San Francisco Examiner - August 24, 1980
Ripley hurls, bats Giants past Phils
By Glenn Schwarz, Examiner Staff Writer
PHILADELPHIA – He has been tagged for throwing the slowest fastball in the league and scraping by with a minimum of stuff.
Which is just fine with the Giants. Allen Ripley is one of the pitchers keeping them within sight of the leaders of the National League West pack.
Last night Ripley fired his up-tempo fastball and lobbed some of the characteristic junk at the Philadelphia Phillies – and they were overmatched by both. The right-hander allowed two unearned runs in the Giants' 6-2 victory before 38.541 boo-inclined fans at Veterans Stadium.
This made it four wins in five games for the Giants on the trip and nine wins in their last 12 games. What's more, this lifted them above the .500 barrier – they are 62-61 – for the first time in 1980.
"Shutouts are nice, but to me the win is the only thing that matters," said Ripley, deprived of a shutout by Rennie Stennett's fourth-inning error. "This win put our team over the hump."
It also got his record over .500, at 7-6, and dropped his ERA to 3.14. The Giants did not expect to reap so many benefits from the Boston Red Sox castoff when Spec Richardson bought him the final week of spring training. And consider that Ripley was not buzzed up from the Phoenix farm until May 22.
With only two exceptions – a couple of first-inning knockouts – he has been reliable in his 14 starts. Last night, for example, when he chalked up just the third complete game by a Giant starter since the All-Star break, Ripley wasn't exactly pitching to the Podunk Pelicans.
"When he pitches like that, he can win," manager Dave Bristol said. "He spotted his fastball good and his curveball was good. He stayed away from some of their big guys' strength."
And that's something Ripley failed to do in his previous outing, when Atlanta's Dale Murphy grand-slammed him in the first inning.
"I was really pumped up tonight because I was so lousy my last time out and I like pitching against the Phillies," Ripley said. "I had good control and our defense was outstanding. It's lucky when guys are on base and they hit the ball hard right in a double-play lane."
The Giants turned three DPs behind him, twice doubling up quick Larry Bowa and once swift Bake McBride. And Larry Herndon saved a run with a nifty sprinting catch off his shoelaces in right field.
There was Giant offense worth mentioning, too – including a believe-it-or-not Ripley hit that produced his first major-league RBI.
Facing unbeaten (4-0) Larry Christenson one night after they beat 19-game winner Steve Carlton, the Giants pecked away early. Mike Ivie, who had doubled, scored a second-inning run when shortstop Bowa didn't get over quickly-enough to take a forceout throw from second baseman Manny Trillo, who then threw wildly past first. Herndon's double and Milt May's single in the third inning made it 2-0.
Stennett's inability to handle McBride's routine grounder in the fourth set up the Phils' runs. With two outs, Garry Maddox infield singled, Bowa's bloop double drove in McBride and Christenson's single to short chased home Maddox.
But the Giants routed Christenson in a four-run sixth inning. Evans doubled and May doubled him around. Following a one-out intentional walk to Stennett, Johnnie LeMaster's hustle down the line prevented an inning-ending double play. Ripley followed with a sinking liner that skipped past foolishly diving Lonnie Smith in left, for a two-run triple, and Billy North singled across the huffing pitcher.
"I have a terrible stride when 1 swing – it's so long I almost cleat the third-base coach," Ripley said. "I didn't swing that hard. The ball just hit my bat"
Tom Griffin, who homered off Carlton Friday evening, is an ardent designated-hitter foe and delights in pitchers hitting like this.
"Actually, we've got some pretty good hitting pitchers," Griffin said. Then he smiled devilishly. "Except for (Gary) Lavelle – he stinks."
The recent winning is holding up Bristol's contention that the Giants will be able to remain in a four-team race. They still trail division leader Houston entering tonight's getaway contest here (Bob Knepper vs. Dick Ruthven).
"I just hope we stay above .500," Bristol said. "Our next goal is to get five games over."
"We need the next three games on the road, but two of three would still make it a successful trip," North said. "Hey, we've been playing with intensity lately. We beat two pretty good pitchers the last two nights."
Last night, with a pretty good one of their own.
NOTES: North was ejected by Eric Gregg alter the Giant bumped the widebody umpire while arguing a caught-stealing call at third base in the seventh inning. "It wasn't intentional," North said. "But, yeah, I imagine I'll gel fined for touching him."... The Giants are 6-2 against the Phils, who had won seven of eight before the Giants showed up... The Phils fell 3½ games behind Pittsburgh in the Eastern Division.
America’s top sports fans
By Art Spander
PHILADELPHIA – The jokes still linger, like the aroma of submarine sandwiches in the places along Broad Street. The jokes still linger, and so does an Image that is considerably unwarranted.
Philadelphia, they snicker, is surh a tough place the people would boo a cure for cancer. First prize, they chuckle, is a week in Philadelphia; second prize is two weeks in Philadelphia.
Is that any way to talk about one of America's oldest cities, about the birthplaie of freedom, about the town that gave us scrapple, soft pretels and Del Ennis? Not on your life, it isn’t.
So the sporting patrons get a trifle impatient just because the home teams collapse when anyone even mentions the word championship. So the graffiti on the downtown walls isn't quite as expressive as that in Manhattan. So it rains all summer and snows all winter. That's no reason to compare Philadelphia to Moscow. Or even Cleveland.
Philadelphia is a city that's misunderstood and misinterpreted. A city that was given a reputation it's never been able to shake on the whole, Philadelphia would rather not have W.C. Fields and a location, halfway between New York arid Washington, it's never been able to overcome.
BUT PHILADELPHIA has one of the country's leading art museums – Sylvester Stallone ran up the steps of the building in "Rocky." Philadelphia has some of country's most beautiful suburbs,' and Philadelphia has the country's best sports fans. Yes, best.
Sure, those fans are testy. Sure they used to make Del Ennis, the Phillies' outfielder, feel like Jesse James. Sure, even the National league's leading home run hitter, Mike Schmidt of the Phillies, will get booed as frequently as he gets cheered. But you'll notice I didn’t say the country's most tolerant sports fans, I said the country's best.
They not only appear in enormous numbers for practically everything from hockey to horse shoes – the Phillies will reach 2 million in attendance, again, in a few days – they are obsessed with details. Fortunately, they're not obsessed with winning. At least winning titles.
Oh. the Flyers won the NHL Stanley Cup a few years ago – twice, in fact. And back in the late 60s, the 76ers won the NBA championship. But that's it. There have been a spate of near-misses, years of falling one step short But there haven’t been any championships.
The Phillies get into tin' National League playoffs – but never the World Series. The 76ers get into the NBA finals – but lose. Same thing for the Flyers, since their title years. And same thing for the Eagles, now that they're at least competent.
SUCH FRUSTRATION might irritate fans in other regions, might keep them away from the stadiums and arenas. But not in Philadelphia. For years, the Eagles could hardly win a game and they hardly had a vacant seat For years, the Phillies were at the bottom of the standings and they outdrew many other clubs.
Why? Well, one reason is that the Philadelphia metropolitan area include something like 7 million people, when you count everything from Trenton, an hour's drive northeast, to Wilmington, a half hour's drive south.
Another reason is that Philly is the last of America's four-newspaper cities, and the papers play up sports as the New York Times might play up a corporate merger. Friday, there was a front-page headline in all four Philadelphia papers on the Phils' 17-inning win Thursday.
And still another reason is that Philly has some of the more impressive facilities anywhere, topped off by the place they call The Vet – far and away the best of the modern, multi purpose sporting complexes – the 64,000-seat Veterans Stadium.
It's this simple: Attending a game at Veterans' Stadium is fun. It doesn't matter who's playing or who's winning. It doesnt matter if you're seated up there near the rim. about eye-level with the statute of William Penn atop the city hall, or down in the picnic areas along the left and right field foul lines. Everyone has a ball. And an opinion.
WHATEVER HAPPENS, there's an abundance of second-guessing. That's expected, when you have an over-abundance of journalists. Want to know why Steve Carlton failed to win his 20th? Or why Greg Luzinski should be starting? It's easy – with dozens of sports writers trying to scoop each other.
Representatives of six dailies – the four city papers, the Bulletin, Daily News, Inquirer and Journal, and Camden, N.J., and Wilmington – travel to all Phillies road games. And maybe 30 writers staff every Phillies home game at The Vet. You Want facts? You want gossip? You want criticism? You get it all, and more.
People in Philadelphia and environs talk about baseball the way people in the Bay Area talk about the weather. Or sex. I mean, men do hustle women in singles bars, but not until they've discussed the way the Phillies died in the ninth. It's all a matter of priorities.
The first priority for most fans in Philly would be a championship. Of any kind. That's about the only thing they think they need. And I tend to agree with them.
No, the weather in Philadelphia isn’t the greatest. And there are no Broadway shows. But there are plenty of other attractions and the best sports fans in America. Surely that's worth something more than just a joke or two.