Philadelphia Daily News - August 21, 1980
To Err Is Human…
Phils’ Streak Halted
By Bill Conlin
In the best interests of the Eagles, 76ers and Flyers, the Fury, Wildcats and Owls, the Quakers, Nittany Lions and Larry Bowa Fan Club, this will be as brief as possible.
…Uh, the desk just called me at home and said that while brevity is the soul of wit, they'd at least like me to include the final score. That's acceptable. In fact, here it is. Padres 7, Phillies 5. Look, since the Phillies will be playing a Businesspersons Special this afternoon by the time most people read this, couldn't I just cover this one with a couple of notes buried at the end of tomorrow's story?
No? You desk guys could at least show a little reverence. Nineteen years ago, John Buzhardt beat the Milwaukee Braves to end a 23-game Phillies losing streak, the longest in major league history. Does anybody realize what a traumatic experience it was for Stan Hochman and his '61 colleagues to write a winning game story after more than three solid weeks of losses? Some guys on the beat had to be re-trained. In fact, many of today's Phillies would swear that most of us would rather chronicle an L than a W.
SO, BEFORE WADING gingerly through the Phils' first loss in a week, a moment of silence, please, for Gene Mauch's 1961 wretches, all of them...
The hard angle last night was bottom of the ninth, Greg Gross pinch-hitting, Phils down, 7-5, after racing' to a 5-0 first-inning lead. Gross slings a single to center and Dallas Green sends Del Unser up to bat for .357 hitter Lonnie Smith. The pitcher is Rollie Fingers and Unser has had past success against the great reliever, including a record-breaking third straight pinch homer at the Vet last season.
Unser nails a pitch high and far to deepest left-center. If s high enough for Jerry Mumphrey to be poised at the fence for an attempted catch, so Gross rounds second and slams on the brakes. The ball clatters high off the wall, a sure double, but Gross spins wheels in the dirt cutout, falls and is forced to slink sheepishly back to second. Unser settles for the season's longest single.
"Good move, Dallas," a wise guy mutters, "Smith would have probably run right over Gross."
It's a costly pratfall, but what the hell, Pete Rose is the next hitter, nobody is out and Mike Schmidt is on deck. The bunt is on. It might be a loser's play for most hitters on Astro-Turf, but Rose could push a thrown marble up the third base line using a tongue depressor for a bat.
FINGERS COMES AFTER him with a trio of nasty sinkers. He takes the first one low for a ball and spins the next two foul. OK, Pete Rose is swinging away. A lot of people who don't like to see the first-and-second Astro-Turf bunt are now willing to take their chances with a double play.
Rose looks at some tough, close pitches. The next two pitches are breaking balls, hanging breaking balls, for crying out loud. Rose fouls both of them. After the second. Fingers is visibly upset with himself. So is Rose. One guy is saying. "How could I throw that pitch?" The other is saying. "How could I foul that pitch off?"
The count is 3-2 and Rose is looking for a strike from Rollie Fingers. "No way he's gonna walk the bases loaded with Schmitty and Bake coming up," Rose said later. But San Diego almost let its Fingers do the walking. Rollie unfurls an ankle-high slider. Pete waves at it The runners are going and rookie catcher Craig Stimac snaps a short-hop throw to rookie third baseman Luis Salazar. Salazar holds on and tags out the sliding Gross. Schmidt completes an 0-for-5 with a bouncer to third and the Phillies' six-game winning streak is history. (The '61 Phils used to toast the end of six-game losing streaks. With Champale.)
It is the kind of finish to be expected from a team which scores five runs on six hits in the first inning and manages no runs on four hits thereafter, which gets two errors in a game from Bowa for the first time since Sept 19, 1975, on dirt in New York, which has a manager praying for a pitcher to go far enough to pick up a win, despite ample evidence that this was not Nino Espinosa's night.
"HE'S GOT TO have something wrong with his arm," said Padres Manager Jerry Coleman after his team snapped an eight-game losing streak. "Nino's trying to pitch like Luis Tiant, but Luis is 40 years old."
Three scouts, top hands working for contenders, were not quite as charitable. Two stopped charting his pitches by the fifth inning. "There was no sense to it," one said. "He had so little velocity it was tough to tell when he was changing speeds. I doubt if a radar gun would have clocked him at more than 75-76 MPH. He was throwing batting-practice stuff."
For all those incriminating reviews, with better glovework, Espinosa could have finessed his way out of a fifth inning which turned into a grisly, seven-run affair. After a two-run homer by Dave Winfield, Stimac tried to leg out a one-out bunt. Nino, one of the game's best fielding pitchers, made the play but dropped the ball. Ozzie Smith advanced the runners with a bouncer to the right side and second baseman Tim Flannery was walked intentionally to load the bases for pinch-hitter Broderick Perkins. Perkins slid a ball just to Nino's right that Bowa booted. It was a tough charge play. Perhaps official scorers had become used to him making all the tough plays. His two errors last night were one more than Vet scorers charged him with all last season.
Before you knew it, Gene Richards and Salazar had singled and the Padres had seven big ones, four of them unearned. Coleman would work for less than the minimum wage to score seven runs in one inning.
YOU COULD TELL Green was managing more with body English than cool logic when he let Espinosa go to 2-0 on Richards before handing a very hot potato to Kevin Saucier.
"It was the fifth inning," Dallas said. "That was a tough area. I was rooting for a guy to bust through and get a win. I guess you've gotta think about a team win there, too."
After the big first, the Phillies didn't get a hit until Rose singled with one out in the seventh. Bake McBride singled him to third with two outs, but Manny Trillo bounced out.
"The guy threw me a bastard pitch, a helluva pitch in the last spot I thought he'd throw it," Rose said of the ninth-inning mano a mano with Fingers. "Before, he hung me two curves that were up and this one was way, way down. That's a helluva area for a hitter to cover. When I was bunting, he threw me sinkers. I wasn't looking for that pitch either."
Well, as they like to say in Abscam, sometimes you get the sheik and sometimes the sheik gets you.
To Err Is Human…
Kroc, Winfield Feuding
By Ray Didinger
Dave Winfield was on first base when Willie Montanez slashed a Nino Espinosa helium ball to right field. Bake McBride took it on one hop and threw it to Pete Rose. Suddenly, there was Winfield, gazing around like a lost tourist looking for a street sign.
Winfield had already passed second base but, here he was now, running backward. He ran back to second, then made a right hand turn and started toward first. He saw Montanez there, so he wheeled and headed back to second. What was he doing, reading Wrong Way Corrigan's compass?
Rose gunned the ball to Larry Bowa who tagged Winfield out. Third base coach Bobby Tolan covered his eyes. Manager Jerry Coleman kicked the dugout step. Montanez, who lost a hit on the play, threw his helmet. And, somewhere, Ray Kroc turned the color of a Shamrock Shake.
RAY KROC IS the owner of the San Diego Padres. He is also the pickle that sits atop the McDonald's empire. The Padres and McDonald's have one thing in common: too much of either is likely to give you an upset stomach. When it comes to losing ballgames, nobody can do it like the Padres can.
The Padres have dropped 70 games this season, most in the National League. They came into Veterans Stadium last night with an eight-game losing streak and an unshakable grip on the Western Division cellar. It won't be long before Ray Kroc can put a sign on the Padres' dugout: Over 30 billion lost.
Kroc is not a big fan of Dave Winfield. The gifted rightfielder is currently playing out his option and says he will leave San Diego unless Kroc gives him a 10-year, $13 million contract which includes fringe benefits, like an annual cost of living increase.
Last week, Kroc sounded off in a national magazine, ripping his team and, specifically, Winfield.
"I don't want him here at any price," Kroc was quoted as saying. "Not even at the price we're paying him. He can't hit with men on base. There have been a dozen times this year he's come up with men on base and he hasn't done a damn thing.
"A million three (per year)? Who's gonna pay him? I'm not gonna pay him. The customers aren't gonna pay him... Let somebody else have him. I don't want him. He doesn't mean a damn thing (to the franchise)."
IF RAY KROC had seen Dave Winfield in the third inning last night, running the bases like Ronald McDonald, he would have surely had some colorful things to say. What Kroc would have said later, when Winfield singled and homered to lead the Padres to a 7-5 win, is anybody's guess.
This has been a difficult season for Winfield, the 6-6, 220-pounder who was drafted by pro teams in three sports after a brilliant career at the University of Minnesota. Surely, there have been times when he wondered why he didn't sign with the Minnesota Vikings as a tight end, or with the Utah Jazz as a power forward.
Last night's misadventure on the bases typified Winfield's 1980 season: a great talent trapped in a burlesque show.
"It seems like everything's happened to me this year," Winfield sighed. "Anything that could go wrong did go wrong. That one play tonight was like the whole season, a feeling of complete disorientation.
"What happened? I just lost track of the ball. I thought it was caught (on the fly) and I was trying to get back (to first base). I looked at everybody but the third base coach (for help). I don't know why. Just a silly, mental mistake.
"I felt I had to atone for it in some way and I did. I hit the home run, I almost hit another one (Garry Maddox caught it at the fence). I drove in a couple runs, I stole a base. We won the game so that helps.
"ITS BEEN THAT kind of year," Winfield said. "I've only got three errors and two of them came on fly balls that dropped right out of my glove. I was running toward the (foul) line, caught the ball, then I heard the crowd go, 'Ohhh.' I'd look down and see the ball on the ground."
Winfield has had his problems at the plate, too. With his two hits last night, he lifted his average to.280, well below the.308 he hit the last two seasons. His power figures (14 homers, 66 RBI) are nowhere near the All-Star standards (34, 118) he set last year.
"I'm gonna hit.400 the rest of the way," Winfield vowed. "That way I can get my average up to where it should be. It's not how you start a year, it's how you finish that counts."
Jerry Coleman isn't so sure. Coleman is the former New York Yankee second baseman who left the Padres broadcast booth to take over as manager. Coleman has watched Winfield struggle through this season, dodging Big Macs hurled from the owner's box when he isn’t dodging fastballs under his chin.
"What's happened to Dave goes deeper than the contract," Coleman said. "The whole season has been an unsettling experience for him. Back in the spring, when all this (controversy) started, I thought he was the kind of person who could handle it But the way it's developed, I don't think anyone could have handled it.
"DAVE WAS NOT exactly treated royally by the fans in San Diego this season. They put extra pressure on him. Then there are all the (charitable) activities Dave is involved in. That required a lot of his attention, sapped his energy. The longer the (contract impasse) dragged on, the worse things became.
"He's starting to break out of it now," Coleman said, "only because I think be reached the point where he said, ‘Things can’t get any worse. The hell with it. I’ll just go out and play.' He stopped huffing and puffing. He relaxed and started to play like Dave Winfield again.
"I've gotta hand it to him. If I had the kinda year he's had, I'd just go home, get drunk and quit. He's been through the mill, believe me."
"It's been a very tough situation,” the 28-year-old Winfield agreed. "It's been an ordeal, really. You know the answer is down the road a ways bui you have to cross some quicksand and broken glass to get there.
"I've had the wrath of the San Diego fans to deal with. It's funny, how quickly people forget. I was a very popular player there last year. This year they think I'm rocking the boat so they've turned against me. The booing I get there is, well, very intense.
"That's why I enjoy playing on the road so much. I get booed on the road, too, but it's not the same. The fans don't really see you (on the street). It's like a road show. You just come into town, do your thing and move on. At home, hey, there's no place to hide."
WINFIELD IS disturbed by what he considers the Padres' deliberate campaign to turn the San Diego fans against him. When he opened negotiations with the club in the spring, he requested that the details be kept out of the papers.
According to Winfield, the Padres agreed but, when the talks broke down, they began leaking the figures to the media, twisting a few words around to give the impression Winfield was "demanding" things rather than "asking" for them.
"There were stories I demanded the right to approve a sale of the club," Winfield said. "That's not true There were no 'demands' as such. Everything on the table is negotiable. I was disappointed in the way the club handled it. I've always tried to be a gentleman with them.
"You can look back over my history. I've never caused trouble, I've never demanded to be traded. Sure, I'm asking for a sizeable contract but Mr. Kroc has to realize, you can’t treat people the way you used to treat them."
To his credit, Winfield has not allowed his recent experiences to sour his feelings for the public. The Winfield Foundation still provides college scholarships to kids in the Minneapolis area. The Winfield Pavilion still gives underprivileged youngsters in San Diego and New York a chance to see a ballgame.
WINFIELD HAS added a new program, HOPE, this season. HOPE is a combination bleacher seat and clinic for kids in San Diego. They come to the ballpark and, before the game they are given a physical checkup by a doctor. After the game, they are treated to ice cream and an autograph party with the players.
"It's a heckuva thing," Winfield said. "We've already discovered four kids with heart murmurs."
There is a small, but loyal, segment of the San Diego community that has stuck with Winfield. They have written him letters and asked him to please forget Ray Kroc's tantrums and sign with Padres. Through it all, Winfield has remained non-committal.
Will he overlook his owner's unkind remarks and stay in an area he admittedly loves? Or will he opt for free agency and sign for the millions he will surely command?
"I can't say," Winfield shrugged. "Right now, I'm walking the fence."
Barring a miracle, that fence will lead him right out of San Diego. Don't expect him to stop for a hamburger on the way.
NL Playoffs Set to Start Oct. 7
If... and it is still a big if... the Phillies win the National League's Eastern Division championship, the playoffs will begin Tuesday night, Oct. 7, at Veterans Stadium.
According to a schedule released yesterday by Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, the American League playoffs will get underway the following afternoon, Oct. 8. The 77th World Series will commence on Tuesday night, Oct 14, with the National League champion serving as host. All weekday Series games will be at night and the weekend games during the afternoon.
IN THE NATIONAL LEAGUE, the East Division champion will host the first two games on Oct 7 and 8, both beginning at 8:15 p.m. Following a day off, the series will shift to the home of the West Division champion for the remaining games.
The third game is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 10, at 3 p.m. (3:15 p.m. if it's in Los Angeles), tbe fourth game, if necessary, on Oct. 11 at 4:15 p.m., and the fifth game on Oct 12 at 8 p.m.
The West champion in the American League will host the first two games Oct 8 (3 p.m.) and Oct. 9 (8:15 p.m.). with the series shifting to the home park of the East champion for the remaining games. The third game is listed for Oct 10 at 8:15 p.m. and, if necessary, the fourth for Oct 11 at 8:15 p.m. and the fifth for Oct. 12 at 4 p.m.
THE FIRST TWO GAMES of the World Series will be in the National League city Oct. 14 and 15 at 8:15 p.m. The third, fourth and fifth games, if necessary, will be in the American League park with starting times of 8:15 p.m., 1:15 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., respectively.
If sixth and seventh games are necessary, they will be played in the National League city, Oct 21 and 22, both with starting times of 8:15 p.m.
The only exception to the starting times would be if Kansas City is the American League champion. In that case, the fourth game of the Series would start at 1:45 p.m. instead of 1:15.
There were three winners last night in the Daily News Home Run Payoff contest. In the sixth inning of the Phillies-Padres game, winners of four tickets each to a Phillies game were Sylvia Player of Philadelphia, Lawrence S. McCormick of Coopersburg, Pa., and Harry Delaney of Reading.
To date, the Daily News has paid out $16,300.
Today's entry coupon appears on Page 60.