Philadelphia Daily News - October 2, 1980
HR in Schmidt’s Clutches
By Ted Silary
Some guys speak about "clutch" and they mean the part of an auto which is used to change gears. Those are the guys with dirt beneath their nails.
Some guys speak about "clutch," preceded by "double," and they mean a style of dance that was popular when folks felt it was neat to touch. Those are the guys with thickening middles and thinning tops.
Other guys speak about "clutch," preceded by "in the," and they mean the meaty portion of baseball games, when decent hitters are supposed to turn incredible, collecting hits and RBI in the manner that youths collect bubble-gum cards.
Those, as we know, are the guys (and gals) at the Vet, who usually demand more from their heroes in terms of performance than the heroes demand from the owner in terms of money.
In his nine-year career with the Phillies, Michael Jack Schmidt has fired more homer to more sections of the stadium than anyone could have ever expected. But when the fans are roaring with great expectations and the request has been made for a simple single to snap a late-inning tie, Mike's bat turns to balsa.
WHAT A PITY. "Schmidt City" would have succeeded so much better in Philly than "SchaeferCity."
Ah. we can just see it now, assuming the baseball lords would permit an active player to promote a beverage somewhat stronger than Mountain Dew. Mike is shown in five different film clips, producing game-winning hits in every one, most in the eighth or ninth innings.... sitting pretty in "Schmidt City."
"Somewhere along the line," Schmidt said, "somebody stuck the label on me that I can't produce in the clutch. I didn't feel it was deserved, but if you do get a label like that, it takes several years to shake it."
Mike Schmidt probably could live with several years. At this rate, however, he still will be known as a poor clutch hitter for several decades.
It was the sixth inning last night at the Vet in a game that was dripping with tension. Steve Carlton and Dennis Lamp were throwing so many zero innings, the scoreboard resembled a bowl of Cheerios. As much as the phrase is overemphasized, somebody had to "be clutch."
Crack! Just like that, Mike Schmidt dispatched a baseball about five rows deep into the section directly behind the Astros' logo in distant left-center.
This was not a solo homer in the middle innings of a lost cause. Nor a two-run homer in the first inning that the Phils would find a way to render meaningless by the third inning. This was a bona-fide homer, a satisfying homer. A "clutch" homer.
AND BEFORE WE move on, let us point out that Mike Schmidt tops the team in game-winning RBI with 15. In 79, Schmidt paced the entire National League with 20.
Even if that stat is somewhat misleading, you would have to agree that Schmidt is no longer an automatic out when the pulse rate of the fans is up.
"Sound fundamentals permit you to hit," said Schmidt, who boasts 45 homers and 116 RBI, figures' almost identical (45, 114) to last season's. "The toughest time to maintain those sound fundamentals is when you are hitting under extreme pressure.
"Like Garry (Maddo) said the other night, 'The hardest thing you'll ever have to do is hit a line drive up the middle with two outs and the tying run on.'
"If you swing real hard, try for home runs, you are going to fail more often than not when all you need's a single to chase in someone from third. One-third of my hits (small exaggeration) used to be homers. It's not like that anymore.
"The whole kev is being able to stay within yourself. Now, I'm more ready as a hitter. I have more poise. My fundamentals are sound more often. What that does is enable me to come through under pressure more often."
In the earlier stages of his career, perhaps the reason that Mike Schmidt kept trying for homers was the fact that the fans kept asking him to. When the bases were loaded and Schmidt drove in two men with a single, the response was often, "He shoulda drove in four with a slam."
DONT FORGET, Schmidt was only a second-year player in 1974 when he topped the league in homers for the first of three consecutive years.
He became more known for power than Philly Electric. And that was a curse.
"It took a long time," said Schmidt, "but 1 eventually learned the right way to hit for me. Just take a good, sound swing at the ball and let it happen.
"I'm not looking to hit the ball out in that situation. Hey. that's the reason I did hit one out. Because I wasn't trying to.
"A few at-bats prior to the last two nights, maybe I was trying to hit one out of here. Maybe that's why I was opening up my shoulder too soon. When you stand as deep in the box as I do and you open your shoulder too soon, you are handing the pitcher the outside half of the plate.
"I knew I was doing it. But correcting it is not that easy."
In that regard, Schmidt received some much appreciated help from Lamp. Most of his fast-balls tailed inside, permitting a great view of the ball. Mike's double in the fourth to right-center and his homer came off identical pitches, sinkers on the inside part of the plate.
"In fact, it was the same pitch I topped to third in the first," he said.
Ah, but that was not a clutch moment in the ballgame and, now, the fans really don't care that Schmidt made an out.
Of course, if he leaves the bases jammed at some tension-filled moment tonight or over the weekend, the fans will care so much, they'll curse, boo and perhaps suggest that Schmidt is not clutch.
"You can't come through every single time," Schmidt said, smiling. "But you've got to do it enough."
And you get the feeling that he thinks he does.
Maddox’ Ailment a Mystery
By Ray Didinger
The first lineup card Dallas Green filled out last night would have received the Larry Bowa Seal of Approval. It was the VFW lineup. That's the Veterans of Forlorn Wars, guys who have served, and suffered, with the Phillies in other pennant races.
The lineup had Greg Luzinski in left field, Bob Boone behind the plate and Garry Maddox in center. That's the ticket Bowa, the opinionated sportscaster, has been campaigning for all week. No rookies, just battle-scarred veterans making one last assault on the summit of the National League.
Dallas Green has indicated a desire to "go to the hilt" with the VFW eight. He went away from that the past few days, inserting Lonnie Smith, Keith Moreland and Del Unser in an effort to ignite a sagging offense. Last night, however, Green went back to the vets.
"WHY?" GREEN said. "It seemed like the thing to do. I wanted Boonie to catch (Steve) Carlton. I wanted Bull to get a few rips. And I felt Garry was a natural... He got the big hit off (Cub starter) Dennis Lamp the other night."
The VFW lineup proved to be two-thirds inspiration. Luzinski celebrated his return by clubbing a home run. Boone picked up two singles to snap an 0-for-23 skid. The fact that it can be said Boone and Luzinski both "lifted" their averages to .229 gives you some idea just how hard times have been.
What happened to Garry Maddox, you ask? Well, that's a good question. An hour before game time, his name was conspicuously scratched from the lineup card posted in the Phillies' dugout. Unser's name was scribbled in just above it.
"Garry said his hand hurt," Green explained tersely.
When did he hurt it?
"Back in Pittsburgh," Green said, referring to a series which ended Sept. 17.
Isn’t it strange someone would suddenly miss a game with an injury which took place almost two weeks ago?
"I've got nothing to say about that," Green said. "If a player says he can’t go on the field and produce, I've got other players who can, and wilL produce."
I SUPPOSE we should mention that the Phillies beat the Cubs again last night, 5-0. Steve Carlton cranked up a splendid two-hitter to keep the Phils within a half-game of Montreal. The offense bunched six hits in the sixth inning. Everything considered, it should have been a very pleasant evening at the Vet.
Unfortunately, the Phillies are a team with more subplots than a Russian noveL They never make anything simple, even winning. So, on a night fairly dripping with serendipity, people lined up to inspect the pinky finger on Garry Maddox' left hand. Their manner was, in a word, skeptical.
"I guess we can’t do anything without a little controversy, can we?" Green asked.
It is characteristic of this team, with all its internal strife, with all its destructive pettiness, that nothing is above suspicion. It is entirely possible Garry Maddox asked out of last night's game because he felt his bad hand would, as he explained, make him an offensive liability.
However, the issue is clouded by the events of recent days. The criticism Green directed toward Maddox for not flipping down his sunglasses on the ball he lost in Sunday's game. The benching of Maddox the next night, a benching which so disturbed the sensitive centerfielder that he sought out a journalist and blamed him for prompting it.
WHY WOULD Maddox now indicate he is not ready to play, just when Green restores him to the lineup? Is it his way of protesting what he feels has been unfair treatment at the hands of his manager? It is a hazy area to be sure but, then, this is a hazy baseball team.
Simply put the facts in the Garry Maddox matter are these:
• Maddox sustained the original injury sliding head-first into third base in Pittsburgh, Sept. 17. He says he reinjured the hand when he fell making an off-balance throw during Sunday's loss to Montreal.
• Maddox said the injury prevented him from gripping the bat properly, yet he delivered the biggest hit of the season on Monday night, a two-out single which tied the game in the ISth inning and kept the Phillies alive in the pennant race.
• Maddox had X-rays taken Tuesday. The tests revealed no break, only a "mild sprain" of the little finger on his left hand.
• Maddox did not sit in the dugout for most of last night's game. Teammates say he drifted through occasionally but he apparently spent most of his time in the clubhouse.
• Maddox supposedly sent word to Dallas Green that he was available for defensive purposes but Green did not call on him, even when Carlton had a no-hitter going through seven innings.
IRONICALLY, the Cubs' first hit was a line single by Mike Vail leading off the eighth. The ball fell just in front of the charging Unser. It is very possible that Maddox, who plays the shallowest center field in baseball, would have made the catch and kept the no-hitter alive.
"No, I didn't think about putting Garry in," Green said later. "Why? I didn't feel we needed a change. Del is a very capable (defensive) center-fielder."
After the game, Maddox met with newsmen, explaining his reasons for his actions. He said he spoke with coach Bobby Wine during batting practice and asked him to tell the manager that his hand was bothering him. Maddox says he told Wine be couldn't grip the bat but he could play the field, if Green so desired.
"I felt I should leave that decision up to the manager." Maddox said. "If he wanted to go with me for defense and sacrifice a hitter (in the starting lineup) I would have gone out there without a second thought. But, at the same time, I wanted him to know how I felt (physically).
"We haven’t been scoring that many runs," Maddox said. "Dallas said he was looking for offense. I didn't think I could help the team that way but it was still his decision to make."
Green listened solemnly to Maddox' version of the story.
"We have an apparent communications' gap," Green said. "Garry went to Wino and Bobby told me he (Maddox) said he couldn't play. That's when I decided not to play him.
"BUT GARRY says he told Bobby he could play defense but he couldn't swing the bat," a newsman said.
"You got the quote," Green said. "If that's what Garry said, OK, I’ll buy it. He says I made the decision? Fine, it was my decision. I'll take the blame for it. I get the blame for everything else."
"Will Garry play any more in these remaining (four) games?" someone asked.
"Maybe you should check with Garry," Green replied. "Ask him how he feels."
There is an obvious question: Why didnt Garry Maddox go directly to Dallas Green and tell him how he felt? Somehow it's typical of the Phillies. They're the only club in baseball that needs a cutoff man between the clubhouse and the manager's office.
Vets Take Over Vet For Phils
By Bill Conlin
On the third night, the veterans rose again. Dallas Green should have taken the lineup card to home plate wearing an American Legion hat and brandishing a bouquet of artificial poppies.
That wouldn't have been a bad sight gag. because the Vet has been more like a Flanders Field trench than a big-league ballyard this week.
Greg Luzinski returned to left field one game after Lonnie Smith helped bury the Cubs. 14-2. Bob Boone was behind the plate to catch Lefty, Steve Carlton, one night after Keith Moreland started the carnage with a two-run double. Garry Maddox returned to center field on Green's first lineup card and that's as far as he got. which is another story. Read Ray Didinger's column for further details.
GREEN IS HAVING a helluva week so far. So is his team, which last night waded through the latest bulletins from the front to defeat the Cubs. 5-0. All the sideshows, Green's lineup card bingo, the frenetic shortstop, the melancholy centerfielder, the threat of a Stalin-type mid-winter purge, have been to this talented, daffy ensemble what a hot mustard plaster is to an arthritic knee. Do you think fans have this much to talk about in Seattle?
The Phillies are 3-0 so far in a week where a 6-1 record guarantees they will be drowning each other in champagne Sunday. Or hitting each other over the head with the bottles. Who cares? They are 3-0 despite more internal rumbling than Mt. St. Helens, more acrimony than an Arab League debate on recognizing the State of Israel, more backbiting than a reunion of Elizabeth Taylor s husbands.
It's been wonderful, really. Win or lose, this edition of the Phillies has given the region something to remember it by. even if the team coat of arms is a dirty digit emblazoned on a field of dollar signs.
The old folks went scuffling into the fray with efficiency and purpose.
Carlton, who has remained, well, mute, through all of this, had his second serious flirtation with a no-hitter this season. He lost it in the eighth when Mike Vail cracked a short-hop line-drive single into center. And. yes. nit-pickers, Maddox. who plays a shallower outfield than the centerfielder for the Taiwan Little League champions, would have caught the ball. Belt-high and with no need for sunglasses.
COBWEBS. INC, dusted off the lumber and drove in three of the five Phillies runs.
Mike Schmidt, in the lineup every day despite advancing age, started a four-run sixth, breaking up a tense, scoreless tie with his 45th homer, an awesome shot off righthander Dennis Lamp that landed deep in the left-center seats. Greg Luzinski, 2-for-21 with nine strikeouts, followed Schmidt with a trolley-wire homer that left the grounds like a single on the moon. It was the sixth time this season Schmidt and Luzinski have played Alphonse and Gaston.
Bowa, his motor running at so many RPM he's gotta be two quarts low, followed Del Unser's triple with an RBI infield hit.
It was old folks all the way when the Phils' scored an eighth-inning run. Bowa doubled to rightenter and tVnme scored him with a single io left. When Manny Trillo mistimed Bill Buckner's liner into a ninth-inning single, the identity of the centerfielder on Vail’s single became a moot point.
Ah, it was a fun night at the yard. It was a fun night when Bowa. an old fiend, came up with a sincere grin on his intense mug and said, "Great story today; if I didn't mean it I wouldn’t say it. Even my wife, Sheena. enjoyed it. Hey. all I want to do right now is win this thing. If I can survive all this. I'll be all right. I'll be glad to talk to you after this year's over.”
IT WAS A fun night when Luzinski stood at his locker and talked about how he knows where the manager is coming from as far as lineup changes and trying to win the whole thing are concerned. One thing about The Bull – Deron Johnson showed him how to be a big leaguer years ago and Greg has been able to maintain an appropriate posture most of the time.
"If I hit it's a lot easier for this team." Luzinski said. "It's a lot easier on the pitcher we have out there. I understand Dallas felt he had to shake the offense up and there's no question he did that. Lonnie and Keith went out and helped us score some runs. But I also feel I'm a big part of this team or he wouldn't have put me out there. I'm an extra bat and I make it easier on Schmidt to get pitches to hit when I'm contributing. Was I hurt personally? I wasn't even thinking of that, personal goals. When we win this thing, that's going to do it for me. Sometimes you do it in BP and think it's there, then you go out in a pennant race all pumped up and your swing falls behind a little."
The Phillies are pumped up; never mind how much emotion they conceal from the Fourth Estate. The manager is pumped up and so is the owner, who stopped by the press room before the game long enough to tell a couple of writers he liked their stories after the 14-2 game. That's like Richard Nixon sending a congratulatory telegram to Woodward and Bernstein after Watergate – and I'm only kidding, Ruly.
"Lefty can make you rise again. can't he?" Green said. "He had no-hitter stuff. Tonight he had a great slider, but in the seventh he started coming up a hair."
IN A PRICELESS little bit of irony, an honored guest in the Carpenter box last night was none other than deposed Ohio State football Coach Woody Hayes.
It had to take a lot of tongue-biting for Ruly Carpenter to resist the temptation of asking the angry old curmudgeon to lecture Green's troops on the time-honored values of discipline, respect and bloodying the other guy before he bloodies you.
There was one more chilling thought: Hayes is a worshipper of World War II General George Patton. Patton believed in reincarnation, that in previous lives he was at least Napoleon, Alexander the Great and Hannibal.
Wouldn't it frost Patton's soul to learn that this time he came back as a major league baseball manager? Dallas Green.
PHILUPS: The arithmetic is simple. All the Phillies must do to win the divsion is take three out of their remaining four games. If they win tonight with Montreal idle it becomes a two-of-three proposition. If they lose, they must sweep the series to win outright and take two of three to force a playoff here Monday... Dallas Green says his playoff pitcher will be Marty Bystrom, which gives Larry Christenson unopposed certification as Saturday's pitcher in Olympic Stadium... Steve Carlton fired 10 strikeouts to raise his big league-leading total to 286... Manny Trillo made a fine play behind second on Jerry Martin's bad-bounce grounder in the fourth, the closest the Cubs came to a hit before Mike Vail's single... Mike Schmidt scored his 100th run, giving him five seasons with both 100 RBI and 100 runs scored. Schmidt needs two more homers to tie the National League record for third basemen, 47 by Eddie Mathews in 1957. Carlton has now pitched 304 innings, second to his personally unreachable career high of 346 in his 1972 Cy Young year... In National League Player of the Month balloting it was tough to choose between Bystrom's 5-0. 1.50 ERA debut and Tug McGraw's 4-0,. 0.45, three-save relief pitching. One of them should win it and he should take the other out to dinner for a helluva try... Bob Walk vs. rookie righthander Randy Martz tonight. And, yes, it is the biggest game of the year so far.
Expos Keep on Winning
By Wayne Parrish, Special to the Daily News
MONTREAL – The questions have been asked so often, David Palmer can repeat them by rote. How's the arm, David? Dave, uh, any problem with the elbow? How soon do you think you'll be able to go again, Dave?
Last night, in the buzz of Olympic Stadium, Palmer screamed back. Not with his voice – with a smoking fastball and a curve that broke like it had a crush on home plate. When it was over, he and the Expos had reduced the Cardinals to rubble, 8-0.
Three games this weekend, head-to-head, bat-to-bat and arm-to-arm with the Phillies, 45 hours to decide what six months couldn't. Close Encounters for the Third Time.
A YEAR AGO, the Expos entered their season-closing series against the Phils needing a sweep to catch the Pittsburgh Pirates. They won one game. Last weekend, needing to win to come out ahead, they lost the opener and then did just that. This weekend they again must take two of three.
"The first two..." specified Andre Dawson, who singled, doubled and tripled to lift his slugging percentage since Sept. 1 to .593 and his batting average to .310. "I want to get it over with Saturday. I don't want to have to worry about Sunday."
No one had to worry about Palmer.
He threw 119 pitches, got 10 strikeouts, 13 ground-ball outs, his first shutout since Aug. 17, 1979, and his 11th victory without a loss at Olympic Stadium.
"I think," suggested catcher Gary Carter, “that the David Palmer of old is back.”
That was the 21-year-old who came out of nowhere to-go 10-2 down the stretch last season. The Palmer of more recent vintage is the one who overthrew the first day of spring training, irritated his right elbow, was rested through the season's early stages and put on the disabled list in mid-July.
"It's been a long haul," he said with a sigh. "The first three games back for me were like spring training all over... It's a matter of getting my rhythm back, getting in my groove. I think it s coming...”
THE SIGNS WERE there last week in Philadelphia, where he five-hit the Phils through eight only to lose, 2-1, on Bake McBride's ninth-inning homer, they were there last night a half-hour before game time.
"He was sky-high... he was so keyed up you could see it in his eyes,” said Carter.
If the Cards could see Palmer's eyes, they certainly couldn’t see his breaking ball.
It broke viciously all night, and, once the Expo bats solved the mystery of Andy Rincon, so did the Cardinals.
The awesome Dawson - his slugging per centage for the three-game series was 1.667 – led on the fifth by lining a shot to left, then Carter tripled off the wall in right-center. An inning later, Dawson did the same thing and the inning after that, after Chris Speier doubled home Larry Parrish, St. Louis Manager Red Schoendienst decided he needed a Little bullpen help. But Jeff Little lasted just three batters before giving way to John Littlefield. Rodney Scott drove in two runs with a single and Dawson and Warren Cromartie added RBI singles. Eight-zip and, by the way, Dave, how s the arm?
"Fine," he said, for the 435th time, to the mob that jammed about his clubhouse cubicle.
"I wanted to stay out there for the last out just to turn around and see all those zeroes up there on the scoreboard," he smiled.
Denise E. Brown of Pennsauken, won $10 plus four tickets to a Phillies game next season on Steve Carlton's single last night in the Daily News Home Payoff contest.
Winners of four tickets each in the fifth inning of the Phillies-Cubs game were Victor Campagno, Butch Adgate and Matt Curd, all of Philadelphia.
So far, the Daily News has paid out $19,215.
Today's entry coupon appears on Page 71.