Philadelphia Inquirer - October 7, 1980
Additional tickets go on sale
The Phillies announced that a total of 1,000 reserved-seat tickets for the National League playoff games against Houston tonight and tomorrow will go on sale today at 9 a. m. at Veterans Stadium. The tickets were returned by other National League teams.
Astros beat Dodgers for Title
Will face Phillies tonight
By Lewis Freedman, Inquirer Staff Writer
LOS ANGELES – The party was in the room marked "Visitors' Clubhouse" and it was 18 years in the planning.
Eleven years after their fellow 1962 expansion team, the New York Mets, won a pennant and a World Series, the Houston Astros have won a division championship.
The Houston Astros (born the Colt .45s), who pioneered indoor baseball in the Astrodome, yesterday beat the Boys of Summer, the Los Angeles Dodgers, 7-1, in the 163d game of a six-month-old season scheduled to end in 162.
The Astros are the champions of the National League's West Division after capturing the fifth special playoff in league history. All of them have involved the Dodgers, who have lost four of the five.
The Astros faced a long flight to Philadelphia for today's start of the National League Championship Series at Veterans Stadium.
But intoxicated by more champagne than any wedding's seen and stomping around the puddles of bubbly more crazily than the Saturday-night cowboys back home at Gil-ley's Bar, they looked more likely to be hung over than aching for new battle.
"It's going to be an enjoyable flight," said grinning Houston pitcher Vern Ruhle.
It could have been the Longest Day for the Astros instead of the end of humiliation. They came into the weekend needing only one win in three games of their season-closing series with L.A. But the Dodgers won them all, 3-2 in 10 innings, 2-1 and 4-3, to force this playoff.
Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda kept giving his "Remember the Alamo" cry, which in Dodger-ese translates to remembering the accomplishments of the likes of Roy Campanella, Duke Snider and Jackie Robinson.
Houston, plagued by tragedies such as the shocking stroke that sidelined pitching ace J. R. Richard on July 30, only had immortals like Don Taussig and Johnny Weekly to recall.
But when manager Bill Virdon handed the ball to knuckleballer Joe Niekro, some positive Astros history was written.
Niekro, who won his 20th game against 12 losses (all stats count as part of the regular season), surrendered just five singles.
And while he was confusing the Dodgers, his teammates were finally taking advantage of opportunities.
The Dodgers committed two errors in the first inning, something that immediately subdued the crowd of 52,612 (giving L.A. a season attendance of 3,249,287). Infield ground balls off starter and loser Dave Goltz then scored Terry Puhl and Enos Cabell with the first two runs.
Houston made it 4-0 in the third. First baseman Art Howe hit a Dave Goltz 3-2 pitch into the bleachers in left-center with Cesar Cedeno on base.
That inning almost ended with a brawl. Alan Ashby charged toward the plate and Dodgers catcher Joe Ferguson on a Craig Reynolds double that centerfielder Rick Monday skillfully barehanded on one hop in right-center.
Ferguson tagged Ashby out easily, and then shoved him aside with a knee. Both teams swarmed toward the plate, but no punches were thrown.
Houston got its last three runs in the fourth, chasing two more Dodgers pitchers with four walks, two singles and a sacrifice. A two-run single by Howe was the big hit.
The Dodgers got their only run in the bottom of the fourth. Dusty Baker singled and went to second on an overthrow by Cabell, then scored on a single by Monday.
But Niekro was never really in trouble again and the Dodgers, who this season won 24 games on their last at-bat, had come up one day short of a sporting miracle.
To listen to the crazed, exuberant Astros tell it as they howled and danced to "Houston Loves the Astros" (to the tune of "Deep in the Heart of Texas") they were never worried.
"We were never at a point we could be eliminated," said second baseman Joe Morgan, who played for five other division winners with Cincinnati. "We were always in charge."
"I was confident. I was very relaxed," said Niekro, who won 21 games last year. "After the first two innings, I found I had a good knuckleball."
Virdon, trying to smoke a champagne-drenched cigar, his wire-rim glasses set aside because they don't have windshield wipers, admitted to a little more concern than the players.
"I'm probably as relaxed right now as I've been for four days," he said. For some Astros, the victory had extra-special meaning. Cedeno, with Houston since 1970, has seen a lot of losses.
"Everybody's so happy," he said, but he said the frustrations of the past won't be erased until Houston wins a World Series.
Pitcher Nolan Ryan, the $l-million free agent who finished 11-10, was with the Mets when they won their first championship in 1969 and with the Angels when they won the American League West last year.
"I enjoyed all of them," said Ryan, his hair matted with champagne. He looked around the locker room. "I don't see any difference. They're different individuals, different uniforms, but I'm just as wet."
It was quiet in the Dodgers' locker room, though there was no reason for tears. There was only praise for the Astros, who had the chance to fold and didn't.
"You can't rationalize" said Davey Lopes. "There are no excuses. Give credit to Houston."
"They played very well," said Don Sutton. "They had to, to beat us."
The Astros were mostly thinking about partying, but a portion of their consciousness was starting to focus on the Phillies and the series they will start with no rest.
"Our right-handed pitching should neutralize their power," said Ruhle. "If we keep it in the ballpark we should be alright."
"They've got good power," said Virdon, who knows the Astros lost nine of 12 games to the Phillies this year. "They're tough to contain in Philadelphia. "But this is a new ballgame."
Virdon has selected right-hander Ken Forsch, 12-13, to pitch today.
"We're not going to get too much rest," said Virdon, "but nobody cares right now."
Bystrom awaiting Feeney’s edict
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
The longer he went without hearing, the more Dallas Green suspected the worst.
Somewhere in New York City, National League president Chub Feeney was lunching with baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn. They were deciding whether the Phillies could have Marty Bystrom on their roster for the National League Championship Series with the Astros.
But as lunchtime rolled toward dinnertime yesterday, Green still hadn't heard. Either there was a long wait for a table at Mama Leone's or this issue was about to get complicated.
"The way they're going about this, I don't know," Green said, waiting anxiously in his Veterans Stadium office after the Phillies' preplayoff workout yesterday afternoon. "It scares me."
He had reason to worry. Green expected to know whether the undefeated Bystrom (5-0) would be on his roster when he arrived at the Vet for the workout. Then the manager was told that Feeney "and Mr. Kuhn, I suppose," were discussing the matter over lunch and would rule by mid-afternoon.
Finally, late afternoon came, and he was informed that Feeney wanted to meet with Green and Paul Owens in person this morning. Presumably, they will have it worked out by the time game one of the best-of-five series begins at 8:15 tonight.
But the delay probably was not a good sign, and Green knew it. The Phillies had asked the National League last weekend for permission to include Bystrom on the postseason roster. To make room for him, they requested that the invisible pitcher, Nino Espinosa, be placed on the disabled list.
This is normally a routine procedure for replacing guys who are wearing casts on their arms or are lying in a hospital bed or who at least have 10 or 12 red spots on their face. It is so routine that the Dodgers already had gotten permission earlier in the day to replace injured pitcher Bob Welch on their now-inoperative postseason roster with rookie Fernando Valenzuela.
But Espinosa doesn't have any of the obvious symptoms. All he has is a shoulder that has had bursitis in it since last September.
What Feeney and Kuhn obviously were wondering is how Espinosa managed to start 12 games, compile a 3.79 earned-run average and shut out the Cardinals for seven innings the last time he pitched (Sept. 12).
"All the facts are in their lap," said Green. "It's up to them. And we can't make any announcements until we get the OK because it affects two or three players."
Green also was mum on pitcher Kevin Saucier's status. Saucier was on the disabled list Sept. 1, so he can be added to the postseason roster to replace any other active player, injured or not.
If the outcome of the Bystrom-Espinosa issue was a mystery as the Phillies worked out yesterday afternoon, at least it wasn't the only mystery.
The Phillies' lineup for tonight also remained a secret, because Green said he would refuse to reveal it until today, even if Howard Cosell asked him personally.
All that was known for sure about it was that Steve Carlton would be the pitcher. It's a pretty good bet you might also find Mike Schmidt, Pete Rose, Larry Bowa and a few other familiar faces in there.
The other great curiosity was whom the Phillies would find waiting for them when they took the field tonight.
It wasn't until four hours after the workout that they knew the Astros had won that right by beating the Dodgers. So they could only conjecture about what it would be like to play the Astros.
A lot will be made, no doubt, of the way the Astros got here. After losing three in a row in L.A., they escaped a chance to be as infamous as the '64 Phillies by winning yeterday.
But they fit that classically fatal definition of the team that's Just Glad to Be Here. Many teams doing the playoff circuit for the first time have known that feeling. But none may know it quite as intimately as the Astros.
"I don't know, once you get out on the field, playoff experience doesn't necessarily have to be a factor," said Tug McGraw. "Individuals and talent are the real factors, I think. In '69 in New York, none of us had any experience, except for (Donn) Clendenon and some of the older guys.
"Sometimes a lack of experience might help you. I think it works both ways. It's not something you can anticipate as a factor.
"Some individual might crack under pressure, as (Burt) Hooton did with the Dodgers in '77. But I don't know if you could get much more pressure than there was on them in L.A. or there was in Montreal for us."
Green didn't know which club he was going to play when he left the park, of course. But he could see advantages and disadvantages both ways.
"The positive factor that either of them (Houston or Los Angeles) would have is momentum," Green said. "The negative factor is lack of sleep, and the fact that they're gonna expend some energy today. They're gonna have to be putting all their best feet forward trying to win.
"We had the extra day off (Sunday). We didn't have to play our people. We didn't have to pitch Steve Carlton. They've got to pitch Joe Niekro and Dave Goltz. That's got to turn a pitching staff around."
The playoff yesterday forced the Astros to pitch Ken Forsch tonight on three days' rest and Nolan Ryan on three days' rest tomorrow. Carlton, by contrast, hasn't pitched since Wednesday. And Dick Ruthven, who starts game two tomorrow, will have had five days between starts.
Rose was anticipating that already yesterday. He decided the Astros' pitching would be more fouled up by yesterday's playoff than the Dodgers' would "because the Dodgers could come with (Don) Sutton (tonight) and (Jerry) Reuss."
He also said he would rather play in the Astrodome because "I like AstroTurf." But Rose said he really wasn't worried about whom he played because he felt the Phillies would beat either of them.
"I just feel right now that if our team stays within itself and does what it's capable of doing, and everybody on Houston does what they're capable of doing, we'll win," he announced.
"Our pitching staff is rested and ready. Those guys have to win today, drink champagne and travel. And the first two games are here.... I think it's just a matter, for us, of not trying to go out and make too much happen."
The fact that Rose didn't have an official preference, though, didn't stop him from calling his old Cincinnati buddy, Joe Morgan, before the game yesterday.
"I told him, 'Go tell the guys good luck,'" Rose said, laughing, '"and we've got Carlton waiting for them tomorrow.’”
Green’s Phils seem to care
By Bill Lyon
When Muhammad Ali tried to deny the inevitable one more time last week, they hyped it as "The Last Hurrah. it turned out to be a fiasco.
Now come the Phillies, and for many of them this is their "Last Hurrah." The team that, like Ali, slumped in defeat on a stool in three straight playoffs, is running out of time.
Dallas Green gave them the message last spring, bluntly. Do it this year or don't let the door hit you in the fanny on the way out. We're starting the changing of the guard now so if you want good memories to warm yourself with in the winters, it's now or forget it.
"This team is fast approaching the critical in terms of age. Let's face it, they don't have many years left," Green said.
"And it's something I've used on them," he admitted.
"But there is a difference between this team and the other playoff teams we had here. There is a better feel as a team. We're going into the playoffs with intensity and desire. Now they know what it's gonna take to win."
They didn't always know. Back there in 1976 and '77 and 78, they were concerned more with style than bottom line.
One of these days...
They were apologists and they were apathetic and if the fans groused that they were too cool, their reaction was always a shrug because they were young and there was still time. One of these days they would play up to their potential.
But all those bright tomorrows kept becoming frustrating yesterdays, and now, suddenly, they can see their talents diminishing, their skills eroding. Oh, not overnight. It is never that dramatic. An athlete's body dies piece by piece, a day at a time, slowly and subtly.
What Dallas Green did for the Phillies was take them by the scruff of the neck, yank their heads around and make them stare squarely into the mirror. At first, they squeezed their eyes shut, tightly, petulantly, refusing to look. Through all the sulking, Green kept pushing them toward the mirror.
He screamed and whispered, stroked and flailed, pleaded and ranted, sandpapered some nerves, lashed some egos.
"It's been a difficult selling job," he agreed, standing there in the Vet while an October breeze ruffled his silvering hair. "We wanted more competitors. We tried to make some trades last winter but we couldn't. So we brought up some of our own kids, sprinkled them in. We had seven years of ingrained apathy to overcome.
"It's one thing for guys to say they want to win, another to show it. I told 'em last spring the days were over when they could just out-talent everyone else in the division. Now they were gonna have to scuffle and grind."
By Dallas Green's reckoning, he finally got his point driven home in September. And now, for five weeks, the Phillies have been sweating blood instead of ice cubes. To achieve this transformation, Green offered himself as the sacrificial lamb, the designated flak-catcher.
"I don't feel there's dissension, but if there was any turmoil in the clubhouse, I wanted it all directed at me," he said. "If they were gonna be mad, let 'cm be mad at me, not each other. Now I think they've really come together. I can't remember a more intense September."
Maturity under fire
If the mark of maturity, if the true character of a team emerges in the crucible of a pennant race, then the Phillies finally arrived this September. They won 12 of 15 one-run games and two more in October, when it mattered most. Moreover, they won five straight extra-inning games. And from Aug. 11 on, after losing 10 straight games on the road, they were a remarkable 21-6 out of town.
"They wanted it, they really wanted it," Dallas Green said. Maybe be cause at last they realized they were running out of tomorrows. It didn't hurt that they had a manager reminding them, with a mule-skinner's lash and tone.
"I'm sure I turned some career managers' stomachs with some of my moves," Green said, "but I could care less. I could care less what the players think about my moves. I've never been on an ego trip. All I want is a championship for an organization I've worked for for 25 years."
It remained for that eminent observer out of the bullpen, Tug McGraw, to put a wrap on the Greening of the Phils. Mixing bubblegum with chewing tobacco, McGraw spurted this pink-and-brown summary: "The man held his ground. He must have incredible inner strength. What he's done here is a monumental accomplishment. Monumental..."
If it’s mind over matter, Phils are headed right
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
Thought or the day: Whatever the mind of man can conceive, it can achieve
– Sign on Dallas Green's desk
The 1976 Phillies simply got flattened by a great Reds steamroller.
The 77 Phillies couldn't quite get out Manny Mota.
The '78 Phillies were down, two games to none, when they left home. So they were asking to get beat a long time before Bill Russell's flyball to center wasn't caught.
Maybe the 1976-77-78 Phillies had it in the mind. Maybe they didn't. But the 1980 Phillies, the ones who will play the Astros in the playoffs this week, are supposed to be different.
They are different because they are older and, ostensibly, wiser. They are different because they have been through it before. They are different because they have supposedly learned from the unhappy endings of the past.
But are they really different? That is the question to be resolved this week.
If they are, maybe it's because the 1980 Phillies will have it in the mind. They can conceive of winning a big series under pressure. They did it last weekend in Montreal.
Those other Phillies playoff teams never had a weekend like that to prove a point to themselves. They knew they were good. But did they know if they could win?
"In the past when we got to the playoffs," Tug McGraw said yesterday, "I don't think we really understood what we'd done or what we'd accomplished. But this year I sense a different feeling, a feeling for the magnitude of the situation.
"I think this team understands the significance of what it's done. It's more enthusiastic. It's got a better sense of pride.... Mentally, we're fine-tuned now. Physically, we're healthy. I can't see us being any more prepared to win a championship than we are right now."
It's hard to define what separates the great teams from the near-great. No team besides the Phillies in National League history has won three straight division titles. But because October ate those clubs up, no one considers them great now. They are just a team whose greatness went unfulfilled.
What happened in those tragic playoff episodes of the past? The players still wrestle with that question sometimes. They still wonder why.
"I don't know if our character was lacking then or not," Mike Schmidt said. "It seems to me as if we just had some fluke blow that got us in every important game we had to play in.... I think we've had our fill now of all the crazy freak breaks one team could have happen to it."
"This team never choked in the playoffs, regardless of what people think," said Pete Rose, who was on the winning side in the Reds-Phillies wipeout of 1976. "They could have beat us very easy that one year. And they just didn't get the breaks against the Dodgers.
"See, that's the whole reason why the only pressure in baseball is in the playoffs," Rose said. "It's only three out of five. You're playing against people you've played all year. There's no time to make up for it if things go against you."
But that isn't much different from what the Phillies faced heading into Montreal last Friday. And the way they reacted to that pressure is the reason Green says he feels "more at ease with this team than I have been all year."
"I think we have a better feel as a team than the other groups that went into the playoffs," he said yesterday. "I see much more intensity, much more desire.
"I'm not saying those other teams didn't care or that they didn't go hard after it. I just think that in our hearts, this team knows now what it's going to take to win. It's going to take the same intensity and desire to win it that they went up to Montreal with."
Last weekend in Montreal might have been the most emotional any recent Phillies team has ever looked.
"I'll tell you," said Green, "I've never seen a bench with the intensity, the unity, the yelling and screaming and enthusiasm that we had for the two days in Montreal. I see them wanting it. And that's very gratifying."
But he also sees them dropping back out of orbit to deal with doing it all over again this week. Perhaps those other teams never did that.
"We really let loose, but now I think those thoughts are over with," said McGraw. "We've got our feet back on the ground again now. We realize that In order to really achieve anything at all, we've got to get through this playoff.
"We've been here before, and we haven't accomplished what we wanted to accomplish. As great as everybody thought Montreal was, I can honestly say right now that this whole team's thoughts are on these playoffs."
There are certain things about the Phillies' previous playoff failures that stand out. But there is one statistic that particularly astounds Rose.
"You know this club here has never won a playoff game in Philadelphia?" he said yesterday to an audience of writers who had mostly forgotten that fact. "I might be wrong, but I'd be willing to bet that changes in the next couple of days."
NOTES: Phillies' career averages in championship-series play: Rose.378, McBride.222, Schmidt.182, Luzinski.317, Maddox.282, Bowa.209, Boone.286.... Phillies pitchers' career records in championship series: Carlton 1-2, 5.79; Ruthven 0-1, 5.40; Chris-tenson 0-1, 10.13; McGraw 0-1, 1.89; Reed 0-0, 5.06; Brusstar 0-0, 1.80; Lerch 0-0, 5.40…. In the final National League statistics, Carlton led the league in wins (24), innings pitched (304), strikeouts (286) and wild pitches (17). He tied with Phil Niekro and Rick Reuschel for the lead in games started.... Umpires for the series are Ed Vargo, Doug Harvey, Bob Engel, Bruce Froemming, Terry Tata and Gerry Crawford.... Rose holds five championship series records, including highest average in a five-game series (.450).
The Phillies are waiting
Well, it will be something new.
The Phillies have encountered the Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers before in the National League championship series.
Now the Phils get their first playoff look at the Houston Astros, beginning at the Vet tonight.
Houston Astros vs. PHILLIES at Veterans Stadium (TV-Ch. 6; Radio-KYW-1060, 8:15 p.m.)
Will Phillies keep the home fans burning?
By Frank Dolson, Inquirer Sports Editor
The date was Oct. 8, 1915. The site was Baker Bowl in North Philadelphia. The score was Phillies 3, Boston Red Sox 1. The winning pitcher was a 31-game winner, and future Hall of Famer, named Grover Cleveland Alexander.
That was the last time and the only time the Philadelphia Phillies won a postseason game at home.
Since that long-ago Friday afternoon this city's National League baseball team has played a total of 10 postseason games in three ball parks in front of the home fans... and lost them all.
The 1915 Phillies lost twice at Baker Bowl to the Red Sox on the way to losing the World Series in five games.
The 1950 Phillies lost twice at Shibe Park to the New York Yankees on the way to losing the World Series in four games.
The 1976 Phillies lost twice to the Cincinnati Reds at Veterans Stadium on the way to losing the National League championship series in three games.
The 1977 and 1978 Phillies each lost twice to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the Vet on the way to losing four-game playoffs.
In those 10 postseason games spanning 6½ decades, the Phillies lost in almost every way imaginable... and some ways that were practically unimaginable.
There were two ninth-inning losses to the Red Sox in '15. There was a 1-0 loss and a 2-1, 10th-inning loss to the Yankees in '50. There was that devastating, two-out, three-run rally by the Dodgers in the pivotal third game of the '77 playoffs. And the grimly anti-climactic rain game that followed.
But that's all in the past. This is Oct. 7, 1980. The site is Veterans Stadium in South Philadelphia. The pitcher is a 24-game winner, and future Hall of Famer, named Steve Carlton.
On this night we can expect history to be made. All signs point to the Phillies' winning a postseason game in front of a Philadelphia crowd for the first time since Woodrow Wilson was President.
What's more, all signs point to the Phillies' winning a postseason series for the first time since postseason series were invented.
If ever a baseball team had everything going for it, the Phillies do in their best-of-five showdown with the Houston Astros.
The Phillies clinched the Eastern title on Saturday, enabling Carlton, the game's premier pitcher, to skip Sunday's scheduled start and rest for the playoffs. Behind Carlton will be a rested Dick Ruthven. Behind both of them will be Tug McGraw, the hottest relief pitcher in the league through the stretch drive.
The Astros had to shoot the works through an emotional four-game stay in Los Angeles. Their best pitchers aren't rested. Their very best pitcher, J. R. Richard, is recovering from a stroke. The man who helped fill the huge gap that Richard left, Vern Ruhle, has an injured index finger on his pitching hand. Their big winner, Joe Niekro, went nine division-clinching innings yesterday at Dodger Stadium.
The Western champions had to be physically and mentally drained when they arrived here today in the wee hours of the morning to do battle with the rested, confident champions of the East.
In short, if the Phillies don't break that 65-year-long postseason losing streak at home in the next 48 hours... if they don't win a postseason series for the first time in their history and bring the World Series to Philadelphia for the first time in three decades, all the great things this team accomplished over the weekend in Montreal will go down the drain.
If the Phillies don't do it this time – with the cards seemingly stacked overwhelmingly in their favor against a tired team that has never before played a postseason game – they may never do it.
For Philadelphia's long-suffering baseball fans, tonight should be the start of something big... and something long overdue. Three times in a row, in 1976-78, the Phillies failed to get past the league championship series. It will be a shock if they fail again.
"We're not done winning," manager Dallas Green said after Saturday night's division-clinching victory in Montreal. "This is just the first step to the goal that we set for ourselves, which, of course, was going to the World Series. I think our team understands that."
And it should be ready to prove it tonight by gaining the Phillies' first home victory in a postseason game since Grover Cleveland Alexander was a young man.