Kansas City Star - October 21, 1980
By William D. Tammeus, Staff Writer
IT’S CARLTON vs Gale on TV tonight Next week it’s supposed to be Carter vs Reagan. Why do the political debate teams start with their bullpens?
WHY GALE instead of Splittorff? Well, it won't take as much space in the paper to tell the game story Wednesday.
THE WORLD Series on NBC tonight pre-empts a disaster movie. And we'd rather not watch the live variety thank you.
Old hands at paying dues, Phillies fans sing the boos
By Bill Turque, Staff Writer
PHILADELPHIA – When the late Karl Wallenda did his high-wire walk at Veterans Stadium a few years ago, fear was expressed in some quarters that if he fell to his death, the last earthly sounds he heard would be the boos of Philadelphia baseball fans.
The Boo Birds. They’d boo an Easter egg hunt. Newborn puppies. Santa Claus. Their pitiless vocal cords are as much a part of the game’s lore as Abner Doubleday.
"It’s a hell of a thing to say, but it's like a tradition here,” acknowledged cab driver Bemie Coldburt, one of the legion of Phillies faithful on the verge of something even Coldburt couldn’t possibly boo — a world championship. If they win the sixth game of the World Series tonight, that prize is theirs.
October baseball has been an infrequent and unhappy exercise here. Mirroring the Royals, the Phillies came up empty in the 1976, 1977 and 1978 division playoffs, exhibiting a knack for finding particularly gut-wrenching ways to lose. In 1964, after leading the National League by an oceanic margin, they lost the pennant on the last day of the season, capping one of the great el foldos in the history of the American diamond.
"Long suffering" is a phrase that does not cover the depth of frustration among this group of fans. "Borderline homicidal rage" would be more like it.
"Lemme put it to ya this way,” Coldburt offered. “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride, ya know what I mean?"
But this week Philadelphia is glutting itself in an orgy of sporting splendor. Sunday brought not only the Phillies' 4-3 win over the Royals, but an Eagles’ victory over the Dallas Cowboys. And, for good measure, the Flyers topped the Montreal Canadiens.
“This city is alive at the moment with a Spiritual and economic rebirth," declared Mayor William J. Green.
For all the main line and blue-blooded opulence here, sports remains a gritty, lunch-pail affair. The heroes are the ones who look uncomfortable without a dirty uniform or a broken nose, thus it is the likes of Pete Rose, Eagles linebacker Bill Bergey and Flyers star Bobby Clarke who draw sustained exuberance from crowds for their all-out play. Anything less brings the flocks of Boo Birds.
“They can damn well boo these guys if they don’t produce. What do they make,, about $300000 a year?” asked Tony Dellaratta, bartender at McGlinchey’s, a cozy sports-minded bar on 15th.
"They’re the best fans in the country," he asserted. “They’ve been terribly, terribly frustrated."
Dellaratta, a portly man with a cigar stump that looks as if it has been in the corner of his mouth since the last game of the 1964 season, epitomizes the volcanic, love-hate relationship people here seem to have with their sports heroes. After declaring the fans’ right to boo their lungs out, he adds with Sunday school reverence: “I love Pete Rose, if a man could use the word love about another man.”
"They take it real personal" said Coldburt. ‘‘There’s a lot of guys that come out to a game and it’s like a family thing to them."
But when Coldburt says “family" he’s not talking about mom and the kids as it might be tn Royals Stadium, but ‘‘family’’ as in some sort of deep-seated domestic hostility. But, he adds, "those same people who boo will be the first ones to cheer when they (the Phillies) do some thing good.”
The local impression of Royals fans is one of a well mannered but sedate lot who have left undeveloped their potential for pumping up the psyche of the home team.
“They pay their money, come into the ballpark and wait for things to happen," said Dan Murphy, a Social Security claims adjuster in Atlantic City who lived in Kansas City several years ago. “In Philadelphia, if you pay your money and you see something good, you cheer., If it’s bad you boo."
There are, however, some here who would like Phillies fans to take a cue from their opposite numbers in the Midwest. In an editorial Monday broadcast on radio station KYW, vice president and general manager Warren Maurer, in Kansas City over the weekend, described how impressed he was with fan behavior at Royals Stadium. What he remembered particularly was a Royals fan who turned to him after Sunday's loss and said if the Royals had to lose he would like it to be to a team like the Phillies.
“Remember," Maurer sermonized, "the whole world will be watching (tonight’s game). Let's be sure we show our best side.”
The consensus here is that Maurer’s urgings are not going to swing a lot of weight if the Phillies wrap the Series up tonight.
“If they win, it will bedlam," predicted Murphy.
This, of course, all rests on the left shoulder of Phillies pitcher Steve Carlton. If he has his stuff, the Phillies stand a good chance to win.
“If he don’t,” said Coldburt, “the Boo Birds will be out there.”
‘Counting on you’
Hopes of Royals’ fans rest with Gale
By Mike DeArmond, Sports Writer
PHILADELPHIA – Rich Gale arrived in Philadelphia feeling like a man under siege. Every question, every word he heard, the hopes of well-wishers (“We’re counting on you, Rich”), seemed to increase the pressure of the task ahead.
The Philadelphia Phillies lead the Royals three games to two and need only one more victory — tonight or Wednesday nighy – to win the 77th World Series. Standing in the way of that achievement is Gale, the Royals’ starting pitcher against the Phillies’ Steve Carlton at 7:20 tonight at Veterans Stadium.
As Gale looks over his shoulder, as he plays the waiting game until game time, it seems the collective weight of every man woman and child in Kansas City is on his back. A few teammates are up there, too, no doubt.
But Gale contends that's just not the way it is.
“I don't think I’ve got the whole city on my shoulders," Gale said. “I don’t think everybody is looking right at me. Sure, I'm the starting pitcher, but there’s the starting first (baseman), second, third and shortstop, guys who are going to have anywhere from three to five opportunities to go up to the plate and do something offensively.
“It’s not just me out there. I’m going to be very serious about this, but I’m going to try to enjoy it too."
Gale is not denying the pressure he is under. He simply is girding himself against giving into it.
“There’s some pressure but this is a tremendous opportunity," Gale said. “I don’t want to look back on it and say, ‘God What a nightmare the 1980 World Series was for me.’’’
How, Gale asked, could this game possibly carry more pressure than game three in Kansas City, when the Royals were down two games to none and knew no team ever had come back from a 3-0 deficit and won the World Series?
“People were saying then, if we don’t win this one, it’s almost next to impossible for us to win the Series," Gale said.
The Royals won game three 4-3 in 10 innings, with Dan Quisenberry getting the victory in relief. Gale lasted only 4⅓ innings, giving up seven hits and three walks, but only two runs.
"I was something between fair and good,” Gale said of his first appearance.
Carlton didn't exactly mow down the Royals in game two. Although Carlton gained credit for the Phillies’ 6-4 triumph, he gave up 10 hits, walked six and yielded all four Kansas City runs in his eight innings before Tug McGraw came in and earned a save.
“A break will determine the winner," said the Phillies' Mike Schmidt at a Monday afternoon workout at Veterans Stadium. “However, the Royals might be under a little more pressure because there is no tomorrow for them."
The Phils’ Larry Bowa also took a cautiously optimistic approach.
"We can't think we have them with their backs against the wall,” Bowa said. "If they win tomorrow (today), whose back is to the wall then?”
And that is the view Gale is taking as he prepares for what could be the Royals' final game of 1980.
"I expect Carlton to pitch better than he did in the second game in Philadelphia," Gale said. "But I also think Rich Gale is going to pitch better than he did, too.
“Whether they throw Tug McGraw out there to start, or Bob Walk, or (Dick) Ruthven, or whoever, all those guys are capable of having big games, and I think I'm capable of having a big game, too."
Phillies turn to their main man – Carlton
By Jayson Stark, Knight-Ridder Newspapers
PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Phillies’ season comes down to Steve Carlton tonight. And that’s the way it should be. Because without Carlton, the Phillies wouldn't be in the World Series for the season to come down to him.
The Carlton numbers are familiar — 24-9 record, 2.34 earned-run average, 304 regular-season innings pitched, 286 strikeouts.
Even the less-familiar Carlton statistics have been bandied about a million times — the 16 starts in which he allowed one run or less, the 14 times he won following Phillies’ defeats, the 14 runs the Phillies got him in his nine losses.
It is all part of the lore of a Philadelphia season that gets more remarkable every day. And Carlton can make that season the most remarkable of all tonight if he can beat the Royals in game six of the World Series.
Carlton is capable of winning this game nearly by himself. If he were to pitch one of those 11-strikeout, near-no-hit games he was producing about every other start in June, this World Series would be history.
It won’t be the Carlton of June, though, who will be showing up at Veterans Stadium. The Carlton pitching tonight is the much-wearier October edition.
It will be a guy whose three post-season starts have not been overpowering.
It will be a guy who hasn't been himself for more than a month.
“I think probably, over the last 10 games, maybe only in six out of the 10 have we seen Lefty (Carlton) pretty close to the Cy Young guy we watched all year," said Phils’ Manager Dallas Green. “But even in the four where he had less than his best stuff, he certainly kept us in the game. That’s what makes him a great pitcher.
“I don’t even think Lefty had that good stuff the last time he faced Kansas City (a 6-4 victory in game two of the Series). But he struck out 10 people, so he must have had something. Lefty is capable of doing that."
He’s capable of it, but he also is a tired pitcher. He has won two of his three post-season starts. He did strike out 10 Royals. He did hold the Houston Astros to one run in a National League Championship Series game.
But he also got knocked out before the sixth inning in the other game against Houston, the first time that has happened this year. And he has labored. He is just a hair off, the slim difference between overpowering and just tough.
"I think you can tell in arm speed,” said Green. "He doesn’t have the quick arm he had earlier. And as a result, he doesn't have the extra pop he needs on his fastball or that he needs on his slider.
"When he was fresh, early in the season, he had the great arm speed and everything was crackling. Now they’re not crackling as many times in a row. But they’re working enough to get the job done. And that's all he and I care about."
Carlton's record since Sept 1 reflects the subtle difference.
In 31 starts through Sept 1, Carlton was 21-7, 2.30. In his 10 starts since (including the postseason), he is 5-2, 2.53.
But he allowed more than three earned runs only three times in the first 31 starts. He has done that three times since.
He has pitched only one complete game in his last seven starts.
He blew a lead of more than two runs for the first time all year.
He simply has not been the same. But then after 324 innings overall how could he be?
Green took that into account when he decided to pitch Carlton tonight.
He could have started him in game five Sunday. But Carlton had thrown 159 pitches in his previous game. And Sunday was only four days later. So Green decided to save him and take his chances with Marty Bystrom.
"I just think the way those 320 innings have added up, that Lefty needed this extra time," Green said. “I think Lefty would have pitched whenever I told him to pitch, but this extra rest should just do him a world of good.
“I said earlier that I could possibly use him 2½ times in the Series if need be. But I would have had to pitch him (Sunday) to do that. And I still felt that if I got everything I expected out of Bystrom, we’d be OK.”
It worked out more than OK; Bystrom went five innings Sunday, and the Phils went on to win. The Phillies have a rested Carlton to work tonight and a rested Dick Ruthven to pitch Wednesday if they need him.
"We are," said Green, "in the perfect spot.”
Green gets Phils’ goad, spurs team
By Joe McGuff, Sports Editor
PHILADELPHIA – There was a time when they laughingly were called the Phutile Phillies. They were grist for comedians and the rest of the National League.
In contrast to Chicago Cub fans, who suffered the shortcomings of their team with good-humored resignation, Philadelphia fans waited for the Phillies to fail so they could pour invective on them.
The relationship was like that of a parent who tells a child that he or she is no good and then when the child does something wrong screams, “See I told you so.”
Today the no-longer futile Phillies are one game away from becoming the champions of professional baseball. They are the only charter members of the American or National League who never have won a World Series, but if they defeat the Royals tonight or Wednesday night, if a seventh game is necessary, they will finally have become the best team in baseball.
In that event, Philadelphia will be willing to forgive the 80-year wait.
Even if the Phillies win, they will have done so in an unorthodox manner. Their MVP at this point would appear to be Dallas Green, who is not a player but a manager. Green, an imposing figure at 6 feet 5 inches, 230 pounds, has pushed, threatened, berated and goaded his team into being a winner.
Until this season, the Phillies were not big on the clutch play, but they were adept at going over the manager’s head in disputes and blaming everyone but themselves for their failures. When a man signed on to manage the Phillies, he needed to bring a chair and a whip.
Tug McGraw is a lot of laughs. So is the Philly Phanatic. Pete Rose is Charlie Hustle. But collectively the Phillies can be a pain.
As an indication of just how tough the job is, Green says he would prefer not to manage again, even if the Phillies win.
“The key word is ‘prefer,’” Green said. "I decided last year when I took the job I did not want to be a career manager. I’ve enjoyed it to some degree at times, although ’enjoyable' is not an adjective I’d put on this job.
“I’ve got four kids who like to eat. The guy upstairs has the hammer. I understand that."
Green took over as interim manager Aug. 31, 1979, after Danny Ozark was fired. At the time, he was assistant to Paul Owens, director of player personnel. He and Owens are close friends and he returned as manager in 1980 at Owens' urging.
“I got enough firewater in me one night to make me think I was the best manager in baseball,” Green said, laughing.
Ozark was known as a nice guy, a manager who stood up for his players and took the blame for their shortcomings. Compared with Ozark, Green came on like a Vince Lombardi in knickers.
“This spring everyone said they wanted to win the world championship,” Green said. “I told them if we couldn’t win, we would have to make some changes. This team finally came to realize that everything I talked about in the spring was in their grasp. The last 10 days of the season they stiffed it and won. I didn’t have a lot to do with the last 10 days.
“The thing I’m happiest about is that I did not give in to some of the problems. To see this culminate in a world championship would make me feel good. One thing about me is I couldn't care less what they think about me.”
Green describes himself as an emotional person and some of his blowups have made headlines.
"At times I have opened my mouth when I should have kept it shut," he said, "but I continually tell my guys I am not a grudge holder. I wish it were the other way around at times.
“It’s taken us a long time to get this close to winning. In spring training I told them a lot of guys may be on their last hurrah or the team could be on its last hurrah. Paul and I felt we would give it one more chance. Maybe (Larry) Bowa put it best when he said that now we may hold down some of the changes.”
Without Green to threaten and provoke them, chances are the Phillies would be sitting out the World Series for a 30th consecutive year.
If nice guys really do finish last, Phils figure to win it all
By Tom Callahan, Washington Star
PHILADELPHIA – The most singularly unattractive, unappealing and, besides that, obnoxious baseball team of modern times is on the verge of winning the World Series.
How to win one more game from Kansas City isn’t what’s worrying the city fathers of Philadelphia. How are they going to get the players to come to the parade?
Steve Carlton’s last Cy Young Award still is in the mail room at Veterans Stadium. Has anyone ever said, “So what?” to a world championship?
Take away Tug McGraw, Pete Rose, Del Unser, Mike Schmidt (on his good days) and one or two reserves like Greg Gross and John Vukovich, and you pretty much have a collection of sneering and sniveling boors who would kick the crutch out from under Tiny Tim if he asked for an autograph.
Left fielder Greg Luzinski, aptly nicknamed “Bull," finally moped back into the lineup Sunday. He walked in the seventh inning, was pinch-run for by Lonnie Smith, who was pinch-hit for in the ninth by Unser.
Luzinski got chewed up a little before the game. Phillies’ Manager Dallas Green, who is said to be a nice-enough guy turned rude and gruff only by the company he keeps, talked about trading Luzinski. Nice note on which to start game five, huh?
The word is, when Luzinski enrolled himself in sick bay for game two, Green may have wondered about how much Luzinski cares. Apparently, after Luzinski sauntered in to report himself fit for duty again, Green let him wait awhile.
That steamed Luzinski. In the Phillie tradition, he sought the Philadelphia media for a chance to bleat about how mistreated he was, and to weep about how that just goes to show he wouldn't have batted .229 this year if he hadn’t been so misused.
“Nobody loves Greg Luzinski more than I do, but we’re not falling into that old syndrome of the tail wagging the dog," said Green. “Isn’t it about time we start looking at production? I’d be glad to play Greg Luzinski 162 games, but he’s the one who hit .229, not me. He can give all the reasons he wants about hitting .229 but the bottom line is that’s what he hit. I get tired of players popping off. The front office is going to have to decide if his production is off or he just doesn’t care."
Looking around the Phillies’ clubhouse, you’d almost think none of them cares. If it weren’t for the money, that is.
Even Rose looked underwhelmed. Going 3 for 19 will do that.
Hal McRae’s foul drive with two men on in the bottom of the ninth Sunday caused McGraw to pat his heart to hold in the beat, but a stethoscope wouldn’t get a sound from some of these guys.
“Earlier, I thought a little bit that this World Series was sort of an anti-climax," said journeyman Unser, "but now it’s warming up.”
Yet the room was as cold as Steve Carlton’s heart.
"Talk about (unintelligible) character now, huh?” Larry Bowa grumped and groused.
Only the Phillies can sound so mean-spirited on the subject of character.
Even the Muppet character "Phillie Phanatic,” sort of a minor-league “Chicken," has been ripping the Phils for their rudeness to kids.
The ball is now in the hands of Carlton, a man who plays the game and picks up the money and nothing else. Carlton's boorishness extends to people of all ages, even occasionally to his former valet catcher, Tim McCarver.
“Sometimes he won’t even talk to me," said McCarver, whom “Lefty” kept in baseball a couple of extra years simply because McCarver was the only catcher with whom he would even make sign language.
“I don’t want to speak for him (Carlton), but I really think this — that he wants to win (tonight) more than you could imagine," said McCarver. "He doesn’t care about records — he really doesn’t. He didn’t pick up the last Cy Young Award, and he probably won’t want this one.
“But from a personal point of view, I think winning this game would mean more to him than the Hall of Fame will."
The joy will come through the Phillies when the money dawns on them, but it’s hard to feel too joyful for them.
If they win, Green is probably stepping down just to get away from the aggravation. When he does Bake McBride will cheer. Someone else will be sad that McBride’s happy. What a clubhouse.
“When Lefty does make the Hall of Fame,” McCarver said, "I just hope one thing."
Carlton actually lifted his head to hear what it was.
“I hope they’re able to find him," McCarver said, “to tell him.”
Phils’ comeback skill kept Aikens in game five
By Gib Twyman, Sports Writer
PHILADELPHIA – Royals’ Manager Jim Frey, responding to criticism of his World Series strategy, has explained two more of his moves, or non-moves.
Frey explained Monday night why Willie Aikens wasn’t replaced at first base by Pete LaCock in the ninth inning of game five Sunday. The Royals led 3-2 entering the inning, and the change would have been a defensive move.
As it turned out, Aikens stayed in the game and Del Unser's drive sailed past him and went for a score-tying double. The Phils scored another run and won 4-3.
"The way the Phillies were coming back, you never know when you’ll need a couple more runs,” said Frey. “A lot of times you make that move, the first baseman isn’t involved in a play, the game is tied and you don't have your starter’s bat left.
"I would have felt terrible trying to come back in the bottom of the ninth if Aikens was sitting up in the clubhouse."
The first “second guess" of the Series came when the Royals remained in New York after winnlng the American League pennant. Shouldn’t the Royals have returned home to soak up some applause? The next crowd they encountered was a hostile one at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia.
"I honestly don’t know how anybody could ask that question,” said Frey. "We went out and scored six runs in our first Series game, had a 4-0 lead. I don’t think if you lose a game 7-6 you can say you went in flat.”
Earlier, Frey had defended in detail his strategy of pitching Rich Gale instead of Paul Splittorff in the Series and his decision to let Jose Cardenal bat Sunday against Tug McGraw instead of using John Wathan as a pinch hitter.
• • •
Lillian Carter is as partisan in baseball as she is in politics. Her son says she is rooting for the Philadelphia Phillies to win the World Series.
"Since the Dodgers were eliminated, she’s been a real strong Phillies fan,” President Jimmy Carter said Monday.
The president said hia mother told him when he called recently that she was too busy watching the baseball championships to talk to him.
‘Guy down block’ becomes Mr. October
Meet Del Unser, an unlikely Phillie – gracious, cooperative, accessible
By Bill Lyon, Knight-Ridder Newspapers
PHILADELPHIA – So, it turns out, there really is some justice after all.
Del Unser is the new Mr. October.
The faithful employee who never makes waves, never calls in sick, never grouses about overtime, finally gets the big promotion.
The guy down the block, the one who mows your lawn while you're away, who lends you his car when yours is in the shop.
The guy who stops when no one else will, when you're marooned on an interstate looking forlornly into a smoking engine; the guy who lets you in front of him in the supermarket line.
Are you watching, Leo Durocher? Catch this, because a nice guy is finishing first.
Well, why not? Do all our sports heroes have to be overbearing, arrogant super-sulks? Must we always have to endure haughty, overpriced egomaniacs who snub the media, resent the fans and are jealous of their own teammates?
No, this time around, the gods of baseball have chosen to deliver us from the hands of brooding, surly, one-dimensional temper tantrums, and they have, instead, reached out and anointed an unassuming 35-year-old journeyman pinch-hitter who had spent 13 plodding, largely undistinguished years playing a game for a living.
It is a time for Joe Average to rejoice.
In the measured madness of the playoffs and World Series, a genuinely nice man, after a lot of obscurity and anonymity, suddenly finds himself a hero.
Delbert Bernard Unser, sometimes an outfielder, sometimes a first baseman, sometimes a real estate salesman, has had roughly 5,100 official at-bats in the major leagues, and the first 5,090 went mostly unnoticed, incidental lines of agate type no more meaningful than the listings in a phone directory in a town where you've never been.
But in the last two weeks, one of the spear-carriers has become the star. It is like one of Sinatra's back-up singers doing solos, and bringing down the house.
For a dozen years, Unser played on teams that began each season with little hope and ended them with even less. The Washington Senators. The Cleveland Indians. The Phillies (in ‘73 and '74 when they were a sub-.500 team). The New York Mets (when they were not amazin' but simply atrocious). The Montreal Expos (before they became contenders).
A man accumulates a lot of scars that way, not necessarily all of them the kind that show. But you learn some things, too.
"Patience, mostly," said Del Unser. "And perseverance."
There is a point, however, in an athlete's career when persevering becomes simply stubbornness. The road down is a familiar, from starter to utility man to pinch-hitter to see ya later. A lot of people thought Del Unser had reached that final stop. None of them, however, happened to be named Del Unser.
"Playing even part-time still beats the heck out of not playing at all," he said.
Now he finds himself inundated by a tidal wave of media. And news people, in turn, encounter something rare in a Phillie, someone who is gracious, cooperative, courteous, available, accessible.
"There weren't too many who ever bothered to ask before," he said, smiling. "Not that they had any reason to."
He wears it well, the sudden fame and adulation that has come after two crucial World Series hits – second- and fifth-game doubled – and timely hitting in the National League Championship Series.
Unser always has had grace and class and dignity, but our eternal weakness is that we must talk only to winners, so the Del Unsers of the world too rarely get invited to the interview room.
"The difference between what's happening now and what happened before is about this much," he said the other day, holding up a thumb and forefinger, with only a tiny space separating them. "If I hit the ball right at somebody, then you're talking to someone else."
There is a bemused smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.
"Don't take this the wrong way, but, really, it's almost been something of a religious experience," he said. "I mean, what's happened, sometimes it's almost mystical. But then I think of all the years, all the teams, all the hours in the batting cage, all the help I've had from people like (Phils’ batting coach) Billy DeMars and, well...."
It is a measure of Unser that he is happiest for the people who are happy for him.
"Through all the teams, all the traveling, we've met a lot of people, and now they're sending us telegrams and letters," he said. "There are stacks of them. I may just paper the walls of one room with them when this is over. What they say is that they're glad for us. Well, I'm glad for them."
Does this, then, make all of what preceded worthwhile?
"Frankly, no," Del Unser replied. "I know what you're getting at, but I wouldn't have had any regrets about my career if it had ended without this.
"There was something I wanted to do (play big-league baseball) and something I thought I could do, and I got the chance. That made me very fortunate because there are a lot of people who have dreams but never get the opportunity to chase them.
Wilson joins the critics, but says it’s time to play
By Mike DeArmond, Sports Writer
PHILADELPHIA – In millions of households across the country, wherever little boys wear Royals' caps and where older fans wear an invisible Royals’ crest across their hearts, the name of Royals’ Manager Jim Frey is being taken in vain.
Why didn’t Frey replace Willie Aikens at first base with Pete LaCock in the top of the ninth inning Sunday? Why didn’t John Wathan pinch hit for Jose Cardenal? Why didn’t Frey order struggling Willie Wilson to bunt early in the game when the Royals had runners at first and second and none out? Why has Frey turned short reliever Dan Quisenberry into an any-situation reliever?
The second-guessers have had a field day extracting their pound of flesh from Frey since that combination of non-moves seemingly contributed to the Royals' 4-3 loss Sunday, giving the Phillies a 3-2 edge in the World Series.
Frey also took a beating Sunday night in the Wilson home.
“We tied the Series up and we thought we could win it. And then ought all of a sudden that key blow to us yesterday (Sunday) left guys a little down,’’ said Wilson, Royals’ starting left fielder. “I know I felt down all night. Totally sad, totally mad, totally disgusted.
“You get down to one inning, three outs. You walk guys, you let a guy (the Phils’ Del Unser) beat you twice (Unser got a pinch-hit double in game two and scored the tying run and doubled in the tying run in game five). Same pitcher (Quisenberry). It’s a gut shot.
“The two games we’ve won (in the Series), Jim put Pete in for defensive purposes (actually La-Cock has appeared in only game two, which the Royals lost). He didn’t do that yesterday (Sunday). He didn’t pitch a left-hander against the left-hander. He didn’t have me bunting in the third inning.
“You’ve got a bullpen. Use it.”
Wilson delivered that oration Monday when the Royals arrived in Philadelphia. The Royals must win the 7:20 game tonight — with Rich Gale pitching against the Phils’ Steve Carlton — to have a chance of winning the Series. Then, of course, they have to win Wednesday night, too.
Looking ahead to that task seemed to exorcise some of the bitterness from Wilson, if not some of his teammates, who grumbled off-the-record but never on it.
Wilson knew he was taking a chance speaking as he did. Dissension within the ranks, and all that.
“But now we’re just going to have to stop second-guessing and go ahead and play,’’ Wilson said. “We haven’t lost yet. We still can win two. And I’m still going to go hard until the last out.
"I don’t mean to blame it on him (Frey),’’ said Wilson, who has a .182 Series batting average (4 for 22). “We’ve lost a lot of games. That's one game. He made mistakes, we made mistakes. Everybody made mistakes.
“So you can’t blame it on any one person. If we’re going to lose, we're going to lose as a team.
“I’m going to… just go out and play and not worry about anything.
“People were talking about the money,” said Wilson. “I’m talking about the pride, man. I’m talking about wearing the World Series ring. I'm not talking about 28 or 38 thousand dollars.
“I might not ever get a chance to get a ring like that again. I might never have a chance to play in this thing again.”