Philadelphia Daily News - June 11, 1980

Free-Swinging Maddox Golfs Way to Victory

 

By Bill Conlin

 

Don't ask Garry Maddox to explain why he is able to homer on pitches the greatest hitters who ever lived couldn't handle.

 

Don't ask him to explain how he can miss pitches a.220 hitter would drive out of the park.

 

Ted Williams wrote a book on hitting that is considered the finest work of its kind, a thesis that is to baseball what Bill Tilden's "Spin and the Ball” once was to tennis.

 

IF MADDOX wrote a book on hitting it would take its place alongside the world's slimmest volumes, including "Nothing But the Truth." by Richard Nixon. "Great Alpine Skiers of Bermuda" and "Who's Who in Greenland." The text of Garry's book would consist of two short sentences: "See the ball. Swing at it."

 

Never mind if it's a breaking ball darting for his left instep, which is where Giants lefthander Bob Knepper threw one last night in the sixth inning of the Phillies’ 4-3 victory at the Vet. The worst Knepper could expect from a cricket serve like that would be a wild pitch. It might have bounced if Maddox had taken it.

 

Most good hitters like to get their arms out on the ball. On this swing, Maddox got his arms down. Jack Nicklaus never hit a truer long-iron. The ball flew into the left-field bullpen for a two-run homer which erased a 3-2 San Francisco lead. The least Garry could have done was holler."Fore!"

 

With nobody out in the ninth. Maddox fled to the warning track in center to haul down a drive by Darrell Evans.

 

Now there's a book of substance Maddox could write: "Centerfield: My Way."

 

He piays with a nagging right hip injury, which hurts only when he walks, runs or swings the bat. The lush contract he signed in April has only intensified his determination to give Ruly Carpenter a dollar for a dollar.

 

"I STILL FELT tired when I got here today." Maddox said, numb like everybody else involved in the week the teams spent at the Vet Monday night. "It just took a little more to get me going. There's no doubt that a lot of the fatigue is mental after a night like that. I did get my rest today, but when I came to the park I had to kind of talk myself into getting ready. It's the same thing as when you're not hitting; you have a tendency to get down mentally and your defense suffers. So you have to force yourself to concentrate on defense."

 

He has long since stopped trying to analyze his hitting. "Free-swinger" might not be a strong enough label. "I might go up there and swing at a pitch that's a foot outside and take a pitch that's an inch outside." he said. "The only way you can hit the ball is to swing at it. It just shows how tough hitting can be. To take it a step further you can get a pitch that hangs and pop it up and then a guy. can make a pitch like the one tonight and you end up hitting it out of the ballpark."

 

Now there could be a Maddox book: "How to Hit the Breaking Ball – After it Bounces."

 

PHILUPS: Dallas Green says he's encouraged by recent progress by disabled righthanders Warren Brusstar and Nino Espinosa. "The last time for both of them, they threw better than at any time including spring training." said Green, who has asked both pitchers to go out this week, grit their teeth and throw hard. "The encouraging thing is that both threw without pain."... Mike Schmidt quietly joined the 1,000-hit club yesterday when the official scorer changed an error by third baseman Darrell Evans Monday night to a base hit. Schmidt was 0-for-4 and is 1-for-13, since rapping three hits Saturday... Dave Bristol's pitchers are going after Schmidt and Greg Luzinski with a  variety of breaking balls and off-speed pitches.

Phils In There Pitching

 

By Bill Conlin

 

If the Phillies need pitching so desperately, how come the staff ERA is a respectable 3.60? And don't say t it's because Steve Carlton is on his way to a Cy Young Award – Lefty works only every fourth day.

 

If the bullpen is so shabby, how come Dallas Green has four relievers with ERAs of 3.00 or better?

 

The popular lament lately has been. "The Phillies cant win the division unless they trade for a 15-game winner."

 

You don't have to look any further than Pittsburgh to see the flaws in that logic. The Pirates won the world championship last October without a 15-game winner. Only 10 pitchers in the National League won 15 or more games in 1979, which places that group on a value plateau with Gutenberg Bibles, Atlantic City real estate and six-percent mortgages.

 

WITH THE POSSIBLE exception of Houston, nobody in the league can run five terrifying starters out there, and Ma Bell reports that local calls from dugout to bullpen are booming all over baseball. The most frequent message from manager to starting pitcher these days is, "Keep us close and the bullpen will think of something."

 

Rookie righthander Bob Walk spread a walk, two singles and a double among three pop-ups in the first inning. All of that activity gave the Giants a 3-0 lead and Dallas Green a sinking feeling. You do not like to give Bob Knepper a three-run lead, particularly when his career ERA against the Phillies was 1.90.

 

But the promising beginning was all Dave Bristol's punchless sixth-placers could manage. The middle and end of San Francisco's attack was as airy as a La Burgogne souffle. Walk settled down professionally, allowing just two singles before Fred Whitfield led off the sixth with a double. Both those runners were erased in double plays. The bullpen did the rest.

 

Kevin Saucier pitched brilliantly out of a first-and-second, no-out jam in the sixth with the help of some fine defense and questionable strategy by Dave Bristol, who played the inning so close to the vest he singed the hair on his manly chest. And Ron Reed, whose ERA has been plummeting faster than the prime rate, finished the Phils' 4-3 victory with a flourish of three hitless innings.

 

GREG LUZINSKI PUT the Phillies on the board with his 13th homer, Pete Rose made it a one-run game. with a fifth-inning sacrifice fly and Garry Maddox put it away with a two-run one-iron to left, somehow golfing a sixth-inning breaking ball off his shoetops.

 

The story for the long term, though, continued to be the excellent depth of the bullpen, solid now for almost a month after early struggles by Reed and Tug McGraw.

 

No matter what the quality of their stuff. Saucier and Dickie Noles continue to prove they won't back away from anything. The overall bullpen is so solid, Green is worried about getting Lerrin LaGrow and Dan Larson enough work.

 

Saucier says he's a pitcher not a fighter, but he's smart enough to know that a little bit of a reputation for combativeness can take a pitcher a long way.

 

"Everybody wants to talk to me about fighting," he said. "I don't want to talk about that. I want to talk about pitching."

 

Fair enough. He came swaggering in from right field after Walk walked Jack Clark behind Whitfield's double. Bob Boone missed Whitfield with one pickoff throw, but his second attempt hung the outfielder out to dry and Larry Bowa and Mike Schmidt ran him down. Manny Trillo, who has been sensational at second this month, went deep into the hole to force Clark on a bouncer by Darrell Evans. Evans, batting cleanup, was up there to bunt, hardly orthodox strategy on the road with a one-run lead on turf, an unforgiving surface for the bunting game.

 

BRISTOL IS NOT stupid. He knows Saucier is very tough on left-handed hitters and the Giants' .238 team batting average should fill in the remaining clues. Cut in the Gene Mauch, Dick Williams mold, Dave has been around long enough to know that the ranks of ex-managers are filled with guys who sat there waiting for big innings to happ When Whitfield was picked off the strategy became academic.

 

Saucier struck out catcher Milt May, a left-handed swinger. The Giants didn't have another runner until a ninth-inning throwing error by Schmidt.

 

"We've got five guys down there now doing the job for us," Kevin said. '"Get five, six strong innings out of the starter and go to the pen. The way Dallas is using us now there's no chance any of us will get overworked and I think that's the way it should be. Lefty goes out every fourth day and cranks one up, that gives us our rest. Pittsburgh's using Romo and Tekulve quite a bit. They gotta be tired by the time September comes around. If he keeps using us the way he's been using us we're gonna be strong."

 

All spring, Green kept one eye on Reed's age – 37 – and the other on the length of his fastball. The power wasn't there and it still was missing when the season began in April.

 

"He's throwing the baseball now," the manager said. "A month ago he wasn't throwing the baseball. I'm not real sure why he wasn't throwing the baseball. He just didn't throw. He knew it, I knew it and the hitters knew it. He's now throwing like he's capable of throwing. With that comes more and more confidence. The fact I'm using him also builds his confidence. That's kind of a snowballing effect."

 

REED DECLINED comment on his resurgence. His opinion of print-media types is the equivalent of the Iranian man on the street's regard for President Carter.

 

Whatever, he's throwing that anvil-heavy fastball again, the one that helped him pile up 34 victories and 54 saves in four-plus seasons.

 

"We had two or three talks with him," Green said. "It was like Dick Ruthven. He couldn't tell us why and we really couldn't tell him."

 

The major league woods are filled with struggling starters. People screaming for the Phillies to go out and get a 15-game winner are advised to consider the high price then look down the road two or three reasons when this cast has grown old and short-term expendables like Lonnie Smith and Keith Moreland are coming back to haunt. 

Play Ball, Weather or Not

 

By Tom Cushman

 

Having authored a modern club record for rain delays on what otherwise would have been a routine Monday evening and Tuesday morning at Veterans Stadium, the co-conspirators must have been encouraged by the weather prospects as they returned to the scene last night.

 

Showers, some heavy, had periodically strafed the Delaware Valley during the day. Forecasts offered a promise of similar intrusions far into the evening. A crowd which eventually would number 32,635 was easing through the gates, obviously attracted by the knowledge that if an opportunity to take the record even farther into the morning was there, Bill Giles and Bob Engel's umpiring crew would be equal to the challenge.

 

AFTER ALL, hitting a ball into the upper deck one night doesn't mean you can't put one a few rows deeper the next. Preposterous as five hours of rain delays may sound when first accomplished, why not six?

 

Anyhow, no one left his motor running.

 

 

Despite this early enthusiasm, by game time signs were ominous. Overhead the sky was darkening, but neither storm clouds nor the oil refineries were responsible. Night moved in all by itself, and the few fluffs of cloud were without menace.

 

When Bob Engel and his companions made their appearance, they were not wearing waders. Meanwhile, in the owner's box. Bill Giles – the Phillies executive vice president in charge of cloud control – placed a final call to Jasmine Kalas, an auxiliary weatherperson who had served him so well during the record-breaking evening.

 

Alas, there was no rain gathering-in the west. Giles took his seat. Umpire Jerry Dale handed the first ball to Bob Walk, who pitched it to Larry Herndon, who smacked it into the outfield for a single.

 

The Giants scored three runs in that innning, but the Phillies won, 4-3, in 2:25. Monday's second rain delay had been 3:32 all by itself. You can understand why those who came last night hoping for records were in a sulk as they moved toward the parking lots.

 

 

Monday's game will officially go into the books as having been played in 2:36, a convenient way of ignoring that for some five hours between 7:35 p.m. and 3:11 yesterday morning all that happened was that the heavens dumped on Veterans Stadium while baseball did the same to the fans.

 

THIS IS NOT unusual behavior for the local franchise, which is less stubborn when the opponent is from Pittsburgh but has shown great resolve in its battles with the elements. Blame for Monday's marathon is, by the book, with the umpires, but the tone had been set by the Phillies, who may one day be seen finishing a game on an ark as the water crests near the 600 level.

 

Bill Giles last night explained, as he has previously, that this attitude is in response to an image projected by his predecessors. Some will re member it as the Sandy Koufax syndrome. If a cloud appeared over Philadelphia anytime after dawn on the day Koufax was listed as a starter for the Dodgers, the game was postponed.

 

"We got into the habit when Mr. (John) Quinn was here of calling off games early when later conditions made it seem the judgment was premature, says Bill Giles. "I got to a point where I felt sorry for the fans, and tried to change that philosophy. I wanted the public to know that if they're gonna come, we're gonna make every effort to play."

 

The point has been made consistently, but never before with the persistence or eloquence of Monday's example. There were 28,702 paying customers on the premises at the high-water mark. It has been estimated by journalists awakened by the final bell that perhaps 500 remained at that hour.

 

Of this number, at least several were interlopers, guys from the late shifts at local businesses who decided to stop by on the way home and see what baseball looked like underwater, at 3 a.m.

 

"WE MADE A LOT of people mad," Bill Giles concedes. "It was one of our group nights and a lot of those folks had to leave. We feel most of them are gone by 11:30, though, so once you get beyond that point you'd just as well go ahead and play the game.

 

"I talked to our operators this afternoon and they'd had maybe 200 calls. Most of the people were mad at the umpires. Some were mad at me. We're both responsible in a way, because I certainly encouraged the umpires, particularly early on.

 

"Anyhow," said Bill Giles, "a letter went out today to each of the groups, offering them free tickets for another game."

 

Presumably, guided by the laws of successful free enterprise, the selection will not be limitless.

 

"We gave them a choice of eight or 10 games," Bill Giles said; and he can almost guarantee that there will be baseball at the stadium on any of those evenings. Periodically, perhaps, but baseball nevertheless.

 

 

Several of the survivors of the Monday-Tuesday game seemed more concerned with the possible effects on Steve Carlton's left arm than on the disposition of the customers. Carlton, who would appear to be baseball's best pitcher at this point of the 1980 season, warmed up four times, an unusual statistic for one who pitched six superb innings.

 

"DRIVING HOME, I think that worried me more than anything else," said Bill Giles. "The first thing I asked when I went downstairs today was, 'How's Carlton?"'

 

Carlton apparently survived quite well. At least his post-game demeanor last evening was normal. He moved about the clubhouse wearing a T-shirt that says, "Chicago Press," one which also features a picture of a journalist with a bucket of water being poured over his head. It is a creation obviously inspired by a deed performed earlier this year by the noted sports columnist of the Chicago Tribune, Dave Kingman.

 

"I'm certainly not gonna take any. chances with him," said Dallas Green, "but with Steve Carlton you're not guessing on decisions like that. It's not like a young kid who's gonna tell you he's all right whether he is or not. Lefty was not all right after the sixth inning. Up to that time, he was."

 

"The thing I worry about," said trainer Don Seger, "is that in overcoming the stiffness after a long delay, a pitcher might alter his delivery and maybe hurt himself somewhere other than his arm. But Steve is so finely trained that it's unlikely any delay would affect him."

 

Asked if he could recall previously having seen a pitcher warm up four times, Don Seger admitted he couldn't. "But I'm not sure I've ever seen a game like the one last night," he added.

 

 

It is remarkable the distance baseball will go to provide entertainment for the fans these days. In its original form, the sport was intended to be played in innings, not heats separated by interludes of several hours while the pool is being refilled.

 

ARTIFICIAL TURF and artificial weathermen have, of course, changed this. And how can the fans really complain about an occasional eight-hour night at the ballpark when on so many other occasions they are showered with gifts? Bill Giles may have rained on them Monday, but on Friday he will reward them with an appearance by rock star Pat Benatar. Saturday there will be free American flags, hot dogs, apple pie, and the San Diego Padres, possibly in that order.

 

At other times this season customers at the stadium will receive – in addition to rain delays and without charge – jackets, sunhats, sweatshirts, T-shirts, caps, gym shorts, batting helmets, tube socks, and posters.

 

Why not umbrellas?

4 Winners

 

There were four winners last night in the Daily News Home Run Payoff contest. In the fourth inning of the Phillies-Giants game, winners of four tickets each to a Phillies game were, Harry Tamaccio of Levittown, Charles J. Belton, Bob Langdon and Osborne Wilson, all of Philadelphia.

 

 

So far the Daily News has paid out $5,200. Today's entry coupon appears on Page 91.