Wilmington Evening Journal - August 11, 1980
Phils endure Black Sunday in Pittsburgh
By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor
PITTSBURGH – It has to be one of the darkest days in Phillies' baseball history. Black Sunday.
It was a day when this vastly talented team played like a confused group of sandlotters. It was a day when Pittsburgh got the upper hand and the Phillies seemingly threw in the towel.
It was a day when the Pirates, who were far from intimidating, whipped the Phils in a double-header 7-1 and 4-1 to sweep the four-game weekend series.
Between games Manager Dallas Green tore into his players with an almost hysterical tirade that could be heard up and down the corridor outside the clubhouse.
When he finally finished, Green met with reporters and was surprisingly calm.
"I'm not going to quit on them and I don't think they're going to quit on themselves," he said. I can stand losses and I told everyone I didn't think this was a make-or-break series by any stretch of the imagination. And it isn't, but I still want our guys to be able to hold their heads up and play the kind of baseball they're capable of. Sure, you get beat, but you don't quit.
"If we can bounce back in this second game and take them, we can hold our heads up."
It did not happen.
The Phils went even more quietly in the nightcap and limped out of here for a flight to Chicago and a three-game set with the Cubs, After that, it will be on to New York and four games with the not-so-easy Mets.
The sweep vaulted the Pirates into a first place tie with Montreal in National League East and left the Phils six games behind with 55 to play.
Tim Foli's sixth-inning, bases-loaded double off reliever Dickie Noles scored three runs and turned a 3-1 Pirate lead into a laugher in the opener.
The Phils were charged with three errors officially, but the scorer was generous. Left fielder Lonnie Smith should have caught Willie Stargell's fly ball in the second that was scored a triple. Mike Schmidt misplayed a pickoff throw from catcher Keith Moreland moments later and before the inning ended, the Pirates had a 2-1 lead.
Twice Moreland threw the ball into center field on steals and each time the runner scored from second base. There were balks and wild pitches and generally sloppy play as Pirate starter Jim Bibby improved his record to 14-2 with an eight-hitter.
Randy Lerch, who pitched better than he has recently, lost his 13th game in 16 decisions.
It was after this poor showing that Green closed the clubhouse doors and flew into his players. Veteran reporters can never remember a manager coming down so hard on his athletes.
"...and you've got to stop being so cool; you've got to get that through your heads. If you don't get that through your minds, you're going to be so far buried it won't matter," Green shouted, frequently throwing in profanity.
"Get the bleep up off your butts and go beat somebody the way you can... because you're a good baseball team, but you're not now. You can't look in the mirror. You keep telling me you can do it, but you bleeping gave up.
"If you don't want to play, get into my office and tell me, 'I don't want to play anymore!' Because if you feel that way, I don't want to play you!"
The players left their clubhouse for the start of the second game with their heads bowed. There was little evidence Green's sermon had ignited them.
When informed of Green's between-games lecture, Player Personnel Director Paul Owens said: "I'm happy he did that. I was tempted to go down there, but I had a feeling Dallas would do that. It has been building up in him the last day or two."
Don Robinson, who was originally scratched from the series because of a leg problem, started the nightcap for the Pirates and was never in serious trouble in the contest that was delayed 49 minutes by rain in the second inning. Relievers Grant Jackson and Kent Tekulve sealed the victory for the right-hander.
The Pirates, who have won seven games in a row, took a 1-0 lead in the third when Robinson doubled and eventually scored on Mike Easler's sacrifice fly. Earlier, Manny Trillo booted Schmidt's throw from third on what seemed a certain inning-ending double play.
Lee Lacy's walk, a stolen base and Dale Berra's single made it 2-0 in the fourth. The Pirates added another run in the seventh against reliever Ron Reed and completed their scoring when Lacy homered off Tug McGraw in the eighth. The Phils' only run came in the seventh when Bake McBride blasted his sixth home run.
"I'm disappointed and I'm sure the players are disappointed," said Green as he prepared for the flight to Chicago. "These losses are very frustrating because this is one of the teams we gotta beat if we want to be what we think we do – champions."
When asked if his between-games approach was the correct method, Green became pensive.
"Maybe it's not the right way," he said. "But rm doing it the only way I know how. It's the way I've gone through my career in baseball; it's the way I've gotten to where I have gotten in baseball. It's the only way I know. I think the other way was tried unsuccessfully here in the past (Danny Ozark's mild-mannered approach).
"The results are not always as pleasant because you have a tendency to hurt tender feelings. I have explained that I am not a grudge holder and I don't think I have ever held a grudge against a ballplayer. I say what I gotta say and forget it. If the players would do the same, we'd be in pretty good shape."
Just about a year ago the Phils came here and dropped five straight games to the Pirates and whatever hopes they had of retaining the division championship were dead.
When asked if the same thing might have happened this time around, Green naturally said no.
"I haven't quit on them and I'm sure the fans of Philadelphia haven't quit on them," said the manager. "We've been a streaky team all year. There's no reason why we can't win five or six games in a row and get back in this thing. I would certainly hope we have enough character not to let this carry over. But we have to believe that we can do it. That's the key."
EXTRA POINTS – The Phils were continuously heckled by fans behind their dugout. Once, Larry Bowa had words with one and took a "swing at him as he walked on the roof of the dugout. Later, the admittedly inept Pirate security force added to the fire by leading cheers on the dugout roof before umpire John McSherry put a stop to it... The intentional walk is backfiring for Green. It was used 10 times in this series, with the next batter getting hits four out of seven times and driving in eight runs... Schmidt, who was hitless in the double-header, is now 1-for-his-last-22 and 2 for-29... Pete Rose had seven hits in the four games... Green says he feels sorry for Lerch. "The kid certainly pitches in some bad luck," the manager said... Dave Parker missed both games because of an injured knee. The right fielder says surgery will be necessary after the season... When Bill Madlock stole third base in the opener, it was his first steal of third in 1980.