Philadelphia Daily News - August 18, 1980
Garry Maddox Too Hot to Rest
By Ray Didinger
NEW YORK – Sometime this evening, while the kids are curled up in front of the TV and wife Sondra is engrossed in the latest best-seller, Garry Maddox will pick up his baseball bat and tip-toe into the backyard.
He will dig in there next to the barbecue pit, he'll tap his bat on the patio and he'll stare off into the apple trees, waiting for the pitch. He'll see the ball coming, spinning slowly, oh so slowly, through the moonlight.
He will swing his bat, the short, clean stroke that defines a hitter in the groove. Mosquitos will scatter nervously, Sondra's rose bushes will flutter in the breeze and Garry Maddox will watch the ball skim a neighbor's TV antenna en route to the upper deck of his mind.
The Phillies are off tonight, a breather before they open a nine-game home stand, but Maddox could no more put his bat down now than Willie Nelson could put down his guitar or Jack Nicklaus could put down his putter. The man is on a hot streak and, hey, when you're hot, you just can't let go.
I-T SEEMS TO happen that way a lot, at least for me,". Maddox was saying after the Phillies snuffed the New York Mets twice yesterday, 94 and 4-1. "Just when you get hot, you have an off-day. I guess we could use the rest but, personally, I'd like to go out and play another game right now."
Garry Lee went 10-for-21 in the five-game sweep of the Mets and he left Joe Torre's pitching staff with more potholes than the 59th Street Bridge. Maddox did his part in the Big Apple's clean-up campaign, too, thoughtfully clearing off the Shea Stadium base paths every time he came to bat.
The centerfielder drove in nine runs in the series, just three fewer than the Mets scored as a team. Yesterday, Maddox hit a home run in each game, giving him nine for the season. His first homer was a two-run shot off Ray Burris deep into the left-field stands, an area normally shelled only by the likes of Mike Schmidt and Dave Kingman.
"I wondered where that one wound up," Maddox said later. "I didn't watch the flight of the ball but the guys on the bench said I hit it good. I don't know how. to judge. I don't hit many tape-measure home runs."
A week ago, you could have measured most of Garry Maddox' drives with a ruler. He was in the deepest slump of a disappointing season. He went 2-for-11 in the apocalyptic series in Pittsburgh, then went 2-for-13 in Chicago. His average skidded to .249 and he felt like a guy trying to hit a sunbeam with a tennis racket.
"I WAS CONFUSED, frustrated," Maddox admitted. "I approached Dallas (Green) after the Chicago series and said I'd like to take three days off. I'd like to just go to the batting cage and work on my swing with Billy (De-Mars). Dallas said he would consider it.
"That night I thought about it and I decided I didn't really want to sit on the bench. Besides, the guys were working on my ego, saying they needed me in the lineup for my defense. I went to Dallas the next day and we agreed I should just play my way out of this."
"That's one of the better decisions I never made," Green said, smiling. "It turns out leaving Garry in the lineup was the best thing we could have possibly done. He started swinging the bat super. It picked him up and it sure as heck picked us up."
Maddox worked with Billy DeMars most of Thursday afternoon at Shea Stadium. It was a slow, painstaking process with DeMars, the Mr. Goodwrench of the batting cage, taking Maddox' faulty swing apart piece by piece, analyzing each movement, making adjustments, then putting it back together again.
Over the past few months, Maddox had developed more bad habits than a kid at reform school. He was lunging at the ball, slapping at it He was shifting his weight from foot to foot, changing stances the way the Gabors change earrings. Garry didn't need a hitting coach, folks said. He needed a magic lamp and three wishes.
"I couldn't believe the patience the coaches had with me," Maddox said yesterday. "Herm (Starrette, pitching coach) must have thrown me 200 pitches and Billy just stayed with me, correcting things until I had it right. I can't tell you how much that means, people taking that kind of interest.
"I KNEW WHAT I was doing wrong. Whenever I went to swing at a pitch, the first thing I did was flinch. Not a lot, but just enough to get my shoulder out in front. That broke down the swing and I couldn't generate any bat speed. It was the first time I ever had that problem.
"The first thing we had to do," Maddox said, "was get the hitch out of my swing. Once we did that, we worked to reconstruct my whole " style of hitting. We went through every checkpoint – my stance, my grip, my stride. We took it right down to the basics and started over.
"I felt pretty low, the way things were going. I didn't want to leave the lineup but I thought that might be the only way to correct this thing. Everybody talked about how much my defense meant and, sure, defense is fine but it's no fun going up there and making outs all night.
"The team was struggling," Maddox said, "and I felt I wasn't producing. If I'm only hitting .250, 1 know I'm not carrying my share of the (offensive) load and I can't feel good about that."
"What Garry needed was just a little something to get over the hump mentally," said Mike Schmidt, Maddox' best friend and an eloquent spokesman on the matter of slump psychology. "We talk about hitting all the time but talking isn't gonna solve anything. You've still gotta step in there and do it.
"I've said this before but you've gotta get in the flow. Sometimes it's just a bloop single thai does it. Maybe it's a ball hit off somebody's glove. Anything to break the ice. Sometimes the guys around you in the batting order start to hit and, bam, you start to hit. Hitting is all mental, anyway.
"I KNEW GARRY would bounce back,' Schmidt said. "Just look at his career record and you know he's a hitter. He almost won the batting title one year (hitting .330 in 1977). He's up around .290 consistently. He's got power, too. That (first) ball he hit today just jumped out of here."
Baseball is, indeed, a bizarre game. Just las' Sunday, the Phillies were sounding retreat on their bugles, fleeing Pittsburgh in disarray after a four-game sweep. Their ears were ringing from the between-games harangue delivered by Green who, among other things, accused the players of quitting on him.
After that final game, while the other players were scurrying toward the team bus. Gam Maddox walked up the tunnel and stood in the visitors' dugout alone, sorting out his thoughts. His season was falling through August like at elevator with its cable snapped and he didn't know what to do.
Yesterday, Maddox and the Phillies were back in the sunlight of the Eastern Division. The Phillies have won seven of eight game since leaving Pittsburgh and they are once again close enough to first place to hear the Pirates' stereos. Maddox, in the process, has lifted his average to a respectable .262.
"I think this past week says a lot about our team," Maddox said. "Sure, we were depressed when we left Pittsburgh. Personally, I was very depressed. Anytime you lose four games the way we lost them in Pittsburgh, you're gonna feel it.
"The word character has been used a lot in talking about this team and I think we displayed some character in the way we've come back, winning two in Chicago, then taking five here. We needed something drastic to turn our season around and we got it."
What they got. among other things, was Garry Maddox swinging a bat that suddenly glowed like 34 ounces of white phosphorous. The man is in the flow and maybe, just maybe he'll stay there for awhile.
Presto! Phils’ Slump Over
By Bill Conlin
NEW YORK – Magic is reality submerged in illusion. That's the bottom line on the world of presto, change-o.
"There ain't no magic going on between the white lines," Tug McGraw says. "You either do it or you don't."
Baseball teams don't win pennants by pulling rabbits out of hats, turning handkerchiefs into doves or sawing sportswriters in half. They don't win pennants with dumb slogans like, “The Magic Is Back," the words which vanished into a mushroom-shaped cloud over Shea Stadium during the weekend.
"The Mets won it in '69 and 73 on the field beating other teams," McGraw says. "I resent the implication of ‘The Magic Is Back.' There was nothing magical about us winning those pennants. We "played 162 games and at the end we were the best team."
There was no occult curse working overtime when the Phillies went down four times in Pittsburgh. They lost on merit, not mirrors. And they didn't use wands, amulets or hollow boxes to end the Mets' brief 1980 challenge with a devastating five-game sweep, a destructo which brought the Phils home from the dead and what began as a nightmare road trip with a 7-5 record.
THE BEAT WENT ON at Shea Stadium yesterday. The Phillies pounded 22 more hits, including four homers, to sweep the Mets, 9-4 and 4-1. They got victory No. 19 from Steve Carlton in the opener, an 11-strikeout complete game. They got victory No. 4 from Randy Lerch in the second game, a four-hit effort backed by Ron Reed's 2⅓ innings of relief.
OK, the Mets aren't the Pirates. But to win in the superbly balanced National League this season you better do the big things, the little things and the intangible things in between to beat anybody.
The series began with Bake McBride scuffling in the unfamiliar clean-up spot behind Mike Schmidt. Nobody has to tell the rightfielder that he's not a home run hitter, but he felt the temptation a clean-up hitter feels to go for the whole ball of wax.
"Sometimes I go up there thinking about hitting fourth and I'll try to hit a home run," Bake said. "I mess my swing up. For me, I don’t think I had a really good road trip. I started hitting fourth and a fourth-place hitter is supposed to hit a lot of home runs. Today I just decided I was gonna hit the ball where it was pitched instead of going for a home run."
So, the first quick, compact swing McBride took against first-game starter Ray Burris produced a two-run, first-inning homer. He legged out a bunt single in the fourth – how many clean-up hitters do that? – and scored on the first of two Garry Maddox homers. In the fifth, Bake highlighted a four-run inning with a two-run double which raised his swelling career-high RBI bag to 70. He settled for a double and single in the second game, raising his average to .311.
DALLAS GREEN'S lineup showed such top-to-bottom efficiency that six different players hit the nine homers in the series. They scored 40 runs and pounded 71 hits off a staff which was calling itself the deepest in the division.
What turned it around? Was the tattered mob which fled from Pittsburgh stung to action by the manager's blistering oratory? Or is it merely the law of averages catching up with a streaky team overdue for a hot run?
"We started getting base hits, stealing bases and doing the fundamentals correctly," McBride said. "Schmitty started hitting and once he starts hitting it takes a lot of pressure off everybody else and they start doing their job. We went out there and played baseball the way we know how to play baseball. It was discouraging to see the Pirates beating Montreal this weekend. We've just got to keep winning and, hopefully, somebody will beat the Pirates."
For the second straight Sunday. Pete Rose waded through a second-game torrent of obscenities from the beered-up patrons who filtered down to the box seats late in the action. This time, though, he wore a tight grin on his face.
"I think this proves to a lot of guys on this team that we have a good team, that we can win on the road and have a good road trip after a disastrous start, we’re even with Montreal in the loss column now and only two behind Pittsburgh. I'm a firm believer in the importance of the loss column.
"It don't hurt to scoreboard watch. I like to scoreboard watch. The whole series, man on second we got him to third, less than two outs we got him in, we executed the plays in the outfield, the infield, held the runners close to the bases. We did a lot of right things, that's why we won five games. It's the same team that beat us earlier in the year. We just played better baseball. We deserved to win; they didn't deserve to win. The bottom of our batting order was very important with Garry, Larry and Boonie hitting the ball. That took a lot of strain off Schmitty, Bake and Manny. Lonnie makes things happen when he's on base and he was on base a lot in this series."
SMITH SCORED THREE runs yesterday and had a chance to jog for a change when he drilled a homer to left in the opener. The second game pivoted on the intimidation his speed creates.
Lerch was nursing a 2-1 lead when Smith singled with one out in the fifth. Rose lashed a hit-and-run single and Smith blazed to third. Steve Henderson's off-line throw skidded a few feet away from third baseman Elliott Maddox. Rose scampered to second on the error and Smith feigned a break for the plate. The crowd roared and, with Smith already jogging back to the bag, the converted outfielder threw the ball past catcher Alex Trevino. Smith scored, Rose went to third and scored on a deep fly by Schmidt.
"Life just looks brighter for me every day now," Smith said after raising his stolen base count to 27 and his runs scored total to 55 in just 73 games. "Last Sunday was just something I had to put behind me... I guess I was just a little too nervous. Now I feel better and, hopefully, I won't be that way again."
Schmidt was not personally devastated by the Pittsburgh debacle. While the Pirates pounded the Phils relentlessly into the turf, he could feel himself emerging from a long slump and could almost see the'wind riffling the ivy on the Wrigley Field outfield walls.
"It didn't show in the box scores, but I hit the ball good, walked five times, could have had three hits off a real good pitcher, Don Robinson, and we were going to Wrigley Field. I was feeling pretty good by the time we got to the airport. If this team ever needed something good from me it was then. I'm just thankful as hell I'm feeling really good right now.
"I THINK WE built a lot of character the rest of the road trip. I'm thankful that I was a pretty big part of it at a time when they needed some hitting out of me. Deep down, I'm sure everybody on the team feels that way, too, particularly the last few games here. Garry got it going, got a couple of big knocks. Bake had bad games here the first couple of games, all of a sudden, got some big ones for us. Ain't anybody all the way down through the lineup that didn't help us snap out of it "
Is the Magic back for the Phillies? Nah, just a pretty good team playing to its capabilities after an awakening that was not as rude as it was long overdue.
PHILUPS: It will take a diligent search of the records to discover if and when the Phillies have ever swept a five-game series, particularly on the road. Five-game series are rare enough, let alone sweeps... "I've seen Lefty with better stuff," said Dallas Green of Steve Carlton's first game 10-hitter. He has 211 strikeouts in 220 innings without a close challenger in either league. Eight years ago yesterday. Carlton won his 20th game and 15th straight before a turnaway crowd at the Vet. With 47 games and four open dates left on the schedule, Lefty will probably get 10 more starts... The weekend disaster will do little to solidify the status of Manager Joe Torre, still unsigned amid rumors that GM Frank Cashen will look to the Baltimore organization for his next manager... Phils have a welcome day off today, then the Padres, Giants and Dodgers come to the Vet for nine games. Dick Ruthven vs. Bob Shirley tomorrow night.
Once Is Enough for Montreal
PITTSBURGH (UPI) – Montreal managed just one victory out of four games with Pitts burgh over the weekend, but it was the Expos who were whooping it up in the locker room yesterday while the Pirates were uncharacteristically quiet.
That’s because Montreal’s 4-2 win in the nightcap of a rain-delayed doubleheader left them just two games behind first-place Pittsburgh and very much alive in the National League Eastern Division race.
"It's a big psychological advantage winning this game," said Expos' catcher Gary Carter, who scored the winning run on Rodney Scott's two-run single with two out in the ninth inning. "Now we're only down two. There's a big spread between four and two."
The Pirates took the first game of the double-header, 5-1, and won the first two games of the series, 7-3 and 5-0. By sweeping the series, they would have gone four games up on the second-place Expos, who were tied with Pittsburgh going into the series Friday night.
"SURE WE LOST three out of four here (and 11 out of the 13 games with Pittsburgh this season) but we won the last one," said Montreal Manager Dick Williams. "It's going to be a pleasant trip back. We're going to be home for a while, and they go on the road. Maybe things will go the other way now."
The Expos go home to face Los Angeles tomorrow night, while Pittsburgh travels to Houston.
The Pirates kept telling reporters and each other that three out of four was nothing to complain about, but there was no enthusiasm in their words.
"It would have been nice to have picked np four games on them," said Pirates reliever Kent Tekulve, who gave up two ground-ball singles, including the game-winner, after coming in for starter and loser Don Robinson (4-6) with two on and one out in the ninth.
"But they're a good ballclub, so it's good to pick up three out of four," Tekulve added. "It's good to be two up on them. Better to be' two. up on them than to have lost ground this series.
"THE KEY NOW is for us to continue what we've been doing, to just play good fundamental baseball and don't beat ourselves. If we're going to get beat, we've got to make the other team beat us."
In the first game, Lee Lacy belted a two-run homer, Omar Moreno went 4-for-4 and scored two runs while Rick Rhoden, 3-3 since coming back from off-season shoulder surgery, tossed a seven-hitter in his first complete game since Sept. 19, 1978 to give the Pirates the win.
Over the weekend, there were 12 winners in the Daily News Home Run Payoff.
In the eighth inning of yesterday's first Phillies-Mets game, Bill Juba of Warminster, Pa., L.D. Feight of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., and William A. Stewart of Yeadon each won four tickets to a Phillies game.
In the third inning of the second game, Charles Mars of Marlton, N.J., Abraham Kauffman of Philadelphia, Tom Kelly of Allentown, and Eric Steinmann of Ocean City each won four tickets.
In the eighth inning of Saturday's game, Patricia O. Brown and R.L. Morton of Philadelphia each won $10 on singles by Del Unser and Garry Maddox, respectively. Winners of four tickets each were James Quigley of Upper Darby and Philadelphians Stanley Budny and Robert Jankauskas.
So far the Daily News has paid out $15,150.
Today's entry coupon appears on page 63.