Montreal Gazette - October 14, 1980
World Series matches clubs with pasts worth forgetting
By Michael Farber of The Gazette
PHILADELPHIA – The 1980 World Series will be played in the Devil's Island of major American cities.
Philadelphia and Kansas City certainly have been spurned Philly because it couldn't beat the rap of W.C. Fields: K.C. because it couldn't beat the Yankees.
Perhaps Fields' barbs were the more stinging because they became part of the American consciousness. For many, Philadelphia is the largest joke in the country, including the federal government. Thank, or blame, Fields. On his tombstone, the humorist who said he spent a week in Philadelphia one night had engraved: "All things considered, I'd rather be in Philadelphia."
The consecutive National League playoff losses by the incredibly talented Phillies of 1976, '77 and '78 didn't enhance the reputation, either.
Kansas City had the same identity problem. The Missouri city lies in the heart of the white belt... and that has less to do with race than it does the thing which holds up those red-checked polyester pants and matches the white patent leather shoes local men fancy. Blues singers used to rasp about some crazy little women there, but few people seemed to have found one.
Even payed streets
"The way people talk, you'd think it's Dodge City and not Kansas City," George Brett said yesterday. "Wait and see. We've got paved streets, skyscrapers and a couple of taxis."
But then came the Yankees, symbolic of New York – which is as beloved in the American hinterland as Toronto is in Goodsoil, Sask. While the Phillies were falling on their bats first against Cincinnati and then twice against Los Angeles, the Kansas City Royals were losing three straight American League playoffs to Reggie Jackson, the late Thurman Munson and the rest of Murmurer's Row.
Predictably, Royals and Phillies fans reacted to these humbling experiences as befits their local customs.
The Silent Majority in Kansas City kept the faith, returning the beneficent waves of owner Ewing Kaufmann during the seventh inning take-me-out-to-the-ballgame bit like solid citizens.
The Vocal Majority in Philadelphia embraced the attitude best expressed by Phillie pitcher Frank Sullivan on flying home after a particularly disastrous road trip during the early 1960s.
"Scatter," Sullivan advised the deplaning Phillies, "so they can't get us with one burst."
But suddenly first prize really is a trip to Philadelphia, where the World Series begins tonight at 8:15 between the double-knitted representatives of these oft-maligned burgs.
On paper, the Phillies and Royals are even. Each pitching staff has one dominant starter (Dennis Leonard of Kansas City and Steve Carlton) and reliever (Dan Quisenberry and the Phillies' Tug McGraw). Mike Schmidt is the longball equivalent of Brett at third base, U.L. Washington and Larry Bowa at shortstop is a push, second baseman Frank White and Manny Trillo were most valuable players in their respective playoffs, Willie Mays Aikens drove in 98 runs, but Pete Rose is Pete Rose at first. Catchers Bob Boone of the Phillies and Darrell Porter each had bad seasons. Amos Otis in centre and the Royals' three-man platoon in right are only slightly less productive than Garry Maddox and Bake McBride. The only clear advantage the Royals seem to have is Willie Wilson over the Greg Luzinski-led troika in left.
But the best-of-seven series will be played on plastic instead of paper – the first all-chemical turf World Series – and the Royals have an edge.
They play spacious Royals Stadium like a violin, orchestrating an offence which thrives on extra-base hits in the gaping alleys on the springy Tartan Turf. Seven of their eight regulars have double digit stolen bases, and they don't hesitate disarming outfielders.
Wilson – not the brilliant Brett – is the cornerstone to this fly-by-night or day offence, the reason Kansas City won't be the crossroads of a nation but one of its focal points for a week.
When Wilson first arrived in 1978, former manager Whitey Herzog said the elegant Wilson would be a great baseball player... as long as he could steal first base. Now there is no need. Wilson, once the most amateurish hitter in baseball, has learned to drive instead of just flail at the ball. His 230 hits (.326 average), incredible 133 runs, 79 stolen bases in 89 attempts and reduced strikeouts (81) make him – in the minds of some teammates – even more valuable than Georgie Baseball.
Somehow you always expected greatness from Brett, and you always got it. Maybe not .390, 118 RBI in 117 games (the first time since 1950 – the year of the last Phillie pennant – that anyone has had more RBI than games) 24 home run, 298 total base, 22 strikeout greatness, but he was always good to spectacular (three home runs in Game Three of 1978) in the playoffs.
No, the Royals are better than in '78 because of Wilson, the increased offensive capabilities of Washington and White, and the superstud in the bullpen.
Actually, Quisenberry always figured he would be a school teacher. Someday he might be. In one year, he has gone from a mediocre sidearm pitcher to a Tekulvesque submariner whose 45 combined wins and saves was the second highest ever in a season by a relief pitcher.
Never did the Royals have that dimension. Either Al Hrabosky or Doug Bird or Sieve Mingori or Marty Pattin (who is still with the Royals) would be asked to play a role none fit consistently. A Pattin gopher ball to Chris Chambliss cost the '76 pennant, Herzog's musical bullpen blew Game Five in '77.
Jim Frey, the rookie manager, Is less instinctive than Herzog, having served Earl Weaver as a coach in Baltimore 10 years. Like Weaver, Frey believes in the pre-eminence of pitching; the importance of player's personal goals as a factor in confidence building; not being too close to his players; and, most importantly,-the Big Bang theory of baseball.
Waits for long ball
The Big Bang theory disdains' the stolen base, sacrifice bunt, infield out, one-run-at-a-time approach Dick Williams used so successfully with the Expos this season. Frey, like Weaver, prefers to wait for the good ol' three-run homer – which explains why a swift and fundamentally sound team like the Royals had just 34 sacrifice bunts (the Expos had 76).
Philadelphia has the biggest banger of them all in Schmidt, who had 48 home runs this season and a lifetime ratio of one home run every 15.1 at-bats. But in 68 post-season trips, Schmidt has no home runs and five doubles among his 13 hits.
And even though Luzinski hit the only home run in the National League playoff, he may play only against lefthanders like Larry Gura (who starts tomorrow) and Paul Splitorff. Manager Dallas Green may use Greg Gross, his best defensive reserve in left, and either Luzinski or Lonnie Smith as the designated hitter. The Royals, who lack a bullpen other than Quisenberry (Ken Brett – George's older brother and a late season pick-up – is the No. 1 lefty), may not be as devastated by the Phillie power as paper games suggest.
There are other evil Phillie portents: Boone, who has a badly bruised left foot, hasn't made a throw to the correct side of second base all postseason; McGraw pitched in all five playoff games and may be tired; Carlton will not be able to pitch more than twice while Leonard, who starts tonight against rookie Bob Walk, may work three times if necessary.
And yet, Philadelphia – in winning two of three in Montreal the final weekend and the last two extra-inning playoff games in Houston – has shown itself to be a remarkably' resourceful team.
"Courage," said Schmidt. "It was about time some was dealt our way."
Bench-sitters made Phillies NL champs
By Red Fisher
The baseball spotlight, from the moment lively green fingers poke their way through, the barren ground of spring, usually stays longest at home plate.
It is there that a Mike Schmidt or a Greg Luzinski wages throw-by-throw warfare with the pitchers. There is a menace implicit in the tight-wound strength of Schmidt as he awaits a pitch, and always present is the threat of a long, lifting drive into the far seats.
Small wonder, then, that baseball reserves its fattest paycheques for the men with thunder in their swing.
Schmidt is Philadelphia Phillies' most valuable craftsman, as well as its most eloquent spokesman, but the last few days in Houston, Texas, site of the wild, bizarre, and surely the most exciting championship series ever played, belonged to others.
Did anybody contribute more than Del Unser to the Philadelphia triumph?
What more can anyone do than come off the bench and stroke a single to keep a Phillie rally going in the eighth inning? And that was Unser, was it not, hitting a double in the 10th inning that led to the run which lifted Philadelphia into the World Series for the first time in three decades?
So many strange and exciting things happened in this series, if was almost predictable that someone out of the spotlight, from the dark corner of the bench, would produce the big swing.
Did anyone consider for a moment that the Phillies would come back after the Astros had gone ahead 5-2 in the bottom of the seventh of the series finale? I didn't particularly with Nolan Ryan still throwing a baseball at 97 miles per hour.
"The only way anything can begin to happen is for Philadelphia to load the bases with nobody out," a member of our small television audience muttered, "but..."
Larry Bowa singles. Bob Boone's bouncer to the mound is steered into a single by Ryan's glove. Then Greg Gross – another bench-sitter – lays down an unplayable bunt. Bases loaded. Nobody out.
"There you go," growled an avid Houston rooter, "you've got what . you asked for. I'll settle for one Philadelphia run."
The Phillies settled for five.
How many among you imagined the Astros could come back even after the series' outstanding player – Canadian Terry Puhl – lashed out his fourth hit of the night and record 10th of the series?
The Astros did.
They came back with two runs. Marvellous stuff. It's enough to make a baseball fan out of a guy.
At one point in the dizzying roller-coaster of emotions, the superb television commentator, Don Drysdale, mentioned that in a series like this one, it's too bad somebody has to lose. These things have been said before – but never has it made as much sense as in this series.
Both teams – the losers as well as the winners – brought honor to their game by keeping alive an ideal of manly persistence that the game isn't over until the final out.
Houston's Puhl was a delight. If Philadelphia had not won the series – if Unser and Garry Maddox had not produced the doubles with swings of their bat in the 10th inning – this Canadian in an American game would have been the runaway winner of the series' most valuable player award. I'm not too sure he didn't deserve it despite Houston's loss. It's unlikely an outcry would have been raised even if he had been named ahead of the brilliant Manny Trillo, because no player was mentioned more frequently than Puhl by the Phillies in post-game monologues.
Bowa raved about him. So did Schmidt, and for good reason. Puhl was a class act right up to and including his post-game interview when he refused to lean on the escape hatch of Houston injuries as an ample excuse for the series outcome. No excuses were needed.
What's ahead – starting tonight in Philadelphia?
Common sense dictates that Kansas City should win the World Series, even though the Phillies open at home. The Royals are an exceptional baseball team with quality in every area. They have slightly better pitching, surely have better defence, and are endowed with more consistent hitting.
Furthermore, the only George Brett in the series wears a Royals uniform.
The Royals should win in six or less – but how in thunderation can anyone dismiss a team which came back as often as the Phillies?
Forget, for a moment, the soaring excitement of the Phillies-Astros series. Come back with me to the second-to-last weekend of the regular schedule when the Phillies won the first game of a three-game set with the Expos. If Philadelphia had won the second game behind Steve Carlton, the race would have been over.
The Expos won the next two.
15th inning rally
Philadelphia had to win the next four against Chicago to stay firmly alive in the race – not an impossible challenge when the mediocrity of the Cubs is considered. But remember the Phillies going into the bottom half of the 15th inning trailing by two runs – and scoring three?
Is there any need to recall the final weekend of the season? How many among you expected the Phillies to win two straight at Olympic Stadium, especially after being down one run in the bottom of the ninth, two out and two strikes on batter Boone in the second game of the series?
The entire season has been one of comeback piled upon comeback by the National League champions, so while it makes sense that the Royals should win in six or less, don't quit on the Phillies.
They haven't – and don't.
Walk arrested over first major league pitch
PHILADELPHIA (Gazette) – The first ball Bob Walk ever threw in a major league game was a tennis ball. A few years ago he was sitting with friends in the left field pavillion at Dodger Stadium, drinking the odd beer – seven, nine, 11 – when he fired the fuzzy spheroid at Houston outfielder Cesar Cedeno.
Walk missed – which for a someone who later would allow almost 4½ walks per nine innings isn't surprising – and was arrested.
Meet the Phillie starter for Game One of the World Series tonight against the Kansas City Royals, the first rookie to start the opening Series game since Joe Black of the 1952 Dodgers.
Walk, (11-7, but just 2-6 since Aug. 1) whose name and penchant for wildness allowed him to lead the league in puns allowed, has been dubbed Whirlybird for his inability to cope with the space-time continuum. In one game, he walked to the plate without a bat. Realizing something was amiss, he walked back to the on-deck circle, and returned to the batter's box with a lead pipe.
To show you just how different he is among Phillies, once he was knocked out in the second, went home and came back to Veterans Stadium after the game in case the press wanted to talk to him.
Walk gets the start because the five-game playoff in Houston exhausted the rotation. Steve Carlton, a 24-game winner, goes tomorrow.
Dennis Leonard, who quietly won 20 games for the third time in four years, opposes Walk in a righty match-up while left-hander Larry Gura pitches Game Two.
A consummate handler of pitchers, Royals' catcher Darrell Porter believes the bulk of the work in the 1980 World Series against Philadelphia will have to be assumed by Leonard and Gura.
"We've got to rely on Gura and Leonard simply because of what they have done for us all year long," Porter said.
Royals 6-5 favorites
RENO, Nev. (AP) – Kansas City Royals are favored to win baseball's World Series by odds of 6-5, Harrah's Reno Race and Sports Book said yesterday.
Harrah's. is giving even odds on Philadelphia Phillies' chances of winning the series.
A Harrah's spokeswoman said the odds for the opening game of the series are the same as the over-all series odds.
Series ring means more than money to Rose
Wants to win for ‘clubhouse guys’
By Michael Farber of The Gazette
PHILADELPHIA – Pete Rose wears champagne like some women wear Givenchy or Halston.
The stuff just fits right.
Even that Great Western Naturel bubbly, the pride of Pleasant Valley, N.Y., which dripped down his face in the wee hours Sunday morning. The Philadelphia Phillies had just earned the right to meet Kansas City tonight in the first game of the World Series by beating Houston in the fifth – and most wonderful game – of their Ripleyesque series. This champagne silliness goes with the territory.
Too bad it was au Naturel. You figure the $3.2 million the Phillies paid for Rose, they can come up with something better than $4.50 champagne.
"The best champagne is World Series champagne." Rose said, surveying the spilling and swilling of his fellow Phillies. "But let them enjoy themselves. They haven't had much of a chance to do this."
$800,000 a year
All of which is why the Phillies spend $800,000 annually on a 39-vear- old first baseman who once thought being a $100,000 singles hitter would be the greatest thing in the world.
But that was in the days before the 10-per-cent-off-the-top sale known as the re-entry draft. Rose left Cincinnati for the bridesmaid Phillies in 1979 after he seriously considered signing with Kansas City – one of those wonderful post-season ironies worth pondering in front of the tube this week.
Rose was going to be the difference. the one player who was going to carry the Phillies beyond the division and into the World Series. And, as much as any one player can affect a team, he has.
Just In time, too. If the Phillies – National League playoff losers in 1976-78, non-World Series participants since 1951, non World Scries winners since Oct. 8, 1915 – had lost to the Houston Astro-naughts, they should have disbanded.
Experience the key
"It's experience which gets you over the hump," said Rose, who played on five divisional, four pennant and two World Series winners with the Reds. "Maybe that's what I've given to this team. Now that we got the experience against the Astros, well use it against the Royals. This team had a lot of ghosts to get rid of."
If the Houston series were an exorcism for the Phillies, It sure scared the devil out of a lot of people.
Trailing the Astros, two games to one, the Phillies – who used to have their character questioned and were often associated with another word beginning "ch" – won twice in the Astrodome – 5-3 Saturday and 8-7 Sunday – with extra-inning heroism.
This is where Rose comes in... as usual.
Bruce Bochy will tell you. Bochy, the third-string Astro catcher most noted for being born in France, took a vicious forearm shiver from Rose as he tried to block the plate in the 10th inning Saturday. The run. the winning run, counted as Bochy failed to handle a poor throw, but umpire Doug Harvey could have penalized Rose 15 yards for unnecessary roughness.
Nolan Ryan can tell you. Ryan, who, was throwing 99 mph heat Sunday, was protecting a 5-2 lead in the eighth when he allowed three hits to load the bases. Rose worked him to 3-2. fouled back two pitches with K stamped all over them, and walked on the eighth pitch to force in a run. The Phillies scored four more in the inning to tie the score, and in the ninth, the Astros decided to walk Rose intentionally rather than give him another chance to beat them.
All the Astros will tell you. Rose, who has been an All-Star at second base, third base and left field, has made himself into an All-Star first baseman. He beat Houston with his glove as much as his bat.
Rose will tell you. All he wants to play a kid’s game like a kid.
“The ring, that’s why I play,” Rose said. “I don’t need any more money. I want to win because of the clubhouse guys. They could use the bucks. All I want is another ring, and considering what has gone on with this franchise, I’m sure Ruly (Phillies’ owner Ruly Carpenter) will make it the greatest ring in the history of sports.”
And if anyone knows his history, it is Rose – who ultimately didn’t sign with the Royals because he wanted to stay in the National League and break Stan Musial’s league record for career hits.
“I’ve played with Willie Mays and against Hank Aaron, but nobody compares with Pete Rose,” Phillies reliever Tug McGraw said. “The way he runs the bases, plays defence, his mental attitude. What I’m saying, really, is the way he wins. Nobody wins like Pete Rose.”