Philadelphia Inquirer - June 30, 1980
And the bullpen phone rings… no relief for Phils’ relievers
By Danny Robbins, Inquirer Staff Writer
Dallas Green likes to use a lot of relief pitchers. Of course, he doesn't like to use a lot of them every day.
But it had come down to this: Tug McGraw's arm was stiff, and everybody else had tried to hold the fort, such as it is these days, in the Saturday Night Massacre doubleheader. Lerrin LaGrow thought he could pitch again, but he wasn't crazy about the idea because his arm was weary, too.
Like everybody else in the Phillies' bullpen, he was pulling for young Bob Walk to pitch his first complete game.
"Yeah, we were all rooting for that," LaGrow said. "We figured he was gonna get it, too, no problem. But then the (bleeping) phone rings, and everybody looks at each other."
LaGrow was chosen to relieve Walk and try to nail down this 5-2 win over the pesky Mets at the Vet, which he did but not without providing some agony. LaGrow entered the game in the eighth inning, one on and two out, after Joel Youngblood had singled home the Mets' second run in a 4-2 game. LaGrow then managed to walk the next two batters on nine pitches.
"What do you say to yourself in that situation?" LaGrow said later, repeating a question. "You say, 'Forget how you feel.' You reach back and let go. There are no corners, just the middle of the plate."
And he knew there was no escape on this humid evening. "You start warming up, and you don't feel good," he said. "But, hey, you're the last guy."
Such is life in the Pnillies' workaholic bullpen these days. LaGrow's right arm stayed in one piece long enough for him to earn his second save of the season and the Phillies to board their late-night charter flight to Montreal with a win, at last, over the Mets.
"It's the bullpen. The bullpen is getting so much work. It takes its toll, and I'm sick and tired of everybody pointing fingers at us," LaGrow lashed out when he was first asked about his scattershot work.
LaGrow simply described himself as "tired" as he rode the cart to the mound, where he also had been the two previous nights. He had been there for every other game of the New York series – two innings Friday and two-thirds of an inning Saturday, which meant he held the short straw last night. For sure, he looked tired.
Asked how many pitches he had thrown in the bullpen, LaGrow said: "I'm not sure, but it wasn't too many. I know that for sure."
His first seven pitches to the Mets were balls. John Stearns walked on four pitches. Steve Henderson was at 3-0, then got a called strike and walked on the next pitch. LaGrow was not just trying to pitch around these guys.
"You don't want to be careful," he said, "or you'll die out there. You've got to battle. I didn't throw anything but fastballs, even those first seven pitches. But at least I had pretty good velocity, and I figured I could get the job done."
Eventually, with the bases loaded, he did it. With a fairly large group of fans yelling "Let's go Mets!" and a lot of natives getting restless, LaGrow made his first pitch to the next batter, Elliott Maddox, a strike. Maddox took a ball, another strike and then grounded the 1-2 pitch to John Vukovich, who stepped on third to end the inning.
"Most of the adjustment you make in that situation is mental," LaGrow said. "You know the situation: Your arm is tired, and your body is getting out in front. So you have to compensate. You shorten your stride so you don't roll off (the mound) so quickly. That's why Herm (Starrette, the pitching coach) came out in the ninth. He saw me starting to fall off again."
LaGrow struck out Alex Trevino to begin the ninth. But two batters, Jose Cardenal and Lee Mazzilli, hit balls hard, and finally the Mets had runners on first and third and the tying run, the always-unpredictable Claudell Washington, at the plate with two out. Washington had already singled and doubled off Walk after bringing an 0-for-19 string into the game.
LaGrow got two quick, swinging strikes with his split-fingered fastball, and Washington skied the third pitch to Garry Maddox to end the game – and put LaGrow out of his misery.
"I played two years with him (Washington) with the White Sox. I should know how to pitch to him," he said. "I know he's a little weird. But I threw him three split-fingered fast-balls, and, fortunately, he went for 'em. 1 was happy.
"Another extra-inning game and, man, that's just what we needed. I sure didn't want that because I'd have to go the next 10 innings."
How does Carlton do it?
By Danny Robbins, Inquirer Staff Writer
Is it his arm?
"The thing about Steve is, he can go out there without his good slider and still win with a good fastball and curve.... Most pitchers need every pitch. He does not." – Larry Bowa, Phillies
Is it his move?
"I think the key is his move to first base. He has such a great pickoff move, and that shuts off so many opportunities for you. You can't get good jumps. You can't steal People don't realize how important that is." – Lee Mazzilli, Mets
Is it his physical conditioning?
"The man just continues to amaze me every time he works out He has recuperative powers beyond my comprehension. There's no babying, and he puts out more than I ask." – Gus Hoefling, physical therapist
Is it his mind?
"A transformation has taken place, and I think it's responsible for the way he's pitching. Absolutely nothing fazes him. He pitches through a hitter, right to the catcher, as if the hitter isn't there." – Tim McCarver, confidant
The 1972 Phillies were a wonderful collection that included such immortals as Joe Lis, Darrell Brandon and Mac Scarce. The 1972 Phillies lost 97 games. If you want to preserve great moments in Phillies history, you steer clear of these guys.
But the 1972 Phillies were excellent – you could even call them world-beaters – every fourth day or so because they had Steve Carlton on the mound. It was Carlton's first season with the Phillies after five in St. Louis, and it was a time of wine and roses for him.
At age 27, he built a 27-10 record and won 15 games in a row in one hot, June-to-August stretch. He had a 1.98 ERA, he pitched 346 innings, and he struck out 310 batters. Those figures were all National League bests for that year. He got his first Cy Young Award because of them.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Phillies were busy winning all of 32 games without Carlton and finishing with the worst record in the National League.
"To me, the season Lefty had in 72 can never be overlooked from a pitcher's standpoint," said the Montreal Expos' Tommy Hutton, who was in his first season with the Phillies then. "You've got to look beyond his stats. I mean, we won 59, and he won 27. We were so bad that year. But at least we knew we had a chance when Lefty was out there. I think guys played better behind him."
And so that season, or at least Carlton's version of it, actually has been preserved, frozen in time, by a work of art. The drawing of Carlton (straight hair, drooping mustache then) in the main hallway of the Phillies' executive offices at the Vet is ringed by box scores of games Carlton won in 1972, Joe Lis and all.
"For me," Hutton said, "that was a fun season, because it was my first and I got to play a lot here. And there was Lefty. When I come back, I go up to the front office and look at the picture they have of Lefty, with all the box scores around it, and I remember I played in a lot of those games."
In 1972, Steve Carlton also did some radical things.
He didn't mind going on "The Mike Douglas Show" and throwing lightweight baseballs at one of those carnival-style dunking machines. He ate meat. He talked to reporters, sometimes superficially and sometimes quite openly.
"I haven't been getting my running in," he said after an outing that was below his high standards. "We had the morning doubleheader in Pittsburgh, then a day off. My legs tired, and when they do that, my pitches tend to be high. The legs have to carry the arms."
Yes, in 1972, Steve Carlton ran with the other pitchers to keep in shape. In those days, he ran with the pack. He is different now, at 35, amazingly better as the head – the head he won't let us peer into – sustains the left arm.
In the seven seasons after 1972, Carlton would be great again (another Cy Young summer in 1977), average at times and also very good, which he was during his 18-11 1979 work. But now this... this 1.93 ERA and 141 strikeouts in 140 innings, already a 13-3 record. This has come out of the blue.
Carlton won his 14th game in 1972 on July 23. He was going for his 14th win of 1980 Friday night at the Vet against the New York Mets, who kept Carlton stuck at 13 by beating him for the second time this season. The Mets picked at Carlton for eight hits in seven innings and came away with a 3-2 victory.
"We're just a team that people underestimate," said the Mets' Joel Youngblood, a .270 hitter who is 5-for-8 against Carlton this season. "Unfortunately, we're one of the teams Lefty has a hard time with, probably because he knows how to pitch to a lot of hitters, and he doesn't know how to pitch to guys like us."
Still, only the Mets, an occasional Bill Nahorodny hit and the early-morning rain of June 9 truly have bothered Carlton this season. His three basic pitches – fastball, slider and curve – have smoked and swerved as they have only once before: 1972. The slider, that famously deceptive pitch, has really been killing righthanded hitters, who keep hacking away as the ball cuts into the ground.
"It's such an explosive pitch," Larry Bowa said. "I've never seen so many righthanded hitters swinging at balls in the dirt, except maybe in 72."
Makes him special
When all three pitches are cooking, Carlton has, as the Expos' Warren Cromartie says, "his A-plus stuff." Carlton often has something less than that, and the fact that he wins anyway is something that makes him special.
"The thing about Steve is," Bowa said, "he can go out there without his good slider and still win with a good fastball and curve. Or, I've seen him get by with all sliders and just locating his fastball. Most pitchers need every pitch. He does not."
"Carlton," said Lee Mazzilli of the Mets, "can win without his best stuff, and I think the key is his move to first base. He has such a great pickoff move, and that shuts off so many opportunities for you. You can't get good jumps. You can't steal. People don't realize how important that is."
Others cite his strong competitive nature, something else that can help him in tight situations. Cromartie calls Carlton "the guttiest pitcher around, next to Bill Lee." Joe Torre, the Mets manager', said, "I've never seen a tougher pitcher with a lead than Carlton."
What they are seeing is, basically, the tip of an iceberg.
The basis for Carlton's success, people around him suggest, is the inner game, concentration and mind control, the ability to block out distractions and press on when others around him might not. It is a quality you find in the very best athletes. The stoic nature of tennis' Bjorn Borg is a good example of this Carlton trait.
"I've noticed that Borg never complains to the linesmen about calls, as if that bleep is beneath him," said Tim McCarver, Carlton's longtime friend and former catcher. "The same thing applies to Lefty and the umpires. I've seen him make occasional queries, but that's it. He may say some words, but he's almost talking to himself."
Carlton's ability to rivet his attention to one game of baseball is, indeed, legendary.
On days he pitches, he goes into the trainer's room, stretches out on one of the tables, closes his eyes and, for an hour or so, just thinks about the hitters he soon will face.
"You can kid around with him most of the time," Bowa said. "But on game days, you don't mess around with Steve. He goes in the trainer's room, lies down and gets ready. Nobody bugs him. You can say 'Hi,' but that's the extent of it."
Then Carlton jams cotton in his ears – something he has done for three years – and heads for the mound, where he works with a sort of tunnel vision.
"You could drop a bomb behind him, and it wouldn't make any difference," Bowa said. "Like, in San Francisco, there was a guy on third, one out and that guy (Jim) Wohlford at the plate. The guy is from the American League, but I know he's a good contact hitter. I could tell by his swing. So Steve has to have a strikeout, and it was just unbelievable to me the way he buckled down and got it."
That strikeout could stand as an example of Carlton's edge this season. Wohlford swung at the first pitch, a curve, and missed for strike one. He took a fastball for strike two. He waved at the slider for strike three. Three pitches, and he's gone, fooled again.
Maybe all of this would make more sense if Carlton kept his 6-foot, 5-inch, 219-pound body in its rock-solid condition by conventional means. But he does not. He merely experiments with barbells and weight, machines, and, of course, he avoids running – the exercise of the "Me Decade" and always the exercise of pitchers.
Carlton gets more mileage out of a stick.
Two years ago, he became a vegetarian, gave up running and plunged, full speed, into Gus Hoefling's training program. Hoefling is the Phillies' official "strength and flexibility teacher." He is also considered Carlton's guru, a title with mystical implications that Hoefling doesn't exactly go out of his way to shoot down.
When you talk to Hoefling, you see where Carlton gets his views on running. "I'm not against running," he joked. "I think it's a great thing for orthopedic surgeons."
Hoefling's program is grounded in the martial arts and stretching exercises. He conducts it in the Phillies' weight room – the half of the room with only a red carpet, no weights or machines, on the floor. "What takes place on that floor is impossible to put on paper," he said.
Montreal catcher Gary Carter, who says Carlton "works with that Kung Fu stuff," tried a Hoefling workout last week. "Gus just showed me a few things," he said, "mainly flexibility exercises with a stick, positive and negative (tension) stuff."
Such work occupies much of Carlton's time during the off-season, and he puts in about two hours a day between starts now. That kind of physical conditioning is as much a Carlton passion as collecting fine wines, and friends say he could teach both subjects.
"He and Roman Gabriel are the hardest-working professional athletes I've ever known," Hoefling said, "and I'd say Steve has surpassed Roman in that aspect. The man just continues to amaze me every time he works out. He has recuperative powers beyond my comprehension. There's no babying, and he puts out more than I ask.
"I shudder to think what would happen if that ended. If a man can go so far this way in a positive manner.... Well, there has to be two sides to the coin."
Hoefling says Carlton isn't working any harder than he did last year, when he needed a whole season to win 18 games. "But I think he is happier. I think he's happier with this guy as the manager," he said as Dallas Green strolled through the dugout.
"Certain forms of the Chinese martial arts are very hard for us to understand," Tim McCarver was saying. "The other night I was reading a book about EST and things like that, things where the body and mind come together.
"I don't know if that's the case with Steve, but something has taken place. He has been transformed into a calm, peaceful person, completely in control – and there have been times when Lefty has not been completely in control. I can tell a distinct difference between Steve this year and Steve last year.
"A transformation has taken place, and I think it's responsible for the way he's pitching. Absolutely nothing fazes him. He pitches through a hitter, right to the catcher, as if the hitter isn't there."
Maybe that's because a man who could perturb Carlton, Danny Ozark, is gone. "That may be true," McCarver said, "but I don't know how important it is."
Happy with Green
The fact remains, however, that Carlton is 18-3 since the managerial switch to Green last Aug. 31. Green, like Ozark, has let Carlton go his own way since backing off from his "We Not I" running idea in spring training. But Green gets points, it seems, just for being a tough-talking former 'pitcher.
"Well, I could tell that Steve was a much happier person when Dallas took over the team," Bowa said. "I don't think Steve had anything personal against Danny Ozark. But – and this is just my opinion – I don't think Steve thought Danny was a competent manager.
"I think he respects Dallas more because Dallas actually learned the ropes as a big-league pitcher. Danny had a tendency to go with the hot hand. Like, if Tug (McGraw) is hot Danny goes with him. That's OK, but eventually you're using Tug too much. Dallas wants to use everybody and Steve knows that. He knows that Dallas knows how to use pitchers.
"It's like, this year we're losing, 2-0 to the Mets (April 21) in the seventh and Dallas takes Steve out for a pinch hitter. Later, Steve said just one thing to Dallas: 'You did the right thing.' Last year, Steve might have gone crazy. Not in public, of course, but he still might have gone crazy."
The Carlton Phenomenon of 1980 has underscored another item, the, Carlton Spokesman.
Carlton's policy is to avoid reporters. Because he is news, reporter can't avoid him. So others are doing the talking for Carlton, more so now than ever before. This can get a little repetitious, and catcher Bob Boone has indicated that he would rather talk about other things, even his own hitting problems.
Just ask McCarver
McCarver, Carlton's catcher, sidekick and debater of subjects as personal as religion on off-season hunting trips, remains the definitive Carlton source, although he has moved to the broadcast booth.
"It's gotten to the point where it's not quite as tasteful as I'd like it to be," he said, "because Boonie is catching him now and doing a super job."
McCarver estimates that he has been interviewed 10 times in the last two weeks, always about Carlton, and the situation probably won't change. "People wonder what he'll do if Johnny Carson calls," he said. "Well, probably nothing. Money means nothing to Lefty, outside his family and his wine."
McCarver has interviewed Carlton twice after broadcasting games this year, generally sticking to questions and comments about the games. "He turned me down a couple times," McCarver said, "and I really didn't press it,"
But he will cross the line into journalism a little more this week when he sits down and thrashes out a story about Carlton for Sports Illustrated. McCarver says he won't necessarily glorify Carlton in the piece, and he will be paid for it like any writer. The magazine approached him with the idea, then he approached Carlton.
"I told Lefty about it because there's money involved," he said, "and he said, 'Well, I'm glad somebody is making money out of this. because I'm certainly not, or something along those lines."
Carlton refuses to talk to reporters out of spite, basically, with a bitterness that lingers from things written about him during the leaner years. But such behavior adds another layer to the cocoon that gives him life, that lets him work in his one-track, somewhat mystical way.
"My idea about baseball," Bowa said, "is it's a public game, and we should share whatever we can with the public. Steve says, 'It's our game, and I don't have to share it.' What he does is his business."
And his, it seems, alone.
"A guy like Carlton comes along once in 10,000 years," Hoefling said. "His skill level is so high. But you show me a champion in any field, and I'll show vou a loner. They don't jump in with the crowd.”
Phillies back on track?
Walk is tough as Mets fall, 5-2
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
Dallas Green watched the Mets take three straight from the Phillies this weekend and apparently figured these teams must have gotten their uniforms mixed up.
The Mets are the ones who are supposed to leave 97 guys on. The Mets are the ones who are supposed to waste the great starting pitching. The Mets are the ones who are supposed to miss signs, turn opponents' singles into homers and generally pay homage to their ancestors.
But for the first three games of a four-game series, it was the Phillies who did those things. So last night, when the Phils rode a couple of accidental hits, the defensive inventiveness of Claudell Washington and more tough pitching from Bob Walk to a 5-2 victory over the Mets, Green decided things had reverted to their proper order.
"All I can say," he beamed afterward, "is that we finally played like the Phillies, and the Mets finally played like the Mets."
Green, who has never been viewed as a serious candidate for ambassador to Peking, invited people to "take that any way you want." But there were not a whole lot of charitable ways you could take it if you happened to manage the Mets.
Joe Torre does. And when Green's remarks were relayed to him, he did not react by sending Green a round of gin-arid-tonics for his flight to Montreal.
"Dallas has a tendency to have his rear-end overload his mouth once in a while," fumed Torre, "if that's what he said.
"I respect any club I play. And I don't have appreciation for persons who don't respect my team. Maybe when he pitched, he got hit. And now he's getting back for it. We've got nothing to be ashamed of.... If he attacks me, that's one thing. But I don't like him attacking my players."
Green, of course, hasn't had a lot of reasons to gloat lately. Before last night, the Phils had lost four straight and eight of 10. And they had scored a mighty nine runs in five games.
But last night, the Phils actually got five hits in one inning, succeeded in protecting a 4-0 lead, got terrific defense from fill-ins John Vukovich and Ramon Aviles and even, Green added, "didn't miss any signs – for a change."
But most prominently, they got 7-2/3 strong innings from the rapidly maturing Walk (3-0).
Finding the plate
It has been theorized from the start that if Walk could manage to throw the ball over the plate once in a while, he could win. But when he first came up, it was all Green could do to get Walk to throw the ball toward the plate, let alone over it.
Eventually, however, the Phillies were able to convince Walk that it was possible to not go through a minute and a half of gyrations before making each pitch. And in his last two starts, he has learned an even greater lesson – there are guys with gloves out there behind him.
"My first couple times out I was trying to strike everybody out," Walk said. "I was trying to make all great pitches. So I'd end up either making them or walking everybody. But now I realize I'm not going to strike everybody out. So I'm trying make guys hit the ball. We've got all those Gold Gloves out there, right? So why not let them catch it?"
Two of those Gold Gloves (Larry Bowa and Mike Schmidt) weren't out there last night. But the guys taking their places, Aviles and Vukovich, weren't exactly the Error Brothers. A sprawling stop by Vukovich, in fact, was the major reason that Walk escaped a bases-loaded mess in the seventh.
After the first six innings, Walk had a walk-free three-hitter and was riding a streak of 14 innings without allowing an earned run.
But after he got two outs in the seventh, John Stearns and Steve Henderson lined singles to left. And Walk fell behind Elliott Maddox, 2-and-0. Everyone from the 41,113 paying customers to Maddox knew a fastball was coming. And Maddox ripped it down the third-base line.
But Vukovich, who has a higher lifetime fielding percentage than Schmidt, held it to an infield single with a Graig Nettles Memorial Dive. It saved at least one run, maybe two.
"I never had time to cringe," Walk said. "It happened so fast I didn't have time to react. He hit the ball. I turned around. And Vuke had already dove and caught it. I'm sure if I'd turned and seen the ball rolling around the corner, I would have felt bad."
Walk then blew three fastballs past pinch-hitter Ron Hodges for his sixth strikeout. And it was on to the eighth.
But Walk started it by issuing his first walk, to pinch-hitter Jose Cardenal. A strikeout of Lee Mazzilli got him one out. And Aviles got the second for him with a stylish stab and backhanded flip to salvage a force out of Frank Taveras' bouncer up the middle.
But Washington's liner to left fell on the line for a double and one run. An RBI single by Joel Youngblood (14-for-his-last-24) made it 4-2. And Lerrin LaGrow had to come in and save it, which he did despite walking the first two batters he faced.
The Phillies had built a 4-0 lead after six, courtesy of a three-run sixth and some Mets defensive charity in the fourth.
The sixth included Walk's third big-league single, a hit-and-Walk single by Pete Rose and Manny Trillo's seventh hit in two days, an RBI base hit. That was the normal part. It also included a blooper by Bake McBride on a pitch he was trying to take and a swinging-bunt single by Keith Moreland.
But it was the fourth that must have reminded Green of the way it was when he was a Met in 1966.
First, Trillo lined a one-out single to right. Washington trotted over, stuck out his fabled Cold Glove, and the ball hopped right by it for a two-base error.
So Trillo was on third for McBride, who bounced a two-hopper to Mazzilli, the first baseman. That would have been enough to score Trillo anyway. But as Pat Zachry raced to first to cover, Mazzilli overthrew him with a line-drive throw and McBride was on second. It looked like a re-enactment of Pete Liske trying to hit Ben Hawkins.
Apparently, it looked to Green like a re-enactment of Marv Throneberry trying to hit Jay Hook. But that was before Torre reminded him that Elio Chacon doesn't live here anymore.
NOTES: Larry Bowa and Mike Schmidt both might attempt to play tonight in Montreal. Bowa has missed four games with a right hamstring injury. Schmidt missed his third last night with a left hamstring problem.... Tug McGraw didn't pitch in Saturday's doubleheader because of stiffness in his left shoulder. McGraw worked four days in a row on the West Coast (June 16-19), has pitched only once since, Tuesday against the Expos.... Dickie Noles reportedly tried to drop his suspension appeal Wednesday, the day after he pitched. But National League president Chub Feeney wouldn't let him, to ensure that he would miss a turn.... Going into last night the Phillies had played 25 one-run games and had won just 11. They also had played seven one-run games in a row and had won only two.... Last night's fireworks display was rained out, but the team announced that anyone presenting a ticket stub for last night's game will receive a $1 discount on a reserved seat seat for any future game.... Matchups in Montreal: Bill Gullickson (0-1) vs. Noles (0-3) tonight, Randy Lerch (2-10) vs. Scott Sanderson (7-4) tomorrow, Steve Carlton (13-3) vs. Steve Rogers (9-6) Wednesday.
Phillies good – for laughs
By Frank Dolson, Sports Editor
It was a joyous scene. Lots of laughter. Lots of noise. The Phillies should have been in the visiting clubhouse at Veterans Stadium early yesterday morning, minutes after the New York Mets had completed a twi-night doubleheader sweep. Maybe it would have jolted them into the realization that something had to be done. Maybe it would have convinced them to listen when Dallas Green chided them for taking too much for granted, for coasting instead of working, for making many of the same mental and physical mistakes under him that had sent good, old, easy-going Danny Ozark packing.
"First time we were in here Dallas Green came out in the paper and said, 'If we're going to do anything at all this year we've got to beat teams like the Mets,'" John Stearns was saying. "We've taken that to heart. We won't forget. Ask Dallas now about beating the Mets."
"Dallas who?" somebody shouted.
There was momentary silence, then a voice – Elliott Maddox' – crackled through the room. "Dallas Brown?" he asked.
"No," came the chorus.
"Uh, Dallas Orange?"
"Yeah, that's the one."
What Phils needed?
So it went. Maybe that long Saturday night that turned into a Sunday morning victory celebration for the Mets was what the Phillies needed. Maybe it was good for them to be embarrassed before a big home crowd.
And maybe it's what Dallas needed to convince himself, once and for all, that the time had come to get tough – really tough – with a team that doesn't seem to know the meaning of the word.
Blame it on those seven years under Ozark or on those three straight division titles that made them think they were good enough to do it again, and again, without going all-out all the time. Blame it on the current state of major league baseball – with all those whopping, guaranteed contracts, all those satisfied players.
"I knew it would be hard (to motivate this club)," Green said, "but I thought it would be easier than this. But how do you convince them? A hundred-dollar fine doesn't mean anything. Ten years ago, a Gene Mauch, an Eddie Stanky, one of those guys that didn't care about hurting anybody's feelings, would've eaten them up."
Accepts the blame
But the more he talked in the post-midnight gloom of the loser's clubhouse, the more he seemed to accept the blame for the mistakes... and the defeats... that had become a habit in the past week. There was a throw from left field in the fifth inning of the first game that should have been cut off, and wasn't, permitting the potential go-ahead run to reach second. "Communication (between the catcher and the third baseman) was the problem," Green said. And there was the hit-and-run sign that Bake McBride missed in the 10th inning of the opener, killing a budding rally. "He admitted it," said the manager. "He wanted to hit-and-run, but he just drew a blank when he got up there. What the hell do you do? I give the guy credit. At least he came in and said, 'I messed up.'"
But there's too much messing up, physical as well as mental – a sign, Green felt, that the players weren't working at maintaining their skills. The team ran better, threw better in the spring. In short, the 1980 Phillies have deteriorated under Green just as the 1979 Phillies deteriorated under Ozark.
Let them manage?
"So it's really my fault," Dallas said. "I should let them manage if I'm not going to take control. That started Danny's downfall. They were, in fact, managing. Danny wasn't managing. They were running the show. I should've learned from that.... We're at the age where only one thing can happen if they don't work – deterioration. I would hope that our mature people would be able to figure that out for themselves, and I've let them try to figure that out for themselves. I've urged. I've talked. There's only one thing left to do, and that's really hammer the hell out of them. They've got to realize they can't win playing the way they're playing."
That's the hard part: making them realize. "If I walked out there now and said, 'You guys aren't working at the game,' they'd laugh," Green said. "They just don't understand."
So the job now is to make them understand while they're still in the race – to get the arms and legs and heads back in shape before it's too late, before Dallas Green's Phillies go the way of Danny Ozark's Phillies.
Before the sound of laughter in the visiting clubhouse becomes a commonplace occurrence.
Phillies open crucial series
The Phillies, held in check by the New York Mets in their attempt to gain ground on the National League East Division’s front-running Montreal Expos, still hope to close the gap when they open a crucial three-game series in the Canadian City tonight.
The game will be nationally televised by ABC (Channel 6), starting at 8:30.
PHILLIES at Montreal, 8:30 p.m. (TV-Ch. 6; Radio-KYW-1060); backup game New York vs. Boston