Wilmington Evening Journal - July 7, 1980
Green not satisfied with Phils’ character
By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor
ST, LOUIS – Manager Dallas Green talks about consistency and competitiveness and how pleased he is the Phillies have managed to stay close in the National League East despite a patched-up pitching staff.
But when Green talks about team character, he suddenly becomes serious and you can tell this is something that troubles him.
"I'm still not satisfied with the character of this club," Green said yesterday after the Phils defeated St. Louis 8-3 behind a record-breaking performance by 14-game winner Steve Carlton. "I'm pretty good at handling peaks and valleys, but this has been the most frustrating thing for me. I'm still not satisfied the players understand that they cannot win this thing (National League East) on talent alone."
Many times this season the Phils have taken the first two games of a series, then lost the next two or three. A good example was the road trip that ended yesterday. They took two from Montreal, then lost the third game. They won a double-header here Thursday night, then dropped games on Friday and Saturday.
Traditionally, the All-Star Game signals the halfway point of the season, For the Phillies, yesterday's game was No. 76. They have 86 to go. After 76 games last year, the Phils were 39-37, in third place, 6½ games behind Montreal. So, there, has been improvement because they are only one game behind the Expos, a 9-4 winner over New York yesterday.
"We have stayed competitive even though we have not been consistent," said Green as he tried to analyze the first half. "This is pleasing to me because you know the problems we have had with our pitching. Right now, it looks like our pitching staff is getting its act together and, aside from the character thing, I'm most concerned with our offense. Except for a streak of about a month and a half when we had offensive production, there has not been much satisfaction in that department.”
Green pointed to Bob Boone (.226), Greg Luzinski (.245) and Larry Bowa (.256) as the major problems.
"If we're not going to get the consistency
out of those guys, we're going to have to play better team baseball; we're going to have to figure out a way or two to grind out runs," said Green.
Had it not been for Carlton's brilliant first half, Green is the first to admit the Phillies would not be in the thick of the race.
"He's been the shining light," the rookie manager said. "He has allowed us to be patient with our pitching staff. For the most part, I have been able to wait for the arms to come, around. I hated to put Dickie Noles in the rotation because that meant I had to go heavy with Ron Reed and Tug McGraw in the bullpen and, as you know, McGraw Is on the disabled list. But I'm sure he's going to be OK and, With Nino Espinosa back, Noles has returned to the pen.
“Really, the key right now to our pitching is Randy Lerch. We're going to need him as a fifth starter the second half. If he doesn't get straightened out, we're going to have to make some kind of a move."
The youngsters, Lonnie Smith, Keith Moreland and George Vukovich, have contributed more than their share, according to Green.
"The most pleasing thing is that we came into the season with a lot of question marks," he said. "We've been able to handle most of those and are still in this thing, and I think the Eastern Division is going down to the wire. Montreal and Pittsburgh are the teams to beat, and New York is in it now. And I've said all along, St. Louis is going to be tough."
But had the Phillies' one-run record been better, they probably would-be leading the division. They're 13-15 in that category and 3-5 in extra-inning games.
"Think of the times we were in games until the end and lost them," mused Green. "Take Friday's game (a 1-0, 10-lnning loss here). If we had won only one of the ones we've lost by a run, we'd be on top of this thing. Team baseball should win those kinds of games."
But through the entire post-game conversation, Green kept coming back to the character of this team. To him if this quality doesn't improve, the pattern for the second half will be the same as it was the first.
"I've never been one to get too high when we win or too low when we get beat, but the most frustrating part has been to convince the players that, yes, we have ability but we have to have character and have to maintain that character for 162 games," said Green. "We get it together pretty good, then we seem to dissipate. We got back to the old ways. A team with character won't let that happen."
Green was asked why he thinks the character on this team is in and out
"I think the main reason is that they were under the one guy (Danny Ozark) for so long and during that period they had some great individual successes and some major team success, but that those successes were two, three years ago," he said. "I understand that we have to have great individual successes like Steve Carlton and Mike Schmidt, but we've got to convince ourselves that the only way to win this thing is as a team.
"We have to put aside our individual problems, our individual pettiness and our own strugglings to do something for the team. To change the way. we have done things for seven years to what I think is the correct way is difficult. I see strides and I see setbacks. Hopefully, in the second half we will be able to make greater strides and not slip back."
The Phils vaulted out to a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning against Pete Vuckovich yesterday and added single runs in the fifth and sixth.
Manny Trillo opened the fifth with his first of three doubles and easily scored when Bake McBride doubled to right. McBride went to third on Greg Gross' Infield out and scored when shortstop Garry Templeton made a wild throw to the plate on Garry Maddox's grounder. Maddox, who advanced to second on the play and stole third, came home on Boone's sacrifice fly.
George Hendrick, whose 10th-inning homer gave the Cards a 1-0 victory over the Phils on Friday, blasted a 1-0 Carlton pitch to left field for his 18th homer of the year with one out in the fourth. The Phils got the run back in the fifth when John Vukovich singled to left, sped to second on Carlton's infield out and scored on Trillo's second double.
Maddox opened the sixth with a double, went to third on an infield out and raced across the plate on Larry Bowa's suicide squeeze after which Vuckovich was replaced by John Urrea.
The Phils loaded the bases against Urrea in the seventh with one out before John Littlefield came in to get Maddox to pop out to Templeton and Boone to ground out.
When Maddox blasted a three-run homer off the fourth St. Louis pitcher, Kim Seaman, in the eighth, the runs appeared to be nothing more than a cushion. But the Cards came to life to score twice in the ninth with two out off Ron Reed, so the runs looked very, very important indeed.
EXTRA POINTS - Carlton became the all-time left-handed strikeout pitcher in baseball yesterday. When he struck out Tony Scott in the fourth inning, it was No. 2,833, enabling him to pass Mickey Lolich. He also moved into eighth place on the all-time list... The Phils were 5-3 on the road trip and are now 18-18 away from Veterans Stadium. They are 5-5 against the Cards... Boone, Pete Rose and Schmidt left after the game for the All-Star Game in Los Angeles. Boone is attending as National League player representative. Carlton and his family were to make the trip today... The Phils flew back to Philadelphia for the break. They will work out at the Vet on Wednesday afternoon and resume play Thursday against Chicago, with Dick Ruthven pitching... The Pirates follow the Cubs to the Vet for a three-game series beginning Saturday.
AL hungry to end NL all-star reign
LOS ANGELES – The outcome isn't reflected in any standings. It's a contest annually accompanied by controversy over the player selection process, and the game itself lacks the lingering tension of the playoffs or the World Series.
But when the teams take the field at Dodger Stadium tomorrow night for the 1980 All-Star Game, It's still the "Midsummer Classic" for fans. And the game seems somehow to bring out the best in baseball's best players.
The contest, to be nationally televised by ABC, is scheduled for a 8:40 p.m. EDT start.
The game shapes up as a version of "hungry youngsters versus successful veterans, as the new-look American League squad tries to end the National League's long dominance eight victories in a row and 16 wins in the last 17 meetings.
Half of Manager Earl Weaver's AL squad Is comprised of players who'll be making their first All-Star appearances, giving Chuck Tanner's NL contingent a definite edge in experience. Weaver, who hopes to guide the AL to its first victory since 1971, will have just two pitchers on his staff who've seen previous All-Star duty, the Yankees' Tommy John and Rich Gossage. Newcomers are Baltimore's Steve Stone, Kansas City's Larry Gura, Toronto's Dave Stieb, Seattle's Rick Honeycutt, Chicago's Ed Farmer and Boston's Tom Burgmeier.
Tanner's pitching staff will feature Philadelphia strikeout artist Steve Carlton; Los Angeles' Jerry Reuss, who recently threw a no-hitter, and Chicago's brace Sutter, the winning pitcher in the last two All-Star Games. Houston's J.R. Richard, Pittsburgh's Jim Bibby, Los Angeles' Bob Welch, Pittsburgh's Kent Tekulve and San Francisco's Ed Whitson round out the formidable NL mound corps.
The contest will be the first hosted by Los Angeles in 21 years, and the NL lineup will have a distinct Dodger flavor. First baseman Steve Garvey, second baseman Davey Lopes, shortstop Bill Russell and outfielder Reggie Smith of Los Angeles were all voted into the starting lineup.
Although hitting .240 this season, Lopes received 3,862,403 votes, most of any player, raising some accusations that Los Angeles fans overstuffed the ballot box.
"I didn't feel I was having an All-Star type of year," Lopes admitted. "To get more votes than anyone, that's surprising. But it's nice to know you are that popular with the fans."
Smith, leading the NL in hitting, had threatened to pass up the game if Dodgers teammate Dusty Baker was overlooked for the contest. But when Baker, an outfielder who finished fourth in fan balloting, was not named to the squad by Tanner, Smith relented, saying, "Since I was voted in, and I consider that an honor, I'll play."
The rest of the NL lineup is Cincinnati catcher Johnny Bench, outfielders Dave Parker of Pittsburgh and Dave Kingman of Chicago, and third baseman Ray Knight of Cincinnati. Philadelphia's Mike Schmidt was voted the starting third baseman, but will miss the contest with a hamstring pull.
Three AL starters as voted by the fans – Boston outfielder Jim Rice, second baseman Paul Molitor of Milwaukee . and third baseman George Brett of Kansas City – will not play because of injuries.
Milwaukee's Ben Ogllvie is the probable starter in Rice's spot, while California's Bobby Grich or the Yankees' Willie Randolph will open at second. Graig Nettles of the Yankees or Texas' Buddy Bell is expected to start for Brett.
The other starters are California first baseman Rod Carew, New York shortstop Bucky Dent, Boston's Fred Lynn and New York's Reggie Jackson in the outfield, and Boston's Carlton Fisk behind the plate.