Philadelphia Daily News - July 18, 1980
LaGrow Gets Walking Papers
By Bill Conlin
HOUSTON – When a guy discovers he is the 12th man on an 11-man pitching staff, it is time for him to start looking over his shoulder.
Lerrin LaGrow looked over his shoulder yesterday and the thing that was gaining had caught up with him. Tug McGraw returned from the disabled list and somebody had to go.
"Bad news," Dallas Green told LaGrow, calling him into his office to receive the news that waivers have been asked on him for the purpose of giving him his unconditional release.
"Quite frankly. I'm not surprised at all," LaGrow said. "I've been expecting it. It's no longer fun to walk into the clubhouse and put on this uniform. I've lost my desire to play. I have no desire to go anywhere. It's time I gave some time back to my family. I'm tired of the inconsistencies, inequalities, judgments and attitude of people associated with this game. There is no bitterness."
Green didn't send off the 32-year-old righthander Paul Owens signed as a free agent last winter with a bouquet of half-hearted, insincere sentiments.
"I was disappointed that a veteran with his credentials couldn't come in and shut the door in certain situations," the manager said. "He wasn't hit around even though he gave up five home runs in 40 innings. The base on balls was the prime reason for his ineffectiveness. There's no reason a veteran like him should allow so many walks."
LaGrow was 0-2 with a 4.15 ERA. He allowed 17 walks in 39 innings.
Phils Leg Out a Win
By Bill Conlin
HOUSTON – Bake McBride has limped quietly through the season on puffy knees.
The rightfielder hates long, shiny needles, so he has the knees drained only when they look like a couple of balloons filled with water. Bake is the only player in the National League who makes a sloshing sound when he runs. Right now his knees are holding so much water he could hire out as a camel.
Strangers ask him why he isn't stealing a lot of bases this season and he just shrugs. He doesn't like reciting his medical history, which could pass for a year of "General Hospital" episodes.
In his introspective way, McBride is a gamer. He's been out there a lot of nights when other guys would have been on the bench.
"I haven't run him much," Dallas Green said after the Phillies wet-washragged Steve Carlton to his 15th victory, a 2-1 decision over the punchless Astros, who dropped out of first place in the West. "He doesn't have the soundest of knees. I don't like to put any more undue pressure on him than is necessary. Tonight it was necessary and he responded pretty well."
IT WAS NECESSARY because Green played a lineup which included Keith Moreland at third and Ramon Aviles at second. Mike Schmidt was out of the lineup again and Manny Trillo will need at least three days to recover from a finger injury he suffered sliding into third Wednesday night.
McBride singled twice, stole second on both occasions and scored both Phillies runs. It was all the offense Carlton needed on a night when he scattered six hits, struck out 10 and stranded the tying run on third with two outs in the ninth after Rafael Landestoy spoiled his shutout with a triple which scored catcher Luis Pujols.
The Phillies clutched at every opportunity, which is the way you have to play against a tough knuckle-bailer like Joe Niekro. Bake singled to left with one out in the fourth. He stole second and scampered to third on a wild pitch.
He scored when Garry Maddox struck out on a two-out knuckler which bounced to the screen. Maddox legged it out.
It was a painful inning for the Astros. On the play before the strikeout-wild pitch, All-Star outfielder Jose Cruz and Cesar Cedeno collided in left-center after Cruz gloved a sinking flare by Moreland. The popular Cruz limped off the field with a lower left leg and hip injury.
McBride led off the sixth with a flared single to left. He stole second when Moreland couldn't make contact on a hit-and-run knuckler in the dirt. Maddox singled sharply to left and Lee Elia held Bake at third. He scored on Bob Boone's bouncer to third.
THE BASEBALL played here reminded nobody of Monday night's entertaining 13-11 loss to the Pirates. But Green apparently got his point across: That's the way you have to play baseball in the Astrodome. It's not fun to play or watch, but not many teams come in here and win two out of three.
"I made up my mind I was going to start running more." McBride said. "The first time I had the steal sign and the second time the hit-and-run was on. My knees arent all that good; there's fluid on both of them. In the beginning of the season it was the left knee, then it was the right knee. Now it's both knees – at least I'm not running lopsided. I don’t like to have 'em drained. But if it gets to the point where I can't run or slide on it. I'll let them stick the needle in."
Knuckleballers are supposed to be Fat City for base stealers. The ball takes a long time to get to the plate, the catcher usually has to wrestle with it and there is always the chance that he won't catch it at all.
"Actually Phil and Joe Niekro aren't that easy to steal against." McBride said. "It's tougher to steal on Joe and Phil because they have such a good move to first base. His first pitch with men on base tonight was always a fastball and you know when he's ahead in the count they'll pitch out. I was lucky on the second steal that Keith swung at a pitch in the dirt because I didn't have much of a lead and didn't get a real good jump."
The way Carlton pitches in the Astrodome, you'd think he held the deed to the big, space-age barn. His career record against the Astros is now a gaudy 28-9. This was his 240th lifetime victory.
"HIS SLIDER WAS an excellent pitch tonight," Green said. "He also had an excellent fastball. It was a damn good performance when we needed it. We're a little banged up but the guys out there did a helluva job. Bake had a good night for us, Maddox and Boone hung tough and Aviles had a good game at second."
Aviles made three difficult plays on pop flies to right and right-center. He's from the school of infielding which believes all pop flies are fair game until he hears an outfielder call him off.
"I always try for any ball hit in the air that's shallow until I hear an outfielder call for it," Ramon said. "A lot of times you think the ball is hit deeper than it is and make a tough play for the outfielder by giving up on it."
Moreland survived his big-league debut with no chances.
"I was hoping if I was gonna get one it would be early," Keith said. "I'm happy I didn't get any, but I grew up playing third. I was signed playing third and I take a lot of ground balls there in case somebody gets hurt."
Steve Carlton, Bob Walk and the kids from Oklahoma City are keeping the Phillies in the race.
PHILUPS: Kevin Saucier had a suspected kidney stone attack during the game. "It runs in his family," Dallas Green said. "He started getting bad pains down there about halfway through the game. Otherwise the bullpen is in good shape for the Atlanta series, even with a double-header." Saucier accompanied the Phils on their charter flight to Atlanta... The temperature hit 104 again here, tying the record; that's 13 straight days over 100 degrees... A cab driver who has lived here since the pre-air conditioning days told me he can't remember anybody being bothered by the heat back in the '30s… Nino Espinosa vs. Phil Niekro tonight in steamy Atlanta.
There were four winners last night in the Daily News Home Run Payoff contest. In the fifth inning of the Phillies-Astros game, Harry Ellis of Philadelphia won S10, plus tickets, on Steve Carlton's fifth inning single.
Winners of four tickets each were, Ray Rosen of Spring City. Pa., and Frank Martinez and Marie Dougherty, both of Philadelphia.
So far the Daily News has paid out $12,305. Today's entry coupon appear on Page 10.