New York Newsday - September 11, 1980

The Burden of the Race


By Pat Calabria


Flushing – The stomach chums and the heart pounds and the legs turn to rubber. Thats a pennant race. Then again, the head aches and the bruises throb and the body grows limp with exhaustion. That's a pennant race, too.


The excitement can wear thin for a team that has been there and hasn't won. just as it does for a team that has been there and has won. The Philadelphia Phillies have not won – not a full pennant, anyway. It's the incentive and the burden.


"It's been frustrating, not winning when people expected it. said Phillies reliever Tug McGraw, who remembers winning with the Mets when people didn’t expect it. "For that reason. I'd say this team is unsatisfied and frustrated."


Three straight years, 1975-77, the Phillies won the National League East and went no farther. For that reason. and others, the players remain calm in their present chase of the Montreal Expos. Few stomachs churn.


Last night, only pitcher Marty Bystrom shook in anticipation. In his first major-league start – following only one inning in relief he beat the Mets. 5-0, keeping the Phillies within a half-game of the Expos and sending the Mets to their 1 1th straight defeat. So his heart pounded.


But Bystrom was not around when the Phillies stumbled in the playoffs and then wobbled to a second-place finish behind the Pittsburgh Pirates last season. The history has its effect.


Tuesday night, the Phillies completed a two-game sweep of the Pirates when Bob Boone laid down a suicide squeeze bunt in the 14th inning. "I was happy, Boone said, "but I don’t think I was much more happy than I would have been had it happened in June.


Outwardly, the Phillies can be grim – some of them even scowl. It is as if being in the race at all is a relief. There are those who believe the attitude has been shaped by manager Dallas Green, who is likeable, but also firm and businesslike.


And there are those who think the team just tends to be quiet. "I'd even call us shy,” said Tim McCarver, the broadcaster who was returned to the roster earlier this month. "I wouldn't say this is a particularly close team. I wouldn't say there are a lot of cliques. I don’t think a team has to be that way. If the old Oakland A's and the Yankees of the last few years proved anything, it's that all the players on the same team don't have to be part of the American Dream."


So it was almost in mechanical fashion that the Phillies dismantled the Mets last night, giving them their longest losing streak since 1965. A double by Pete Rose, a single by Bake McBride, a double by Greg Luzinski and a single by Garry Maddox produced a 3-0 lead in the first inning.


Maddox and Luzinski later had run-scoring singles, and Bystrom extended the Mets' scoreless streak to 20 innings. That left manager Joe Torre to lament, "What can you do? You can't pack up your bags and go home."


For the Phillies, there was no shouting or grabbing or dancing. "This isn't the '67 Cardinals." McCarver said. "That was some team. An emotional team. To say I was very fond of playing for that team wouldn't be putting it strong enough. But this team isn’t that way, and there's no reason it has to be."


McGraw made his own comparison, as he always does. "It isn't the '73 Mets, when weird things happened, he said, "It's totally different."


McGraw still has his enthusiasm, but he finds it doesn’t intoxicate anyone else. It is not the same as when McGraw authored the campaign slogan, "Ya gotta believe."


It is not the same for the Mets, either. After 11 straight losses. Karl Ehrhardt, the sign man of Shea Stadium, unveiled his own slogan. It read: "Ya gotta bereave."




Nine-year-old Kenneth Wood of Amagansett, 10-year-old Michael Iavarone of Bethpage and 12-year-old Frank Pasqua of Shirley were among the age-group winners of the Mets pitch-hit-and-run contest. Pending results elsewhere, the boys could qualify for the national championship Sept. 27 in Cooperstown.