Wilmington Evening Journal - September 29, 1980
Sun shines on Expos’ NL East title drive
By Kevin Noonan, Staff Writer
PHILADELPHIA – A ray of light brightened the Montreal Expos' National League East pennant chances yesterday at Veterans Stadium.
Garry Maddox, the Phillies' Gold Glove center fielder, lost a sixth-inning line drive off the bat of Chris Speier in the late-afternoon sun to open the floodgates in the Expos' 8-3 victory. Two runs scored on the triple, and Speier scored on winning pitcher Steve Rogers' single through the drawn-in infield.
The victory put the Expos on top in the NL East by a half-game over the Phils, setting up a potentially classic season-ending series this weekend in Montreal.
Gary Carter smashed two home runs and drove in four runs to carry the Expos' potent offense. Steve Rogers went the distance, pitching a five-hitter, to improve his record to 16-11.
"We're virtually tied," said Manager Dick Williams of Montreal, "They have a game in hand, but they've got to win it. And we're going back to our ballpark where we play well. But we can't let down. We play the Cardinals, and everyone knows what a great offensive team they are. It's going to be a dogfight the rest of the way."
The Expos were top dog yesterday. Montreal was leading 2-1 before the sixth Inning, when Manager Dallas Green of the Phils brought in Dickie Noles in relief of starter and loser Bob Walk (10-7).
Noles walked Carter, the leadoff batter, and got Warren Cromartie to hit into a fielder's choice before Larry Parrish bounced a single up the middle to put runners on first and second with one out. Speier then hit a sinking liner to Maddox, who appeared to have the ball securely in his sights. But at the last moment Maddox lost the ball in the glaring sun and the ball flew by him to the fence. By the time he tracked down the ball, two runs had scored and Speier was on third with a triple.
"I was running the ball out hard, but I was sure Maddox would get it," said Speier, who also singled and walked twice in a perfect day at the plate. "I don't have to tell anyone what a great outfielder he is, but that can happen to anybody. Our outfielders were complaining about the sun all day. It was vicious."
Right fielder Bake McBride had a different angle on Maddox' play and the blinding sun, which was lower in the sky than ft normally would be in the sixth inning because of ABC-TV. The game started at 3 p.m. to accommodate a national-television audience.
"Some things are out of your control and you can't dwell on them, said McBride. "Gary had no chance on that ball. I had trouble seeing it, too, and I wasn't looking right at the sun like he was. All the balls that were hit to left and center, I had no idea where they were."
Green, who was ejected in the eighth inning for arguing a close call at first base, was well aware of the numerous bad bounces the ball took for his team, but he wasn't using that as an excuse.
"What's that expression, 'I'd rather be lucky than good?'" asked Green. "They had their share of luck and good. We didn't have either."
And they didn't have a Steve Rogers pitching for them.
"Our pitching has been outstanding," said Williams. "They had their ace (Steve) Carlton going yesterday (Saturday) and we beat him. We had our ace going today and he beat them."
Rogers didn't exactly feel like anybody's ace, at least early in the game.
"I think I pitched well, considering I had trouble getting any rhythm in the beginning," said Rogers as he iced down his valuable right arm. "I managed to pitch through that and the guys went out and pounded out some runs. I could relax some out there and that helped me find my natural rhythm."
Carter hit his first homer in the second inning off Walk. It gave Montreal a 1-0 lead. Carter's second homer, off Kevin Saucier, came in the seventh with Andre Dawson on first, and it gave the Expos a 7-1 lead.
"I've just been in a good groove lately, said Carter. "He (Walk) got a pitch out over the plate on my first homer, but the second wasn't on a bad pitch. I just got all of it.”
Carter also drove in the Expos' final run, in the ninth. His broken-bat hit skidded by Maddox for a double, scoring Andre Dawson from first.
The Phillies put on a mini-rally in the eighth. Pinch-hitter Greg Gross lined a single to center and Pete Rose walked. McBride drove a 1-2 pitch for a double down the left-field line to score Gross, and Mike Schmidt's sacrifice fly to left-center drove in Rose to make the score 7-3.
PHIL-UPS - Larry Bowa's single drove in Luzinski with the Phils' first run in the second to tie the score 1-1... The Expos went back on top in the third on Rowland Office's sacrifice fly, which scored Jerry White... Chicago comes to the Vet tonight to begin a four-game series, before the Phils go to Montreal to close out the regular season with a three-game set... Larry Chris-tenson (5-1) will pitch for the Phils at 7:35 against the Cubs' Rick Reuschel (11-12).
Network TV hurts Phils dearly again
By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor
PHILADELPHIA – IF TELEVISION had asked the Phillies to start yesterday's game at 11 p.m., the answer would have been a quick yes.
Network television, you see, runs professional sports. The commissioners are more interested in TV ratings than they are in exciting games, close races or the welfare of the paying customer.
Because yesterday's Veterans Stadium match between Montreal and Philadelphia was so important, ABC-TV jumped in and asked that the starting time be changed from 1:35 to 3:05 p.m.
Bill Giles, the Phils' vice president in such matters, quickly agreed. No problem. But even if Giles refused to have the game started at 3:05, the National League president probably would have overruled him.
By 3 o'clock on any sunny October afternoon, the Veterans Stadium outfield is a disaster area. As the sun begins to set, the glare from the artificial field resembles a reflection from a mirror. By 5 o'clock, the sun is at such an angle it is blinding to outfielders when they look up in a certain direction.
The only ball hit during yesterday's game that required an outfielder to look directly into the sun came in the sixth inning with Montreal leading 2-1. Chris Speier's liner followed the path of the sun to left-center, where Garry Maddox was blinded at the last moment. The ball rolled all the way to the wall, Speier had a triple and the Expos had broken the game open 4-1. Montreal went on to win 8-3.
Ever since National League President Chub Feeney made the asinine decision to play the fourth game of the 1977 playoffs with Los Angeles during a pouring rain, the Phillies have been opposed to television's insistence to change starting times.
Philadelphia and Montreal are fighting for a division championship. It was unfair to both teams that the game be played at that time of the day. It was also unfair to the fans, the 2,556,740 fans who have shelled out big bucks this season to see the Phillies play.
A game as important as yesterday's should have been played in ideal conditions. After all, baseball is not football. Shadows, sunlight, etc., have a lot more to do with the outcome of a baseball game than they do with football.
Phillies relief pitcher Warren Brusstar was unable to snare Larry Parrish's liner through the middle late Saturday afternoon. He lost it as it came out of the shadows.
Yesterday, when Maddox lost Speier's liner, it may have cost the Phillies the division title.
You might argue that this is overreaction, that the Phillies are always trying to find excuses for failure. Both teams had to play under those conditions and Montreal apparently had no problems.
"But I can feel for Garry Maddox," said Montreal outfielder Andre Dawson. "The sun was a real pain all day. It's worse here than a lot of places, because there's a space between the light supports and the rest of the stadium. That makes it hard to block out the sun. You never know where it's going to come out at. And playing late in the day was the worst of all. The sun just hangs there, right in front of you. Sunglasses don't mean a whole lot."
Maddox had his sunglasses on, but did not flip them down when he went after Speier's ball.
"I don't think having the glasses down would have made any difference," Maddox maintained. "The first thing you have to do is go for the ball, which I did. Glasses don't help you on a ball hit directly in the sun."
Green thought Maddox should have had the glasses down.
"We went through that in San Diego (when Maddox lost two balls in the sun)," said Green. "All I can say is I can see better with sunglasses in bright sun.
"The fact network television controls baseball bothers me," said Green. "I know both teams have to play under the same conditions, but I've seen us get hurt by it too much. I saw that 1977 playoff game in the rain which was totally ridiculous.
"This time of the day at our stadium is awful. Yesterday, Brusstar could not see Parrish's ball and it cost us. Today, Maddox loses Speier's ball in the sun. There's nothing you can do about it and I'll never see any of that television money.
"This isn't football. Television people have no understanding about the sun, shadows and the glare – and really could care less.
"But Montreal went out there today, scored a lot of runs and had no problems. If any team should have been at a disadvatage, it should have been them. We have played in the ballpark and should be familiar with it. It's just like going up to Montreal next weekend. We face the same problems if those games up there are on television.
"And if it comes down to the last game, it will be played at 3 o'clock and we'll be in trouble again."
Nothing will change, though, and Green is the first to admit that.
"Neither you nor I will ever change it or have any hope of changing it," he said. "It's a fact of life."