Philadelphia Inquirer - June 3, 1980

A millionaire with conscience

 

By Bill Lyon

 

There is, in politics, a saying that power corrupts, and that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

 

And there is a feeling that this can be applied to entertainment, which, of course, also covers professional sports.

 

The widely accepted theory is that free agents, once they have signed those guaranteed, megabucks contracts, cease to perform. Their financial security assured, they no longer feel obliged to, in the parlance of the locker room, "put out."

 

It is commonly accepted that once his bank account is comfortably into seven figures, a performer will just go through the motions, no longer will be driven by the hunger and inspiration and demons that originally made him a star.

 

Perhaps no other athlete is more acutely aware of this prevailing sentiment than Garry Lee Maddox, the Phillies, centerfielder whose coverage of land is exceeded only by the U.S. Park Service.

 

"I know what a lot of people think, that once a player gets the big salary, then he stops trying, that security drains away all motivation," Maddox said. "I am trying very hard to disprove that theory."

 

Trying too hard

 

He is probably trying too hard, because he is a proud, sensitive man, and he picks up various papers around National League cities and he reads the statistical heading, "Millionaires Club," and he winces.

 

"They keep track of all the free agents who signed big contracts, what they're hitting or how they're pitching," he said. "My grievance is that they measure it all by statistics when the question they should be asking is: 'Is the guy playing as hard as he can?'"

 

The answer, of course, is that it varies. There are, certainly, some free agents who have been absolute busts. And there are some who have made it plain that they plan to coast along on their wallets until the end of their playing days. And there are some – Pete Rose being a prime example – who continue, in Rose's words, "to bust my cookies," to play with as much abandon now that they are millionaires as they did when they were relative paupers.

 

Too much to handle

 

Because free agentry is such an inflammatory subject, emotions tend to overshadow reason. What Garry Maddox is quietly suggesting is that the burden of being a freshly minted millionaire may be too much for some athletes, that they are trying too hard to prove that they're worth the money, and, in pressing, they twist themselves into hopeless knots of anxiety.

 

The whole subject is a burning passion for Maddox because, during spring training, he joined the Millionaires Club. After a lot of heated rhetoric, he signed a six-year contract with the Phillies that is estimated to be worth between half and three-quarters of a million dollars a season.

 

"I just made one promise to myself after I signed," he said, "And that was, I'm not gonna lay down. I'm gonna prove that you can play just as hard as you did before."

 

His outfield play is of Gold Glove impeccability, as always. Rose calls him "The Windshield Wiper" for the crisp, efficient way he sponges off extra-base trouble. But he has struggled with the bat, and, because of his nature and because of his concern with proving his worth, he is agonizing over it.

 

Some dog it

 

There are overpaid athletes who dog it, who interpret free agentry as a license to retire without shedding the uniform. But Garry Maddox throbs with the same intensity of a Pete Rose, and he is now discovering the terrible price of a big contract if a man has a conscience... and listens to it.

 

"I have peace of mind in one area, the future of my family," he said. "But if I don't play well now, this is going to be the toughest six years of my life. I'll be hard on myself, maybe harder than the people watching.

 

"It's ironic in a way. You work hard all your life to make it, and then when you do you have to prove yourself all over again. You have to prove that you're worth it. You have to prove that you're not too old. You have to prove that if you do produce one year that it wasn't a fluke, that you can do it two years in a row. You remember what the valleys were like, but it seems like it's tougher when you're on the peak."

 

 

A cynic would say that at those prices he'd like to have it so tough. But at least Garry Maddox still cares intensely about proving himself. He will not, like so many others, take the easy way out, and in this era that virtue is rare. And refreshing. Nor can it be measured by any statistical device.

Bucs whip blundering Phillies

 

Errors lead to 9-3 loss

 

By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer

 

PITTSBURGH – The Phillies journeyed to Pittsburgh last night for what was supposed to be a big baseball game. Instead, they got that brand new horror classic, "Night of the Living Pirates."

 

Their 9-3 loss to Pittsburgh included such ghastly lowlights as two blown leads, three errors in one inning (the Pirates' five-run fifth) and five Pittsburgh stolen bases. Four of them were by Omar Moreno, who now has stolen 17 in 18 tries against the Phillies the last two seasons.

 

Maybe the worst aspect of it all was the relapse of Randy Lerch (1-7). Lerch was the victim of all that fifth-inning sloppiness. But he also gave up seven hits in 4-2/3 innings, including some big ones between the errors.

 

Lerch will stay in the rotation regardless. But Dallas Green shrugged a "What-can-I-do?" shrug over the whole matter. Lerch stays in, Green said, because "I don't have a helluva lot of choice, do I?"

 

"We've got to get him on key," Green said, "especally with Christenson down now. You know, there were times tonight he pitched pretty tough. He wants to win so bad he can taste it, I'm sure. And pitching against the Pirates isn't the easiest thing to do."

 

But Green also criticized Lerch's breaking ball "too slow, too deliberate," he said. And he termed it, in general, "not a very well-pitched ball game."

 

Green doesn't know what to do about Lerch. He doesn't know what to do about the stolen-base problem, either. Bob Boone has nailed only seven of 45 runners this year. But his pitchers don't exactly keep guys glued on, either.

 

"It's up to the pitchers to handle that," Green said. "I can't do it.... They know who's capable of stealing and what situations guys might steal in."

 

Or do they? Two of the Pirates' steals were by Moreno while the Bucs led by a mere 9-3. There might be no rigid baseball rule on how big a lead has to be for guys to stop stealing. It's just generally agreed that six runs is past that line.

 

"Nobody ever told me that," said Moreno, who has three fewer steals than the whole Phillies team (31-28). "I'm going to steal when I've got the chance to steal. You never know when you're going to have enough runs. I've seen games where we've led, 6-0, and lost, 7-6. So if I get the chance I'm going to go."

 

Green, who played in an era when stuff like that was considered highly antisocial at best and rubbing it in at worst, obviously did not consider it worth going to war over. He will just stick it in his notebook and remember.

 

"I guess that's the way they want to play," Green said. "Well, two can play that game. If we get a chance, we'll do that, too. I guess they feel we're capable enough to score six runs, anyhow."

 

The Phillies might have been capable of scoring six off Don Robinson early last night. But later, after their defensive self-destruct, they looked more capable of giving away six than scoring six.

 

Boone bloop-doubled in two runs in the first, with an assist from a throw to nobody in particular by Dave Parker. Bake McBride singled in a third run in a four-hit second.

 

But Lerch, after seeming in his last outing to have kicked his allergic reaction to getting people out in the first inning, gave up two runs last night before he had pitched to his fourth batter. Then the Phils left men in scoring position four straight innings, and one could almost sense the Pirates' stereophonic onslaught coming.

 

It came in the fifth, beginning with a Lee Lacy double, a Steve Nicosia liner that Manny Trillo snared, a wild pitch and a walk to No. 8 hitter Dale Berra. Then the first error of the inning seemed to set the tone for all that followed.

 

Don Robinson, a .545-hitting pitcher, ripped a sure-thing double-play ball at Mike Schmidt. But Schmidt dropped it, retrieved it behind him and threw home late. That tied it.

 

McBride threw Berra out at the plate on Moreno's single. But that just postponed the inevitable. Moreno stole second, of course. Then rookie Vance (Son of Vernon) Law chopped a single that Larry Bowa could only field behind second, and it was 4-3.

 

Lerch's last pitch was a high, lazy curve to Parker, who roped it to right for a sizzling RBI single. When McBride botched a nonchalant one-handed stab at it for another error, Law scored, too, with the fifth run.

 

On came Lerrin LaGrow. Bill Robinson bounced to Schmidt. He dodged Parker, who cut in front of him on the way to third, but then threw it away for a third error and two more runs.

 

That should have been enough nightmares for one night. But the sixth inning wasn't much better. There were two LaGrow walks. There was a two-run single by D. Robinson. There were three more Pirates stolen bases, two by Moreno.

 

The worst Phillies defensive game of the year? "Right up there," said Green.

 

Boone refused to blame the pitchers for turning Phillies' opponents into a veritable Olympic 400-meter relay team.

 

"We're not doing a very good job of throwing runners out," he said, meaning himself mostly. "It's not all the pitchers' faults. My knee? I don't think.it's been a factor. I'm trying to set up a little different."

 

The Phils now have lost four of their last five and trail the Pirates by three games. A sweep here, and they're down five. As they found out last year, that could be a long, hard climb.

 

 

NOTES: Mike Schmidt has accounted for a remarkable 28 percent of all the Phillies' runs so far. Schmidt leads the major leagues in runs produced by a fair margin. In figures counting games through Friday (which leaves out his Wrigley Field outburst), Schmidt led Keith Hernandez in the National League, 59-54. American League leader Al Oliver was the big-league runner-up with 56. Bake McBride (49) was in a four-way tie for fifth in the NL, behind Hernandez, Steve Garvey (51) and George Hendrick (50).... Dick Ruth-ven vs. Buddy Solomon tonight.

Major leagues keep late draft picks under their hats

 

By Don McKee

 

Archbishop Ryan slugger Dan Cataline, West Catholic pitcher Bill Mendek and other area amateurs hoping for a call during today's major league draft had better sit close to the telephone.

 

Continuing a policy established last year, the major league clubs will not immediately release the names of players drafted after the second round of either the regular draft or the secondary phase of the draft.

 

"The policy went into effect last year, and we've had minimal complaints," Phillies spokesman Larry Shenk said. "This has been building for years. I know Dallas Green was one of the advocates (while director of minor league operations for the Phillies). It's been his feeling that this was the best way to protect ourselves."

 

What would happen in previous drafts put major league baseball at a disadvantage in competing with colleges for the middle and lower draft choices. "The draft would go out on the wires," Shenk recalled, "and it goes across the country before we'd have a chance to call our scout in, say, Iowa and tell him we'd drafted a player from a high school in his area. We're in competition with the colleges, but they'd get in touch with the player and try to recruit him away from us."

 

The college pitch was familiar – why spend time riding a bus in the minors for low pay, when you can spend four easy years on a nice green campus with thousands of coeds and, in some places, better living conditions? And, hey kid, didn't Tom Seaver and Dave Kingman and Reggie Jackson and Dave Winfield and Bob Horner all improve their bargaining positions by playing four years of college ball?

 

Middle-round choices, most of whom don't get a bonus, were beginning to opt for colleges that didn't know they existed until the major league draft. The pros, in other words, were doing the spade work, and the colleges were reaping the benefits.

 

The list also fell into the grasping hands of the ultra-competitive agents.

 

"A guy might be a No. 2 pick," Shenk said, "and may think he's worth a heck of a lot of money. All these people talk to him before we do, he gets himself an agent, and the next thing you know, we can't sign him."

 

The leagues will immediately release the names of players drafted in the first two rounds of both the regular and secondary phases today. They will not release the other names for a week.

 

 

The regular phase includes all players not previously drafted. The secondary phase includes players drafted in the past, but not signed.

Waiting game continues as Madlock appeals again

 

By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer

 

PITTSBURGH – Pittsburgh manager Chuck Tanner sat behind his desk in Three Rivers Stadium yesterday, wondering exactly who runs his team, anyway.

 

Tanner gets paid to make out his lineup. But he spent a lot of his day yesterday getting notices about who he could or couldn't include in it.

 

First, National League president Chub Feeney notified him yesterday afternoon that he couldn't play third baseman Bill Madlock for the next 15 games. Madlock was suspended for sticking his glove into the face of umpire Jerry Crawford on May 1.

 

That suspension was supposed to start with last night's game. But before Tanner could even take Madlock out of his lineup, he got word from the commissioner's office that he could put him back in there. Madlock had exercised his right to make a final appeal to the commissioner, and so the suspension goes back into limbo until that appeal hearing.

 

"All I know," said Tanner, after all this, "is that as long as he's on our roster and eligible to play, I plan to play him."

 

Madlock has been the reason for a major power battle among players, Feeney and the umpires' union. The scenario has gone this way:

 

Act I – Madlock bumps umpire.

 

Act II – Feeney rules shortly thereafter that he is being fined $5,000 and suspended for 15 games. This is easily the most severe penalty of its sort ever handed out.

 

Act III – Madlock claims he hasn't been given a chance to tell his side, so the suspension is stayed, pending Madlock's appeal to Feeney.

 

Act IV – Saturday, the umpires' association, impatient over the long wait for a ruling by Feeney, makes its move. It says umpires will eject Madlock from every game he starts, beginning this Friday.

 

Act V – Feeney says he will make a quick decision. He summons Madlock, the umpiring crew that worked the game, Tanner and several pther interested parties to a hearing yesterday. After the hearing, he announces that the original ruling stands.

 

Madlock refused yesterday to talk about Feeney's decision. But John Kibler, who headed the crew of umpires working last night's Phillies-Pirates game, said the group was "elated and pleased with it."

 

"We're not out to punish anybody," said Bruce Froemming, another umpire. "We're out to see justice done. And justice is not.being served with Madlock out on the field."

 

But Kibler and Froemming said it would be up to the umpires' attorney, Richie Philips, to decide whether they will go ahead with their ejection threat if Madlock's latest appeal is not decided by Friday.

 

Meanwhile, people such as Tanner are stuck, powerless, in the middle.

 

"I just feel it (the penalty) is too strong," Tanner said. "In the past there have been other incidents like this one.

 

"Just yesterday, (the Mets'j Joel Youngblood came up after being called out and bumped into (umpire Dick) Stello. I don't know whether he bumped him with his shoulder or his chest or what. And this is nothing against Youngblood. This is just something that happens in the heat of action. He bumped the umpire in the excitement of trying to explain his side to him. He didn't do it intentionally. He's just a competitor. And this is going to happen a lot of times."

 

Tanner said the umpires' threat to carry out their own "suspension" of Madlock "won't affect my thinking. My thinking is to play him, as long as he's eligible to play. I won't take anything away from my team.

 

"How will it affect him? That's hard to say. But he's been under a lot of pressure, and he's handling it very well."

 

Bob Boone, the National League player representative, said the Major League Players Association has taken an interest in the case because of the precedent it might set.

 

Boone said the players had suggested that an impartial person or panel decide cases such as this. The demand was a longstanding issue in the negotiations for the last basic agreement, but it was lopped off at the last minute.

 

 

"We're not trying to take any power from Chub Feeney," Boone said. "We're just interested in taking the pressure off him. We're not concerned about whether Feeney is right or wrong, or whether the penalty is too severe or not severe enough. It's just that when you have to appeal to the guy who set the penalty, that's no appeal system at all."