Philadelphia Inquirer - October 17, 1980
Brett expected to start
Royals star rests after operation
By Danny Robbins, Inquirer Staff Writer
KANSAS CITY, M. – You might expect this kind of thing if the President had just had a gall bladder removed.
Two doctors stand on an elevated blue dais – four microphones in front of them, a large group of reporters at their feet – and they de-ascribe the problem down to the last detail.
It's just hard to be very serious when this scene involves a baseball player's hemorrhoids.
But, then, this is the World Series, and these are George Brett's troublesome hemorrhoids. They are the talk of this town, and they have produced the strangest media event in any World Series since the Mike Andrews-Charlie Finley episode of 1973.
As it stood yesterday, the facts were these:
Brett, the Kansas City Royals' great third baseman, underwent surgery just before noon at St. Luke's Hospital. It was a 20-minute operation that, according to the surgeon, Dr. John Heryer, lanced the painful area.
Brett is expected to play tonight against the Phillies in Game 3 of the Series at Royals Stadium.
"It was simply a blood clot in the external portion of the hemorrhoid," Heryer said. "We took the clot out to reduce the pressure and the pain, and we plan on him playing tomorrow night (tonight)."
Brett's trouble began last Saturday in New York and flared up after the Series opener Tuesday night at the Vet. After many hours of speculation and bad jokes, Brett started Game 2 and got on base three times (two singles and a walk) before taking himself out after six innings.
When the Royals' charter flight touched down in Kansas City early yesterday morning, Brett left the plane, through a mechanics' entrance and went straight to St. Luke's. He was there yesterday – "staying off his feet, in hot tubs and under close observation," Heryer said – and he is supposed to remain in the hospital until sometime today.
Then, the Royals insist, he will play baseball.
"At the present time, we plan on having George play," said Dr. Paul Meyer, the team physician who put Brett in the hospital after Game 2. "I'm sure he won't be at peak performance. Running and sliding will be complicated. But there will be no damage."
"If he was an accountant, had a regular job, he'd be back at work (today)," said Heryer, a Kansas City proctologist. "Can he sit down? Yeah, sure, he can sit down."
Meyer and Heryer presided over a festive press conference at Royals Stadium that seemed to be as crazy as the story everyone was pursuing.
Reporters kept telling Heryer, a tall, lean man with wire-rim glasses, that he looks like Kent Tekulve. And Heryer finally explained the pronunciation of his name with some proctologist's humor: "They say the more I Heryer, the behinder I get."
Welcome to the Not Ready for Prime Time World Series, or at least poor George Brett's version of it.
"George never had hemorrhoids until we got his brother on the team," Jamie Quirk joked tn the Royals' clubhouse, with pitcher Ken Brett, George's look-alike brother, at his side. "But think of all the endorsements George will get after this."
As everybody knows, George Brett hit a phenomenal.390 during the regular season. His hitting in postseason play hasn't been too shabby, either. But now his hemorrhoids make news in the World Series.
For instance, the third item on Wednesday's postgame media handout was a definition of what hemorrhoids are: "A mass of dilated tortuous veins in swollen tissue situated at or in the anal margin...."
The handout concluded, "These are dictionary definitions. We didn't make them up."
None of this is very amusing to Brett or the Royals, who were merely a.500 team in the 44 games Brett missed with his thumb, ankle and heel injuries. This latest thing must be the Royal Curse.
"It's very important to have 25 guys contribute," John Wathan said. "We can't be a one-man team, and I don't think we are. I think we're capable of winning with anyone we put out there. But it's obvious we'd like to have our best out there."
That means George Brett, and he should be out there after another round of heat and salve treatments today.
"I think he'll play, sure," Ken Brett said. "Anyone with any pride would, and George has a lot of pride."
Facts and figures
Attendance – 65,775.
Net receipts – $ 1 ,06 1 ,222.40.
Commissioner's share – $159,183.36.
Players' pool – $541,223.42.
League and club share – $90,231.85
He eliminated guesswork of who's at bat
We've all heard the line, "Leading off for Kansas City... Number 6... Willie Wilson... left field." Now, here's the story behind it.
By Edgar Williams, Inquirer Staff Writer
At approximately 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, a man named Sherry O'Brien, seated in front of a television set in his suburban apartment, heard Dan Baker do his thing.
Baker, the public address announcer for the Phillies, was spraying decibels all over Veterans Stadium. He was introducing the first batter in the first game of the World Series to the crowd:
"Leading off for Kansas City... Number 6... Willie Wilson... left field."
The crowd response was fairly cordial, when you consider that it came from fans reputedly among the Boos Who of Baseball.
Sherry O'Brien smiled. "Baker does a nice job," he said to his wife. "I wonder if he knows what baseball anniversary this is."
What it was – and probably precious few trivia buffs knew it – was the 35th anniversary of the introduction of individual player introductions to the World Series format. Prior to the 1945 Scries between Detroit and the Chicago Cubs, all the spectators got was a usually hurried pregame recital of the batting orders; then the p a. system would go silent, to be turned on again only for announcements of lineup changes and pleas to physicians to call their offices.
"It was ridiculous," O'Brien, 72, was saying. "People listening to the game on radio got more information than the fans in the park."
And so it was that O'Brien came to "invent" the system now used, not only during the World Series, but in regular-season games.
It would appear, however, that the world has little noted nor long remembered that it was O'Brien who got himself dubbed "that radical announcer" back in 1944 when he set out to make things more enjoyable for the customers at the Phillies and Philadelphia Athletics games at old Shibe Park.
Some radical. What he did was announce a player by number and by first and last names when he came to the plate. A bit later he took another daring step: With the cooperation of the American and National League umpires, O'Brien began explaining the whys and wherefores of puzzling plays.
There were some club officials in both leagues who at first viewed O'Brien as a menace to organized baseball, but gradually they came around. And by the middle of the 1945 season they not only had their own p.a. announcers doing things the O'Brien way, but had voted to put it into effect at the World Series.
"Naturally, I was pleased to see the idea accepted," O'Brien said. "I'm not unhappy about not being generally recognized as the fellow who started it all. I know what I did and so does my family, and that's all that matters to me."
O'Brien, whose real name is Charles Augustus Sheridan ("O'Brien" was his mother's maiden name), was already established as a p.a. announcer and radio sports commentator when he began working the Phillies and A's games in August 1944. He had an especially broad background in auto racing, and it was from that sport that he brought the idea of providing more information for baseball spectators.
"In auto racing you practically tell a driver's life history, and the fans eat it up," O'Brien said. "I figured it would work in baseball."
Connie Mack, the storied owner-manager of the A's – and in O'Brien's view "the finest man who ever lived" – took a liking to the young announcer and gave him the go-ahEad with his idea.
"When I left in 1945 to return to racing, Mr. Mack made me promise him that if I ever needed anything, I'd go right to him," O'Brien said.
He’s like father to Phils’ kids
By Frank Dolson, Inquirer Sports Editor
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – For Billy Connors, all the sweat, all the tears, all the years of living for this day, this week, this World Series have taken on new meaning.
He's here now – in the big leagues, pitching coach for the American League champion Kansas City Royals. But the joy he feels goes beyond that.
If they'd asked Connors a year ago to dream up the perfect ending for his first season as a big-league coach, surely this would have been it: the Royals vs. the Phillies.
His team is Kansas City now. His pitchers are named Leonard and Gura and Gale and Quisenberry. But there's more to this World Series for Billy Connors than that. Some of the kids in the other dugout are his kids, too. All Connors has to do is look at a Marty Bystrom, a Kevin Saucier, a Bob Walk, a Warren Brusstar, a Dickie Noles, and the memories come rushing back.
The success of those young Phillies pitchers represents, in a very real way, Billy Connors' success as a pitching coach and a person. As badly as he wants to beat anybody wearing a Phillies uniform these next few days and nights, he can't help but feel an extra measure of joy at seeing those young faces in the other dugout.
And they are just as happy to see him.
The day before the first game of the Series, Connors stopped in the Phillies, clubhouse to say hello. One of the first familiar faces he saw was Kevin Saucier's. It was an emotional moment. "He hugged me,' said Billy. "It was a great thrill."
They grew up with Connors – the Sauciers, the Bystroms, the Walks, the Brusstars, the Noles. They laughed with him, they cried with him, they learned what it took to become successful pitchers from him. For two years Billy was the pitching coach at Oklahoma City, the Phillies' Triple A farm club. Then, a year ago, he was the organization's minor-league pitching instructor, traveling from team to team, from the lowest minor league to the highest.
He had hopes of making it to the big leagues as a Phillies coach when Dallas Green became manager, but it wasn't to be. "I was going to be minor league pitching coach again," Billy discovered. Then Jim Frey, the new manager of the Royals, came to the rescue.
Leaving was tough
Leaving the Phillies organization wasn't easy for Connors. "I respected the Phillies," he said. "I know how much they wanted to win. I know how important that (fifth playoff) game in Houston was to them. You work for an organization, you see all that. I knew in my heart what it was like when the Phillies clinched the pennant because I felt I was a part of it – and to see a kid like Bystrom start that game, and then to see Walk and Saucier and Noles and Brusstar make it is just great."
And for them to see Connors make it is equally great.
"He was a tremendous help to me," Saucier was saying the other day after that emotional reunion. "Between starts in Oklahoma City he used to work me all the time. He just taught you little things that led up to big things."
"He's the one that got me over the edge to get me in the big leagues," Brusstar said, recalling the flaw in his motion that Connors saw and corrected. "He's a super guy. I was so happy when he got that job...."
A genuine liking
All the Phillies kids talk about Billy Connors that way. Not because they think they have to, but because they want to, because they genuinely feel that way about him and the role he played in their making it to the big leagues, and into this World Series.
Nobody – I mean nobody – has a greater appreciation of what those Phillies kids went through to get here than Connors. Even now when he talks about them, when he remembers some of their good times together, and some of the bad ones, his voice throbs with emotion. He sounds for all the world like a proud father talking about his sons.
"I know if you asked each one he'd have a little something to say about me," Billy said. "Like Walk last year. I got on his a so bad over at Reading. He had the best arm in the organization and he was pitching back wards." Connors told Walk, "Throw a fast ball down the middle. Get ahead with that fast ball. You're pitching back' wards. You're using your breaking ball first and then trying to get guys out with your fast ball. Go the other way....' He won eight in a row after that.
"And Bystrom, he worked his butt off in instructional league. There's a guy nobody could talk to as far as his leg kick. Lee Elia (then Oklahoma City manager) told me, 'He can't hold runners on. He's pitching great but he's getting beat.' They lost in the playoffs. A guy steals second on him, then steals third, and then a fly ball...."
So Connors talked to Bystrom, convinced him that he could still throw the ball hard with a modified leg kick.
Noles? "I go to instructional league," Connors said. "I see him throwing sinker balls. I said, 'Dickie, did you ever try to go across the seams, with the kind of fastball you've got?' He said, 'They want me to throw a sinker ball.' I said, 'Dickie, you've got a good enough arm. You can ride that fastball (make it rise).' He's been throwing that thing ever since across the seams.
"Saucier's another one. Nobody wanted him (when he got off to a terrible start at Oklahoma City in 78). He was 0-and-8, but I kept on saying, 'The so-and-so can do it.' They said, 'Prove it.' "
Among other things, the young lefthander was having problems fielding his position.
"I had him wear shin guards," said Connors, "and I hit fungos to him. I said, 'Sauce, you're going to learn how to field.' In the first game Dallas saw him pitch he made some great plays."
The kids listened because they respected Connors. They liked him. They knew how much he cared.
The Connors approach has always been a highly personal one. It was so when he worked in the Mets' farm system for five years.
But there were people with the Mets, apparently, who didn't appreciate Billy's personalized approach. They seemed to resent the fact that he and some of the Mets' top pitchers had become friends.
"Jim Frey (after hiring Connors as pitching coach of the Royals) told me, 'Hey, they're your pitchers. You get as close to them as you can,' " Billy said. "I don't go out and drink with 'em, but I'm a part of them. I know everything that ticks about them.
"The only satisfaction in being a pitching coach is an inner thing," Billy Connors said. "You see these kids when they're struggling.... And then comes the day you see five kids – five of your kids – make the pitching staff of a World Series team. "You think, 'Maybe along the way I did one little thing that helped them,'" Connors said. "That's the satisfaction – because when you see them they remember. They know."
Surely, the Phillies kids remember. The Phillies kids know.
No matter who wins this World Series, Billy Connors will be a part of it.
How others view this World Series:
Dave Anderson, New York Times:
"On the mound, (Tug McGraw) resembles a wind-up toy, a small stuffed animal with a key in his back. But he never winds down. Tug McGraw is that rarity, a baseball player who seems to enjoy the game as much as he did as a youngster, perhaps even more so. Too many ballplayers perform too mechanically as they get older. They should be carrying a briefcase instead of a glove. But at 36 years old, Tug McGraw, the Philadelphia Phillies lefthander, remains a little boy. He also remains one of baseball's best relief pitchers."
Jim Murray, Los Angeles Times:
"The Series will go seven games. Six, anyway. Expansion has brought such a leveling of talent to the big leagues, you hardly ever get a team that can win two in a row. Or if they win two in a row, they promptly lose three in a row. No matter how long it goes, the public loses interest after four games, or the first weekend, and a seventh is always an anticlimax."
Thomas Boswell, Washington Post:
"(Pete Rose) has never been handsome, neither as Joe Crew-cut or Prince Valiant. The best that can be said is that, with age, he has become powerfully ugly, along the lines of Lincoln, and that, when his mug lights up, the true innocent infectious enthusiasm and confident simplicity of the man bursts through. Often now, Rose sits alone on the bench, leaning forward with his bat, handle-up, between his knees so that his chin rests lightly on it. In repose, his face looks almost sad. Pete Rose would never pass for The Thinker, but he seems to be taking an interminable time-elapse photograph of the scene before him, one that will be etched into his memory for life."
Mike Lupica, New York Daily News:
The Philadelphia Phillies are normally as much fun as subway crime. When the Phillies are between World Series, as they usually are, a walk through the Phillies clubhouse can offer all the cultural benefits of a stroll through Central Park after sundown; you find yourself walking quickly from locker to locker, and looking over your shoulder a lot. Over the years these Phillies, as a group, have performed a breathtaking feat of magic: They have made the New York Yankees seem like a branch of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes."
Ken Denlinger, Washington Post:
The least ailment to the game's most exciting player (George Brett) at the moment throws normally staid baseball into near-panic. Brett's butt became part of the World Series notes. The third item on Page 2 of the Series notes (Wednesday night) was a definition of hemorrhoids, with the addition: 'These are dictionary definitions. We didn't make them up.'"
Brian Bragg, Detroit Free Press:
"This thing will be all over by next Sunday night. No contest. The Phillies don't have a chance.
"The Kansas City Royals – who made believers out of a lot of us with their three-game blitz of the Yankees – spent a pleasant and restful weekend in New York, watching and waiting and guffawing while the Phillies wore themselves to a frazzle in Houston.
"The critical question in this Series is: "Will the NL representatives have enough strength to stand up when the National Anthem is played Tuesday night?"
Ray Fitzgerald, Boston Globe:
"And then there is Pete Rose. Kansas City should waltz through the 1980 Series, but I'll be damned if I can bet against a team that has Pete Rose on it."
Leonard Koppett, The Sporting News:
"The first-game winner went on to win the Series 43 times. The first-game loser went on to win 29 times. That's 59 percent for the first-game winner.
What happens after that? The same team won the first two games 31 times. On 25 of those, it went on to win the Series. In other words, only six times (of 72 best-of-seven-game Series) has a team been able to win after losing the first two games. And in each case, the eventual winner lost those first two on the road, which meant it had three of the remaining five at home."
Joe McGuff, Kansas City Star, quoting George Brett discussing his ailment during the flight to Kansas City.:
"I just want to get the damn things taken care of. I've done everything they've asked me to do. I feel disgruntled. I keep saying, 'Why me? Why not Joe McGuff.'"
Mayor sees no remedy for Royals’ World Series woes
Mayor Green left for Kansas City yesterday with a first-aid kit for the Royals and a glib prediction that the Phillies would sweep the series.
“We are preparing for when they win," Green told reporters. "I would call on people to act in a really class way, let's say, the way the Phillies have themselves.... We will have a grand party and a celebration and a parade, with plenty of police protection. We ask people to really restrain themselves..... Everyone should be conscious of the fact that someone could get hurt."
The mayor was lugging what he called "a series of Philadelphia products that 1 think the people of Kansas City and the team are going to need."
The kit included a medicine for ulcers – "which 1 think they'll develop in the course of the next two games," a cold remedy for "the tears they will begin to shed as inning after inning the Phillies pound home runs over Kansas City walls" and a medicine that controls vomiting – "for when they see how the Phillies tear Kansas City apart."
Cool weather and a chance of light rain is forecast for Game 3 of the World Series tonight. The National Weather Service said the game would begin under partly cloudy skies with temperatures in the 50s. The temperature was expected to drop into the 40s during the game. The weather service said there was a possibility of widely scattered showers tonight.
George Brett's hemorrhoids have been the butt of countless jokes this week, but now they're responsible for a change in NBC-TV's commercial lineup for tonight's Series game. American Home Products had scheduled commercials for its shampoo Denorex, but withdrew them in favor of spots for another of its products: Preparation-H.
Irony: The official Phillies calendar features a full-color photograph of a different player each month. October's player-of-the-month: Randy Lerch.
The Phillies are staying at the new Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City this weekend. The Hyatt just opened two months ago and is one block from the Crown Center Hotel, which is serving as World Series headquarters.
Assuming the Series goes at least five games, the Phillies are planning to fly home after Sunday's game via a United Airlines charter. Their expected arrival time is 10:45 p.m.
Jim Frey has worn the same shoes and sweat shirt for more than two weeks.
He had steadfastly refused to take out the lineup cards at game time until his Kansas City Royals lost Tuesday night's first game of the World Series in Philadelphia. First-base coach Jose Martinez was on a winning streak.
Frey always sits in the same spot, except at Philadelphia, where he didn't have a spot. It was the first time his club had ever played there.
By chalking up 10 strikeouts, Steve Carlton became the first man to post double strikeout figures in a Series game since Tom Seaver of the New York Mets fanned 12 Oakland A's in the third game of the 1973 Series. St. Louis' Bob Gibson struck out 17 Detroit Tigers in 1968 for the Series record.
The Phillies pulled off four double plays, tying a Series record for a nine-inning game. The 1973 Oakland A's were the last team to record four in one game. The Royals made two double plays of their own and the combined total of six tied another Series mark. The New York Yankees (three) and Brooklyn Dodgers (three) combined for six double plays in the second game of the 1955 classic.
The Imposter has struck again, this time using an umpire's uniform to crash the World Series. There were seven men dressed in the umps' dark blue on the field Tuesday night before Game 1 of the Series. Six were legit. The seventh was Barry (The Imposter) Bremen.
"It's like a fantasy," Bremen said after pulling off perhaps his greatest hoax yet. "It's one thing to pass for an umpire at a ball game. But to do it at a World Series? And then be able to walk away without anything being said? That's fun."
It's not enough that Dallas Green has to worry about his own players taking verbal shots at him. Yesterday, Royals manager Frey got in a little dig at Green, too.
Frey was being asked at a press conference about the invisibility (1-for-9) of his leftfielder, Willie (230 Hits) Wilson. As Green looked on from the back of the room, Frey answered it this way:
"I've been hearing a lot about all the people on the other side with character. Well, a lot of them don't have a lot of hits, either. It's unfair to focus everything on Willie Wilson."
Green didn't reply. But he did stare at Frey unhappily.
Phillies executive vice president Paul Owens says he is having a hard time comprehending that the Phils are really up, two games to none, in a World Series.
"But really, it's a great feeling. Every time I go out on the street by my house, somebody is hollering, 'Way to go,' or something. Usually,they're hollering, 'You bleeping bleeper.'"
For the first time in 12 days, Tug McGraw didn't pitch in a meaningful Phillies game Wednesday. Green was happy to get McGraw a day of rest, but yesterday he paid the consequences. McGraw was giving him a hard time about it.
"Tugger's had two days off," the manager said, "and already he's claiming he's rusty."
Ruthven, Phils try to back Royals into a corner tonight
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
The Kansas City Royals play baseball in a place known, catchily, as Royals Stadium. It isn't just a ballpark. It's Longwood Gardens with bases and a scoreboard.
Even before the Royals led the American League in the standings, they led it in scenery. Where else in baseball can you hit a home run into a waterfall? For sheer majesty, it sure beats lofting one into a place identified only as Section 351.
The Phillies paid their first visit to Royals Stadium yesterday afternoon. Tonight they will play Kansas City there in Game 3 of the World Series (Dick Ruthven vs. Rich Gale). The main purpose of their scenic tour-and workout yesterday was just to case the joint.
They couldn't find any strategic advantage the Royals might get out of the waterfall. So that was comforting.
And, while the alleys in left-center and right-center are 385 feet away, 14 feet deeper than they are at the Vet, "after winning the pennant in the Astrodome, I don't think this is going to be any hindrance," John Vukovich said.
One might worry that the home field advantage could be just the thing the Royals need to erase the Phillies' 2-0 lead in the Series. The mighty Yankees, after all, got thrashed two straight nights on the same premises.
But the Yankees' problem, said Phillies scout Jim Baumer, was simply that "they play on grass all the time."
"Any club that plays mostly on grass is gonna have a lot of trouble on (artificial) turf," said Baumer, who scouted the Royals for the Phils down the stretch. "So I'd say Kansas City definitely had an advantage in this ballpark against New York. They have a great 'turf team. But our club has been used to it for years. I don't think they have any advantage there at all."
When you get right down to it, 99 percent of Royals Stadium is just like any other ballpark. The trouble is the other 1 percent.
Remember how your, mother always taught you (hat any time you check out a new house, be sure to sneak a glance at the corners? The Phillies did yesterday. Lonnie Smith, who will play left tonight, came away from his inspection looking as if he'd just tried to take out Godzilla at second on a double-play ball.
"Ugh," Smith grunted after watching baseballs skid around the corner in left during batting practice. "I just hope I don't have to go in there very often."
The problem with these corners, both in left and right field, is that they aren't really corners. The word "corner" implies the meeting of two straight walls at a 90-degree angle. In Royals Stadium, the corners are rounded – "like a hockey rink," said Del Unser.
Since the Phillies couldn't squeeze Bob Dailey onto their Series roster, they will have to send Smith out to left and Bake McBride out to right and take their chances.
"Sometimes the ball comes out of there like on a pinball machine," Phils vice president Paul Owens said. "The ball will get in there and start spinning, and it will spin right out of your glove.
"The big thing we've got to do is make sure the centerfielder backs up everything. If that ball rolls along the fence, you could have a lot of doubles turning into triples and home runs.
"I think Pete (Rose) told me that (Willie) Wilson had six inside-the-park homers that way this year. And (scout) Hugh Alexander told me he had five like that last year. So you have to be careful out there. It could cost you a ball game."
The Royals, of course, know very well what horrors those corners can create. They have seen a few wild scenes out there, mostly while they were running around the bases.
When K.C.'s sometimes-right-fielder John Wathan was asked yesterday what the Phillies' biggest problem would be in Royals Stadium, he sure didn't mention the distracting view of Interstate 70 over the left-field wall.
"The corners are the main thing," Wathan said immediately, "They're tough because you don't know how the ball's going to come out of them. There are a lot of question marks about what a ball will do – even for us sometimes."
There's no telling how many there might be for Smith, who has enough trouble pouncing on balls hit into square corners. So before they sent Smith out to left for real, the Phillies figured they had better give him a crash course yesterday.
"We must have hit him a hundred balls," Owens said. "And the same thing on the other side with Bake."
Smith came away from it muttering that he'd "never seen a field like that before. It's like a race car going on a bank track. It seems like the ball goes in, and as it rounds the curve it picks up a lot of momentum."
After some experimentation, Smith finally figured out a system for playing the corner. The idea is not to go in there and start mucking it up with a ball that's still spinning. The idea is to stand back by the wall and wait for the ball to establish a definite destination.
"You have to concede the double," Smith said. "You can't take a chance on going in there and missing a ball or you're liable to give up an inside-the-parker, especially with some of the guys they have over there."
Actually, if worrying about out field corners is the toughest problem the Phillies have after two World Series games, how bad off can they be?
They did have some concerns about the health of Garry Maddox and Greg Luzinski, Maddox, who, fouled a ball off his left knee Wednesday, came out of it with just a bruise and should play tonight. Luzinski, who didn't make yesterday's flight to K.C. because of a 101-degree fever, took a later flight in yesterday and said he felt "better." However, Keith Moreland probably will be the designated hitter again, Green said.
Beyond Luzinski's virus, life looked remarkably rosy. It's been a while since the Phillies have gone into some other team's ballpark for three games without absolutely having to take two of them.
"I think having to come from behind all month might have helped us . build this momentum," Owens said. "Sometimes it's better doing that than trying to hold a two-game lead."
Then it was pointed out to Owens that suddenly the Phillies are trying to protect a two-game lead.
"Hmmm," he said, "I hope we can just forget we're ahead."
Science still can’t put numbers on a star’s talent, a fan’s love
By Thomas Ferrick Jr., Inquirer Staff Writer
It was, perhaps, inevitable. Baseball, which for years has been the province of the players, their fans and the people who write about both, has fallen into the hands of sociologists.
They have boldly seized the sport, carried it away and pulled out their calipers, anxious to measure and poke at the phenomenon. This is weighty stuff. Monographs are produced, careers made, and tenure obtained by exploring the role of sport in society.
Someone once defined a sociologist as a person who tells us what we already know in language that we cannot understand. Such is not the case, however, with Norman Kaner, who happens to be a historian, but for years has taught a course at Temple University called "The Role of Sports in American Society."
According to Kaner, sports sociology is a growth industry in the universities, an attempt to move away from what he called the "golly gee" type of writing about sports.
Kaner himself is not much of a baseball fan. He finds it boring, so he approaches the subject of The Effect of a World Series Involving The Phillies Upon Philadelphians with a detachment appropriate to his trade.
Sniffing around the question, he came up with the these observations:
"I don't know if it creates a spirit of unity that carries over to other endeavors, whether it has other manifestations. Does it begin and end in pulling for a team? Is it something that is easily created and easily lost?
"I don't think that anyone can demonstrate that having a championship team makes a city a better place to live in. I wish it could be demonstrated. Will Philadelphia, have better hospitals, better schools?"
The realistic answer that should follow all of these questions marks is a simple, two-letter word: no.
And yet, Kaner, pin in hand, is unwilling to poke too many holes. A fan's and a city's reaction to an event such as this is "emotional, hard to define and articulate," he said. There are factors at work here that cannot be readily measured, reduced and crammed onto a bar graph.
Dr. Albert Paolone, a biogeneticist who also works at Temple, has a similar problem, even though his task is simpler. Over the years, Paolone, using a variety of tests, has sought to measure the qualities that separate professional athletes from the klutzy majority.
"When we are talking about baseball, we're talking about highly refined skills," Paolone said, listing speed, agility, power and hand-eye coordination as among the most important.
These gifts are not given out willy-nilly, but only to a few thousand in a nation of 227 million. For instance, it is easy to talk about hand-eye coordination, which Paolone defines as "the ability to bring the striking instrument in line with the focusing of the eye." It is an entirely different matter to stand at home plate with bat in hand and make contact with a ball that ambles by at 95 m.p.h.
Technically, all of these skills can be measured, the scores added up and the abilities of various athletes ranked. It is not as simple as that.
A few years ago, Paolone and his associates at Temple conducted a battery of such tests on a group of professional athletes – he will not say from what team or sport – and they found a glitch in their results.
One of the players who scored lowest in the tests, who, on paper, should have been sitting on the bench in some remote and obscure outpost, was, in fact, the star of the team. Its leader. A man who, when he files with the IRS, deals only in six-digit figures.
This happened, Paolone admits, because while his tests can tell of the strength and flexibility of muscles in the legs and arms, they are useless in dealing with the gray matter that resides between the ears. This is the source of those intangible qualities that defy measurement.
For instance, both as a clinician and a baseball fan, Paolone is fascinated by Pete Rose. In the last game of the playoffs against Houston, Paolone watched as Jose Cruz hit a drive to Manny Trillo, who caught the ball but made a bad throw to Rose at first base.
Enos Cabell, an Astro who started the play at second base, tried to sneak home, but Rose spotted him, whirled around and threw the ball to Bob Boone. Cabell was tagged out at the plate.
"This probably means that his peripheral vision is very good," Paolone said, still marveling at Rose's ability, while seemingly looking toward second base, to see Cabell headed home.
But he marvels more at Rose's ability to concentrate on the task at hand, his intensity, his alertness.
"It's those same qualities that used to make me curse him when he played for Cincinnati," Paolone said. "Now that he's playing for the Phillies, 1 appreciate them more."
There is here a tacit admission that the essence of what makes a player great cannot be easily dissected and explained. Nor, perhaps, can the thoughts tracking through the minds of the residents of a city.
Their feelings and their perception of themselves, their city and their team cannot be trapped like fireflies in glass jars.
This is a dangerous thing to say. If the effects of a World Series cannot be measured by sociologists and if, in baseball, there is always talk of miracles, of events that defy definition... well, you can almost hear the monographs rolling off the presses as a few brave souls carve out a new field of study: sports theology.
Series at a glance
Game 1 – Phillies, 7-6.
Game 2 – Phillies, 6-4.
Game 3 – Tonight in Kansas City, 8:35 (Ruthven 0-0 vs. Gale 0-0).
Game 4 – Tomorrow in Kansas City, 1:45 p.m.
*Game 5 – Sunday in Kansas City, 4:15 p.m.
*Game 6 – Tuesday at Veterans Stadium, 8:35 p.m.
*Game 7 – Wednesday at Veterans Stadium, 8:35 p.m.
* – if necessary
Speedy Royals can’t get to 1st base
Inability to run has put them two games in the hole
By Larry Eichel, Inquirer Staff Writer
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Royals expected to run away with this thing – literally.
With their cast of greyhounds, they figured they would get men on, steal bases, hit-and-run and run-and-hit. And then steal some more.
They would intimidate the Phillies, forcing them into physical and mental mistakes in the field. That was, after all, the way they had managed to compile the best record in baseball until the final weeks of the season.
But it hasn't worked out that way. In two games, the record for Kansas City reads three steals and two losses. Period.
"It's the most uncharacteristic thing about our club's play so far in the Series," manager Jim Frey said as his Royals spent a warm and blustery Thursday away from the ballpark. "We haven't been able to run as much as we liked. I had the steal signs on several times in both games, and our guys were unable to get the jump on their pitchers – especially (Steve) Carlton."
Another reason for the lack of steals is that the burners haven't been able to get on base. Shortstop U. L. Washington, who stole 20 times during 1980, is batting 1-for-8. Second baseman Frank White, 19 steals, is 2-for-8. And the grandest thief of all, Willie Wilson, 79 steals, is a mighty 1-for-9 with five strikeouts. And we need not repeat the old line about stealing first base.
Wilson's performance has been the most disappointing, if only because his potential' to wreak havoc is the most obvious.
"He is the ignition system of our ball club," said John Wathan.
In 161 games this season, Wilson, generally considered the fastest man in the game, racked up his 79 steals in just 89 attempts. He set a major league record by stealing 32 straight bases without being caught.
Good. Fantastic, even. But Wilson was actually a little better than the numbers indicate. Of the 10 times he was caught, two came on pickoffs while two others were the results of pitchouts. In other words, he was gunned down in a fair fight only six times all year.
In Game 2 Wednesday night, Wilson provided a glimmer of what he can do when he does manage to get on base. After being retired eight straight times – five times on swinging strikeouts – he walked to lead off the seventh and advanced to second on a bunt. He promptly stole third.
Moments later, he struck again, this time without moving a muscle. Carlton picked Dave Chalk off first base. Chalk broke for second. But first baseman Pete Rose, fearful Wilson would break for the plate, held the ball and let Chalk have the base unchallenged. Before the inning was over, Kansas City had three runs, its biggest uprising of the series.
Wilson, whose base-stealing heroics obscured the fact that he got 230 hits and hit .326 in the regular season, is painfully aware that his contribution to the Royals' attack, so conspicuous by its presence all season, is noticeably absent now.
"He's trying too hard," outfielder Clint Hurdle said. "In these games, you have to try to remind yourself that this is the same game you've been playing all year. He's done it all year. He doesn't have to do it all now. He's just going up there swinging wildly. He wants it so bad. He doesn't have to steal 70 bases in seven games for us to win."
"My last two at-bats Wednesday night," Wilson said, "I tried to relax up there. And I got a walk and a base hit. But I'd been trying to relax before, too. And I'd been missing pitches, not seeing pitches, and wondering how relaxed you have to get.
"I just want to go out and play good baseball, which is the thing that's bothering me most. You play good all year and all of a sudden you get to the place where you want to be and you can't do it. And you don't know why. The first three times against Carlton the other night, he could have rolled it up there. I didn't have a chance in the world of making contact."
Wilson, who figures to be one of the game's premier offensive players for the next decade, is also worried for his team.
"We haven't had a chance to show these guys what we can do," he said. This team has been coming back all year, they came back in the playoffs, and they've come back on us two games in a row right now. So you have to wonder how many runs we have to score to beat them."
The Royals have scored 10 runs in the first two games, which, in the immortal words of Dallas Green, might be classified as "not too shabby." Their biggest problem has been keeping the Phillies from scoring.
In the three-game American League playoff, Royals pitching held the Yankees to six runs. The Phils, on the other hand, have come up with 13 runs in just two games.
Frey's would-be solution for Game 3 is named Rich Gale, a 26-year-old righthander in his third big-league season whose performance in 1980 defies analysis. He was 13-9, but he hasn't won a game in almost two months. In one stretch, he won 12 starts in a row, not because he pitched all that well but because he happened to be on the mound when the Royals ran up scores of 14, 9, 8, 8, 7, etc. He has suffered from tendinitis in his right shoulder, but is supposedly healthier now than at any time this year.
"I'm a power pitcher, a fastball-slider pitcher," said Gale. "There aren't that many guys my size who are junk-ball pitchers, anyway."
Gale, for the record, stands 6 feet, 7 inches and weighs 225 pounds.
The Royals had been scheduled to work out at 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon, but Frey canceled it late in the morning.
"We got in at 3 a.m.," Frey explained. "I woke up the first time at 8 a.m. Then I woke up again at 9:30. I was thinking about getting some coffee when I looked out the window. It was so dark out there I thought the world was coming to an end. And at that point, I figured that if the players felt as bad as I did, there might more benefit from a day off than go out to the park and take 25 swings at a batting practice pitcher."
The Royals, thoroughly frustrated, by their come-from-ahead losses at the Vet, are hoping that their return to Royals Stadium will turn the series around. Otherwise, all they will have left is the gallows humor of reliever Dan Quisenberry, the loser in Game 2.
"I'm kind of fond of my wrists," he said. "I'd rather not slit them."