New York Newsday - September 12, 1980
Firm Hand Paying Off
By Pat Calabria
Flushing – The tuft of white hair at the top of Dallas Greens forehead, among all that gray, tends to give him the look of a warm, wise man a sage. On cue, it also can give him the look of a tough, old man, which does not hurt, either.
When the Philadelphia Phillies were judged to be resting on their fat bankrolls last season, it was Green who was given the task of reshaping the team into a contender. Green still is the manager, and the Phillies are contenders, even if some of them don’t care for the managers restrictions.
"Ballplayers don't like to accept changes, but they learned to accept the changes I made,” Green said. "They were so used to leaning on their talent, they thought they could get the job done that way. I had to convince them they couldn’t.”
Even if all the Phillies aren’t convinced, they are in a pennant race, which can make up for a lot. Philadelphia beat the Mets, 5-1, last night and remained half a game behind Montreal while extending the Mets losing streak to 12 games, their longest since 1963 and five short of the club record set in 1962. Clearly, Green has had an effect.
The first indication of Green's firmness came in spring training when curfews were tightened, workouts were lengthened and Green, 46 years old and from another generation, railed at a "non-disciplinary atmosphere.” There was more.
Last month, after the Phillies lost four straight to the Pirates, Green stormed into the clubhouse. His speech was not meant to be inspiring. It was not meant to soothe tender egos. It was meant to be rough on the ears.
"I screamed, Green said. "We played lousy baseball and I told them that. I told them they were going to have to work hard, to get up off their rear ends if they wanted to win. I reminded them of that, and whether they know it or not, ballplayers have to be reminded of certain things now and then.”
Greens administration has been completely different from that of Danny Ozark, the laissez-faire manager with the knack for twisting a phrase into a punch line. The Phillies don't laugh at Green. Although the dress code and clubhouse atmosphere are relaxed, there are rules to be followed.
"He demands punctuality, Tug McGraw said. "He demands that you put in an honest effort. When the players haven’t done that, they haven’t been in the lineup the next day. That’s happened.”
Although several veterans have grumbled in private over Greens methods, McGraw points to the managers work with a pitching staff that was fraught with injuries much of the season. "Wonderful,” McGraw said. Beyond that, Green has demonstrated faith in the young players produced by the farm system, which he helped develop first as a manager at Reading and later as minor-league director. He has tried to pull a team of loose ends together.
"You make people sacrifice for the good of the team, he said. "You make a guy having an off-year forget so it doesn't affect everyone. Sometimes ballplayers aren't willing to do that. There's a lot of 'I-it is’ going around." But less of it on the Phillies than there was once.
Mike Schmidt homered off Ray Burris in the fourth inning before the Mets finally broke their scoreless streak at 24 innings on Joel Youngblood's sacrifice fly in the fifth, tying the score, 1-1. The Phillies had a lead of 2-1 when they scored three runs in the ninth. Pinch-hitter Del Unser doubled in one run and Pete Rose singled in two. Still, the Phillies stayed calm.
"I wish they’d be more emotional, really, Green said. “I wish they'd drop that cool facade and enjoy this a bit more. I wish they were more like Tug.”
Or like Tim McCarver. Recently restored to the roster for part of his fourth decade, McCarver was asked tongue-in-cheek if he planned on playing into a fifth decade. He shrieked. "My only goal for 1990,” he said, “is to be alive.”
To that hard Dallas Green made a soft smile.