Philadelphia Daily News - April 26, 1980

Green Sees Red After Phils Loss

 

By Bill Conlin

 

On the field, it was the George Hendrick Show and the Pete Vuckovich Show.

 

Hendrick ruined one of Randy Lerch's better pitching efforts with a pair of solo homers. Vuckovich ran his career record to 7-0 against the Phils with help from his bullpen friends.

 

The Phillies were either a no-show or a vanishing act, depending on where you were sitting or how concerned you are about 12 more stranded runners and a ninth-inning rally that proceeded one base at a time and. sometimes, a half-base at a time.

 

The show on the field was entertaining for Cardinal fans and aficionados who like anti-climaxes. But it was not nearly as explosive as the Dallas Green Show which commenced live – livid? – immediately after the contest.

 

AND IT WAS A cultural shock to anybody used to the days when Danny Ozark would sit there, jowls stuffed with the post-game spread while also trying to bite the bullet. The Wizard of Oze absolved more sinners than a papal indulgence. He'd rather have gone on the rack than point a finger at an athlete who blew a sign, failed to hustle or botched a play. And that's where Ozark usually wound up in the next day’s newspapers – stretched on the rack.

 

Last night, Dallas Green stopped sweeping the dirt under the rug.

 

"Don't make a wave," Green said, drawing a finger under his chin. "I don't want to know any more bullbleep. I heard all last year how great we'd be if we were all together. Well, we're all together now..."

 

The jury is out on that. The manager doesn't like what he's seen so far on this homestand.

 

"We seem to wait until the last bleeping minute," he said, "just enticing enough so that everybody thinks we have a great bleeping team. We're going to have to get some things together early if we're as good as we think we are."

 

Down, 3-1, which was how it all came out, the Phillies mounted their traditional ninth-inning rally, the one that has the fans feeling like a honeymoon couple interrupted by a jilted suitor.

 

Bake McBride, scratched from the starting lineup to give him additional recovery time from a left knee he twisted slightly in Montreal, pinch-hit for Luis Aguayo. Bake lined a single to center. Del Unser hit for Lerch and hit a single to right which should have permitted even an average runner to reach third. McBride eased up going into second and didn't even take a wide turn.

 

IS BAKE HOBBLING from an injury?

 

"It appears to me he is," Green said. Should he have reached third despite his apparent affliction?

 

"I would have hoped so," Dallas said. "He would have helped the team if he had done that. It's amazing how one guy can almost get an arm almost torn off and stay in to play. I rested Bake because of the knee. A day and a half shouldn't stop him from going first to third. It should have encouraged him to go from first to third."

 

Well, that leaves us with runners at first and second with nobody out. Ken Boyer came and got Vuckovich, bringing in lefthander Bob Sykes to face Pete Rose.

 

Rose was the guy who almost got his left arm torn off reaching for a Mike Schmidt throw to the inside of the bag with second baseman Tom Herr running. Pete went down like a pole-axed tull and in obvious pain. The TV replay showed his arm being bent back like Mr. Bill shaking hands with Mr. Sluggo. It had the nasty look of a dislocation. But after Don Seger poked and prodded the elbow for several minutes. Rose jumped to his feet and went back to his position. "He wouldn't even let me treat it after the game," Seger said. "It'll be sore in the morning."

 

Rose laid down a perfect bunt and the Phillies had runners on second and third with one out, Greg Gross the hitter. Gross hit a shot back to Sykes, who somehow kept the ball from breaking an ankle or getting through for two runs. He got enough glove on it to slow it to a trickle which puddled one or two feet behind him. When he picked up the ball. Bake was halfway home and walked into a soft out.

 

"I'M NOT SURE WHY he came home," Green said. "I'll find that out today. Sykes was lucky to get a glove on that ball. We're getting a lot of bad bounces, but we haven't made much of our own."

 

That's the Loser's Blues. The other guy always gets the lucky hop, the broken bat hit, the benefit of the umpire's doubt. As Branch Rickey once said, "Luck is the residue of design," and there is a growing feeling that this team has become an obsolete model. This good team on paper is starting to get dog-eared around the edges.

 

Unfortunately, unlike championship thoroughbreds, fading baseball teams cannot be put out to stud.

 

Has this team become comfortable losing to the Pete Vuckoviches of the world because it is the pre-ordained order of things? Is Pete now an automatic W, as Randy Jones was once and Phil Niekro probably still is?

 

"I won't let that happen," Green said. "We've got to quit alibiing when we don't do it. If we start that bullbleep we won't be the baseball team we think we are. He's a damn good pitcher, but is he going to the Hall of Fame? You mean we can't grind one out against him? That's the kind of crap you build in your mind. We're swinging at balls that aren't strikes. You can't give a good pitcher like him that edge. He's beat us seven straight which means that our guys have probably had an average of 21 at-bats against him. In that time you mean to say you're not gonna think of something different to do? He damn sure isn't 20-0 at the end of the year. Give him his due, but don't make him a superstar. I see good hitters swinging at balls they shouldn't be swinging at. I'm tired of excuses, tired of reasons why. Hell, we might have to face him 10 more times this year. I don't want to sit through 10 more of these."

 

SYKES WALKED Garry Maddox to load the bases and Boyer brought in Mark Litell to face Mike Schmidt. The third baseman topped a ball to the left of the plate. Ted Simmons went out, fielded it and tagged Unser. who threw a shoulder into him.

 

Schmidt did not exactly echo his manager's feelings on the Phillies' fourth loss in their last five games.

 

"Same old story," Mike said. "His good pitching beat our good hitting. What are we, 5-7? If we were 9-1 people would probably be saying, 'It's early.' In the ninth I was trying like heck to hit that ball up the middle." The guy has a real good motion, gets the ball over the plate when he has to. We finally beat Niekro last year in Atlanta, didn't we?"

 

Big deal. When the Phillies finally caught up with Niekro it was Sept. 1. They were in fifth place with a.500 record, 13 long games behind the Pirates.

 

It is not the position Dallas Green wants to be sitting in when the Phillies finally catch up with Pete Vuckovich.

 

PHILUPS: Phils stranded two runners in the fourth, fifth and sixth, three in the ninth, scored their lonely run in the third when Lerch singled to right and scored on a Garry Maddox double... Mike Schmidt and Greg Luzinski were 0-for-8 with three strikeouts... Steve Carlton vs. John Fulgham tonight... Manny Trillo was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to last Sunday. Phils called up second baseman Ramon Aviles from Okie City, where he was hitting.326.

5 Winners In Payoff

 

There were five winners last night in the Daily News Home Run Payoff contest. In the fifth inning of the Phillies-Cardinals game, M J. Sehenuk Sr. of Horsham, Pa.; Joseph L Williams of Camden; and W. Fithian. H.N. Conley. and Elmer M. Evans, all from Philadelphia, won four tickets apiece lo a Phillies game.

 

So far the Daily News has paid out $2,775.

 

 

Today's entry coupon appears on Page 37.