Philadelphia Daily News - October 3, 1980
Phils Victory A Good Sign
By Jay Greenberg
Tug McGraw says it's too late for a slogan. The Phils, in their unique way. are amazin' too, but nah, somebody already used that. You gotta believe Pete Rose's logic when he points out this has been a helluva year for winning big series on the road, but McGraw recalls that a reliever in a town north of here said something similar a few years back.
John Vukovich keeps mumbling something on the bench, but when Larry Bowa comes up to bat and the boos come cascading down, it gets kind of hard to hear him. "You can't just manufacture something now." said McGraw. "It wouldn't apply. Actually. I like the one Vukovich came up with. "He says. I gots me that feeling." He's been saying that for some time now, but he's not a star, just a guy who's been doing a job here every day since the season started keeping us pumped up on the bench, and you guys aren’t going to use it. I'll bet none of you do."
IN THE WORDS of Deac Sanders on the day he became an ex-Eagle, "Sometimes it just be's that way." You can't get any deeper than that, whether you gots the feeling the Phillies are going to win the National League East or not. They may have had this feeling for some time now. but last night, after completing a sweep of the Cubs with a 4-2 victory at the Vet, they actually showed it. A locker room declared brain-dead by reporters who have to tiptoe into it, believed to have been kept alive by Manager Dallas Green's mouth-to-mouth techniques, was showing a pulse. Phillies actually were slapping each other on the back, in full view of reporters no less.
The love-hate relationship with the fans, the 20.000 crowds this final week Pete Rose's slump. Gary Maddox's finger, the lingering pettiness and the manager's ill-timed, but honest, appraisal of some of his selfish athletes, have given this closest of pennant races a macabre setting. The standings say this is a stretch drive, the atmosphere around the Phillies had implied a forced march. But it's even, dead even, coming down. like all pennant races should, to a three-game series to end the season between two teams tied for first.
As many twists as this plot has taken, what will mostly be remembered is the three-game series in Montreal that decided it It opens -tonight with Dick Ruthven lacing Scott Sanderson and the Phillies pumped up as high as a Greg Luzinksi pop-up.
"ITS BETTER this way than having. to look at the scoreboard," said Green. "I think we're confident of the job we have to do. I'll tell you one thing, we have played pretty darn good baseball for a long time with our backs up against the wall. We've done some drivin' and gotten the job done."
Last night's victory, the Phils' eighth in their last 11 games, represented the difference between two-out-of-three this weekend winning it all, or only forcing a Monday playoff. Green entrusted Bob Walk to get it, and the rookie responded with his best performance of the stretch drive.
"The difference was control and poise on the mound," said Dallas, "but then they go hand-in-hand I'm sure. He didn't struggle with control, and he had demeanor on the mound. I'll tell you the way he pitched out of those two jams, you just can't pitch better than that."
The first one came in the second inning, with the Cubs already leading, 1-0. Mike Tyson legged a ground ball inside first into a one-out triple, but Walk got Mike O'Berry on a popup and pitcher Randy Martz on a. strikeout. Mike Schmidt's 46th homer, a personal high, had tied it, then Chicago's Jim Tracy led off the seventh with a slicing liner to left-center.
Gary Maddox, who has either a sore thumb or head, had as good a shot from the bench at Tracy's shot as Unser did from center. "I didn't know the wind was blowing that hard," said Unser. "I should have had it. It got up and took off and I had broken across instead of back." The ball fell just out of his reach. Tracy was at third with nobody out.
FIRST CAME pinch-hitter Jesus Figueroa. "I wanted him to chase something down," said Walk. Figueroa chopped the ball weakly down the first-base line. Walk wheeled to fire home, but Tracy wasn't coming, and the Phils' pitcher all but leaped into Figueroa's arms as he came by. That was one.
Mike O'Berry then went to 3-2 before Walk caught him looking with a good slider. "I have first open," he said. "A walk sets up a double play, so I can throw the slider. It was over and he took it. You need a little luck now and then." Pinch-hitter Scot Thompson flied out to Bake McBride and Walk was out of it.
"I haven't had a real good September," said Walk, who had won only one game in six decisions since Aug. 16. "It meant a lot to me. But to tell you the truth, except for the St. Louis game, I don’t think I've thrown that badly. Bad breaks, then I get wild. I'm kind of a streaky pitcher anyway."
Green had a 2-1 lead now, manufactured by Unser's redeeming double and Keith Moreland's single, and was more than satisfied at that point with Walk's night. In came Tug McGraw and back out went a Larry Biittner double-play ball to Mike Schmidt. It was one of those checked-swing specials that gives guys like John Vukovich certain feelings, whether their verb tense is correct or not.
ANYWAY, ROSE, battling an uncharacteristic September slump, finally conjugated a single to center in the bottom of the inning. Schmidt's ground ball to Steve Dillard also had that double-play look, but the Cub third baseman gunned the ball wide of second. It continued toward the box-seat railing, enabling Rose to come around and Schmidt to go to third. Greg Gross, a defensive replacement for Luzinski, then singled him home.
The Cubs used a Schmidt error and a Tracy double for their second run in the ninth, but at least half the 23,806 – who had what Green would call "belly" to stick out a 1:29 second-inning rain delay – were on their feet two outs later. They gots that feeling that McGraw was going to-strike out Carlos Lexcano to end the game and so did Tug.
"I had to stop for a second and catch my breath, it was all so exciting," said Tug. Lezcano missed a scroogie and this era's Phils flew north to their manifest destiny.
Phils Hope Fans Crowd Expos
By Bill Conlin
MONTREAL – They will come pouring from the Metro stop called Pie-IX ready to yell themselves hoarse for 25 foreigners, one of whom, Ron LeFlore, is on record that this is a racist city.
They will come early, stay late and drink a lot of O'Keefe's Biere, Molson's Ale and Labatts Beer, harder stuff if the mercury gets down to around six er seven degrees Celsius.
They cheer for the Les Ockee Canadiens, or boo them, with the sophistication of fans accustomed to winning the Stanley Cup many times. Forum hockey crowds are the athletic equivalent of season ticketholders at the New York Metropolitan Opera.
Expos fans just sit there and scream with Gallic passion.
"ITS A CROWD that makes so much noise it could work against them," Pete Rose suggested on the eve of the. weekend Gunfight at the Big O. "I've seen it happen. The visiting team knows all that noise ain't for them and it tends to make the home team maybe try to play a little beyond itself. I've seen it happen at the Vet. The crowd gets guys so juiced up they just want to hit the ball into the upper deck or pitch it 200 miles-an-hour. That can be tough when you're a singles pitcher or a sinkerballer."
That's what happened to them on the final day of the 1979 season, when Steve Carlton pitched the Expos out of at least a chance to tie the Pirates and force a playoff. Steve Rogers pitched a brilliant ballgame, but Carlton had 12-strikeout stuff. When Lefty walked Andre Dawson in the ninth, the 53,000 fans were perhaps the loudest crowd in major league history. The din was incredible and the hitters after Dawson gripped the bats so tightly you could see sawdust in the air.
"Crowds don't bother our guys very much," Dallas Green said after last night's crucial, get-even victory over the Cubs. "Sometimes this year you got the impression at the Vet that we were playing on the road. I don't think the crowds will be a factor in our disfavor. The key to winning these games will be breaking out on top, making the other team come to you. That's the key to winning any road game."
A CLUSTER OF EARLY opposition runs on the scoreboard tends to give a lot of fans laryngitis, too.
"It's tough to clap when you're sitting on your hands and tough to holler when you're out getting a beer and hot dog," Rose said. "You ever hear 50,000 quieter people than they get in Dodger Stadium if you get a 5-0 lead on them? They'll wake up if the Dodgers get back in it, but they ain't gonna yell 'em back."
After the past four games at the Vet it will take a helluva crowd to unnerve the Phillies.
"It has been an experience, to say the least," Dallas Green said. "There's just a chance I'll remember this week a little more than some others. But I suspect that once it's really on the line like it is right now that this team will rise to the occasion like it has many times in the past. It rose to the occasion all week against the Cubs, despite all the other stuff that was going on.
"I still thought we had a chance to win it after the lost weekend in Pittsburgh, but that was probably Dallas Green, fan, talking more than Dallas Green, realist. I cussed and hollered at 'em after the first game of the double-header and we got licked good in the second game. But the guys busted their tails in Chicago, showed some real character in the makeup the next day after we blew a big lead in the suspended game. That wasn’t easy. We may have come of age as a team that day. The five game sweep in New York got us back in the race, but it was winning two out of three in Wrigley that got us back together as a team."
GREEN SAYS HE'LL continue to fill out his lineup the wav he's done it all season, by feel by who's pitching and by intuition. It is hardly a mortal lock that he'll go with his veterans just because a division title is on the line.
"I don’t give the lineup a whole lot of thought until I sit down and get ready to fill it out,” Dallas said. "Sometimes my coaches will make some suggestions; I don't always accept them, though. Most days the lineup is my deal. I consider who's pitching for the other club and how certain guys are swinging the bats, and sometimes there are other variables. But I'm not a big comparisons guy. I'm not much on which guy has how many hits in how many at-bats against a certain pitcher. You can have a guy who's 0-10 against a pitcher and hit the ball hard eight times. You might have another guy who's 4-for-10 and only hit one ball out of the infield."
Two of the three Expos pitchers – Scott Sanderson tonight and Bill Gullickson Sunday – are young power pitchers. And the Phillies have good success against pitchers who come right at them with hard stuff. Tomorrow afternoon's starter, Rogers can mix power with finesse, and when the ace righthander is on, which he has been down the stretch, he can shut down any lineup.
LAST NIGHT’S TENSE until the ninth, 4-2 victory over the Cubs eliminated the possibility of a playoff here Monday, an event which would have been better for newspaper sales and civic frenzy than it would have been for Green's bullpen. "I would have thrown Marty Bystrom into that kind of nutcracker without a moment's hesitation," Dallas said, "but you don't know how deep and often you're gonna have to go into the bullpen this weekend, or how many of the guys you'd have to use in a sudden-death playoff. You'd hate like hell to open a best-of-five playoff with a tired bullpen.
"We're dead even and it's down to best-of-three, winner-take-all. We think we're a good baseball team and a good baseball team likes to think it can win two out of three from anybody. It won't be easy, but nobody ever said winning this thing would be."
Keith Rocks Pitchers, Not Boat
By Ted Silary
Not once this baseball season has Keith Moreland tried to manipulate the press corps in this city, implying that Bob Boone's greatest days in the future might be spent on the banquet circuit... an ex-player telling it like it was.
Not once this baseball season has Keith Moreland taken a fast-paced march into the manager's office, shouting that Dallas Green owns worse judgment concerning his catchers than Mickey Rooney concerning his women.
Not once this baseball season has Keith Moreland begged out of a start, citing an injured finger.
Not once this baseball season has Keith Moreland involved himself in a running battle with the fans, waving an entirely healthy middle finger.
EXACTLY WHAT IS this guy's problem? With only three games remaining, hasn't he yet learned the Phillie way?
Last night, the rookie catcher with impressive skills and even more impressive demeanor made another of his infrequent starts as the Phils finished their home schedule with a 4-2 win over Chicago.
And it certainly was typical. Keith's bat delivered a game-winning single, then his mouth delivered another admiration-winning assurance that the way he's used is just fine.
"I am a part of the Philadelphia Phillies." said Moreland. "and I want to stay a part of the Philadelphia Phillies.
"We have 25 players to try to win the pennant with and however Dallas wants to use them, that is his prerogative. I don’t care to question the way he does his job and, in the meantime, I want to do my job when I'm asked to do it."
Before this season, his sixth in the organization after playing football under Darrell Royal at Texas, Moreland was never asked to perform his job on anything but a full-time basis.
Keith hit .289 and .302 in his last two years of preparation at Oklahoma City, totaling 59 doubles, 36 homers and 207 RBI while playing almost every game.
SOON, HOWEVER, his games as a starter were as few and far between as clumps of weeds on the East Course at Merion.
If base hits had been raining from Boone's lumber and his arm had been gunning down baserunners with something close to medium success, perhaps the arrival of Keith Moreland would not have been greeted with such widespread huzzahs.
Then again, when a first-year player can bat .323 and collect 29 RBI. seven of the game-winning variety, with only 40-odd starts among 61 games, he is allowed to stand on his merits.
"Keith has given us everything we expected," Green noted. "And more. I knew he was capable of doing this, but it is just like (Marty) Bystrom going 5-0 for us in the final month. I don't think you expect anybody to come up and hit .330 or go unbeaten."
Likewise, no one in the crowd at the Vet expected Moreland to look so shaky in his first two at-bats versus rookie righthander Randy Martz, who hails from the Harrisburg area, popping to center and shortstop.
LATER, WHEN HE faced reliever Bill Caudill with one out in the seventh and Del Unser on second after a double, what the fans expected was a hit and an RBI.
They happened, too. thanks to a first-pitch single to right-center. "I opened up too fast on the first at-bat." said Moreland, who had faced Martz two seasons back in AAA. "The second time, I was completely fooled by a change. They both were terrible swings.
"With Caudill pitching, I was looking fastball all the way."
Meanwhile, many people in this town are looking for the Phillies to dump Boone during the winter, and thus make room for Moreland, whose ability to deliver in pressure situations has earned him an enthusiastic faithful, especially callers to talk shows. And how does Moreland respond?
"I'm not the No. 1 catcher," he said. "Bob Boone is. With him, we have the top starting eight in baseball."
And what if that top starting eight should be altered again this weekend?
"ALL SEASON," he said, "it has been my job to start some games, pinch-hit some games and watch some games. I always prepare to start just in case, but if that doesn’t happen, I prepare to pinch-hit."
And what does Keith Moreland look for in the future?
"I'm looking no further ahead than this weekend, to the games in Montreal." he noted. "After that, I'd like to look to the playoffs, then the World Series. My own situation? I haven't thought about it all year."
"Keith has understood his role all along". Green said. "He has understood when I have put him in there and understood when I have taken him out.
"If there is one thing that Keith Moreland is above all else, he's a damn good team player. He's got a lot of respect for Boonie. He wants to win. I guarantee you, the guy is a winner."
Better yet, he's in no mood to rock the boat. Now that's amazing.
Summer of Discontents
By Ray Didinger
MONTREAL – A month ago. the Montreal Expos were gliding along comfortably in National League East when, suddenly, a magazine article hit them and almost ripped a gaping hole in their pennant dreams.
The article, which appeared in the September issue of Inside Sports, was a question-and-answer session with outfielder Ron LeFlore. Ironically, the story came out while the Expos were in Los Angeles, a city still reeling from the Steve and Cyndy Garvey blockbuster of the month before.
In a shocking interview, LeFlore called his Expo teammates "rednecks and militants." When asked to name the rednecks, LeFlore replied. "Take your pick. Some of these guys are from the South and all Southerners are rednecks. They've been brought up to hate n------."
LeFlore said someone had taken his picture, drawn prison bars on it and hung it in his locker. If it was intended as a joke, LeFlore was not amused. He disposed of the photograph by burning it right there in the Montreal clubhouse.
"YET," LeFLORE WAS quoted as saying, "these are the same guys I got to help on the field, go out there and fight for."
The Expos lost four games immediately after the article appeared. There was a tense, uneasy atmosphere in the locker room. Players kept to themselves and hid their thoughts. It was, in other words, the way the Phillies' clubhouse is all the time.
"Finally, we called a team meeting," said Larry Parrish, the white third baseman from Winter Haven, Fla. "Each guy got a chance to air his feelings, to get everything off his chest.
"It was a pretty emotional session but, when it was over, the air was cleared. We went back to playing winning baseball. You have to be a pretty strong team to weather something like that. We just looked at it as one more bit of adversity we had to overcome."
"The reaction here was one of shock," said Danny Menendez, assistant to Expos President John J. McHale. "We didn’t know what kind of impact the article would have on the club. Obviously, it wasn't something that could be ignored or swept under the carpet.
"At first. Ron said he didnt say those things but, of course, he did. A writer would not fabricate something like that But, the point is, did he really mean what he said? I doubt it. I think Ron was just sitting across from a very clever journalist, a guy who got him into psychoanalysis.
LETS FACE IT, Ron has been through so much in his life." Menendez said. "He has a lot of hostility deep inside. It is latent and, sometimes, it just comes out I'm sure he doesn't feel that way about his teammates but, once it's in print, it's hard to retract.
"The players handled it in their own way. They had their meeting, then they went around calling each other names for awhile. The black players called the white guys 'rednecks,' the white players called the blacks 'n------.' All in jest, of course. They defused the whole issue.
Tonight, the Montreal Expos and the Phillies open a three-game series at Olympic Stadium, a series which will decide the Eastern Division pennant. One thing is certain: the winner will not boogie off into the playoffs singing "We Are Family" the way the Pittsburgh Pirates did last year.
The Expos and the Phillies both have struggled through summers of discontent. They both have survived stormy relationships with their managers and each other. The Phillies, of course, have been a marriage on the rocks for years. Their clubhouse is as cordial as the Kramers' custody hearing.
In Philadelphia, you have Garry Maddox and Dallas Green glaring at each other from opposite banks of an ever-widening chasm. In Montreal, you have Ron LeFlore speaking of pitcher Steve Rodgers in these endearing terms: "I'll put my foot up his ass."
PARRISH INSISTS the Expos' morale problems are behind them. He says the thrill of this pennant race, the lure of a World Series, has drawn the players together. As for the Phillies, well...
"I was kinda surprised when I saw the things Dallas Green said in the Philadelphia papers," Parrish admitted. "You don't usually see a manager say those things at this stage of the season.
"Maybe he's trying a little reverse psychology, hoping to fire the players up. It's a helluva gamble but maybe it's working. They sure played well the next two nights."
Montreal Manager Dick Williams hasn’t popped off lately but, the way his team is playing, why should he? They have won five in a row – two over the Phillies, followed by a sweep of St. Louis at a time when the pressure is closing in from all sides.
The-Expos are 20-9 since Sept. 1. Catcher Gary Carter was just named National League Player of the Month, hitting safely in 14-of-16 games (.421) with 5 home runs and 18 runs batted in.
"No disrespect to Mike Schmidt," Parrish said, "but I think Gary is the league's Most Valuable Player this year."
Shortstop Chris Speier. a career .246 hitter, is hitting an eerie .481 (26- for-54) over the last 18 games.
CENTERFIELDER Andre Dawson is also on a tear. In the St. Louis series, Dawson had an awesome 1.667 slugging percentage with 2 homers, 6 extra-base hits and 6 RBI. Dawson has "hit safely in 14 straight games (.455), his third streak of 10 or more games this season.
The pitching has been sensational down the stretch. Scott Sanderson (16-10, 3.13) will open the series tonight, followed by Rodgers (16-11, 2.95) and Bill Gullickson (10-5, 3.00). Sanderson and Rodgers both picked up wins in last weekend's series in Philadelphia.
"We're hanging right in there," Parrish said, "and so are the Phillies. We both had the pressure on us this week and we did what we had to do. We beat the Cards, and the Phillies beat up on the Cubs. This is gonna be a helluva final series. Neither club is gonna give an inch."
This year, the Expos have the benefit of experience. Last season, they led the division much of the summer, then battled the Pirates right down to the final weekend before falling two games short. In retrospect, Parrish thinks it was a healthy thing for the young club to go through.
"I'm a believer in paying your dues," Parrish said. "I think you've gotta come close before you finally win it. I can feel the mood on the ballclub is different, looser, more confident.
"LAST YEAR, these pressure games were all new to us. Now we're used to it. In fact, we're looking forward to it. We remember sitting home, watching the Pirates win the World Series, all the fun they had.
"Now we're thinking. 'Hey, that can be us in a couple weeks.'"
And this quaint old city, which only got excited about Stanley Cup playoffs and separatist elections, is bracing for the big moment.
There are Expo signs, in both French and English, in all the downtown store windows. You walk along the streets and you hear men and women speaking in excited French, the words "Dawson" and "Schmidt" popping up with amusing regularity.
"It's really something," Parrish said, "people are stopping me, wishing me luck, telling me to get a couple hits. If we get in the World Series, I'll feel like Guy Lafleur."
NEW YORK (UPI) – Rookie Marty Bystrom was selected the National League's Pitcher of the Month yesterday for his clutch pitching that has kept the Phillies in the race for the Eastern Division title.
Bystrom, called up from Oklahoma City at the beginning of September, has posted a 5-0 record with the Phillies and a 1.50 ERA. He has struck out 21 batters in 36 innings and posted one shutout.
There were three winners last night in the Daily News Home Run Payoff contest. In the sixth inning of the Phillies-Cubs game. Bill Murry of Philadelphia won $10 on a single by Bake McBride. Martha Perednas of Middletown, Pa., and E.F. Carey of Ocean City each won four tickets to a 1981 Phillies' game.
To date, the Daily News has paid out $19,225. Today's entry coupon appears on page 86.