Philadelphia Daily News - August 26, 1980
A Pitch Thrown in Anger
By Tom Cushman
Long before the first pitch was thrown in anger, there was this example last night of the antagonisms the Dodgers provoke when they visit Philadelphia. While prowling the turf near the Los Angeles dugout during the pre-game activities, the Phillie Phanatic was subjected to a hailstorm of bats, balls, gloves, and other paraphernalia hurled in his direction by belligerent Dodgers. Not a single item struck him, a sorry performance by men who are professional throwers. Unfortunately, their aim improved once the game began.
It probably should be explained at this point that the Phanatic frequently becomes involved in exchanges of this nature with teams like the Dodgers and Pirates, but almost never interferes with the routine of the Phillies, who have determined that throwing, catching and hitting baseballs are acts of consequence and therefore must be treated seriously at all times. This is not to suggest that the Phillies have not had their quota of good-humor men in the past – Tug McGraw comes to mind – but they seldom laugh at anyone anymore, and never, never at themselves.
The pitch that Joe Ferguson stroked for a run-scorng single with one out in the ninth inning last night was, according to Joe, "about a foot outside." It was delivered by Tug McGraw, veteran relief specialist and former model for the comic strip, "Scroogie." With the game falling apart – the Dodgers already had scored twice to take a 6-4 lead – Tug had been summoned from the bullpen by Dallas Green, and ordered to walk Joe Ferguson intentionally.
ON THIS EVENING, Ferguson was to prove equal to the challenge. "For 13 years I've been going to the plate in situations like that," Joe said later, "and every time it's gone through my mind that I might get a pitch I could hit. The first one tonight was fairly close, so I was cocked and ready when he threw the next one.”
As the ball drifted past the corner, Ferguson reached out and slapped it into the outfield, driving home the Dodgers' final two runs. "Isn't that great," he was to say. “After waiting 13 years, I finally got one I could swing at."
He presumes it will be the last one. "That phase of my career is now over," Ferguson added, with a touch of melancholy. "The word will be around the league in no time. I'll never see another pitch like that."
Coming as it did, with the Phillies having already botched the game in a half-dozen ways, Ferguson's hit seemed irrelevant until McGraw took aim at Bill Russell. Standing in the batter's box only recently vacated by Ferguson, Russell sensed from McGraw's first three deliveries that the Philadelphia pitcher was not in good humor.
"I could understand why he would be upset with himself," Russell said later. "But why take it out on me. Ferguson is the one who did it.
"I could tell right away that he was coming at me. He was coming in further with each pitch. One was right at my head. Thank God it wasn't the last one, because I had no chance to get out of the way."
McGRAWS FOURTH DELIVERY smacked Russell in his left buttock, the Dodgers' shortstop headed toward the mound instead of first base, and the latest of this season's beanball scuffles was joined.
"I'm not proud of going out there... I've never done that sort of thing before," Bill Russell insisted. "But he was throwing the ball at 85 or 90 miles an hour, obviously throwing it at me, and all I have for protection is a helmet. I had to do something to let him know I didn't appreciate it."
As baseball brawls go, if the battle with the Pirates here earlier in the season was a main event, then this one was a Blue Horizon preliminary. Brief, awkward, with reluctant participants, much clinching, and a lousy decision.
Once the umpires had the contestants at bay, they assessed the penalties as prescribed by baseball law... $50 fine for McGraw for throwing at the hitter, ejection for Russell who had stormed the mound. Not surprisingly, Tommy Lasorda soon joined his shortstop in exile.
"He throws four straight pitches at my guy, as everyone in the ballpark can see," Lasorda was to point out as he stabbed at his post game meal. "Suppose he hits him in the face and blinds him?
"Yet he gets a $50 fine and my guy gets thrown out of the game. What the bleep does a $50 fine mean to McGraw. He can pay that bleeping thing in change, out of his kid's penny box. It's the worst bleeping rule in baseball."
TOMMY LASORDA, WHOSE eloquence in these situations is legend, had delivered a similiar message, while attempting to surround John McSherry, chief of the umpiring crew, earlier. If you are familiar with McSherry's girth and ready thumb, you will not be surprised to learn that Lasorda was unsuccessful on both counts.
He greeted his ejection by the ceremonial hurling of his hat, attempted to retrieve it for a second toss, was retrained, and eventually retired to the clubhouse, and dinner.
"When the game started, my stomach was hurting from hot peppers," he said to the post-game audience gathered in his office. "Now I'm hurting all over.
"To tell you the truth, I didn't say too much tonight. I thought I was nice about it. Those are good guys and good umpires, and it's not their fault that we've got the bleeping situation that we do. If they're ever gonna stop retaliation, they're gonna have to get the guy who does it first. Let him know that he's gonna be thrown out of the game, and fine him a number that counts. Like $1,000. I mean, how would you like to have a guy stand out there and throw four rocks at you."
If in Lasorda 's remarks there seems the veiled threat that retaliation is imminent, it was downplayed in the Los Angeles clubhouse. There was some grumbling, notably by Davey Lopes, but Bill Russell said he hopes the only follow-up will be added pressure on the rules committee to adjust its penalties for incidents as flagrant and classless as last night's.
"We've all played long enough to know that you're gonna get brushed back now and then," Russell said. “But the way this was done tonight, I don't understand it. I only know I won't have as much respect for Tug as I had before."
Phils Lose Tug O’War
By Bill Conlin
Full moon and empty heads...
The Phillies moved a step closer to an organizational nervous breakdown last night.
• Tug flew over the cuckoo's nest.
• The Manager, Dallas Green, banished the press from his office after turning his considerable voice up to full volume during a less-than-cordial debate with Associated Press hair-shirt Ralph Bernstein.
• A stunned Vet crowd of 34,267 watched a top of the ninth which looked more like a riot at a punk rock concert than a major league baseball game.
It was not the finest hour in the history of the Phillies.
The Dodgers scored four runs in the ninth to win it, 8-4. But the final numbers were overshadowed by the manner in which the decisive runs were scored, by events which ranged from bizarre to bush league.
Here we go, Dickie Noles in his fourth inning of relief, walking leadoff hitter Davey Lopes and falling behind, 2-0, to rookie Rudy Law. Law was up to bunt and he pushed Noles' third pitch out in front of the plate. Bob Boone charged it and his throw ticked off Law as the swift centerfielder neared first. Lopes motored to third on the play.
FIRST AND THIRD, nobody out and that was all for Noles. Green ambled to the mound, motioned to the bullpen and here came Tug McGraw riding the cart in from right field. Suddenly, Green was jawing at first base umpire Paul Pryor, raising hell out there. The cart made a U-turn – if the Phillies were a highway sign it would say, "U-Turn Permitted" – and McGraw returned briefly to the bullpen. Very briefly. It turns out Green wanted righthander Warren Brusstar and Pryor signaled to the-wrong reliever. Green used Pryor's gaffe to comment on a pickoff play the Phillies felt the umpire blew earlier in the game.
"Paul Pryor has not done a good job for us," Green said before the Bernstein interregnum. "He was not awake, like the play at first base. I just told him to wake up."
Dusty Baker boomed a double, scoring Lopes and sending Law to third. Baker made a wide turn at second and was out when Garry Maddox threw behind him.
To that point it was just a routine late-inning Phillies cough-up. Green going too long with Noles appeared to be the hard angle. The righthander had stranded a total of five runners in the sixth and seventh, allowed the tying run in the eighth. Was the manager studying Cybex readouts on Kevin Saucier's suddenly sore arm?
Steve Garvey was walked intentionally and Ron Cey roped a double to left, scoring Law and sending Garvey to third. Even a reeeeally great comeback team like the Phillies can't give up more than two runs. McGraw made his second trip of the inning. This was not a drill. Tommy Lasorda sent catcher Joe Ferguson up o hit for Rick Monday and Bob Boone held up our fingers, international baseball language or an intentional walk.
IT IS A PLAY Green's bullpen is trying hard to master. One of these games they will get it right. This was not to be the game.
McGraw threw a half-fastball on the outside corner. Ferguson singled to right and the game was suddenly out of hand and out of reach.
What happened next was not pretty. And it was not baseball.
There is a place in the game for retaliation. But nowhere in the long history of the game is here a retaliation appropriate for a pitcher's own screwup. McGraw's first pitch to shortstop Bill Russell was ball one. No big deal. His second and third were close enough to spin Russell off the plate. McGraw's 3-0 pitch was behind Russell and hit him in the back.
For the first time in his career, Russell charged the mound. He was swinging when he reached McGraw, who held his ground. Pete Rose bowled Russell out of the combat with a sure tackle as both benches emptied. It took a long time to cool off Baker, who threw a couple of punches at Tug during the melee. There was the usual pushing, grabbing and milling. Green used the occasion to make another verbal run on Pryor. Russell was ejected for charging the mound. An outraged Lasorda did his best Earl Weaver imitation before getting a thumb from the Falstaffian John McSherry. Tommy wanted McGraw's expulsion. But baseball's sometimes uneven rulebook places the entire burden on the party of the second part.
IT WAS IRONIC, therefore, that Tug was permitted to continue pitching by an umpire who will report to National League President Chub Feeney that the lefthander deliberately struck Russell with his fourth pitch.
"We will report that he definitely tried to hit the batter on the fourth pitch," McSherry said afterwards.
McGraw has no history of throwing at hitters. Most short relievers cant afford the luxury of revenge.
"Russell says he's certain you threw at him deliberately," a writer told McGraw. The pitcher sat in his locker staring into space. Somebody else asked Tug if Russell had landed any punches.
He shook his head twice and slowly exhaled cigarette smoke through his nostrils. "What do you want, the gory details?" he said.
OK, a different approach, perhaps. How was he trying to pitch Russell? "C'mon, let it rest," McGraw said. "What difference does it make? I'm not going to answer that. It's not a court of law here."
YOU WONT FIND many pitchers or ex-pitchers who will admit they deliberately throw at hitters. Green is obviously no exception. It's a lodge, a fraternity. Blood is thicker than resin.
"That's your opinion," Dallas said after a writer suggested that McGraw's control is too good to dismiss the incident as freak wildness. "I honestly don't think he was throwing at him. It was his first time out there in six days. He's -coming off being sick."
Only Tug McGraw can answer to his emotional condition after Ferguson burned him. He's right – the clubhouse is not a court of law. Nor is a pitcher a one-man lynch mob with a baseball as a noose and tree limb.
The Phillies lost a ballgame last night. They missed cutoff men, mishandled the ball and committed a multitude of baseball sins. All those things fall within the time-honored parameters of the sport.
The rest of it, the swelling distemper of this, team, including the obscene salute Brusstar flashed to a heckling fan behind the dugout as he left the field, the game can do without; it had better do without.
The men who invented baseball in the last century did a helluva job. You know a game is strong when it can survive the people who play it at the professional level.
PHILUPS: In the other game. Dodgers jumped to a 3-0 second inning lead off Nino Espinosa. Big blows were a Rick Monday triple and the very first home run of Jerry Reuss' career, a sliced two-iron that curled around the foul pole in left... Bob Boone singled home a run in the fifth and the Phils scored three in the sixth to grab a 4-3 lead. Manny Trillo tripled home two runs and Garry Maddox scored him with a ground-rule double. So much for the offense. Only hit the rest of the way was a lead-off Pete Rose double in the eighth. It was career hit No. 3,515 for Rose, tying him with the great Tris Speaker for fifth place on the all-time list... Steve Yeager singled home the tying run off Dickie Noles with one out in the eighth... Bob Walk vs. Rick Sutcliffe tonight. Dodgers are battered. Reggie Smith went on the 15-day DL last night and Don Sutton was sent home with a fractured toe. Davey Lopes played despite a hamstring pull.
Question Sets Off Green
By Bill Conlin
If Ralph Bernstein is the whipping boy once more, can a division title be far behind?
The Phillies were scuffling in 1976 when Danny Ozark and the feisty Associated Press sportswriter and editor went to Shout City one memorable afternoon. Ozark had to be restrained from taking a poke at Ralph and the press corps was asked to vacate the clubhouse.
The rest is history. Confident at last that Danny and God were on their side, not neccessarily in that order, the Phillies swept to 101 victories and the first of three straight division titles.
The more things change, the more they remain the same. Danny Ozark is a Dodger coach today because he failed to win a fourth straight division title.
It is business as usual for Bernstein, who arrived in Dallas Green's office after first visiting the victorious Dodger clubhouse, standard procedure for a wire service man on deadline.
GREEN HAD JUST finished firmly rejecting a suggestion by several writers that Tug McGraw had deliberately drilled Bill Russell with a brawl-triggering 3-0 pitch during a nightmare ninth inning. The manager handled the delicate subject with excellent, well, demeanor.
"Do you condone that kind of thing by one of your pitchers?" Ralph began. That touched it off. Green asked Bernstein what made him think Tug had acted with malice aforethought "I can see," Ralph said.
Turn down the volume on your newspaper, please. The manager did not need an amplifier. The transcript:
DALLAS – "WHO IN THE BLEEP ARE YOU... WHO IN THE BLEEP ARE YOU TO COME IN HERE AND START BLEEPING SAYING THIS (unintelligible word)? YOU DONT KNOW WHAT THE BLEEP'S GOING THROUGH THEIR BLEEPING MINDS IF YOU DO, GET THE BLEEP UP THERE AND ASK HIM NOW THAT'S A BLEEPING ASSUMPTION BY YOU THAT I THINK IS BLEEPING HORSEBLEEP."
RALPH – "I couldn't get an answer."
DALLAS – "WELL THEN DONT BLEEPING COME IN HERE AND START BLEEPING CHEWING MY BLEEPING EAR.”
RALPH – "I'm not chewing your ear about anything."
DALLAS – "YES YOU ARE, SO SHUT THE BLEEP UP, THAT'S IT."
RALPH – "I don't have to shut up about anything. I can ask what I want You don't have to answer it."
DALLAS – "THAT'S EXACTLY RIGHT, THE BLEEPING THING'S OVER."
RALPH – "And you don't have to get on your high horse about it, either."
DALLAS – "IT'S ALL ON THE HIGH HORSE. GET THE BLEEP OUT OF HERE."
At that highly volatile flash-point in time, clubhouse manager Kenny Bush, who also did the honors in 1976, began shooing the press toward the office door.
"Gentlemen," Kenny said in the cooly professional tone or a bouncer at a high-class nightclub, "step outside please. Give him some time to cool off."
Ralph Bernstein shrugged.
“I was never mad,” he said.
There were three winners last night in the Daily News Home Run Payoff contest. In the fourth inning of the Phils-Dodgers game, winners of four tickets each to a Phillies game were L. McAllister of Philadelphia, Mike Conley of Ambler and Charles Roth of Brooklawn, N J.
To date the Daily News has paid out $16,340.
Today's entry coupon appears on Page 55.