Philadelphia Daily News - September 15, 1980
Adding a Spark to the Bullpen
By Stan Hochman
Apparently the only thing Dallas Green cannot resist is temptation.
He says he appreciates the way Tug McGraw has come strutting out of the bullpen for him, stomping out fires with that spastic flamenco dance he does.
But Green does not want to keep using McGraw game after game after tense game. He doesn't want McGraw's left arm too weary to throw a scroogie or hoist an Irish mist.
So the Phillies got Sparky Lyle from Texas on Saturday and everyone is wondering if the bullpen is big enough for two grizzled left-handed relievers and how McGraw will react to sharing his gaudy stage.
"WHAT'S EVERYBODY worried about?" McGraw snarled yesterday, doing his best Bogart side-of-the-mouth snarl.
"I've got more important things on my mind. Winning the damn thing. Beating out Montreal."
Sure Tug, sure. We, not I. Grind it out. Look in the mirror. Sis, boom, bah.
But this is the last year on McGraw's contract and the Phillies did guarantee Lyle's $300,000 salary through 1982, which won't help Tug's haggling position when this season finally ends.
"I've got all winter to worry about it," sneered McGraw. "Look, any way we can improve the ballclub during the last 20 games, I've got to be happy."
If he didn't look happy it was only because the only "thing that makes him unhappy is people asking him if he's happy. That and a bar that doesn't stock John Jameson's.
"I COULDN'T BE too tired," McGraw said wryly, "since I've only pitched 75 innings."
Uh huh. And Lyle had pitched only 81 innings for Texas. Everyone in America, and in parts of Canada, Cuba and Curaco, knows that Lyle must pitch often to be effective.
"That's always worked for me," Lyle said yesterday, slipping into Lerrin LaGrow's haunted uniform. "And that's the only thing I had to go on. I didn't come up with it out of a clear blue sky."
The Phillies got Lyle out of a murky September sky. He is 36 years old, which is important only because Lyle thinks it helps explain why he did not pitch more often for that tattered Texas team.
"You reach the age of 33 and baseball decides you're getting too old," Lyle said. "Age takes precedence over performance.
"YOU TURN IN five or six good performances in a row and they say, 'Geez, I don't know how he does it... he's 33.
"If you do it at 25, they say, 'Geez, that's phenomenal, and the guy is only 25.'
"It's all up to personal preferences. Especially on a team that was supposedly going to win the division and didn't. They can't afford to take a week to get somebody going."
Maybe it was the numbers on his contract that influenced the Rangers more than the numbers on his birth certificate. Besides his $300,000-a-year contract, Lyle was guaranteed $50,000 a year for 10 years as a broadcaster when his pitching days were over.
Lyle accepted a $250,000 settlement to let the Rangers squirm out of that nifty arrangement, which was a novel variation on the no-trade clause.
The Phillies will have to give the Rangers a player after the season. It is an expensive deal, since even if Lyle helps the Phillies win the division, he will not be eligible for the playoffs or the World Series. That's like spending hours baking a cake for somebody else's party.
LYLE HAS AN affinity for cakes. Uses them as sofa cushions. Which sounds like the kind of guy you want out there in the ninth inning of a tie game.
Green used him to start the eighth inning of a 7-0 game yesterday, and the fans greeted him warmly.
Then the first Cardinal hitter lofted one to left field high enough to bring rain. Lonnie Smith called for a fair catch and the ball plopped 15 feet behind him.
Maybe it did bring rain, because it was too slick for Smith to pick up cleanly. There was more... a juggled grounder, a passed ball ("a wild pitch," said Lyle), a walk, a sacrifice fly. The Cardinals scored four runs to a chorus of jeers before Lyle finally whiffed Ted Simmons to end the inning.
"Just what I expected," Green said afterward. "I knew he was rusty as hell. I am surprised he hadn't thrown in so long.
"I figured if he was gonna help us, I've got to get a couple of innings for him. He's a guy who thrives on work."
LYLE HAS THE best mustache east of Rollie Fingers. The post-game shower had left the ends droopy, but Lyle confirmed the scouting report as a stand-up guy. He handled the mass interview politely, slickly.
"I don't hear anything when I'm out there," he said. "But if they booed, that's OK. I've been booed many times. I deserved to get booed. I was horsebleep.
"When I don't pitch (often) that's kind of what it looks like out there. When the slider doesn't break and go down, that makes me a high-ball pitcher.
"The more I pitch, the ball goes down."
When you are strong and rested and you're a fastball pitcher, you just reach back and fire away. But if you throw a slider too hard, it forgets to slide.
"I came in after that inning and I said, 'That will put the fear of God in 'em,' " Lyle confessed.
HE HAS A keen eye for the craziness of baseball and a keen ear for its dialogue. That's what made his book, "The Bronx Zoo," a best seller.
He is earthy and open. And unlike a lot of his new teammates, he has some insight into wht the media mob is up to.
"The press," he said, "can be as tough as you want 'em to be. If you deserve being ripped, you get ripped. What the bleep can you do?
"Guys get upset when they get ripped. Then, they do something good.
"So. the way it works, when they rip you, you get two paragraphs. And then, when you do something good, you get two lines."
In New York, Lyle did a lot of good things. Saved 23 games in 1976 and won seven others. Pitched in 72 games the next year, before the Yankees got Goose Gossage.
He went, to borrow a phrase, from Cy Young to Sayonara.
"I HAVEN'T BEEN in too many games the last two-and-a-half years," he said. "I haven't had too much excitement.
"You get too strong and you throw the ball more 'out' than you do 'down.' And that straightens it out.
"I was throwing every 8-9-10 days. It's gonna take me two or three more days to get my stuff together.
"Look, I'm here for one reason. I'm grateful for the chance. It makes my heart glad. This is what baseball is all about."
The rubbery arm, the explosive slider, have helped Lyle pitch in 796 games, most of them teetering in the balance, many of them in pennant race pressure. You have to be strong from the eyebrows up to handle that kind of job.
"MY OUTLOOK,' Lyle said, "is that I want to put my toe on that rubber. That's where it's at."
Green wants all his pitchers to want the ball, when they are not grinding it out or looking in the mirror.
Lyle will get his chance to help the Phillies win the division. They did not get him to do tobacco commercials or sit on cakes or write another book. Hey. if they wanted an author, they could have gotten Truman Capote at half the price.
Bystrom Throws Zeroes
By Bill Conlin
Marty Bystrom was a Giants fan growing up in Miami, but he never heard of Al Worthington.
The Giants brought up Worthington in 1955 and the righthander pitched shutouts in his first two starts. The next season, the Dodgers brought up a flamethrowing lefthander named Karl Spooner in mid-September. Now there was a debut. Spooner unfurled a pair of shutouts and fired 27 strikeouts in his first 18 innings.
Worthington never won more than 11 games in a long, journeyman career. He became a born-again Christian and quit baseball because throwing a spit ball was against his religion and a spitball was all he had left.
Spooner was 8-6 in 1956, his second season, when elbow problems ended his career. The brilliant prospect was finished at 24.
Maybe it's just as well that Marty Bystrom never heard of Karl Spooner.
THE LAST ROOKIE to pitch shutouts in his first two major-league starts was Tom Phoebus, who did it for the Orioles in 1966. And whatever happened to Tom Phoebus?
Only six pitchers have done it in this century. The others were Joe Doyle (Yankees, 1906), John Marcum (A's, 1933) and Boo Ferriss (Red Sox, 1945). Between them, Doyle, Marcum and Ferriss won 152 big-league games.
Maybe it's just as well that Dallas Green thumbed his nose at the record book yesterday during the Phillies' 8-4 victory over the Cardinals.
A double-shutout debut does not sound like the surest route to a Hall of Fame career.
Bystrom blanked the Mets last week. Yesterday, the strapping righthander threw zeroes at the Cardinals for seven innings while the Phillies built him a 7-0 lead.
When Green pulled the kid so September Savior Sparky Lyle could get rid of some of the cobwebs growing on his left arm, purists blanched. Isnt baseball a game of statistics, records and individual achievements? How dare Green meddle with a pitcher's entry into the Holy of Holies, the Baseball Record Book, a treasure trove of towering trivia. Didn't Martin Bystrom deserve his line of type under the heading: Most Shutouts, First Two Major-League Games?
Some guys with decimal points in their blood will never forgive Danny Ozark for resting Dave Cash in the late innings on the final day of the 1975 season, when the second baseman needed one at-bat to become the only player in big league history to bat 700 times in one season. The Wizard, who never had one big-league at-bat. didn’t have the foggiest idea that Cash was one away from a magic number.
ANYWAY, THE PHILLIES beat the Cardinals to stay a game behind the Expos. Lyle received a traditional Vet welcome. He got a warm ovation, two errors from his defense, tossed some line drives and was booed. All in a single four-run inning.
Welcome. Word was sent to the press box that Bystrom left with a sore right foot. Green admitted afterward that Marty could have continued, that he just wanted Lyle to get a few extra warm-up pitches. The manager was not at all impressed by the line of post-game questioning.
"He had a chance to make some history," a writer informed Dallas.
"Why did he have a chance to make history?" Green parried. "Only six in history have..." the man began.
“I don’t give a bleep about records." Green said. "We're in a blaspheming pennant race. What we're gonna learn on this team before it's all over with is it's T-E-A-M."
Nah. Ruly Carpenter didn't pop out of a cake waving pom-poms, but the "We Not I" theme was never more obvious.
"I didn't know it had been so long since Lyle had pitched." Dallas said. "I had to get him in. One inning wasn't gonna help.
"There was nothing physically wrong with Marty. That’s the oniy way we can get a guy a few extra pitches, now and then. Had I been aware (of the record) it wouldn't have made much more of an impression on me. I don't need him to pitch two shutouts in a row."
WHETHER THE MANAGER likes it or not. Bystrom is still alive in the record department. Counting the scoreless inning he worked in Los Angeles last Sunday, Marty has a string of 17 working. The major-league record for most consecutive scoreless innings, start of career, is 25 established by the Phillies' George W. McQuillan in 1907. If Bystrom gets that record he'll earn it. His next start will be in Wrigley Field.
Bystrom showed about as much emotion about the record he didn't get a chance to tie as he did going against the Cardinal mashers. That is, hardly any at all.
"I don't know," he said, going along with Green's foot ploy every limping step of the way. I was just doing what's better for me. My foot's just a little bit bruised on the bottom. It bothers me running and pushing off on the mound. They were gonna bring Sparky in in the ninth and I just decided to come out after the seventh. I just wanted to give the foot time to heal for the next start."
You'd be amazed at the difference 20 minutes can make in a case of turf toe.
He gave the Cardinals five singles, was consistently ahead in the count and used his outfielders. Nobody had to tell him that throwing seven shutout innings at St. Louis rated a notch above shutting out the feeble Mets.
"I knew they were a good-hitting club, one of the best. Many saia. i approached them the same way. I knew it wasn't any different. I knew I had to get my breaking balls over today to beat 'em. Warming up on the sideline I accomplished that and just went out there and went after 'em."
THE PHILLIES SCORED three runs for Bystrom in tne first inning against the Mets. They got him a 1-0 lead off lame-backed Silvio Martinez in the first yesterday and put the game away with a six-run third inning salvo which included a three-run homer by torrid Bake McBride.
Somehow you get the feeling the kid already knows it won’t always be this easy, that he won't always be out there pitching downhill.
“The Cardinals can come back at you, like they proved when we had a couple of mishaps in the field," Bystrom said. "I just went at 'em like it was a 0-0 game. I'll be the same pitcher if I'm losing 1-0, 2-0, 3-0. This club can score some runs, so it's my job to hold 'em right there until we can score some. I'll get knocked around one of these days. If it happens, it happens."
It only took Bob Boone one inning to get a line on Bystrom. After the mop-up session against the Dodgers, Boone told Green in the dugout, "You've got yourself another pitcher."
"The big thing, he's got good stuff," said Boone, who had the afternoon off. "The thing I'm most impressed with, he's got good composure and command of all his pitches. The report before he got here was that he used all his pitches in any situation. Today he was like he was in New York, out in front of hitters all the time. He's not in that syndrome where you have to call a fastball all the time so he can get ahead of hitters. I think that's the biggest plus he has going for him. He doesn't throw like a rookie."
He will never have a line on page 330 in the Baseball Record Book that reads, "Martin Bystrom, Philadelphia, September 10, 14, 1980."
But the ghost of George W. McQuillan, who lives, on Page 327, has every right to feel nervous.
PHILUPS: Some managers would risk a pitcher's career rather than take him out of a game when there's a chance the pitcher will bat the next inning, forcing them to pinch-hit for a fresh reliever. Silvio Martinez was in obvious pain throughout the six-run third. Maybe it was whiplash from ducking line drives. Whatever, Red Schoendienst waited until Martinez was ready for traction before bringing in George Frazier... There was some nervous fidgeting after Lonnie Smith's misplay of a routine fly and an error by Ramon Aviles set up four eighth-inning runs off Sparky Lyle. But Dallas Green got an insurance run from the reserves he had on the field at that stage. Swift centerfielder Bob Dernier, who stole 70 bases at Reading, led off the eighth with a single in his first big-league at-bat. Dernier, who gets an explosive jump, stole second and scored when shortstop Luis Aguayo tripled to right-center. Lyle pitched a scoreless ninth... Bake McBride raised his RBI total to 80 and his average to .315... Mike Schmidt has a shot at the 400 Club – he has 91 runs scored, 82 walks, 103 RBI and 104 strikeouts... Phils are off today, fly to Pittsburgh tonight. They'll play two with the Bucs, three in Chicago and two in St. Louis before coming home for nine Vet games. Regular season ends with three in Montreal.
Bake Cooks Up Wealth for Fabros
By Mike Kaine
Patricia Fabro is a secretary with the Public Advocates office in Trenton, handling complaints about state agencies. Her husband, Tony, is a chef at a Princeton hotel.
Today the Fabros will be handling green stuff and it's not the lettuce from Tony's kitchen. Bake McBride's three-run homer in the third inning of yesterday's Phillies-Cardinals won them $1,075 and four tickets to a Phillies game next year in the Daily News Home Run Payoff.
Home Run Payoff winners have one of two reactions.
Some happy, but anxious, contestants wait by the phone, bracing for the call, wanting to know what time the newspaper's offices open in the morning to collect.
But the Fabros had the Michael Anthony reaction (Anthony was the attorney who gave out checks for $1 million to strangers on the television series, "The Millonaire.").
"I don't believe it," Patricia said last night. "Is this for real?"
Finally she did believe, and today the Fabros are deciding what to do with the easily earned money that came from clipping out a coupon from the Daily News.
"We've been sending them in just about
every day," said Patricia, who recently celebrated her first wedding anniversary with Tony. "We usually have the radio on, but today we watched it on TV.”
With their new-found wealth, one would think the Fabros would rate Bake McBride as high as a chefs salad. But it's the guys at the corners who whet the Fabros' appetite.
“Mike Schmidt and Pete Rose,” Patricia checked off as her heroes, "they give 100 percent every game."
The Fabros say they will use some of the money to do a little traveling.
Also in yesterdays third inning. William J. Crawford Jr. of Paoli won $60 and tickets on a two-run single by Lonnie Smith; Bob Donaldson of Cape May, N.J., won $50 and tickets on a Garry Maddox double; Bill Hornberger of Ardsley won $25 and tickets on an RBI walk by Marty Bystrom; Gerald M. McGarrity of Philadelphia, Lauren-Jim of Philadelphia and Henry J. Rodgers of East Stroudsburg, eats won $10 and tickets on singles by Mike Schmidt, Pete Rose and Larry Bowa, respectively. Ticket winners were Ralph Waters of Philadephia, George McMenamin of Bridgeport. Frank E. Dutton of Ventnor, N.J., and Thomas Marvin of Riverside, N.J.
In Saturday's fourth inning, Philadelphians Robert Branot, Anamae DeFebo and Irene Lynch won tickets.
So far the Daily News has paid oui $17,975. Today's entry coupon appears on Page 69.