Sport Magazine - April, 1980

Another magazine, another prediction, another not picking the Phillies.  This one picked the Phils third, beating St. Louis but still looking up at Pittsburgh and Montreal.  Mark Ribowsky's article hints at the injuries in 1979, and also at the clubhouse problems that plagued the Phillies in 1980.  

The Big Bats Will Beat the Big Bucks

By Mark Ribowsky


Big league baseball begins its 111th season with the pitchers looking for dollar signs as though they were catchers’ signs.  During the off-season the pitchers put almost $20 million into their hip pockets- the price management had to pay to get them to switch uniforms.  Former California Angel Nolan Ryan got the most- a whopping $4.5 million- to go to Houston.  Dave Goltz got $3 million to shift from Minnesota to Los Angeles. 


Bruce Kison was paid $2.5 million to leave Pittsburgh for California.

But all that money will not buy pennants in 1980, according to SPORT’S annual survey of general managers, players, scouts, coaches and players.  They say that the teams with the big bats will beat the teams that have spent the big bucks for pitching.  The Pittsburgh Pirates, for example, are picked to win the NL East, while golden-armed Houston is picked second in the NL West.  The survey’s other division picks- the Los Angeles Dodgers, the California Angels and the Milwaukee Brewers- also depend on big bats.


On succeeding pages is our appraisal of the 1980 season (assuming squabbling players and owners allow the season to begin).  To insure honesty, our experts were assured anonymity.  Their Series pick?  Pittsburgh one more time.


Philadelphia Phillies


Pete Rose was supposed to bring them a sense of harmony, dignity and spirit.  He tried- for a couple of months.  “Then,” says a Phillies insider, “Pete got so ticked at the sniping, bitching and the resentment, that he started riding the press bus to the park instead of the team bus.”  So much for the Rose experiment.


Technically, the Phillies suffered a dreadful 84-78 fourth-place season (after three straight division flags) because of injuries.  The Phils were, in fact, quite healthy when they came off a May road trip in first place.  “But then Montreal kicked their butts in two series and the bitching started- and never stopped.”  Another panelist says the Phils were in “woeful shape, and that’s a lack of pride.  Their spring training was a country club because the players wanted it that way.”


Dallas Green, who replaced Danny Ozark as manager late in the year, vowed to introduce some discipline, “but already, Garry Maddox and Larry Bowa got insulted because Green said everyone was at fault- and Dallas had to apologize to them.”


Green has huge talent- and problems.  Of the starting pitchers, Dick Ruthven (elbow) and Larry Christenson (collarbone) are coming off surgery, and Warren Brusstar has a serious shoulder ailment.  Of the relievers, Tug McGraw and Ron Reed “have had it” and Rawley Eastwick is “the enigma; good stuff, but I question his desire.”


In the outfield, Bake McBride “is great, when he cares.  The club left him out of the highlight film because they wanted to dump him.”  Maddox, while a Gold Glove in center, (“the best; plays so shallow because of that speed”) swings at everything and won’t steal because he thinks it’ll tire him out in the field.  Leftfielder Greg Luzinski (18 HRs and 81 RBIs, down from 35 and 101) “was in a funk.”  And Gold Glove second baseman Manny Trillo “has to prove his intensity over a full year.”


Still, there were bright spots.  Rose hit .331 and was “electric; made a fabulously easy adjustment to first base.”  Third baseman Mike Schmidt (45 HRs, 114 RBIs and a Gold Glove) “led the league in game-winning RBIs for the third-straight year.  He’s the bottom-line guy and is feared more than anyone.”  Gold Glove catcher Bob Boone was “solid, gutty and smart, but must stop throwing off-balance.”  Bowa had “his greatest year in the field; unreal range, so few errors.”


Lefty Steve Carlton is “the ace once again; he made a smooth conversion to a finesse style, the best lefty slider ever.”  Two other starters, Nino Espinosa and Randy Lerch, may come on.  Dickie Noles and Kevin Saucier (“he’ll dust you in a second”) could help the bullpen.  ‘They’re Dead End Kids, a little crazy- they’ll fit right in.”  But three sore pitchers and attitude problems do not win a pennant- or even, with the Expos around, second place.


Predicted Order of Finish


National League East

1.        Pittsburgh Pirates

2.        Montreal Expos

3.        Philadelphia Phillies

4.        St. Louis Cardinals

5.        Chicago Cubs

6.        New York Mets


National League West

1.        Los Angeles Dodgers

2.        Houston Astros

3.        Cincinnati Reds

4.        San Francisco Giants

5.        Atlanta Braves

6.        San Diego Padres


American League East

1.        Milwaukee Brewers

2.        New York Yankees

3.        Baltimore Orioles

4.        Boston Red Sox

5.        Detroit Tigers

6.        Cleveland Indians

7.        Toronto Blue Jays


American League West

1.        California Angels

2.        Kansas City Royals

3.        Texas Rangers

4.        Chicago White Sox

5.        Minnesota Twins

6.        Seattle Mariners

7.        Oakland A’s