Philadelphia Daily News - September 10, 1980
NOTE: MORE ARTICLES TO DO FOR THIS DATE!
Maddox Sitting Pretty in Center
By Bill Conlin
When Garry Maddox signed his lush new contract at the beginning of the season, he was clear about one thing.
He didn't want rest. He figured at these wages he'd have to be in critical condition for his name to be scratched from the lineup.
Maddox has his personal concept of what he contributes to the Phillies lineup. He figures his glove in center field should rate the highest priority, higher than hitting .300 or stealing a lot of bases.
Dallas Green would like to see Maddox distribute his priorities over a broader range of skills. OK, it's well-established that Garry Lee will never lead the league in walks, sacrifices or fancy bat-work. He's the last major-league regular you'd invite to a clinic on bunting techniques and selective hitting. He's a slasher, a guy who will hack at anything close to the plate. Maddox feels it is his personal style, his most comfortable approach to the difficult art of hitting.
There are those, the manager included, who feel a hitter gifted enough to have once stroked National League pitching to a .330 tune, should be able to do a few more things with the bat: take a walk once in a while, for example, from a pitcher ordered not to throw him strikes, move runners.
LAST NIGHT, MADDOX led off the 14th with a double – yeah, he hammered Mark Lee's first pitch – went to third on Larry Bowa's two-strike bouncer to first and scored on an artful first pitch squeeze by Bob Boone. The Phillies slipped past the Pirates, 5-4.
The ground ball to the right side, the squeeze bunt... Those are two of the skills missing from Garry's baseball makeup, two of the reasons why Green doesn't always pencil his name in the lineup these days, why the manager can feel comfortable with the game's finest defensive outfielder on the bench.
"It was a change for me to go through," Maddox said after last night's thriller. "I had to take it. It happened at a time where the team was battling for the pennant and I wanted to be part of that. Under different circumstances I'd have had a lot to say about it. But I felt that I couldn't do anything to disrupt the team the way they've been playing. I just had to take it, sit down and wait until my opportunity comes again."
He didn't start three straight games on the West Coast, the first time in his Phillies career he's been on the bench while in good physical condition. It was tough. He didn't like it. But he swallowed it.
IRONICALLY, MADDOX went to Green when he was slumping prior to the five-game sweep in New York last month and offered to sit out a few games while he struggled to regain his hitting form. Green slept on it and decided that the Phillies needed his glove out there. And Maddox responded by stroking a pair of key homers against the Mets.
Then Greg Luzinski came off the disabled list and Green was hung on the horns of a dilemma. The Phillies needed Luzinski's long-ball ability. Bake McBride was hitting in the .315 range and Lonnie Smith was playing up an offensive storm. Dallas decided on a four-man outfield rotation predicated less on democracy than on who's pitching and which three of the four had the hottest hands.
Maddox made two errors on that grim Sunday in San Diego on balls he lost in the sun. And he was used for defense only in San Francisco.
"Being on the bench after what happened in San Diego was hard to take," Maddox said.
This time it was not a voluntary act and that, apparently, is important to Maddox, a point of pride. It had more the look of punishment than strategic necessity, although the manager ' will deny he was slapping a wrist in the face of the San Francisco sweep.
Garry Maddox is a talent. You could have a spirited debate about whether any member of the lineup has won more games with his bat over the years than Garry has with his glove.
Right now the Phillies are locked in a bitter division race, a war of attrition, where pitching and defense usually decide the winner. They need his glove and they need the slashing stroke which once contended for a batting title.
What they don't need right now is a test of wills. Dallas Green and Garry Maddox already have proved themselves in the pride and honor department.
Phils Squeeze by Bucs
By Bill Conlin
"The sloshed kid in the football shirt got a running start and careened the final 15 steps of the 200 level where the stands meet the field. The only thing between the kid and the Pirate on-deck circle was the foul screen and he splattered off that considerable barricade nose-first, like a bug hitting a windshield.
This was just after the Battle of the Six and Seven Hundred Levels, an awesome pier sixer that de-populated several sections and left Cassidy's Commandos bloody but unbowed.
On a night that could have been billed as a Byberry Alumni Club reunion, Mike Schmidt looked up at the chaos in the Vet stands and figured the least the guys in the home uniforms could do was fight as hard on the field the fans in the stands.
A LOT OF 'em got their butts kicked," Schmidt said after putting his multiple talents on display during a tremendous performance before the NBC cameras, after an incredible game ended in the 14th inning with the Phillies beating the Pirates, 5-4, when Garry Maddox streaked home on the end of Bob Boone's suicide squeeze.
Put this one in a World Series and they'd be talking about it with the reverence reserved for Game 5 of the 1975 World Series. They'd be toasting Bob Boone in every neighborhood tavern instead of booing him, the way the 43,333 fans did for 13⅓ innings last night. None of them were aware, of course, that the veteran catcher took a nasty foul off his right hand in the sixth inning and played the final eight with a grapefruit dangling at the end of his wrist.
But the Phillies had to tie it before they won it and they went into the bottom of the eighth down. 4-2. And considering the way the Pirates handed the Phils a pair of second inning runs, John Candelaria should have turned a 4-0 lead over to left-handed reliever Grant Jackson.
Keith Moreland led off the inning, pinch-hitting fof Steve Carlton, who has had better stuff. While second-guessers conjectured that Dallas Green should have saved his only right-handed long-ball threat among the reserves for an RBI situation, the poised Texan rammed a double into the right-field corner. But Jackson struck out Lonnie Smith and got Pete Rose – 0-for-6 last night on an infield bouncer.
JACKSON HAD DONE his job and Chuck Tanner pushed the bullpen button and brought in Kent Tekulve to face Schmidt. Tekulve fell behind 3-0 and Schmidt lined a savage foul into the picnic area. He bounced the next pitch off the top of the fence in left, legging it into a triple. His 100th RBI of the season left the Phillies trailing 4-3. And it was 4-4 when Greg Luzinski lined a clutch single to left.
After a scoreless ninth, it turned into a grim battle of the bullpens.
Dickie Noles pitched three superlative innings. "I just throw what Boonie calls," Dickie grinned, "he's smarter than I am. I didn’t have a real good fastball tonight but it was moving pretty good. I did have a real good breaking ball and I was getting ahead in the count with it."
Tanner got grinding work from Enrique Romo and Eddie Solomon, who tossed five hitless innings at the Phils.
Ron Reed faced a crucible in the 12th, when Tim Foli legged out an infield hit with one out. Matt Alexander, who outraged the Phillies by running across the plate backward during the Three Rivers Massacre, pinch-ran for the shortstop and stole second with the flare of a man who has batted precisely three times this season, compiling a hit list longer than Al Capone's on the way. Mike Easier, who replaced sore-kneed Dave Parker in the sixth, was walked intentionally.
BILL MADLOCK RIPPED a ball behind third. Schmidt, who earlier took a double away from Foli from the same locale, who ran a deep fly pattern toward the picnic area to snag an Ed Ott foul, made a fine play just gloving the ball. But he was falling into foul territory when he went for the force at second, his only option.
"It was tough because I didn't have time to grip the ball properly," he said. "I threw with my whole hand wrapped around it. What happened after that just shows what a great arm Manny Trillo has."
There used to be an exciting welterweight boxer named Kid Gavilan, who was built like Trillo and who plied his trade from the same impossible angles. Gavilan featured the bolo punch an undercut, if you please. Trillo can throw a baseball from any angle required within a 180-degree arc. He has not yet mastered the behind-the-back toss on the double-play pivot, but is said to be working on it.
Easier was bearing down on Trillo when Manny took Schmidt's throw. The Gold Glove second baseman was knocked off stride as he came off the bag and the ball jarred loose from his throwing hand. Easier was out. but, now, Alexander had rounded third and was storming home. Running frontward, it should be pointed out.
"I heard Bowa holler, 'Home," Manny said. "1 saw where Alexander was and said, 'Uh oh.' "
HE TOPPED SCHMIDTS off-balance strike with a laser beam to the plate. People who noted Boone's quiet anger after Alexander's tasteless and unnecessary display in Pittsburgh figured the slender sprinter would need a crowbar to reach the plate.
"I just knew there was no way in hell Mr. Boone was going to let him in," Green said later. "That plate was blocked with great forethought and dedication."
While Alexander clattered off his shin guards like a defensive back shed by Earl Campbell, Boone made an almost disdainful tag. It was as close as a catcher can come to running backward on a play at the plate. Matt the Splatt was outt.
Which brings us to the bottom of the 14th, the second lovely climactic inning the Phillies have unveiled for an unsuspecting populace this week.
Pittsburgh was down to former Padre righthander Mark Lee, proving that when you're finally out of Pirates relievers, well, the Bucs stop here. Garry Maddox, who intercepted so many dying quails in shallow center it was almost boring, led it off with a double to left-center.
"Larry Bowa was up with one job to do, move him to third," Green said. "And he did the job. They were really coming down the line on him on the bunt, but he got it done anyway."
BOWA FOULED OFF two bunt attempts toward third, then swung away and chopped a ball high enough to first for Maddox to reach third.
Tanner faced his executive decision of the night and handled it in unorthodox fashion. Do you want Boone to beat you, Greg Gross or rookie George Vukovich? Do you walk Boone and hope for a double play? Do you walk the bases loaded and put the burden on a man who has batted just 47 times this season?
Tanner chose none of the above. He brought the infield up and had Lee go after Boone, who had hoisted infield popups in his previous three at-bats.
Green, however, already had made up his mind.
"We were going to squeeze the run home all the way," the manager said. "It's a play we execute as well as anybody in baseball. I told Bobby Wine after Garry hit the double that if we got him to third, Boonie was squeezing. Yeah, the condition of his hand was a factor, but even if they walked the bases loaded I was squeezing with Vuke and I was squeezing with Gross if he had walked just Boonie."
So where was the obligatory pitch-out on Lee's first serve? "It was a suicide squeeze all the way," Green said. "It's a risk you take. If they pitch out Garry is dead in all probability."
Ott didn't call a pitchout. Maddox broke, Boone squared and bunted it toward the mound. Lee fielded the ball and fired over Ott and off the backstop. Garry Lee vanished between the catcher's legs and his jubilant mates rushed from the dugout to salvage him from the tangle.
"That was a very, very satisfying win for our team," Green said after the Phillies left the Pirates three games behind them while staying a half-game behind first-place Montreal. "I couldn't be prouder right now."
The kid who made the 15-row kamikaze run into the foul screen was unavailable for comment. Maybe Bill Giles will send him an autographed straightjacket.
Bucs in No Mood to Dance
By Tom Cushman
Long after the Pirates had completed their slide down from Olympus, Kent Tekulve sat atop a clubhouse stool, his eyes riveted to a spot somewhere deep in his locker, like maybe there was an X-rated movie playing on the wall. Or maybe it was reruns of recent Pittsburgh baseball games, several of which have merited similiar evaluations.
Reporters stopped by to ask questions, answers issued from Tekulve's mouth, but his fascination with the wall continued, uninterrupted.
"Sometimes I throw good, and it seems like the balls take funny bounces through the infield," he said at one point. "Sometimes, like tonight, I'm terrible and I get my brains beat out. These last few weeks it's one or the other. I can't speak for the rest of the team, but for myself what's happening is frustrating.
"A game like the one tonight, we're supposed to win. This was the classic Pittsburgh situation. We had a lead in the late innings, I felt great warming up in the bullpen, I got the call. But by the time I got to the mound I'd lost everything."
TEKULVE WAS SUMMONED in the eighth, with the Pirates ahead, 4-2, a runner at second, two out. The classic Pittsburgh situation. The original script in this tale of two cities says that as Ichabod toes the rubber, the Phillies swoon.
"Teke was a little high tonight," Chuck Tanner suggested.
So was Mike Schmidt. If he'd been about a foot higher, in fact, the crazies who had come out to the Vet would have been witness to home run No. 38.
Instead, the ball Schmidt hit off Tekulve clattered off the top of the bullpen fence in left field and became a triple. After which Greg Luzinski ripped a single. Suddenly the game was tied, 4-4, Kent Tekulve was lifted for a pinch-hitter, the Phillies won, 5-4, in the 14th and the horseplay in the Pittsburgh clubhouse was conspicuous by its absence. It was at least a half-hour before someone remembered to turn on the tape machine.
Even Pollyanna was feeling the sting. "I'd say that was our toughest loss of the year," admitted Chuck Tanner, who has numerous recent examples available for comparison. The Pirates, in their drive for another division title, have now lost 17 of the last 22.
"The only thing saving us is that Montreal and Philadelphia haven't done much better," said Ed Ott, who was in uniform despite Monday's flirtation with umpire Jerry Crawford. "I guess the good Lord who's sitting up there looking over all of us wants it to be a good race."
THE PITTSBURGH PIRATES, sports fans, seem somewhat befuddled by this departure from the norm. World champions a year ago, they have been taught by Willie Stargell and his assistant, Chuck Tanner, that life, and the Phillies, always will be good to them. You can perhaps understand, then, why watching the Phillies celebrate two consecutive evenings, seeing the spirited reaction by a club the Pirates horse-whipped last month in Pittsburgh, is disturbing.
The Pirates insist they still will somehow win this thing, but also admit that the search for an answer to their problems has thus far gone unrewarded. Trapped in this unfamiliar corner, they have begun to demonstrate that the ability to whine is not exclusive to eastern Pennsylvania.
"Tonight a ball gets lost in the lights, another night one takes a crazy bounce over somebody's head," says Bill Robinson. "Little intangibles are beating us.
"On the other hand, we're not playing killer baseball like we usually do. We've temporarily misplaced our ability to put teams away. We always seem to be one inning away from having that big inning.”
Ed Ott, who saw Garry Maddox slide under him with the winning run on the squeeze bunt that won the night, pointed out that the Pirates – when they're cooking – probably would have handled that play. "There's no way you can blame the pitcher," Ott said. "He has to field the ball and get rid of it. He doesn't have time to aim. But if the throw was on the money, we had him. And when you're going good, you make the play.
"WE'RE A TEAM THAT has good hitting, good pitching, good defense, and we usually can win with two of the three going. Some nights lately, we haven't even had one of the three."
Searching for sunshine at a few minutes past midnight, Chuck Tanner remembered John Candelaria, who had pitched the first seven innings, or half the game. "You can't pitch better than Candy did," Tanner said. "That's as good as he's pitched all year But his back was hurting. He couldn't throw a breaking ball anymore. He offered to keep going... but with our bullpen, no way."
It was at about this point that a lady journalist from Pittsburgh mentioned she was worried about Tekulve. "I think you'd better talk to him," she said to Tanner. "He's really down. He just keeps sitting there in front of his locker, staring.''
And saying things like, "This thing is far from being down to the desperate stage... I don't know when that point comes, but it's not here yet. Every day we're waiting for that one game where something happens right. Maybe a broken bat hit, maybe somebody on the other team makes an error. Something to get us going again. Once we do, we'll probably win 8-out-of-10 ."
"I think if as long as we win 18 or 19 of our remaining games, well be OK," Ed Ott was to say later.
The Pirates have 23 games remaining.
Thus it was that on an evening when Veterans Stadium resembled Vietnam – every time the security troops got an area secured, war broke out in another sector – the Phillies took a 14 inning stride toward a division title which seemed to be slipping beyond their grasp in early August. Dealing with an opponent that has feasted on them in similiar confrontations, the Phils toughed it out, made big plays, big pitches, slapped palms and in other ways demonstrated that there may be a human pulse throbbing somewhere beneath the veneer. And, in summary, came away looking more like a winner than at any time in recent memory.
AND THE PIRATES? "Are you considering going to someone other than Tekulve in game situations?" a Pittsburgh writer wanted to know.
"We went to the dance with him last year," Chuck Tanner replied, "and we'll go with him again."
This, even though there was no dancing in the Pirates' clubhouse last night. Even the music, when someone remembered to turn it on, was subdued. And on Chuck Tanner's desk there sat a full can of Budweiser, with a dent in it. Looked like someone might have given it a firm squeeze, while performing the opening ceremonies.
"Why should I be worried?" Tanner insised. "We threw everybody we had at them tonight and lost, but we played well. So we'll start over again tomorrow. We haven't run out of tomorrows yet.
"What will eventually decide this race is one team suddenly getting some momentum," Chuck Tanner added, "and if anyone has a chance to do that, it should be the Pittsburgh Pirates. We haven't had any for two weeks."