Wilmington Evening Journal - August 13, 1980

Phils snap road ‘drought’


By Ray Finocchiaro, Staff Writer


CHICAGO – Most people thought all along that it was the Pittsburgh Pirates who had sent the Phillies reeling into a slump.


But third baseman Mike Schmidt, who was slumping along with the rest of the team, revealed that the boos of the Veterans Stadium fans and the raps of the Philadelphia media were the real culprits as the Phils struggled to get back in the National League East chase.


"We won't get in first place overnight," said Schmidt as the Phils took two giant steps in that direction with 8-5 and 5-2 victories over the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field yesterday. "It'll take a long time, a long time. Maybe there'll be more setbacks along the way.


"We just have to not get down on ourselves and think positive. We need the town and the fans behind us, even when we're five or six games behind. People read negative stuff in the papers and probably none of it is true. But if the fans get behind us, the better we'll play."


Schmidt looked at the Orioles and thought he saw a parallel. "You think the Baltimore fans and writers gave up on them when they were six or seven games out?" he said. "Just because they were in the World Series doesn't make them any different than we are."


But the Orioles were in the World Series last October. It has been 30 Octobers since the Phils' last World Series. Much of the current cast was still in diapers then.


Schmidt feels the team's recent woes, which included 10 straight road losses before yesterday, were something of a dry spell.


"Over 162 games, you run into droughts," he said. "We were in a drought. The first inning of the suspended game today, that's how things have been going for us.


“There's no way we don't blow them out in the first inning (actually, the 11th, when the Phils loaded the bases but couldn't score against Bruce Sutter). But sooner or later, that stuff must end. And it does."


Schmidt ended his 1-for-23 slump with a vengeance yesterday, getting six hits, including two homers, two triples and five RBI in the two games.


"You know sooner or later you're going to break out," he said. "You have to believe you are. But if things aren't going for you, you can't let it run your life."


Things went right yesterday, even with the wind blowing in. Schmidt tripled home two runs in the 15th inning of the conclusion of Monday's 10-inning suspended game, then homered to start the Phils and Steve Carlton (18-6) to victory in the regularly scheduled game.


Bob Boone also homered in the second contest and Bake McBride, whose infield hit won the opener, tripled home a run and scored on Schmidt's single.


"The balls we hit turned the wind around," smiled Manager Dallas Green. "Schmidty crushed his and so did Boonie. And Bake hit the heck out of his ball. It's good to see the offense come alive a little bit."


Like Schmidt, Green feels the victories will erase memories of Black Sunday in Pittsburgh.


"I think the wins will relax us," he said. "They know what they have to do, just play some baseball and the wins will come. In the first game, it looked like the Man Upstairs didn't want us to win. We were hitting shots left and right and there were Cubs laying all over the ground. We'd get three or four hits and couldn't scratch out a run.


"It gets pretty frustrating. But once you crack through that frustration, it gets easier. We should be ready to go now. We're healthy how."


Green liked what he saw of Schmidt's short and sweet swing.


"Schmidty means so much to our offense," Green said. "I've told you I don't sit back and wait for Schmidt to hit a home run but, damn, it's exciting when he does, isn't it? He hit the hell out of that one. He just top-handed it out of here. And he smoked that ball to right field (for his first-game triple).


"I guess he's pretty relaxed here. Also, it was just time for him to get going. He was shut down a long time and he's worked hard. It's time his talent starts taking over and he starts swinging like he's capable of."


Schmidt's 29th homer started the Phils to a 2-0 lead in the fifth inning of the second game. But the Cubs tied it an inning later when losing pitcher Mike Krukow homered off Carlton and Dave Kingman, roundly booed by the Wrigley Field partisans since coming off the disabled list yesterday morning, drove Lenny Randle home with a sacrifice fly.


Three runs by the Phils off Krukow in the eighth won it.


The suspended game, however, lasted a lot longer than Green expected. Larry Bowa opened the 15th with a bloop single to center and moved around to third on Del Unser's sacrifice bunt and Greg Gross' groundout.


After Pete Rose drew his fourth walk of the game, this one intentional, McBride slapped an infield single off first baseman Cliff Johnson's glove. Then Schmidt, who had hit his 28th homer some 21 hours earlier in the third inning, tripled to right center to sew up the victory.


"It took 24 hours to sleep on it, but the guys got their act together," said Green. "Our guys didn't want to lose this one, but neither did the Cubs. They were diving, making hellacious plays."


Green was relieved the Phils' 10-game road losing streak was history.


"We haven't played well on the road all year," said Green. "Our offense has sputtered at times, so it was really good to win these two, no matter how long the first one took."


Warren Brusstar, the Phils' sixth pitcher, won the opener when he put down a mild threat in the 15th. It was Brusstar's first victory since July 3, 1979, and the one-time relief ace who has seen more of the disabled list than the bullpen the last two seasons was happy to see action in something more than a mop-up role.


"It feels good to be in a situation where you can help the club," he said. "It makes it a lot of fun.


"I feel good. I can't throw the ball any harder than I am now. It's just a matter of getting more control and putting the ball where I want it. The more I throw, the better my shoulder feels."


With Brusstar back and Larry Christenson scheduled to start against the New York Mets at Shea Friday night, Green has only Greg Luzinski on his casualty list before the Phils are 100 percent healthy.


And Green thinks the Bull is on the way back.


"At least we've got him back in uniform," Green said. "We've been encouraged by what he's been able to do, but there's no timetable yet. It's too far to start day-by-daying it."


EXTRA INNINGS - Carlton's five strikeouts got him to the 200 mark for the sixth time in his career. Lefty is 29-16 lifetime against the Cubs... Schmidt's career offensive stats against Chicago include 37 home runs (27 at Wrigley Field) and 102 RBI... Rose passed Eddie Collins for 10th place on the all-time runs-scored list at 1,819 in the 15th inning of the suspended game... Mike Krukow's two career homers both have come against the Phils. Krukow's homer last year (off Rawly Eastwick) precipitated a bench-clearing brawl when Kevin Saucier plunked Krakow with a pitch his next time up... The Phils protested the use of Kingman in the suspended game, since he replaced a player (Jim Tracy) on the roster who had already been used in the game, but baseball rules says it's perfectly legal... Sutter pitched five innings in the suspended game (two Monday, three yesterday) for his longest relief appearance in three years.

NL considers adopting designated-hitter rule


Associated Press


DETROIT – The National League was to decide today at baseball's summer meetings whether to break with tradition and adopt the designated hitter rule after seven years of rejection.


National League clubs voted 9-3 against the controversial DH rule in 1973, the same year the American League began allowing a designated hitter to bat for the pitcher.


The DH was considered again by NL clubs two years ago, failing 8-4. Indications are that it will fail again this time around, although a survey conducted last week by the Atlanta Journal showed the margin against the rule is narrow.


Five clubs – St. Louis, Atlanta, New York, San Diego and Houston – favored the DH rule, according to the newspaper poll, while Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Chicago were reported against it. Three clubs were undecided, meaning Los Angeles, San Francisco and Montreal may hold the key votes.


(Contacted this morning, the Phillies said they were going into today's meetings "with an open mind" concerning the DH rule.)


Commissioner Bowie Kuhn doesn't particularly care if the DH is adopted by the senior circuit, but the commissioner said he does want the two leagues to observe all the same rules of play.


The main thrust of the summer meetings, however, is money.


Baseball generally conducts its serious business during week-long winter meetings and kisses off the summer meetings in less than a day.


This year, however, top executives from all 26 clubs have booked themselves into a suburban hotel for two days of seminars and workshops focusing on the many financial aspects of the game.


At yesterday's seminar, Tom Villante, executive director for marketing and broadcast (or major league baseball, served warning to the three major television networks by outlining to the owners how they could crank up their own network if they so desire.


"For the first time, the networks now realize they have got to protect their flanks," Villante said. "You have a lot of new suitors.


"The days of their (the network's) cavalier attitude is over."


The three networks basically told baseball to take it or leave it, Villante said.


"Now there is cable, pay cable, home box office, you name it," he said. "We could put together our own network," Villante said. "There's a whole conglomerate of stations out there who definitely are eager for more live sports programming.


"We very well might do this. Who needs the networks?


"The technology is there. It's a very easy thing to put together a network these days. You don't need AT&T lines anymore. Now you satellite these things together. There is no need for a middle man."


Villante said baseball owners, like other program suppliers, have felt "frustrated" the past few years.


"They're bullish now," he said. "They realize it's a seller's market. They realize there are some other options available. That's the whole thrust of what Congress has done. It has opened up a lot of new things for live sports.


"The bottom line is that it was a buyer's market, but after all these years it has become a seller's market."