Chicago Tribune - October 23, 1980
On 2d thought, it was a Series to remember
By David Israel, Chicago Tribune Press Service
PHILADELPHIA – This fool Israel won't quit. The World Series is over, gone; Sherriff Lobo is back on NBC, but this guy won't quit pounding my keys, insisting I come up with all these compelling phrases about the Philadelphia Phillies and the Kansas City Royals.
You know, I figured by now I'd get a break. No more of that stuff rolling through my parts about hit and runs, destiny, and a legacy of almost a century of futility denied.
This idiot picked the Royals to win it all in five games just one week before the Phillies won it all in six, and still he won't give up.
Today, for instance, he wants to put the entire cosmic competition in focus. Just when he should be giving it a rest, David Israel he cranks it up again. Being this guy's typewriter is no kind of life at all. You don't even want to know how many airplane seats I've been stuffed under – and he doesn't have the decency to offer me peanuts or a cocktail. I'd give the cheap bum the buck-fifty, if only he was considerate enough to ask.
His fingers are clicking the keys nervously now, he's about ready to start something profound.
OK, HERE IT IS. He wants to tell you about where this Series fits in history. He says everyone spent a lot of time after it ended the other night, trying to figure out whether there was anything classic about it.
He says he is pretty sure there wasn't. He says there are no plays to remember – except for the time Darrell Porter tiptoed into an out at home plate in the first game just when it looked like Kansas City was about to start a roll for the ages. He is really adamant about this, though you might suspect it is just some manner of self-fulfilling prophecy. I mean, old know-it-all with the magic fingers kept insisting the Porter play was the turning point of the tournament – even on the night it occurred.
Another thing he is saying – along with everyone else – is that there were no outstanding players in this deal. Who's he trying to kid? What about Tug McGraw? What about Mike Schmidt? What about – even for all his mopery – Steve Carlton? What about Bob Boone and Larry Bowa? Don't you remember what Willie Aikens accomplished, wise guy?
There was something endearing about the 38-year-old McGraw having – in this era of the blase ballplayer – the unmitigated gall to have an unmitigated ball on national television. The joy will endure.
Schmidt, as he had been all summer, was the fulcrum of the Phillies' offense. Carlton started two games and won two games. Boone caught every inning of every game on a wrecked knee and was the Phillies' defensive key – he handled his pitchers with elan, he intimidated the running Royals with his arm, and he hit better than .400 just because it seemed like the thing to do. Bowa provided the team with spunk and spark; he hit over his head and started a double play every time one was needed to squelch an incipient Kansas City rally.
WILLIE AIKENS emerged as a role model for a nation – and not because he had the power to hit four home runs. It was Aikens' poise that was admirable. Willie is afflicted with a terrible stutter. As a child, he says, he wouldn't go to the grocery store because he feared that others would taunt him. He spent the first 18 years of his life shy and withdrawn, but during the World Series he flowered. He came to every press conference. He talked candidly about himself. He became the big man with the tender soul the Lou Gehrig or Gil Hodges for another generation.
Nothing to remember about this Series? Who are these guys trying to kid?
George Brett and Pete Rose showed up.
And Brett, who is the ballplayer Pete Rose would have been if Pete Rose had any natural ability, nearly hit .400 in this, too. No one's going to tell me that .375 is lousy. And that .375 could have been a whole lot louder if George had the opportunity to knock in some runs – but in six games, only five guys were on base when he batted. By contrast, 25 Phillies were on base in the six games when Schmidt – who hit .381 and knocked in seven runs – came to the plate.
Rose batted just .261, woefully low for him, but his hits were of substance. He was always there when it mattered most, a protagonist in so many game-tying and game-winning outbursts. And he was there when the baseball dribbled out of Bob Boone's glove, to snare it and help snuff the Royals' last hope, their desperate charge in the ninth inning of the sixth game.
IT WAS REALLY all right, this World Series, believe me. I had to put up with Israel's incessant pounding, and I enjoyed it. Everyone is supposed to despise the Phillies – but who can hate a team with two Vukovichs and an Unser? It's a whole front row from Indy.
There was something nice, about Greg Gross – salt of the earth ballplayer – getting to celebrate a World Championship. He was talking about how extraordinary it all felt; how he fully realized it probably would never happen to him again. And then he went to his locker and carefully stored an empty bottle that once contained Great Western champagne.
"I've kept all three of them," Greg Gross said. "One from the division, one from the, playoffs, and now this one. I don't like the idea of liquor in my trophy case, but that's right where these three bottles are going. I was the only one who drank from them, too."
To be sure, the Royals were the good guys in this drama and the Phillies presented more than a couple of sulkers. But. really, right now I don't think I'm going to let Israel ruin this thing by naming them. He's probably just bitter because, they all made him look like such a fool.
Besides, what is a Dickie Noles, anyway?
Royals and Frey went down meekly
By Bob Verdi, Chicago Tribune Press Service
PHILADELPHIA – Dallas Green, manager of the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies, had just hung up the telephone before returning to the postgame revelry Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
"It was President Carter," said Green. "He congratulated us. He said, even though he didn't see all of it, he thought it was a great World Series."
No wonder. We saw all of it. It was not a great World Series. Close. Competitive. Nice weather. But not very memorable. More people talked about George Brett's southern discomfort than his bat, and the most impressive team was the Philadelphia Police Department.
If we may discuss losers first, the Kansas City Royals were a colossal disappointment. It is possible, after coasting through the final two months of the regular season, that they expended all their emotions in sweeping the New York Yankees. It is also possible that the Kansas City Royals aren't that good.
If the American League isn't chagrined about what happened this past week, it should be. This was going to be the year. Yet the Royals played like they were supposed to play – aggressively – only in Game Four. Their group personality for the World Series was underscored Tuesday night by Amos Otis, repeatedly stepping out of the batter's box on Steve Carlton, then reaching first base and pausing to ask his coach directions to second base. All of this merely served to forestall the imminent execution.
THE ROYALS, we were told, won 97 games. during the season by keeping the ball in play and running opponents to death. It didn't happen in the Series. In 53 innings, the Royals struck out an incredible 49 times. Willie Wilson, who amassed 230 hits during the regular season, got three in six Series games, fanned a record 12 times, and stole but two bases. Fellow rabbits U.L. Washington and Frank White also were missing persons offensively.
Did Philadelphia have the book on them, or were they simply overmatched by power pitching, a hallmark of the National League? After all, Wilson's case was not that of a man making one egregious mistake in the fall classic. Rather it was the man who led his league in hits failing to make contact in almost half of his at bats. Discount, then, the Royals' respectable Series team batting average of .290. A third of their lineup was invisible. "Out men" were always cropping up in important situations.
"I don't know what happened to us," said Manager Jim Frey. "We certainly weren't ourselves. I gave more steal signs this week than any other week in the year. Things just didn't happen."
Nor did Frey allow them to happen. He did not distinguish himself, either. He was entirely predictable. Until Game Six, he employed only five of his pitchers. And in Game Six, rather than use an experienced, well-rounded Paul Sptittorff from the left side, Frey opted for right-handed Rich Gale "because the Phillies' power is from the right side."
FREY MAY HAVE won the battle, but he lost the war. Philadelphia hit only three home runs. However, the Phils were balanced and consistent and perfect foils for a wait-and-see Kansas City club.
The Royals couldn't figure out Steve Carlton's near-balk pickoff move any better than they could figure out when Mike Schmidt was going to bunt or swing away. Little was made of Pete Rose leaning into a Dennis Leonard pitch in the third Inning of Game One. Except, it precipitated a five-run rally that enabled the Phillies to steal a pivotal advantage in the Series. Remember, the Royals got six runs against rookie Bob Walk that evening, yet lost. Similarly, when Dickie Noles low-bridged George Brett in Game Four, it appeared to have temporary significance, if any. But in two subsequent games, the tentative Royals managed but four runs and stranded 22 runners.
In short, the Kansas City Royals played the World Series as though they were just happy to be in it. The Phillies were relaxed outwardly, but they heard skeletons rattling in the background. What this team always required was a little fear. Dallas Green injected it; the fans kept reminding them of it. The alternatives were two: win the World Series and risk a one-day riot, or lose the World Series and risk a winter-long riot.
"We're a couple of years late, and we know it," said Larry Bowa. "A lot of people are saying now that we aren't really the best team in the National League, but I don't guess that matters a whole lot since what we really are is World Champions."
A WORD ABOUT PETE ROSE. It is a senseless exercise to argue about the selection of Mike Schmidt as most valuable player for the World Series. But, very likely, he would be first to admit that had it not been for the kid at first base, the 39-year-old kid who batted only .261, it never would have happened.
Rose is simply one of the most delightful athletes of our time. He gave the Phillies the only commodity they always lacked, daily enthusiasm. On past September Sundays, they would come to the ballpark and dally around the TV set, watching football games. But this September, Rose would burst into-the clubhouse and remind them of a bigger game that day, their game. If they doubted him, all they had to do was watch him
"Rough month we went through," he said. "Do you know how many times I called SportsPhone to get the Montreal scores? That's what they got me for, though, right? I'm happy for me, but I'm happier for them. I know how to drink champagne. This is the first time through the bed of roses for most of these guys. After what we went through against Houston and Montreal, I told these guys to just have fun in the World Series. Well, look for yourself. I think they're having fun, don't you? No more games now. Just parades."
KC’s Wilson: The team lost it, not just me
By Robert Markus, Chicago Tribune Press Service
PHILADELPHIA – The monkey jumped off the Phillies backs – and onto Willie Wilson's.
The Kansas City Royals' left fielder, whom some believed to be the American League's Most Valuable Player during the regular season, was being fingered as the World Series fall guy Wednesday in the aftermath of Philadelphia's Game Six clincher.
The Phillies' 4-1 victory Tuesday night unleashed a torrent of emotion in a city that had waited for nearly a century to see its National league representative hoist the flag of baseball supremacy.
But in Wilson it wrought only depression and anger. "We lost it as a team," Wilson said bitterly, "but if you want to say that I lost the thing, go ahead. We played 25 men all season and then all of a sudden it was me. If we lost it was because I didn't get on base. If that's the case we should be called the Kansas City Wilsons."
Wilson had a disastrous series offensively, striking out a record 12 times. His final futile swing at a Tug McGraw fastball came with the bases loaded and two out in the ninth Tuesday night.
"People remember the last thing they see," Wilson said. "The last thing they saw was me swinging at a high fastball up here where I couldn't hit it."
WILSON WAS NOT the only Royals' player who had a miserable time against Phillies pitching. Second baseman Frank White went 2 for 25, but was not about to take the blame for the Royals' defeat. "You can't blame this thing on me," he said. "I'm disappointed I didn't hit better, but you can't say this club relies on my bat to win."
But the Royals do rely on Willie Wilson to get on base. He had 230 hits in the regular season, only four in the World Series. "He wasn't the guy who had 100 hits from both sides of the plate this year," third baseman George Brett said. "I don't even know that Willie Wilson."
"Every time we lost it was me," Wilson said. "I didn't blow a four-run lead or a two-run lead in the ninth inning. No one was coming to me and asking me about the great play I made in left field to win a game or the runs I scored. It was all negative stuff.
"I've got feelings, too, and right now those feelings are hurt. You think it feels good for your mother to read in the papers back in New Jersey that it's her son's fault the Royals are losing the World Series?"
Wilson could not even be consoled by the thought that there's always a next time. "Who knows whether I'll ever get into another World Series to live it down?"
WHEN PRESIDENT CARTER telephoned Phillies Manager Dallas Green to offer his congratulations, he may have been more sincere than is usually the case. Especially if he understood that the World Series has been an uncanny barometer in forecasting the winner of the last seven Presidential elections.
Since 1952 the Republican candidate has won in years in which the American League . team won the World Series. When the National League prevailed, a Democrat was invariably summoned to the White House. Green, unflappable all year, got off a snappy line to the President: "Come on down to Philadelphia," he said, "and we'll teach you to play good old country hardball."
THE SELECTION of Mike Schmidt as Most Valuable Player in the Series was a bit controversial. That was because there was no one player who had a direct influence on all four Philly victories. Schmidt did have a two-run homer and started the winning rally in Game Five with a single. He also knocked in the winning runs in the final game.
Other candidates included pitcher Steve Carlton, who won both his starts but finished neither; relief pitcher Tug McGraw with a victory and two saves – and also a loss; catcher Bob Boone, who hit .412 and handled the pitchers flawlessly; Larry Bowa, who, batted .375 and started a Series-record seven double plays; Manny Trillo had several big hits; and Pete Rose was in the middle of everything that happened.
BOB BOONE'S explanation of the dropped popup that Rose fielded to save the game in the ninth: "I got over there but I thought it was Pete's ball. I kept waiting for him to call me off it. But I probably couldn't hear anyway. So I lunged for it at the last second. But I was using my steel glove, I guess, and I'm happy Pete was there."
"Normally, it's his ball," Rose said, "and with a man at third I'd be the cutoff man to home. But with all the cameras over there near the dugout I thought there was a chance he might trip or something so I stayed there. Normally I wouldn't do that."
Oh brother, do they love those Phillies
From Tribune Wire Services
PHILADELPHIA – It really didn't matter – 500,000, 750,000, or 1 million. However many people lined Market and Broad streets in the shadow of the hat Willy Penn would have doffed if he could [he's a statue now atop city hall], they all went crazy. After 98 years the Phillies had won a World Series. There were people on mail boxes, street lights, and their fathers' shoulders. They yelled, screamed, and took pictures as their heroes paraded by on flatbed trucks.
Standing four- and five-deep on the sidewalks and who knows how many in the streets, they heard Pete Rose tell them: "I've been in the Series five times, but there is no doubt in my mind you people are the greatest."
They must have felt chills go up and down their spines when Series MVP Mike Schmidt told them, "Take this championship and savor it, because you deserve it."
The most popular was pitcher Tug McGraw, who told the throngs: "All through baseball history Philadelphia had to take a back seat to New York City. But New York City can take their world championship and stick it, because we're No. 1."
But, perhaps, it was an 78-year-old nun, Sister Joan Marie, who put it all in perspective: "The Phillies are beautiful. After they won the playoffs I went over in front of the TV and made the sign of the cross. That Pete Rose is somebody."
‘There are no goats in this cowtown’
From Tribune Wire Services
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – And the losers were crying "good deal."
Less than 16 hours after the Royals had lost their first shot at a World Series, half a million Kansas Citians lined a downtown parade route, showering their heroes with ticker tape for an hour and a half.
The team was greeted with signs such as: "So what, we beat the Yankees" and "This cowtown has no goats." George Brett, who thrilled the town with his quest for a .400 batting average that ended with an amazing .390, gave them something else to talk about. He rode the entire route on horseback, including 15 minutes while sitting backwards in the saddle. He even borrowed a trombone from a high school bandsman and tried to dedicate a song in honor of Kansas City. Musically he batted .000, though.
Designated hitter Hal McRae told the crowd, "I really don't feel we deserve this." Pitcher Larry Gura was more positive: "This just shows that sometimes victory isn't the most important thing around." And pitcher Dennis Leonard chipped, in with: "When we came back here we felt like winners. We're sorry we didn't win the World Series for you."