Camden Courier-Post - September 29, 1980
A BLUE SUNDAY
Expos win, drop Phils from first
By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post
PHILADELPHIA – Either the Phillies are victims of a sudden epidemic of ill-fortune, or they possess a fatal flaw that is exposed by pressure.
Those are about the only conclusions that can be drawn from yesterday's embarrassing 8-3 loss to Montreal before 40,305 Veterans Stadium fans and a national television audience.
Which conclusion to choose depends a great deal upon viewpoint. A case certainly could be made for bad luck, which manifested itself in the form of a blinding sun and an umpire's blown call. But it also seemed evident that the Phillies lacked the ability to bury a team they had, two days before, all but prepared for interment.
CENTERFIELDER Garry Maddox, who had helped keep the Phillies competitive with two excellent running catches, lost a line drive as it emerged from the brutal shadows that half covered the field in the sixth. Maddox' misfortune turned into a two-run triple for Chris Speier.
It was a crushing blow, giving the Expos a 4-1 lead that would bulge to 7-1 before the Phillies staged an aborted comeback in the eighth.
That the loss flipped the Phillies back into second place – one-half game behind Montreal – in the National League East was perhaps the least of Manager Dallas Green's concerns.
The numbers say the Phillies still have an excellent chance. They are tied with the Expos in the loss column and have four games against the Cubs before next weekend's rematch with the Expos. Montreal, meanwhile, has to face dangerous St. Louis three times before the Phillies arrive in Olympic Stadium.
NEVERTHELESS, Green plans to meet with his coaches prior to tonight's game. A couple lineup changes will undoubtedly be made and a battle plan for the coming week will be drawn.
"I've said we were prepared as physically and mentally as we could have been to enter into this thing," Green said. "I still believe that. But so many little things affect this team that they don't play over ... It goes back to what I've said... character… wanting it...
"We've got to put aside every problem that we've got in the world right now and concentrate on the one thing we Have to do, which is win. We got to do the things we have to do to win regardless of personal problems, regardless of personal frustrations, regardless of personal wants, likes or dislikes."
With that in mind, Green is likely to replace Greg Luzinski and Bob Boone with rookies Lonnie Smith and Keith Moreland tonight. Luzinski, who has played perhaps the finest left field of his career, came out of yesterday's game mired in a 2-for-21 slump. And Boone, for all the expertise he brings to the art of catching, showed absolutely no sign of awakening from an offensive slumber that reached 0-for-18.
GREEN ALSO is considering giving Pete Rose a rest. Green said he intends to talk the idea over with Rose, who has four hits in his last 35 at bats and has struggled at an uncharacteristic .186 pace since Sept. 7.
This may seem an odd time for a personnel shakeup, but there are few options open to Green. Virtually the entire lineup has been in a state of repose for the last six games. Dire times require dramatic action.
Mike Schmidt and Bake McBride yesterday were exceptions, and they were at the heart of what offense the Phillies were able to muster against Montreal ace Steve Rogers. With two out in the third, McBride walked and Schmidt bounced a ground-rule double over the fence in left-center. In the eighth, McBride doubled in one run and Schmidt drove in another with a sacrifice fly.
It was still 2-1 in the third when McBride and Schmidt put runners on second and third for Luzinski, who sent a soft liner to the left of second baseman Rodney Scott. But, as luck would have it, Scott snared the ball in shallow right, ending an inning in which McBride would have scored had Schmidt's double not bounced over the fence.
SCHMIDT'S SACRIFICE fly was the first out of the ill-fated eighth. Luzinski followed with a fly to left. Manny Trillo then topped a ball that seemed destined to be an infield hit, keeping the inning alive. But Montreal third baseman Larry Parrish made a fine play and threw quickly enough to make it close. And, as luck would have it, first base umpire Eric Gregg thought it close enough to call Trillo out.
"He definitely missed the call," said Green, who argued it passionately, but without success. "The world knows it. Unfortunately, Eric Gregg doesn't.
"We had 'ifs.' If that ball didn't bounce over the fence we got a run at least If Bull's ball gets over the second baseman's head you got something going. If the umpire doesn't blow the call you still got something going. So we had some 'ifs' on our side. But we still didn't play very well and that's really the bottom line. That's what bothers me more than anything else.
"I think a lot of times you make your own luck, you make things happen your own way. Yes, it does take luck to win in situations like this, but -I don't necessarily agree with the old thing that the luckiest team wins…
"I don't know what luck is sometimes."
Few of us do. But it does often seem that luck is something created, not inherited.
PHIL UPS – Gary Carter led Montreal's 11-bit assault by driving in four runs with two homers and a bloop double... Speier was 2-for-2 in the game, 5-for-9 in the series... Andre Dawson had three hits and scored twice... Larry Bowa drove in Phils' first run with a two-out single in the second... Larry Christenson goes against Cubs' Rick Reuschel tonight.
All not sunny for Phillies
By Ray W. Kelly of the Courier-Post
PHILADELPHIA – Despite the Phillies' tumble out of first place, Manager Dallas Green's prediction that the sun would rise today came true. An additional piece of good news is that his outfielders did not have to look directly into it.
Such was not the case yesterday when a sixth-inning line drive off the bat of Montreal's Chris Speier found refuge in the fiery ball peaking over the rooftop of Veterans Stadium and sailed past a temporarily blinded Garry Maddox for what proved to be a pivotal play in the Phils' 8-3 defeat.
The scoring of two runs on a ball, which was ruled a natural three-base disaster, plus the fact that Speier crossed moments later with a third nail for the Phils' coffin left observers looking for someone to blame other than Mother Nature.
If taken in alphabetical order, the first three potential villans are AB and C, the television network that convinced baseball's hierarchy that a 3:05 p.m. starting time would be, "good for the game." In other words, good for the pocketbook.
It didn't seem to matter that scheduling added an unwanted variable that might bring about a situation where luck rather than talent would determine the outcome of the Montreal-Philly showdown. Something like running the Kentucky Derby through a minefield.
"I don't think people in TV thought one iota about that... or, could care less," said Green. "Still, if anyone should be at a disadvantage, it should be the Expos. We've played almost 80 games here."
Quite true. And a quick check of the history books shows that in ancient times, before the advent of Happy Days, instant replay and stadium lights, baseball players risked skin cancer and temporary blindness every day by playing in the sun.
In other words, losing a ball in the sun is a part of the game's tradition and should not be considered an unlawful act or some sort of confirmation that every time Maddox thinks about the pennant race, he breaks into a cold sweat.
"I can't remember the last time we started a game at that time of day," said the Phillies' centerfielder. "I didn't lose sight of the ball until I got to where it was going. You don't get a chance to prepare for something like that.
"I knew the sun was going to be a problem. This is the toughest park I've been in when it comes to that.
"But it's crying to throw out any kind of excuses. You can't let something like that affect you. I've got a season to play."
Rightfielder Bake McBride admitted that he spent much of the afternoon, praying that the Expos would hit the ball to left or center field. He couldn't see the ball even then, but at least he knew he wasn't going to end up with a lump on his head and egg on his face.
Maddox, however, created his own problem when he later admitted to not flipping down his sunglasses. Eye wear has been a touchy subject in the Phils' camp ever since San Diego last month, when Garry forgot to wear his shades and a ball lost in the sun caused a game lost in the standings.
"The first thing I've got to do on a line drive like Speier bit is to go for the ball. I'm trying to get there. That's first. But, when I got there and looked back into the sun... well, glasses don't help you on a ball that's directly in the sun. I don't think it (flipping down his shades) would have made a difference."
Green, who isn't too thrilled with watching a number of his veterans making basic, fundamental mistakes in judgment at such a crucial time of the year, wasn't buying that explanation.
"He missed the ball. That should answer your question about the glasses," said the manager. "I can see better in the sun with them on."
When someone asked if he had a rule about the use of sunglasses, Green answered saying, "I've got lots of rules, butthey (the players) make their own options. That's what I've been trying to get rid of all year."
To his credit, Maddox refused to let the unhappy course of nature send him into a mental eclipse. He chided a Montreal writer for knocking the booing of fans, saying, "yeah, and they cheer like you've never heard anybody cheer."
At the time of Garry's sixth-inning misfortune, his teammates had a grand total of two hits. And Green . didn't have to chart his horoscope to know that his main problem wasn't in the heavens.
The sun came up today. But it's the Man in the Moon who may be looking down on a revised Phillies lineup.