Philadelphia Daily News - February 8, 1980
Green Wants Phils Thinking ‘We’
On the Road with Stan Hochman
Dallas Green keeps telling people that the Phillies' theme this -spring will be "Repair and Prepare."
Larry Bowa groans, throws up his arms like a guy tossing pizza dough, and hollers. "Repair and Prepare? What is this... PennDot? I feel like a pothole on the Schuylkill Expressway."
Bowa has a tongue like liquid Drano. just as caustic, just as scatological. But this was just a gag, a bit of comic business to help ease the journey between Tedium and Boredom, two Pennsylvania towns on the annual Phillies Press Caravan.
The shortstop has seen the manager's timetable for the first 11 days of spring training and he approves. It is more like Parris Island than Coney Island, and Bowa likes that.
“HE IMPRESSED ME," Bowa said over breakfast in Wilkes-Barre. "He's got a training program lined up. He's showing leadership qualities. I believe in giving the man a chance. Even if it turns out 100 percent wrong."
Is that the same Larry Bowa who jumped so high and screeched so loud when Green took the job last year and said he would use the final 30 games to find out "who wanted to win?"
If Green had been a doctor with cold hands checking Bowa for hernia, the shortstop would not have jumped any higher, screeched any louder.
"We're alike." Bowa said. "Well say things in the heat of anger. But he came to me, said he didnt mean for guys to take it personally. That showed class.
"And I've been watching him this winter. It looks like he knows the direction he wants to go."
The direction is up.
"It was embarrassing last year," Bowa said. "To have the talent we have and come in fourth."
Bowa lugged his frustration home with him. turning his marriage sour. This winter, he has worked at salvaging the marriage, and labored at rediscovering his batting stroke.
"He's at the ballpark every day at 8 in the morning." gushed Pete Rose.
“TEARING IT UP in the batting cage. Now, if we can find a way to start the games at 8 in the morning."
That's easy for Rose to say. He spends his winters taking bows, signing autographs, gobbling potato chips, playing some tennis, and all he does is hit 300 every year.
"I'm from the old school." Bowa said. "The older you get, the harder yon have to work.
"I've talked to guys like Carl Yastrzemski. Tommy John. It's unbelievable, how hard they work all winter.
"I've talked with Gus Hoefling and with the Eagles trainer, the guy rehabilitating Bill Bergey. He gave me a running program, the 330s, the striders. Plus, I run the steps at JFK Stadium every day.
"I'm gonna continue to do weights during the season, twice a week. To maintain strength. Up til now. I've been building up my body, only to tear it down all summer.
"AND I’M LOOKING forward to spring training. Under Frank Lucchesi, under Danny Ozark, I haven't had to work hard. Spring training has been cake.
"The hardest spring training was under Bob Skinner. Where we had to run. I had my best year. Stole 50-something bases.
"I hated the program while we were doing it. Called him everything but a gentleman.
"And if Dallas makes it tough, there’ll be a lot of bitching. But you can’t bitch too much when you came in fourth."
Bowa is a tough, wiry, little guy. a jackrabbit. There are bigger, bulkier guys who dread running. There are some pitchers who have abandoned running in favor of a flexibility program administered by Hoefling.
One of those pitchers is Steve Carlton. Will Carlton choose to run? If directed, will he swerve?
"I'm going to sit down with Carlton." grumbled Green, "one-on-one. With no media there, with no players there."
It is shaping up as the most intriguing one-on-one since Sadat and Begin, since Ali and Frazier, since Sonny and Cher.
"It will be important." Green said. "Because now everybody is looking at this thing... is that the crack in the wall of Dallas Green's discipline, his toughness?
"I CAN SEE THAT building up. Ammunition for people to say Dallas Green can’t handle Steve Carlton.
"But when we sit down I will explain my part of it, what I expect him to do."
Man wins two Cy Young awards, can you expect him to do what a pack of under-achievers are doing, when what he's doing seems tougher, sweatier, more punishing?
"I'm an old school guy." Green, muttered. "I like a running program. But you guys think I'm going out there with a whip and a gun and have everybody run 14 laps. Not so.
"Ill say one thing about Carlton, he's one of the best-conditioned pitchers around. I went through the program with Gus.
"After a half-hour, half of you would drop dead doing it. I can’t get 18 or 20 guys doing Steve Carlton's program. So I'd like to see Steve Carlton do our program.
"If we think about 'we' as a team instead of ‘I’ as an individual, well come a long way."
Slogans will get you just so far. Getting Carlton to conform has become a key issue, whether Green likes it or not.
"There's gonna be eyes on how he handles Carlton," said Bowa. "Not only media eyes. Player eyes too.
"HE’S GOT TO HANDLE it with an iron thumb. Uh, an iron fist. He just has to take the reins.
"You can't have two standards. I don't care if Lefty wins 25 and the other guys don’t do bleep. You're not gonna win (a pennant) unless you establish something.
"Hey, if Carlton is in such good condition, it's not gonna hurt him to run 10 sprints. He does that, he can be a leader."
The Phillies are a team long on talent and short on leadership. Bowa is too volatile, Pete Rose is too self-centered, Mike Schmidt is too off-centered, Garry Maddox too shy. Bob Boone too wry, Greg Luzinski too introverted...
"Willie Stargell. he's an easy-going guy, and everybody likes him," Bowa said. "You look at our club and we don't have a leader like that. Each guy has his own little traits that some other guys dislike."
Maybe Green will become the leader, the way Earl Weaver leads in Baltimore.
"Players are certainly different now, in terms of desire," Green said. "But that becomes the key to managing. You have to drag it out. somehow.
"Through a program, or through belief in the organization. Tommy Lasorda tried that, with his 'Dodger Blue.'
"CHUCK TANNER IS USING the 'family' bit. The Orioles use an organizational thing, with Weaver the very big mahof. I'd like to see the Phillies take a little bit of everything."
You take a little bit of everything, you might wind up with hash. Bowa. who has an opinion on everything, has some guidelines for Green.
"There should be a closeness between manager and players." Bowa warned. "But if you get too close, the effect is gone. I hope Dallas doesn’t get too close.
"That hurt Danny Ozark. Then, when he wanted to be a disciplinarian, he had gotten too close to key players. So, whatever he said, they just shrugged, and said, 'OK. he'll get over it.'
"Everywhere I go, people say we have a lot of jealousy on our club. Personally, I don't think there's jealousies.
"It's just that we kid in a manner, where if you don't know us, you'd think we're ready to go at it.
"I remember. Bake McBride came over here and we were needling and Bake said, 'You say those things in St. Louis, we've got to fight.'
"It's criticism and our guys can take it and dish it out. When we won the division three times, nobody said too much about it.
"We finish fourth and it becomes magnified. I think everybody gets along. Out of 25 guys, you're not gonna get everyone to love each other."
Perhaps familiarity has bred contempt. Perhaps that is why Green is contemplating a clubhouse shakeup. moving lockers hither and yon, at least in spring training.
"I'M NOT SURE he hedged. "It ties in with the "we" concept. It goes back to Danny's way of running things, where you knew where you stood on the first day, the 'good' guys over here, the 'bad' guys over on another field.
"I was always one of the 'bad' guys when I played. I didn't feel part of the team. And I was as much a part of the team as Jim Bunning.
"You take a guy like Larry Bowa. I'm gonna bat him eighth. He doesn't like it. He will bitch and moan about it.
"But then I know he will do his damndest to win each game. He will put the ‘I’ aside, and think about the team.
"I know his makeup. He's had to battle, grind, scratch, claw to get where he is. He doesn’t want Dallas Green to take one inch away from him."
The manager will have other, tougher tasks, mending Luzinski's tattered confidence, finding a way to get McBride out of low gear, creating enough smoke to blow in Schmidt's direction.
Has he had time to notice Bowa's change of heart?
"Uh huh. he's changed 360 degrees," Green said, proudly. “Or is that 180 degrees. Whatever."
Some things change, some things stay the same.