball, traveling only about 19,000 miles a year. Atlantic Coast teams must travel as much as 30,000 miles a year, while Pacific Coast teams must travel as. much as 40,000 to 45,000 miles a year.
This year the bookmakers may wait for the outcome of the World Series before they make a line on this year's presidential election. Since 1940 (with the exception of 1948), the Democrats won whenever the National League won, and a Republican was elected whenever the American League won the World Series.
The official weight and size of a major league baseball (5-5'4 ounces, 9-9V4 inches in diameter) have not been altered since the standards were set in 1872.
The 1980 rookie to watch is Detroit’s Kirk Gibson
By Frank Dolson, Inquirer Sports Editor
The Dodgers have an outfielder named Rudy Law. "He reminds me of a young Willie Davis," Tommy Lasorda says.
The Twins have a relief pitcher named Doug Corbett. "I think he's going to be as good or better than Jack Baldschun," Gene Mauch says.
The Phillies, so reluctant to give youth a chance during the Ozark years, have a flock of them ready to move into the Vet this spring. There's Lonnie Smith, an outfielder with speed to burn, and Keith Moreland, a catcher with a burning desire to succeed and a bat that makes it almost a cinch he will succeed. Luis Aguayo, a utility infielder, has made the team, and so have two kids fresh out of Double A – pitcher Scott Munninghoff and lefthanded hitting outfielder George Vukovich, who wasn't even on the 40-man roster when spring training began. In addition, there's every reason to believe that Jim Wright, the super pitching prospect who broke his arm a year ago, will make it to the big club before the '80 season runs its course.
Although the spring strike made it tough for some new faces to win jobs, this should be a big year for rookies. Some of them may have to go back to Triple A for a while, but by the time the big league races heat up we should be hearing plenty of new names. There's Leon (Bull) Durham, a lefthanded hitting outfielder the Cards think can't miss, and Danny Boitano, a righthanded reliever who didn't make it with the Phillies but could be just what the Milwaukee Brewers needed.
The list of good-looking rookies goes on and on... but one name stands out in bold relief.
Kirk Gibson is better known as a Big 10 football player than as a professional baseball player. Truth is, nobody knows exactly how good a baseball player he is. But the Detroit Tigers have decided to find out.
In what rates as one of the most fascinating experiments of this or any year, Tiger manager Sparky Anderson has decided to throw Gibson – a .245 hitter in Triple A last year – into the deep, big league water to find out if he can swim. Forget Gibson's minor league stats. Forget those 110 strikeouts in 327 at-bats in Evansville, or the terrible time he had making contact in spring training of 79. Forget his very limited baseball background and the fact he hit .237 in 12 games for the Tigers last September.
Instead, take a look at the kid and you'll understand why Anderson is drooling... and dreaming. He's 6 feet, 3 inches, 210 pounds with wide shoulders and a slim waist and absolutely awesome speed. Kirk Gibson is an athlete; no doubt about that. The Tigers are waiting eagerly to find out if he's a baseball player.
"Only thing I can tell you is, he might be as good an athlete as we've ever looked at," Anderson said. "How good a baseball player is he going to be? I don't know. I do not know."
But Sparky should have an interesting time finding out. "Here's a boy who was up 21 times i last spring and struck out, I think, 18 times," the manager said. "The other three times he hit home runs."
"He could be horrible and he could be good," replied Sparky, covering a wide range of possibilities. "He's got a chance to be horrible. He's going to make a lot of mistakes."
But he's going to play against right-handed pitching and bat No. 2, Anderson said, no matter how tough a time he has as long as doesn't let the pressure of playing in the big league spotlight get to him.
"He's 23 years old," Sparky said. "He played in that Big 10 (for Michigan State). He was all-America in football. I think he's man enough. Like I told him, I said, 'You're going to have a lot of obstacles. If you can't handle them, I'll get your butt out of here. Believe me I will. And it will not be your batting average. It will be how you react. If you're going to put your head between your legs and cry, you're gone. If you're going to keep your head high and be a professional, I'm going all the way with you.' "
It's a daring gamble, one that could easily backfire. The kid could cost the Tigers a lot of ball games. His confidence could be shattered. But Sparky Anderson prefers not to look at it that way. "We were in fifth place last year," he said. "If we can't take a chance...."
So they're taking it in the hope that force feeding turns Kirk Gibson into the star they feel certain he can become.
"I believe he's the only one who can make us eventual winners," Anderson said. "To me, he's a lot like Bill Walton and Jabbar. I think he's going to turn the franchise around for us…. I've never had a player in my life that could run like this, and I had some players that could run."
At his best, there's no telling how exciting Gibson can be. Facing the Phillies' Triple A Oklahoma City farm in the American Association championship playoffs last season, he played some of his best baseball of the year a fact that surely encouraged the Tigers to do what they're doing.
"He's going to have it rough now," Sparky cautioned. "It'll shock me if he doesn't have a rough time. But if we can just get him through the season and he keeps his head up and he makes contact with the ball I'll be pleased. I'll go with him as long as he doesn't quit on me."
Gibson, after all, has that rare combination of great speed and power. Now if he can only harness those God-given talents….
"Me and (Oriole manager) Earl Weaver talked about it," Anderson said. "Earl described it best. He said, 'In three years he'll either be a star and people will be packing stadiums to see him. or he'll be home crying to mama.'"
‘The Family’ is looking for an encore
By Dan Donovan, Pittsburg Press
The Family is tack, with a few divorces and adoptions, and eager to disco through another season.
Brash, confident, noisy, the Pirates pride themselves on having fun in the clubhouse.
"They say 'play ball' not 'work ball' " says Willie Stargell.
Last year was the most fun of all as the Pirates boogied through to World Series championship.
In a way, the Pirates are their clubhouse, a noisy mixture of players from different economic, social and cultural backgrounds, many of whom never fit in elsewhere.
Bill Madlock's .320 lifetime batting average is the highest anywhere outside Rod Carew, but he's been traded three times because he has the audacity to say what he thinks.
Tim Foli's legendary temper, triggered by a will to win, has made him a bad apple elsewhere. But he is the apple of the Pirates' eye. He still has a tendency to act like a playing manager, but the players accept it, and call him "manager" to his face.
Bert Blyleven has been known as a selfish pitcher, concerned only with his game on the mound. But the Pirates accept that as "well, that's Bert," and enjoy the hundred of scoreless innings he pitches every year.
And then there's Dave Parker, always a Pirate, but whose braggart manner wouldn't fit in everywhere. He daily tells his teammates they are worthless without him, yet in many ways he is considered a motivator who excites the team.
Willie Stargell is the stabilizer. Through turmoil and trouble, Stargell is there, displaying and preaching the patience, of a saint.
Chuck Tanner is the perfect manager for this motley crew. He lets the players run the clubhouse and worries only about what they do between white lines.
"The only rule we have," said Kent Tekulve, "is there are no rules."
Yet pennants aren't won only with attitude. The Pirates have talent, too. "The Pirates are the most talented team in baseball," Parker says simply, without qualification. "Some team may have as good a starting lineup, but maybe they don't have the pitching or the depth we have. To win, we have to play up to our capabilities and avoid injury."
The traditional Pirate hitting is there. Madlock (.320) and Parker (.317) have the two highest lifetime batting averages in the National League. Both have good power and are basically doubles hitters.
Madlock usually hits around 15 home runs, Parker around 25, and both are potential 100 RBI men.
With power hitters Stargell, Bill Robinson and John Milner in the lineup, the Pirates finished behind only Los Angeles for the National League home run title last year. It's funny, though, manager Tanner almost despises the home run.
"Home runs are nice," Tanner said, "but I'd rather hit the ball and run like heck."
The Pirates do have a lot of speed, with two-time National League base-stealing champion Omar Moreno leading the way.
If he hits .300, Moreno will probably steal 100 bases. Parker, Madlock and Phil Garner all have stolen 25 bases in a season and Tanner likes to mix in one ingredient – unpredictability.
The Pirates have strong bench men in Lee Lacy, Manny Sanguillen and Mike Easier and their overall hitting strength is demonstrated by Garner.
Even though he batted .293 last year, .417 in the playoffs and .500 in the World Series, most days Garner will bat ninth.
Many pin the Pirates' hopes on Stargell, who is 39, figuring he will have to match his 32-home run season for the Pirates to win again.
But even if Stargell does tail off, the Pirates have enough hitting to win. The pitching staff will be a bigger key.
The Pirates used and re-used a lot of arms very successfully last year.
The guy who pitched in 94 games to lead the National League last year was Kent Tekulve. Second with 84 appearances was Enrique Romo. Third with 72 appearances was Grant Jackson.
"They pitched so much because they did such a good job," says Pirates pitching coach Harvey Haddix. "We weren't afraid to use any one of them."
Tekulve had 10 wins and 31 saves, lefthander Jackson, 8 wins and 14 saves and Romo, 10 wins and 5 saves.
Part of their heavy workload was the "team pitching concept" Tanner embraces, and part was the disheveled state of the starting pitching. Only Blyleven (12-5) went start to finish without a serious injury and, with 20 no-decisions and a career-high 3.61 earned run average, Blyleven had a lukewarm season.
"Every day," Haddix said, "it was, 'Can you pitch?' How about you? Well you then."
Yet the Pirates won, partly because of a 14-9 John Candelaria season that included eight complete games. And partly because late-blooming Jim Bibby, 35, entered the starting rotation July 10 and finished 12-4.
The 1980 season looks like cut and paste again, with shoulder operations making both Don Robinson and Rick Rhoden questionable and Bruce Kison gone as a free agent.
Two suspect newcomers, Andy Hassler and Eddie Solomon, will have to come through. Or maybe Jim Rooker can rebound from a 4-7 season.
The Pirate defense is underrated. Two of the top four vote-getters in the Gold Glove balloting, Parker and Moreno, patrol the outfield.
Garner at second, Foli at short and Madlock at third have stabilized the defense. Even though Ed Ott is only in his third year of catching and Steve Nicosia was a rookie, statistically the Pirates were one of the best teams in catching defense last year.
The Pirates will be contenders all right. Whether they win or not, well, we'll see.
But you can be sure they'll plunge straight ahead, stereos blaring, a family dancing, right through the final game.
The NL East looks loaded… West is Weak
By Frank Dolson, Inquirer Sports Editor
A year ago, the Phillies had that can't-lose look about them. Pete Rose and Manny Trillo had been added to a team that won three straight National League East championships. The only question seemed to be when to put World Series tickets on sale.
"I can honestly say that when we finished the Trillo deal and the Rose thing, I really thought in my mind we had just about as good a club as you can put together," Phillies general manager Paul Owens said.
But a sad thing happened on the way to the World Series; the team many observers considered the finest in Phillies' history finished a forlorn fourth, erasing a 24-10 start with a 60-68 finish.
Not even an outstanding year by Rose, who at age 38 hit .331 his highest average since 1973 and his fourth highest average of all time could save the Phillies from tumbling out of contention. Not even a spectacular comeback by Mike Schmidt, who followed up his 21-homer, 78-RBI disappointment of 78 with a 45-homer, 114-RBI binge in 79, could save Danny Ozark's managing job.
So now it's 1980. The Phillies have a new manager, new hopes and pretty much the same club that flopped so dismally in 79. This time around the Phillies arent saddled with the "team-to-beat" tag that haunted them during last season's collapse. The Pittsburgh Pirates are the team to beat, and the Montreal Expos, who chased them down to the wire a year ago, and the rejuvenated St. Louis Cardinals, are generally given as good a chance as the Phillies to lead the chase.
Still, the Phillies' front office remains convinced that ths "best-ever Phillies team" so painstakingly and lovingly put together by Owens is good enough to do in '80 what it failed to do in 79: give Philadelphia baseball fans the chance to see a World Series game in Philadelphia for the first time since the 1950 Phillies lost four straight to the Yankees.
"I still feel this club can do it," Owens said as spring training began. "But I think they have to understand, this is a big year for them."
His meaning was clear. One bad season had been forgiven. Two bad seasons would not be forgiven.
For many of the Phillies it's either play on a winner this year or play elsewhere next year.
"There's more pressure on us this year than ever since I've been playing here," shortstop Larry Bowa said. "They have all but said, 'OK, you guys, this is it. If you don't win it this year, adios.' They're saying, 'Let's give it one more shot,' and I think the guys realize his. It's like a final hurrah for us – not in the big leagues, but with the Philadelphia Phillies."
The tough part about it is that the competition, which didn't look all that menacing in the spring of 79 looks extremely menacing now. The Pirates didn't have Tim Foli and Bill Madlock a year ago at this time; the Phillies don't need to be reminded of the difference they made.
Then there are the Expos, who earned genuine contender's status by giving the Pirates a long, hard run for the money in 79 and adding outfielder Ron Leflore in '80. And the Cardinals, who won 86 games in 79, own two of the brightest young stars in the National League – Garry Templeton and Keith Hernandez – and added a badly needed power threat in the much traveled Bobby Bonds.
Even if the Mets are still in the National League East, it's a tough division now, and a three-way, or even a four-way dogfight looms.
The National League West doesn't look that good, although the suggestion that it's inferior is enough to rile Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda.
"I think one thing the West has done this year," said Lasorda, "is that every team has gone out and improved itself – with the exception of Cincinnati. Cincinnati is the only one that didn't get players, and they lost (Joe) Morgan and (Fred) Norman."
It may not take a great number of victories to be the best in the West in the National League this season. All the contenders are loaded with question marks.
The Dodgers' pitching appears shaky. The Reds, as Lasorda indicated, may be on the way down. And then there's the Houston Astros, who made their first big bid a year ago, then went out and invested a bundle in righthanded flamethrower Nolan Ryan in the free agent market.
"Pitching is the name of the game," said Lasorda, "and you look at the pitching staff that can happen to you in Houston."
What can happen to visiting batters this year in Houston's Astrodome, always a pitcher's park, is downright frightening. Imagine the prospect of facing J. R. Richard and Ryan back-to-back, and without even the hope of a rainout.
But the Astros are no shoo-ins, either. Ryan, for all his glitter and all his gold has never been a consistently big winner in the majors. And besides, the visiting teams may not be the only ones that have trouble scoring runs in the Astrodome.
So it's wide open in both divisions, with at least seven clubs four in the East, three in the West harboring reasonable expectations of finishing on top. Let's take a closer look.
Cardinals – "The two best, young players I saw last year were Keith Hernandez and Garry Templeton," said Frank Cashen, the new boss of the Mets. "If I were starting a team I think I'd start right there."
Well, Cashen is starting a team, for all intents and purpos, but he can't start there because the Cardinals already have. Following a woeful ‘78, they returned to respectability in ‘79 and could, with some unexpected help in the pitching department, be serious contenders in ‘80.
Certainly, the team on the field ranks up there with the best. With Bonds on hand, some of the long-ball pressure will be taken off Ted Simmons, who was having an all-star year until he was injured last season.
But pitching – the problem area for so many teams – poses a threat to the success of this team, too. In particular, the bullpen is iffy. Hard-throwing righthander Mark Littell went 94 with 13 saves and a 2.20 ERA in ‘79, but he needs a lot more help than he got. The Cards let too many games get away in the late innings last year; they cant afford to let that happen again.
Phillies – Greg Luzinski looks great. Mike Schmidt looks awesome. Pete Rose looks like Pete Rose. The Phillies could be every bit as good in ‘80 as the front office, and the fans, and the players themselves thought they would be in ‘79 if the pitching is good enough.
But is it? Paul Owens and Dallas Green wish they knew.
"I'll tell you," Owens said during spring training, "if we get these guys healthy we're liable to come out of here with a pitching staff that could fool somebody. Of course, with one or two bad, breaks, we could come out with a pitching staff that's maybe a little short, too."
There were positive signs this spring. Steve Carlton looked good. The bullpen appeared improved, with the addition of Lerrin Lagrow a definite plus.
But there were troubling signs, too. Nino Espinosa had shoulder problems. Dick Ruthven was sound, but he wasn't pitching all that effectively. Larry Christenson, out much of last season, lost some time when he got clobbered by a line drive. Randy. Lerch continued to be a pitcher with the stuff to be a big winner who hadn't learned how to put it all together.
No doubt about it, this is a club good enough to win, even good enough to win by a comfortable margin – if the pitching staff falls into place instead of falling apart.
Pirates – Dave Parker had an off year last year; he hit "only" .310 with 25 homers and 94 RBls. Willie Stargell, who was supposed to be nearing the end of the road a few years ago, had a vintage, co-MVP-caliber year, and now nobody seems to be worried about the fact he's 39.
The infield, so shaky before," was glued together last year by the acquisition of Foli and Madlock. "Getting Foli and Madlock and moving (Phil) Garner over to second, that was the capper," Montreal manager Dick Williams said. "They're sound. To me, they have about eight most valuable players on that club – Foli and Madlock along with Stargell and Parker and Garner, and every time 'we turned around and threw a lefthander at them (Bill) Robinson hit one nine miles...."
And practically every time the Pirates had a lead in the late innings, which was often, in from the bullpen came Kent Tekulve to protect it. The beanpole righthander appeared in 94 regular-season games last year, not to mention seven postseason games, to head a relief corps that included Enrique Romo (84 appearances) and lefty Grant Jackson (72). And they're all back.
No wonder Chuck Tanner is still talking like a manager who expects to be in the October spotlight. But that smile, that unbridled optimism hides a few pitching problems of his own. Some of those arms that carried Pittsburgh to the top last season were sore along the way; Don Robinson's was sore again this spring. As good as they looked in 79, and as strong as they appear on paper in '80, the Pirates are vulnerable.
Expos – Everybody's jumping on the Montreal bandwagon now, and with some justification. After all, the Expos – snarling at Dick Williams all the way – fought the Pirates down to the final weekend before bowing out in 79.
"We're right there," Williams said this spring. "We want this year, and with Leflore's acquisition our players feel we can get. it. He gives us a totally new dimension."
Leflore can hit, and he can run – 294 stolen bases in 5½ seasons. But to get that new dimension the Expos had to give up lefthander Dan Schatzeder. And they also lost veteran lefty Rudy May via the free agent route. Williams, too, could face serious pitching problems before the year ends.
Cubs – They're not good enough to win it all, but they are good enough to stay close as long as Bruce Sutter, the $700,000 relief ace, can raise his right arm.
Offensively, the Cubs are led by Dave Kingman, who had a 48-homer, 115-RBI year in ‘79, but was last seen sulking through Arizona, taking called strikes in exhibition games without so much as threatening to swing, after the Cubs refused to reward him for his big season.
Mets – They're trying to rebuild the image at Shea, calling the '80 Mets "The People's Team." Presumably that's based on the theory that if you stopped a group of people at random on the street you could come up with a team that would finish just as high in the standings.
The Mets will get better under their new owners, but don't look for it to happen this year.
Dodgers – Might be the best of a shaky lot, but if you think the Phillies have pitching question marks, you ought to check out the Dodgers. As spring training ended their top three starters appeared to be free-agent pickup Dave Goltz (14-13 at Minnesota), Burt Hooton (11-10), and Rick Sutcliffe (17-10). After that, Lasorda may have to do it with mirrors, choosing among veteran Don Sutton, a pitcher the Dodgers tried to peddle to the Yankees; knuckleballer Charlie Hough, a long-time bullpen occupant; struggling Bob Welch, who has gone steadily downhill since striking out Reggie Jackson with the bases full to wrap up the second game of the 78 World Series, and lefty Jerry Reuss, the ex-Pirate who was 7-14 in ‘79.
Astros – They could use a right-handed hitter or two; in fact, they could use any hitter with the ability to drive a ball over the fence. But with Richard, Ryan, Joe Niekro (21-11), Joaquin Andujar and Ken Forsch as starters and lefty Joe Sambito (1.78 ERA, 22 saves) in the bullpen, the Astros are strong where it matters the most. This could be Houston's year. Certainly, the West is ready to be won.
Reds – The old gang is almost all gone now. Pete Rose is a Phillie. Tony Perez is a Red Sox. Joe Morgan is an Astro. What's left? Well, Johnny Bench, still one of the game's most respected catchers and dangerous hitters; George Foster, now an established slugging superstar; David Concepcion, one of the game's premier shortstops, and the likes of Ken Griffey, Ray Knight, Dan Driessen and Dave Collins.
Not bad, but not quite the old Reds, either. And the pitching staff, led by a 35-year-old Tom Seaver, isn't going to frighten anybody.
Giants – Things have to get better out there; they can't get much worse than the disaster that was 1979. A return to winning form by Vida Blue (14-14) would help manager Dave Bristol climb in the standings. And John (the Count) Montefusco has to do better than 3-8.
The Giants have some clout. Jack Clark hit 26 homers, Mike Ivie hit 27. But any team that will spend a fortune to sign a free agent, Rennie Stennett, who hit .238 the year before, has to have problems.
Braves – One of these years the Braves are going to start moving up; maybe this is the year.
The Braves have one of the most impressive, young power hitters in the game, Bob Horner (33 homers, 98 RBIs), and Gary Matthews (27 HRs, 90 RBIs). To that one-two punch they've added ex-Yankee Chris Chambliss, a solid hitter and a first-class first baseman.
Padres – Any club that has Dave Winfield can't be all bad. On the other hand, any club that goes to the radio booth to find a manager (Jerry Coleman) can't be all good.
The odds from Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS – The world champion Pittsburgh Pirates and the Houston Astros are co-favorites to win the 1980 National League baseball pennant, according to preseason odds posted by the Castaways Hotel Casino and Sports Book. The Pirates and Astros are listed at 3-1. The Montreal Expos are 7-2 and the Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers are 4-1.
In the American League, the California Angels and the New York Yankees are listed as co-favorites at 5-2 odds. The defending American League champion Baltimore Orioles and the Kansas City Royals are 4-1.
Here are the preseason odds on each major league team:
National League: Pirates, 3-1; Astros, 3-1; Expos, 7-2; Dodgers, 4-1; Phillies, 4-1; Cincinnati Reds, 11-2; St. Louis Cardinals, 9-1; San Francisco Giants, 25-1; Chicago Cubs, 45-1; San Diego Padres, 80-1; Atlanta Braves, 125-1, and the New York Mets, 500-1.
American League: Angels, 5-2; Yankees, 5-2; Orioles, 4-1; Royals, 4-1; Milwaukee Brewers, 9-2; Boston Red Sox, 6-1; Texas Rangers, 6-1; Detroit Tigers, 20-1; Minnesota Twins, 35-1; Chicago White Sox, 65-1; Cleveland Indians, 100-1; Oakland A's, 350-1; Seattle Mariners, 500-1, and the Toronto Blue Jays, 550-1.
The Phanatic returns, and with a contract, yet
By Cheryl Gordon, Special to The Inquirer
The Phillie Phanatic would like to clear up a rumor. He is not Dave Raymond, 24, the Delaware graduate who has a degree in physical education.
Consequently, Dave Raymond would like to clarify a myth. He is not the Phillie Phanatic.
“I finally got that straight in my mind," Raymond said. "I don't feel combined any more. I'm not half him and half me. I know him as well as everyone else does, maybe a little bit more, and I am one of his greatest fans. I laugh when I see film reels of him."
Raymond may refer to the green fuzzy creature who charms audiences at the Vet in the third person, but he is quick to admit the Phanatic is his bread and butter. It's such a lucrative venture it's worth getting a little schizophrenic over.
The Phillies organization has, for the first time, signed the Phanatic to a one-year contract, but Raymond would rather not disclose the financial details. The contract commits him to 200 personal appearances and 80 home games; anything else he does is gravy.
The gravy hasn’t been bad so far. Being the Phanatic gave Raymond the chance to go to Japan during the off-season for the American League- National League all-star series, which involved an all-expense-paid agreement plus a surprise $1,000 bonus and a chance to see the Japan countryside.
The trip also gave the Japanese baseball fans a glimpse of what Philadelphia fans have been enjoying for two years.
"They went crazy over the Phanatic over there. They laughed at things that weren't funny to Philadelphia fans anymore, things I'd forgotten were funny… they especially liked an imitation I had of Sumo wrestlers," Raymond said. "They had a presentation for the Phanatic and gave him a Samurai mask (the mask doesn't fit over the face of the Phanatic, but Raymond seems to think it might show up in one of the routines this summer)."
The Phanatic won the mascot selection over the San Diego Chicken because the Japanese audience is "very family-oriented" and the Chicken was considered "too offensive." The Chicken really wanted to go.
There was no communication gap for the Phanatic in Japan. There rarely is. Raymond attributes the success of the character partly to the costume's design. Yet, there are some other reasons why the Phanatic communicates so well. He hails from a family of communications experts.
His mother, Sue, has had impaired hearing since Dave was two years old and, although he says she could always hear him, he became something of an expert at communicating with body language.
"She had a rare disease that damaged the nerve in her ear," Raymond explained. The disease has reached its most advanced state now and she must wear two hearing aids.
"She's always been able to hear me," Raymond said, trying to disassociate the way he grew up from the way the Phanatic performs. But as he talks, he gestures with his hands and is animated in his facial expression.
He is proud of his mother. She has a degree in psychology and works as a sign interpreter and counselor for the community. Last year she was voted Deaf Woman of the Year in Delaware.
"You wouldn't believe the number of deaf people there are in this country," Raymond said. There are so many, there should be an interpreter in the right-hand corner of the television screen for every show, or at least sub-titles."
His father is Tubby Raymond, coach of the NCAA Division II champion University of Delaware football team. Dave has the utmost respect for his father and the way he communicates with his players and produces great teams and individuals.
All that aside, the main reason Raymond feels the Phanatic is such a good communicator is that the Phanatic is funny. His routines are compiled by teamwork, a joint effort between the people who run the scoreboard, the grounds crew, organist Paul Richardson and the promotions department.
Raymond said this year the Phanatic will debut on roller skates and eventually he will adapt to ice skates and skis. The fifth inning tackling of the grounds crew will be supplemented with dancing contests.
One day everyone will get a chance to be a Phanatic with his or her own Phanatic mask. The Phanatic will celebrate his second birthday party at the Vet on May 3, and for part of the celebration the mascot imitators will be back from last year's successful party.
"I don't know if I should tell you. this," Raymond said. "The Phanatic is not supposed to know because it's a surprise. He's going to get a vehicle for his birthday and Mt. Ephraim Dodge is giving him a new van this year. But it's supposed to be a secret."
It is no secret that the Phanatic is supposed to give more than he receives. He is not in the business of making money for the Phillies. Raymond said that the organization will be cutting back on Phanatic concessions because it is an expensive venture that the team can't break even on without passing the expense on to the fans.
"We're not in this thing to make money," Raymond said, explaining that the Phillies don't need to market the Phanatic. "As a promotion, he's priceless."
Raymond knows the Phillies will play baseball even when the Phanatic has become passé.
Yet, he's heard people mention the Phanatic and the Liberty Bell in the same breath. He was really happy when the Phillies auctioned off Philadelphia Phyllis and Phil. He knows the Phanatic has arrived and two years ago he thought he would only fill the Phanatic's pants for five years.
"Now, I'd be willing to stay with it as long as I can," Raymond said, even though he admits that the promotional traveling is wearing him down. "If I could snap my fingers and be in the suit at the stadium," he said "I wouldn't mind this job at all." There was a time last year he was averaging 100 miles a day on the road.
He also wouldn't mind if he could spend the bulk of his promotion time at hospitals and charity functions instead of the occasional appearances in the corporate scene.
Raymond has only been recognized once or twice while out of the green suit. He was standing on line at a ski resort when a man looking down at his skis saw his name and said, "Hey, aren't you the Phanatic?"
"That was the first time I thought about people knowing Dave Raymond," he said.
Not everyone has a positive feel for the Phanatic. Raymond's niece, Erin, calls her Phanatic doll 'Uncle Dasid' (she can't pronounce her V's very well) and she cried the first time she saw her uncle put on the suit in front of her.
Erin agrees with her uncle. Dave Raymond is not the Phanatic and the Phanatic is not Uncle Dasid.
The Vet scoreboard: a 132-ton plaything
By Cheryl Gordon, Special to The Inquirer
The yellow lettering outside red door 4-82 reads: "No admittance, authorized personnel only."
It should read, "Shhh, masterminds at work."
Behind the red door a team of experts have brought Veterans Stadium's Phillies fans the baseball race, Winking Willie Montanez, the Bull charge, clapping hands… more than 60 animations, not to mention thousands of messages.
It takes 3½hours to get the equipment humming and loaded up with enough statistics, quizzes and cartoons to keep the crowd happy.
Dennis Lehman is one of the masters of control. His normal front-office job is director of radio and publicity assistant. But for 81 games a year he sits behind one of two teletype keyboards flanked by gizmos and doodads, listening to piped-in crowd noise and keeping time with organist Paul Richardson.
Lehman is assisted in the climate-controlled computer room by Joanne Levy, who punches out the out-of-town scores and printed copy; David Montgomery; Dan Baker (public address system) and Chris Wheeler.
Together, with the assistance of three full-time, city-employed electricians, they make 19,292 40-watt bulbs do their thing. The board's dimensions are 25-by-200 feet and it weighs 132 tons. It is checked daily to see that all circuits are working. Walkie-talkie communication from the field to the board is a tedious process necessary for keeping the board in order.
Lehman estimates that in the last 10 years the board has been active, it has missed only 15 games. The longest shutdown was caused by an electrical storm. The scoreboard was out for two days. Heavy rain and lightning are the scoreboard's worst enemies.
This season, in addition to the scoreboard, a new backdrop will be unveiled in center field. An embroidered skyline of the city of Philadelphia will be surrounded by lightbulb fireworks when there is a Phillies' home run to celebrate. The backdrop is a new stadium concept used normally in the theater. It was designed and is being built by David Quigley from Elverson, Pa. Construction started in January.
The old cannon and Liberty Bell in left field have been replaced by this new backdrop. The dancing waters also have taken their last green spurts and gurgles. A new Liberty Bell has been put on the flag pole.
These aren't the only innovations people are talking about down at the Vet. Talk of adding instant replay to the scoreboard for a cost between $175,000 and $200,000 also are in progress. According to Lehman, the cost of instant replay can’t be passed on to the Philadelphia taxpayer, so whether it will be obtained will depend on negotiations between the Phillies and their advertising sponsors. Installation won't take place this season.
Lehman cautions that there still are many restrictions on the use of instant replay, but he sees one economical plus: "Animations are so expensive to have made," Lehman said, "with the video capability of instant replay it will be easier to work with video tape."
Meanwhile, they will have to stick with the original format. They've already updated the Phillies profiles, adding and subtracting traded players and compensating for winter-grown mustaches and beards and spring-training shaved faces.
"Everyone wants to see his or her name in lights," Lehman said. Careful screening keeps the phonies at bay. The scoreboard welcomes groups as part of the courtesy extended to group ticket holders. Birthday congratulations are paid for so you won't see many that aren't accurate.
Occasionally when the people behind the red door get "a little silly" the fans will see messages that read "Welcome Princess Grace," "Welcome Frank Sinatra," etc. These usually show up during rain delays to perk up the crowd's spirit. Generally, these people aren't in the audience. Lehman said that the Princess Grace welcome sign caused quite a furor and it might be a while before they pull that one again.
Fans occasionally write in with quiz ideas and they phone in frequently to find out in advance whether the upper or lower baseball is going to win in that evening's scoreboard race, which has become a feature event. Other than that, there isn't much feedback on the board unless it isn't working. There is a tendency for the fans to boo when things are messed up, but when the sign flashes "We're Back," the applause seems to generate as much electricity as the scoreboard itself.
The wit and wisdom of big league baseball
Mike Kilkenny, former Detroit pitcher, on the difference between pitching in the minors and the majors:
"If you make a mistake in Montgomery, it's a single. If you make a mistake in Toledo, it's a double. If you make a mistake in Baltimore, it's a home run."
Bob Gibson, former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher:
"Too many people think an athlete's life can be an open book. You're supposed to be an example. Why do I have to be an example for your kid? You be an example for your own kid."
Mayo Smith, former manager of the Detroit Tigers:
"Detroit fans don't know anything about baseball. They couldn't tell the difference between baseball players and Japanese aviators. "
Andy Armour, 11 year-old baseball fan, to a friend to whom he had just loaned a copy of Jim Bouton's "Ball Four":
"If you run across any words you don't understand, whatever you do dont ask your mother to explain them."
John (Beans) Reardon, former umpire, on receiving the Bill Klem Award at a Houston banquet:
"I'm very glad to receive the Klem Award, but I'll tell you the truth, Klem hated my guts and I hated his."
Ted Williams, then Washington Senators manager, reacting to Denny McLain's dousing of two Detroit sportswriters:
"Why didn’t I think of that?"
Tommy John, Yankees pitcher:
"When they operated on my arm I asked them to put in a Koufax fastball. They did, but it was a Mrs. Koufax fastball."
Angels shortstop Fred Patek, 5 feet, 4 inches tall, asked how it feels to be the smallest player in the major leagues:
"It feels a helluva lot better than being the smallest player in the minor leagues."
Sparky Anderson, then Cincinnati Reds manager, asked why his players don't sing the National Anthem:
"Most of us have such bad voices, we respect the National Anthem by not singing it."
Joe Garagiola, sportscaster and former Cardinals catcher:
"Everybody on the Cardinals used to fuss about Preacher Roe's spitball except Stan Musial. He'd say, 'What's the difference? I'll just hit the dry side of the ball.’”
Joe DiMaggio, asked why he was at Golden Gate racetrack the day the San Francisco Giants opened at home:
"Oh, just don't give a rap for baseball anymore. It's just too dull."
Paul Richards, former major-league player, manager and general manager, on the subject of baseball owners:
"The owners arent bad. They're dumb. (Players Association director) Marvin Miller thinks about tomorrow. They think about yesterday."
Don Drysdale, ex-Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher, now a California Angels broadcaster, on the transition from mound to microphone:
"Interviews were the hardest thing for me at first. I felt so damn funny asking players questions when I already knew the answers."
Mickey Lolich, whose turn at bat was interrupted when the President arrived at the opener and who thereupon took a third strike with the bases loaded:
"The next time the President messes up a rally, he'll have to bat."
Chuck Tanner, then manager of the Chicago White Sox, on whether his team liked the designated hitter:
"We had a meeting with Lee MacPhail, the new president of the American League, and he told us we liked it."
Willie Stargell, Pittsburgh slugger with more than 300 career homers, saying he is 10 behind Henry Aaron:
"Ten years, that is."
Sparky Anderson, then Cincinnati Reds manager, explaining why he likes the latest bubble-gum cards:
"They’ve taken my playing record off and put my managerial record on."
Billy Martin, then manager of the Texas Rangers, quoting the late Casey Stengel:
"The secret of managing a club is to keep the five guys who hate you away from the five who are undecided."
Bill Veeck, asked the first thing he would do if named commissioner of baseball:
This time Green will be doing it his way
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
For the Phillies, it has been a Dallas Green spring. He hung up his “We, Not I” banners. He posted his meticulous schedules covering every minute of every workout. He drilled major leaguers on nuts-and-bolts baseball from the first day to the last. He did things his way. And that, most definitely, it Dallas Green’s style. At age 45, he will manage his first big-league season. He will be loud. He will be forceful. No one ever will forget he is around. He was asked this spring to talk about his views on managing, on the media and on his baseball team.
Question: You said the first day that this was an extremely important camp for you personally. Have you established the kind of respect that you were after?
Answer: I guess you’d really be better off asking them. But if you ask me, I’d say yes. I’d have to say we accomplished what we set out to accomplish. And I did personally. I would say the players responded the way I expected them to respond. I truthfully didn’t expect anything different. All in all, I’ve prepared this team as good as we could get them under the circumstances. And I prepared them my way.
Q: Was there anything you wanted to accomplished this spring that you didn’t?
A: I don’t think the pitching is as complete as I would like to see it. But I still feel in my own mind, as a former pitcher and as a baseball man, that everything is going to be all right. I think the added 10 games this spring would have completed the type of thing I’m talking about. But I’m still saying as a baseball person we will work it out. It’s just not as complete as I would have liked it.
Q: You’re saying then that it might take some time into the season to work it out?
A: Right. But I think there are certain things we have accomplished on the positive side. I think (Dick) Ruthven knows in his own mind he no longer has problems, that he’s 100 percent healthy. (Larry) Christenson the same way. The bullpen question marks have been solved, in that (Warren) Brusstar is disabled and no longer counted on, and other guys are expected to handle his role. That takes some question marks out of the picture. And when you clear up those question marks or doubts, the pitchers feel better about it. I think Tug (McGraw) and Ronny (Reed) know exactly where they are, as do (Lerrin) LaGrow and (Kevin) Saucier. The two kids – (Dickie) Noles and (Scott) Munninghoff – are not real certain what’s going on right now. But basically, everyone knows his role, and that’s good.
Q: How comfortable do you feel about starting the season with this team? What will it have to do to win?
A: Stay healthy. And again, the pitching staff has to come and pitch like a capable pitching staff. We have to play baseball like we’re supposed to be able to play it with the abilities we have. We have a good baseball team. I’ve been talking about character all spring. If a team has character it will take you over the rough spots you know you’re going to have as a team, as a unit.
Q: How do you look at your division? Could you run down how your major competition looks to you?
A: Pittsburgh is still the team to beat. They’re the world champions. They’re a good ball team. They have good personnel. They’re capable to intimidating, capable to overcoming problems – and to the point where they can really scare you in the late innings or late in the season. Montreal is a young ball club that’s capable of winning. They have pretty good talent, but whether their youth will hold up over a full year I don’t know. Whether they can play any better than they did in 1979 I don’t know. St. Louis really has to be considered the dark horse, and maybe a good bet if they get any pitching. They can really hurt you offensively. But in my heart I just don’t know whether Pittsburgh and Montreal can play any better than they did in 1979. I honestly can say our club can and will. And I know 25 other guys who would probably say the same damn thing. You can’t tell me the Phillies are a fourth-place team.
Q: How would you compare your pitching staff with the other clubs in the division?
A: When we’re healthy, and doing things the way we’re capable of doing them, we’re as good a pitching staff as anybody. Dick Ruthven is a proven winner. Larry Christenson was a 19-game winner in the National League. Steve Carlton is a Cy Young Award winner. Randy Lerch has as much potential as anyone in the league. I think we can pitch with anyone when we’re sound.
Q: As a former pitcher, what can you contribute in terms of handling pitchers?
A: I think an understanding of pitchers, and pitchers’ frustrations, and pitchers’ idiosyncrasies can help. I think I know how to formulate and handle a 10-man pitching staff. And I think it takes 10 men on a pitching staff to be successful in the National League, assuming you don’t have a Tekulve or a Sutter. That certainly makes the job much, much easier. I think the pitchers will feel better about going out for Dallas Green than they would for Danny Ozark. That comes from some of the frustrations of the pitching staff that I’ve heard and I’ve seen from Danny – they felt Danny didn’t understand pitching, that he didn’t understand a pitcher.
Q: Could you elaborate? What is there about pitching that you understand that maybe Danny didn’t?
A: I go back again to the idiosyncrasies of pitching. They’re a different breed than the every-day baseball player. They’re the guy that starts everything. Nothing can happen until the pitcher throws the baseball. And as a consequence, there’s a lot of pressure and a lot of built-in frustrations, and apprehensions about whether you’ll be able to be successful. I think that’s especially true for the young guys. They start to wonder whether they can do a job. But even the older guy who goes out and struggles goes through some doubts about whether he can do a job. Only an ex-pitcher can understand the doubts you go through. I believe as a manager I can alleviate those doubts in a pitcher by whatever arsenal I have, that I’m going to be able to help them better than somebody who’s never been through it.
Q: You’ve seemed very comfortable being a manager. Has this come easy or has it been more difficult than you’ve made it look?
A: I think after the first few weeks of being back on the field, I got over the nervousness and the jitters I had in doing this, and then I became more comfortable. If I’ve seemed very comfortable running spring training, maybe it’s because I’ve been doing that for 10 years anyway as farm director, and really for 25 years, because I’ve been through 25 spring trainings. So this has been an easy part to handle for me. And also, I’m a guy who’s not afraid to talk to baseball players. And if you’re not afraid to talk to baseball players you have a better chance to selling yourself and your program. Where managers run into problems is when they try to jam things down people’s throats.
Q: You mentioned some nervousness. What were the things you were nervous about?
A: I don’t know whether it’s actually nervousness. I know my strengths and weaknesses, and I’m not afraid to admit these things to people. And I never have been. Not knowing the league as well as I would like to know the league bothers me a little bit in terms of directing a team. But I feel very comfortable having the coaches I have around me. Bobby Wine probable knows the league as well as anyone. Billy DeMars and Herm Starrette know our league. Lee Elia is a very solid baseball man, as are Ruben Amaro and Mike Ryan. I’ve got people around me who can pick my weaknesses up and will help me as a man and as manager. I’m not afraid to use people. I do not try to pretend I know everything there is about the game of baseball. I’m not afraid to do any job Paul Owens and Ruly Carpenter think I can handle and to do it my own way. It may not be the most tactful way at times, and it may not look like the best thing overall. But it’s me. It’s my personality, and I’m not going to change that personality just because I’m a major league manager. It’s gotten me to this point in my career, and I don’t believe in changing.
Q: What’s the part of managing you’ve liked the least?
A: I think the things that’s been hard for me to understand is the continued personality changes of guys from day to day, or whatever that may be. I’m not saying that the whole team’s personality changes every day. But to have set a goal in your mind and to work at that goal and then to see us lose it as a team and as individuals for a day or two or three days is something that’s beyond my apprehension. Sometimes I can’t understand it. It seems to me that if you say you want to accomplish something as a team and you go about working towards accomplishing the same goal, I can’t see why you should let some personal problems or something petty get in the way of that goal, if, in fact, you’ve committed yourselves. Seeing that is probable the most frustrating thing for me to understand. I have very little I know in the way of things I can do to change it. So all I can do is accept it and work with it.
Q: Let’s talk about your relationship with the press. For the first time, really, since you’ve been the manager, you took some heavy criticism over the Carlton running incident. Did that signify to you that maybe your grace period with the media is over?
A: No, I think it signifies a total lack of understanding on the part of the media for several things. Number one, the fact that any manager in the position I’m in has the right and prerogative, after doing the type of research I’ve done, to change his mind and to reflect that change on the field. I think the continued harping on Carlton, or whatever it is, by the media, is in fact unfair to me and to Steve Carlton. I’m not a grudge-holder. I don’t hold grudges against any media. They have the right to say what they want to say, but I expect understanding of some kind from your end of it. I’m not upset about going through a thing like that. I’m not ticked or anything else. In fact, you know that I told you guys in spring training that I would like to see this team looser with the press and the media. But it’s a very competitive thing. It’s a very deeply in-grained thing. It has happened over a period of years. I thought maybe I could do something about it, and I will continue to do what I can possibly do. But at the same time, it’s an individual thing between you and the players that will have to be worked out individually.
Q: How did you react to getting criticized? Is that something you worry about?
A: I don’t think anybody likes to get criticized. Do you? Constructive criticism I can accept. I don’t really care what you say about me personally if it’s true, No. 1, and if you’ve done your homework, No. 2. The thing that bugged me about the other incident was that there was a guy who didn’t do his homework. If homework is done by any of you guys and I’ve screwed up, I’ll be the first one to admit it. If I have screwed up and you guys have worked at your job like I have at mine, I accept that. But how can I handle criticism in the other cases? You have two million people you’re talking to. I don’t have anybody. In this position, I know I’m going to be criticized. I can handle criticism if it’s fair and if you’ve done your homework. I know I’m not going to always be right. I don’t care what you do, somewhere along in a 162-game season, I’m going to screw some guys up. I’m going to screw up some guys individually. I know it’s going to happen. And if it happens too many times, I’m not going to be around very long. I’ll admit the mistakes I’ll make. I can’t be perfect for 162 games. You never can please everybody.
Q: Your problems with Larry Bowa and Garry Maddox received a lot of attention last year. How well do you think you’ve been able to bridge the gap with them this spring?
A: I think they’re still trying to understand me. I think I’m still going through a test periods in their minds. I think both those guys were searching for something that maybe I didn’t explain totally or give them those 30 days. I think Bowa learned some things about me over the winter time. My association with Garry over the winter was not as close as it was with Bowa. I think Bowa came here more open-minded about this thing, because Garry was having his own personal problems, with his contract and all that. I think what it came down to was maybe a lack of understanding of where I was coming from, of what Dallas Green is all about. I think they can hear me a little better in spring training. I’ve had three or four good conversations with them, one-on-one things. And that has helped that understanding. I think, all and all, what I’m saying is that I think that one my side there never have been any qualms about my association with them. I think they can understand I’m doing no more than what they say they want to do. They want to win. I want to win. That’s all I’m trying to do.
Q: If you had one wish, would it be a Greg Luzinski-type season from Greg Luzinski?
A: If I had one wish? My one wish is that we’d win a world championship. You asked me one wish. That would be it.
What if there is no World Series?
By Frank Dolson, Inquirer Sports Editor
We are starting a baseball season that may never be finished, a season that could end on May 22, some five months ahead of schedule.
No doubt this country could learn to live without big league baseball in June, July, August and September. But no big league baseball in October? No World Series?
That possibility – however remote – is almost beyond comprehension. An Olympic boycott we might be able to understand. Runaway inflation we might be able to endure. A baseball strike in April we might be able to tolerate. But an October without a World Series? The thought is shattering.
Take away the World Series and you’ve taken away a part of Americana, a piece of every American’s youth. If they don’t use Roman numerals to designate World Series the way the pro football people do for Super Bowls, that’s only because they haven’t found anybody who can count that high in Roman numerals.
The Super Bowl is a baby compared with the Series. For more than three-quarters of a century a nation’s thoughts have turned to baseball in October.
Surely, no matter who you are, whether you like baseball or not, World Series time brings back memories.
It’s being a kid in grade school and rushing home at 3 o’clock to hear the last few innings on the radio. Whoa. Slow down. It isn’t necessary to run. The play-by-play is blaring out of practically every open window along the way.
It’s being a freshman at Penn in 1950, the year the Phillies played the Yankees, and having an industry professor who lived and died with Robbie and Curt, with Ennis and Ashburn. He had a radio in a desk drawer, and every couple of minutes he’s check the score. If the news was bad, if the Yankees were rallying, look out. No telling how tough he’d make the next quiz.
The World Series is so many things to so many people.
It’s standing in line in the early morning hours at old Yankee Stadium in the ‘50s to see the Yankees play the Dodgers. It’s sitting in your living room listening to Red Barber and Mel Allen bring a game to life with words. It’s poring over the office pool, figuring out how many runs you need to win. It’s an entire week when the country thinks, talks, lives, breathes, argues baseball.
What’s the World Series? It’s Grover Cleveland Alexander strolling – some say staggering – in from the bullpen in ’26 to strike out Tony Lazzeri with the bases loaded in the seventh inning to protect a one-run, seventh-game Cardinal lead. It’s the Philadelphia A’s, trailing by eight runs, scoring 10 in the seventh inning to beat the Cubs, 10-8, in ’29. It’s the legend of Babe Ruth pointing to a spot in the Wrigley Field bleachers in ’32, then hitting the next pitch in the very spot. And, oh yeah, it’s the Black Sox scandal of ’19, the “Say-it-ain’t-so” Series that shocked a nation and rocked the sport to its foundation.
The World Series is a lifetime of memories, giddy highs and crushing lows.
It’s Fred Snodgrass of the New York Giants muffing a 10th-inning fly ball in 1912 to touch off a Series-winning, two-run rally by the Red Sox. It’s Mickey Owen failing to catch what would have been a game-ending third strike in 1941, and the Yankees erupting to win. It’s Enos Slaughter scoring from first base on a single to beat the Red Sox in ’46. And it’s Al Gionfriddo running to the 415-foot sign in left center at Yankee Stadium to catch Joe DiMaggio’s bid for a game-tying, three-run homer in ’47.
The World Series? It’s Bill Bevens one out away from a no-hitter in ’47… and Cookie Lavagetto driving a game-winning, two-run double off the right field wall at Ebbets Field. It’s DiMaggio hitting a 10th-inning homer off Robbie at old Shibe Park in ’50. It’s Billy Martin saving the Yankees by making a mad dash to catch Jackie Robinson’s bases-loaded pop up that first baseman Joe Collins lost in the sun in ’52.
The World Series is Dusty Rhodes getting all those big pinch hits to help the Giants sweep the Indians in ’54… and Willie Mays sprinting into no-man’s land in deepest center field in the Polo Grounds to take extra bases away from Vic Wertz. It’s Sandy Amoros running into the left field corner to catch Yogi Berra’s slicing fly ball and turn an apparent extra-base hit into a rally-killing double play in the seventh game in ’55. And it’s a mediocre pitcher named Don Larsen rising to greatness in ’56 by retiring 27 straight Dodgers.
Its Bill Mazeroski turning Pittsburgh into a city-gone-crazy with a ninth-inning homer to beat the Yankees in ’60 and Mickey Mantle playing with a big hole in his hip, the blood seeping through his uniform, in ’61.
It’s Ralph Houk getting away with pitching to Willie McCovey with two out, runners on second and third and the Yankees clinging to a 1-0 lead in the ninth inning of the seventh game in ’62. It’s Mayo Smith letting Mickey Lolich hit for himself with the Tigers trailing by a run and facing elimination in the seventh inning of the fifth game in ’68… and Lolich getting a bloop single to touch off a game-winning rally.
It’s the Miracle Mets of ’69 – unlikely heroes named Swoboda and Agee and Weis teaming up to shock the Orioles. It’s Roberto Clemente showing his greatness in ’71. And it’s Carlton Fisk swinging at the first pitch in the 10th inning of the sixth game in ’75, sending it soaring high and deep down the left field line in Fenway Park and twisting his body to “help” it stay fair.
The World Series is Reggie and his home-run binge in ’77, a kid named Brian Doyle, just out of the minors and soon back in the minors, playing like a Hall of Famer in ’78, and it’s an inspirational leader named Stargell powering his team to the top in ’79.
The World Series is all of that and much, much more. It’s the moment in the spotlight every kid who has ever owned a glove dreams of experiencing, the game every fan dreams of seeing, the ring every big leaguer dreams of wearing.
It’s the one event in this country that, more than any other, brings out…
October without a World Series would be a terribly empty month.
Yankees and Angels look tough in AL
By Allen Lewis, Special to the Inquirer
From 1976 through 1978, the New York Yankees and Kansas City Royals won the American League's two division races, but the domination of those two teams was ended last season by the Baltimore Orioles and California Angels. According to the oddsmakers, the Orioles and Angels will repeat as division champions, but there's reason to believe that 1980 will produce a change.
Injuries played a vital part in determining the division winners last season. The Yankees lost Rich Gossage, the league's most dominant relief pitcher, early in the season and that was the primary reason for their fall to fourth. The Royals were hampered offensively when their designated hitter, Hal McRae, missed more than 60 games due to shoulder injury.
If pitching alone determined winners, the Baltimore Orioles, with the return of Jim Palmer to full-time status, would appear to have an edge in the East. The loss of Don Stanhouse, who played out his option and signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers, could weaken the bullpen, but some say Stanhouse won't be missed.
The Yankee staff has a lot of age on it but should turn in a quality job. With all the changes made by the Yankees, they seem to have enough force to dethrone the Orioles. Milwaukee may come close, but its pitching probably won't be quite strong enough.
In the West, the Texas Rangers have the best bullpen, but they come up a bit short in starters. The Angels lost Nolan Ryan to free agency and have other hurlers with physical problems. The Chicago White Sox probably have the best starting staff, although it's completely lefthanded. The Minnesota Twins have an ace in reliever Mike Marshall, but their starters – Dave Goltz being the latest – keep going the free agent route to other teams. In what figures to be a free-for-all, the Angels should repeat.
Yankees – The turmoil that has marked the Yankees in recent years figures to lessen under their new low-key manager, Dick Howser, and New York should have a better balance between offense and defense than in the past. With lefthanders Ron Guidry and Tommy John, right-handers Ed Figueroa and Luis Tiant and possibly southpaws Rudy May or Tommy Underwood in the rotation, the Yanks shouldn't be out of many games. Rick Cerone, obtained in a trade, replaces the late Thurman Munson as the catcher, and Jim Spencer, Willie Randolph, Bucky Dent and Graig Nettles make up a solid infield. As usual, Reggie Jackson will be in right field, Ruppert Jones (obtained from Seattle) will be in center, and Bobby Murcer, Oscar Gamble and Lou Piniella will divide the job in left. Free agent Bob Watson adds strength as both a designated hitter and pinch-hitter.
Orioles – Palmer, 23-game winner Mike Flanagan, Dennis Martinez and Scott McGregor, give the Birds a strong starting four. If Tim Stoddard can take over as the clutch reliever, the loss of Stanhouse will be minimized. The Birds have made almost no changes from their 1979 pennant-winning lineup. Rick Dempsey and Dave Skaggs will do the catching, and the infield will again have Eddie Murray, Rich Dauer, Kiki Garcia and Doug DeCinces, his injured back apparently improved.
As in the past, Manager Earl Weaver will do a lot of juggling with his outfielders. Still Ken Singleton will play everyday in right, and Al Bumbry will start most of the games in center. Gary Roenicke may see the most service in left. Lee May figures to be used most often as the designated hitter.
Brewers – Milwaukee may have the most potent offense in baseball with as many as four players knocking in 100 runs, including the returning Larry Hisle, home run king Gorman Thomas and Sixto Lezcano in the outfield, and first baseman Cecil Cooper. Cooper, veteran third baseman Sal Bando and the slick keystone combination of shortstop Robin Yount and second baseman Paul Molitor give the Brewers a standout infield. Buck Martinez, Charlie Moore and Ray Fosse are the catchers. Mike Caldwell, Jim Slaton and Lary Sorensen are the premier starting pitchers. Bill Castro and Jerry Augustine head a weak bullpen.
Red Sox – Boston has so many problems with injuries and pitching that a fast start seems improbable. That means manager Don Zimmer may not last past June. Catcher Carlton Fisk, relief pitcher Bill Campbell, third baseman Butch Hobson and veteran Carl Yastrzemski are all question marks. The acquisition of Dave Rader may help shore up the catching job. Yaz and newcomer Tony Perez will share first base and designated hitter. Jerry Remy, hurt last year, Rick Burleson and Hobson complete the infield. The outfield of Jim Rice, Fred Lynn and Dwight Evans is so good, it may keep the Sox in the race for a while. Dennis Eckersley, Mike Torrez and Bob Stanley head the pitching staff, and Dick Drago and Tom Burgmeier are the best of a sub-par bullpen.
Tigers – Despite a crop of fine young players, Detroit has too many holes to be rated a top contender. With Mark Fidrych still a question mark, Dave Rozema, Jack Morris, Milt Wilcox and Dan Schatzeder are the top starters. Aurelio Lopez is the best of a thin relief group. Lance Parrish is one of the best young catchers in baseball, and the infield of Jason Thompson at first, young Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker in the middle and veteran Richie Hebner at third is a good one. In left, Steve Kemp is one of the best young hitters in the game, but rookie Kirk Gibson in center may not be ready, and Dave Stegman and Champ Summers in right have minuses.
Indians – The Indians can best be described as a mediocre team, without one really outstanding performer. Lefthander Rick Waits is the only pitcher on the staff who won more than 12 games last year. John Denny, Wayne Garland, Bob Owchinko and rookie Larry McCall are the main starters and Sid Monge the relief specialist. Andre Thornton, Duane Kuiper, Tom Veryzer and Toby Harrah form an undistinguished infield, and the same can be said for Rick Manning, Mike Hargrove and Jorge Orta in the outfield.
Blue Jays – Toronto has made some changes, including Bobby Mattick replacing Roy Hartsfield as manager, but they should be baseball's worst team again. Dave Lemanczyk, and Dave Stieb and Jesse Jefferson, along with reliever Jerry Garvin, figure to do most of the pitching. Shortstop Alfredo Griffin is the best in an infield that has veteran John Mayberry at first, Damaso Garcia at second and either Roy Howell or ex-second baseman Danny Ainge at third. Rookie Ernie Whitt will do most of the catching, and the outfield will have Otto Velez in left, Rick Bosetti in center and Barry Bonnell in right. Rico Carty, now past 40, will be the No. 1 designated hitter.
Angels – Injuries forced first baseman Rod Carew into a sub-par year in 1979, but he should bounce back and the Angel infield should be better, although veteran Freddie Patek, obtained from the Royals, may not be the answer at shortstop. Bobby Grich at second and young Carney Lansford at third are of all-star quality, however. So is catcher Brian Downing, and Don Baylor, the AL's Most Valuable Player who will be the designated hitter or left fielder. Centerfielder Dan Ford is limping after knee surgery and Rick Miller may have to take over there. Joe Rudi, Al Cowens and Ralph Garr are other outfielders or DHs. Dave Frost, newcomer Bruce Kison, Frank Tanana, Don Aase and Jim Barr will do most of the starting, Dave LaRoche, Mark Clear and John Montague the relieving.
Rangers – With righthander Jim Kern and lefthander Sparky Lyle, Texas has a formidable bullpen, but veterans Ferguson Jenkins, Jon Matlack, Gaylord Perry and Steve Comer may leave a little to be desired as starters. Jim Sundberg is a solid catcher and Buddy Bell a star third baseman, but Pat Putnam at first, Bump Wills at second and shortstop Norman Nelson aren't of the same quality. Richie Zisk, Mickey Rivers and Al Oliver, with Johnny Grubb in the wings, form a good offensive outfield.
White Sox – No team in years has had four lefthanded starters. Chicago has – Ross Baumgarten, Ken Kravec, Dick Wortham and Steve Trout. The defense and run production behind them is not strong. In Lamar Johnson, Jim Morrison, Alan Bannister and Kevin Bell, the Sox have no Gold Gloves on the infield. Chet Lemon, who may be the best player on the team, will be in center, but Manager Tony LaRussa will have trouble finding quality players for left and right.
Royals – In third baseman George Brett, Kansas City may have the league's best player, and in left fielder Willie Wilson the most exciting. Darrell Porter, if he conquers his personal problem, is a fine all-round catcher and second baseman Frank White is a standout glove man. The quality dips after those four. Willie Mays Aikens may do the job at first if his knee holds up, and U. L Washington or Ranee Mulliniks may be adequate at shortstop. Wilson, Amos Otis and Clint Hurdle will play the outfield, but new Manager Jim Frey has pitching problems. Dennis Leonard, Rich Gale and Craig Chamberlain are the righthanders, Larry Gura and Paul Splittorff the lefthanders.
Twins – Although he loses players to free agency every year, Minnesota manager Gene Mauch keeps his club in the running. Jerry Koosman and Geoff Zahn figure as the only certain starting pitchers, while Marshall takes care of the game-saving duties. Butch Wynegar is close to stardom as a catcher, and young John Castino is a glove whiz at third. Shortstop Roy Smalley is capable and Rob Wilfong and Ron Jackson are journeymen at second and first. Ken Landreaux, Glenn Adams, Dave Edwards, Bombo Rivera and Hosken Powell in the outfield won't remind Twin fans of the late Lyman Bostock or departed Larry Hisle.
A's – New manager Billy Martin will make a difference, but Oakland should still lose at least 90 games. Dave Revering, Bob Picciolo, Mario Guerrero and Wayne Gross form a forgettable infield and, unless Rickey Henderson develops rapidly, the outfield is equally mediocre.
Mariners – If former Yankee Jim Beattie comes into his own with regular work, Seattle may improve. Mike Parrott, Rick Honeycutt and Floyd Bannister are other pitchers with promise. Bruce Bochte, Julio Cruz, Jim Anderson and Dan Meyer make up a respectable infield. Bob Stinson, Larry Cox and Jerry Narron are the catchers, but outfielders Joe Simpson and Leon Roberts and DH Willie Horton are the only others certain to see a lot of service.