Camden Courier-Post - August 10, 1980
Questionable call, running blunder sink Phils
By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post
PITTSBURGH – Garry Maddox got something started in the eighth inning with a leadoff single. He represented the tying run as Manny Trillo stepped to the plate.
Dallas Green, who has the courage to manage the Phillies even when they have to play the Pirates here in Three Rivers Stadium, could later do little more than shake his head over the events that followed Trillo's at-bat.
"They say umpires' decisions don't change games," Green moaned. "But they can change games... they can change games."
The umpire's decision that helped alter a close game during yesterday's 4-1 loss to the Pirates before 40,933 fans (a stadium record for a Saturday afternoon game) and a national television audience belonged to Paul Pryor at first base.
Pryor called Trillo out at first after he had clearly beaten out a bunt to the third-base side of the pitcher's mound. The play was not really a close one – replays showed Trillo on the bag before the ball arrived in first baseman Willie Stargell's glove – but Pryor somehow missed it.
"He (Pryor) said he (Trillo) was still in the air," Green said. "I gave him a few of my choice comments. I only go (onto the field to argue with an umpire) when I know I'm right."
Had Pryor made the correct call, Larry Bowa, the next hitter, would undoubtedly have bunted, giving Bob Boone and a pinchhitter for pitcher Nino Espinosa a chance to tie the score or put the Phillies in the lead. As it was, Bowa lined sharply to center field and Boone flied routinely to right and the Pirates remained ahead, 2-1.
More significant than Pryor's blown call was a base running blunder by Lonnie Smith that cost the Phils the tying run in the fifth. Smith, who scored the Phillies' only run in the first on a sacrifice fly by Mike Schmidt, got on with a one-out single before Rose flied out and Schmidt walked.
Keith Moreland, who started in right field to give the Phils an extra righthanded hitter against Pirates starter John Candelaria, a lefthander, hit a ball in the hole on the left side that shortstop Tim Foli back handed in shallow left.
Smith thought the ball was going to make it through the infield and was a couple of steps around third when Foli gloved it. Foli alertly threw behind Smith and caught him desperately trying to get back to third. Thus, the inning ended.
"It was a little over-exuberance on his part," said Green. "I could see he (Foli) was going to get the ball because that's the way Foli plays the game."
The Phils would have one more opportunity squelched in the eighth by reliever Kent Tekulve, the winner of Friday's game. Tekulve appeared after Schmidt had opened with a walk and Moreland had singled for the third time.
The righthander promptly threw double-play balls to Maddox and Trillo. The Pirates failed to turn the double play on Maddox, but did not make the same mistake with Trillo.
"We have two runners on and Tekulve gets the two ground balls he had to get." said Green. "Other than that, we didn't offer much threat."
And the Pirates did nothing but threaten Espinosa with six hits in the first three innings. Ed Ott's home run in the second tied the score, 1-1. The Pirates might have broken the game open in the third had not Maddox made a stunning catch against the wall in dead center field on a rope hit by Stargell with two on and one out.
Another mistake by Smith – this one not quite as apparent as the one at third – helped put the Pirates in the lead in the fourth. Bill Madlock opened that inning with a shot into the left field corner that Smith let roll past him along the wall, turning a double into a triple.
Espinosa got one out, intention ally walked Phil Garner, then unintentionally walked Candelaria after the Pirate pitcher had twice squared to bunt.
"That (bunt) is exactly what I want the guy to do," said Green. "I want to get the out."
Instead, the Pirates got a sacrifice fly from Omar Moreno. Espinosa avoided further difficulty until the seventh, when he sandwiched a walk to Lee Lacy between singles by Foli and Stargell. Green brought Kevin Saucier in from the bullpen to get a ground ball. But Saucier let Mike Easler lift a sacrifice fly to left to make it 3-1. Lacy scored the Bucs' final run on a ground ball by Ott.
Phillies are own worst enemy at Three Rivers
By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post
PITTSBURGH – This time a year ago, the Phillies were hanging by their fingernails from the edge of the National League East Division's pennant race. They came here to play the Pirates and lost their grip.
The Pirates swept five games from the Phillies back then, each win serving to loosen what little hold the Phils had on the race. By the time it was over, the Pirates had kicked the Phils over the edge and sent them plummeting out of contention.
Much the same thing seems to be happening this season. The Phils came here Friday, after a rewarding 8-4 home stand, in third place, 3½ games behind the Expos and only two in back of the Bucs. All the Phils needed was to win a few games in Three Rivers Stadium – a task easier said than done – to make up ground on both clubs.
Instead, the Phils, who won in Three Rivers about as often as the price of gasoline declines, began once again slipping from the edge of a pennant race. Yesterday's 4-1 setback combined with Friday's 6-5 loss to the Bucs put the Phillies 4½ games behind the Expos and five behind second-place Pittsburgh.
In truth, ill fortune docs seem to claim the Phils as its own whenever they play in Three Rivers. Perhaps Tommy Lasorda is wrong. Maybe the Big Dodger in the Sky is really a closet Pirate fan.
The Pirates' domination of the Phillies in Three Rivers and in the stretch run months of August and September is well documented. Since 1974, the Phillies and Pirates have met 29 times in the final two months of the season, and the Pirates have won 22 of those games – including those played at Veterans Stadium. Since 1970, the Phillies' record against the Pirates is 30-65. And, since 1978. the Pirates have taken 13 of 18, four of five and four straight from the Phils in Three Rivers.
That documentation seems to reinforce a suspicion that the Phils are snakebitten whenever they play here; that this stadium is the site of a recurring Philadelphia nightmare.
Primarily, what went wrong yesterday was a base running blunder by Lonnie Smith and a blown call by first base umpire Paul Pryor. The former cost the Phils a run when the game was still 2-1. The latter changed the complexion of an entire inning.
"Today," said Phillis Manager Dallas Green, "we just didn't get anything generated. And the two times we did... an umpire reared his ugly head and a base running mistake reared its ugly head."
It is supremely ironic that the Pirates made at least four mistakes on the base paths the previous night, but still won a one-run ballgame.
"You have to make the throws, you have to throw to the right bases, you have to run the bases, you have to make the double plays," said Pete Rose, whose attempt to score from second on a single to center during Friday's loss went awry and became a crucial play. "You have to execute when you play the good teams. We don't play well against these guys, but we always seem to be in the ballgame.
"Like today. Larry (Bowa) hit four seeds and didn't get anything. They got broken bat hits, a couple of bloops... I guess what I'm trying to say is there's luck involved in this game."
Yet, it wasn't bad luck that stifled a potentially-big inning for the Phillies in the first. Nor was it fate that decreed Pirate reliever Kent Tekulve would end an eighth-inning threat by getting consecutive ground balls from Garry Maddox and Manny Trillo.
It seemed the Phils' fortunes would improve when Smith opened the game with a walk, went to third on a hit-and-run single by Rose and scored on a sacrifice fly by Mike Schmidt. Keith Moreland. who started in right field to get another righthanded bat in the lineup against lefthander John Candelaria, followed Schmidt's fly ball with the first of his three singles.
But the inning died an untimely death when Maddox took a called third strike (it was Candelaria's only strikeout) and Trillo grounded out.
"We got first and third and our No. 5 hitter (Maddox) up and get no more runs," said Rose. "They (the Pirates) must feel like they just won a raffle when we don't get anymore runs out of that.
"We're our own worst enemy." In Three Rivers Stadium, that is precisely the case.
Hard work turns Rose into a fine first baseman
By Ray W. Kelly of the Courier-Post
There isn't much Pete Rose hasn't experienced during his baseball career, and very few-things he regrets. But. if he had to do it all over again…
"First base," said the future Hall of Famer. "If I had known how much 1 was going to enjoy playing the position, I would have been here a long time ago."
Since joining the Phillies, Rose has delighted fans with the way he has handled himself defensively at the new position, not an easy task when you consider that he followed in the footsteps of some pretty impressive glovemen such as Deron Johnson, Tommy Hutton and Willie Montanez.
Impressing the people who inhabit the Phils' dugout was even tougher, however. Manager Dallas Green explained why when he said, "Everybody's mistake is in thinking that first base is a relatively-easy position to play. You know, just stand there and catch the throws.
"It is easy if that's all you're going to do. But, if you want to be good, there are dozens of situations that demand you be in the right spot and the right time... pickoffs, cutoff plays, bunts, double plays. You have to know what to do and react immediately. Pete does it better than anyone ever had a right to expect."
Heralded as one of the finest offensive players ever to take the field, Rose is understandably proud of what he has accomplished over the past year and a half. And, if he now daydreams of Golden Gloves he might have won if he'd been at first base his entire career, he deserves such indulgence.
"The big thing is that I like it so much," said Pete. "I never realized it was so much fun. If I had, I would have been there all my life. You can't realize. I mean you're really in the game... more than any other position I've played."
Rose has neither the range, agility, leaping ability or silken smoothness of other top first basemen in the league. Yet, as he's traditionally done in other areas of the sport, the man more than makes up for it with his own special qualities.
"Sure there are others with better range than me," said Pete. "But, if you use your head and know what the pitcher is throwing, what the batter might do and where the ball might go, you can compensate."
Few players know tendencies better than Pete. He is a walking encyclopedia of baseball that is complete and up to the minute. Plus, it would be hard to find an athlete who hustles more and can match his dedication.
Former Phils' manager Danny Ozark, a first baseman in the Dodger organization, didn't think this would be enough to overcome Pete's lack of experience at the position. The day Pete signed with the Phillies, Danny began making plans to pull Rose out of games during the latter innings, when his defense might cause a problem.
"Like hell you will," said Green, who was farm director at the time. "You may do it one or two times, but after that you're going to have one mad guy on your hands.
"I don't know Rose that well, but I do know he's not going to let you get away with it. He's too much of a competitor."
Green never realized how right he would be about Rose's switch from third base to first base. Coach Bobby Wine saw it coming from the first day Pete began taking practice grounders at the position.
"He worked his tail off that day," recalled Wine. "And, he's worked just as hard every day since, In fact, he hasn't missed a day of taking grounders since he got here, off-days included, That's dedication!
"Switching from another infield position rather than the outfield helped some. He knows the situations and he's adjusted to them. But, he's better defensively than people realize because of two things. He's always thinking. And, he's never stopped wanting to get better."
Prior to the final game of the Phils' recent homestand, a check of Pete's pre-game ritual found him fielding sizzling grounders hit by Wine and yelling after each one, "Harder! As hard as you can!"
Later in the evening, Rose would go on to make several slick stops of hot grounders, a leaping grab of a screaming line drive, two successful scoopsof throws in the dirt and a diving catch of St. Louis Cardinal infielder Mike Ramsey's foul blooper in front of the Phils dugout.
Rose got an ovation for that circus catch. But, what really made him happy was when Ramsey singled later in the game and said to Pete when he reached first base, "I can't think of many guys who would have even tried for that foul ball, let alone caught it. You gotta be the greatest."
While playing right field for the Cincinnati Reds, Rose set the major league record for highest fielding percentage (.992) lifetime in a career exceeding 1,000 games. Yet, he seems even prouder of the fact that this season, the hometown fans have not seen him commit a single error in the field. As for the three errors he has committed on the road thus far this season, he admits that switching to grass infields in other towns put his confidence to the test.
"The pitchers on the team were well aware than Pete hadn't played first base before, Naturally, before last year, they were worried that there might be some problems, especially on plays in which the pitcher covers the bag and takes the throw on a dead run from the first baseman," recalled reliever Ron Reed.
"Well, in all the time he's been here, we've had to work that play more than a few times. And. I can only remember one throw to me that wasn't perfect. But, it was good enough to get the out. He just makes the position look easy."
Looking easy isn't the same as being easy, especially when you're learning something new in the major leagues, Rose knew he might be sticking his neck out when he made the switch.
"The one thing I don't like to do is embarrass myself," he explained. "I've always played with good defensive teammates who took pride in their glovework. If other guys are making plays out their butts, I want to do it too. It was contagious for me in Cincinnati. And, it has been the same here.
"But. you asked me if there was a secret to what I've done and the only real answer is work," said Rose.
"The first day I picked up a first baseman's glove, I went out there and had the coaches hit me short-hop grounders for a half-hour. Not many guys would do that, because you can look bad and it's a great way to get bruises and lose teeth.
"I did it. I still do it. And, the reason is simple. I didn't want to just play first base. I wanted to be a first baseman."
Pete Rose has accomplished what he set out to do. What else is new?