Philadelphia Daily News - September 9, 1980
Phillies Pirate Some Runs
By Bill Conlin
The scoreless streak was in its third day of time and 20th inning of scoreboard space. It stretched from coast to coast, from Chavez Ravine to South Philly, an ill wind that blew the Phillies noooooooooooooooooooo good.
When it began Saturday night, the Phillies were in first place by the slimmest hundredth of a percentage point They fell a game behind Montreal, then got some help during Sunday's 6-0 loss to the Dodgers when the Giants decisioned the Expos.
A guy can get whiplash trying to look both ways at once during a tight pennant race. Chasing the Expos and being chased by the Pirates is like running between Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett going into the gun lap of the 1.500 meters. You better have a big kick left for the guy in front of you. On the other hand, you better save something for the guy breathing down your neck.
PIRATES RIGHTHANDER Don Robinson led gutty Bob Walk and the Phillies. 1-0. last night when Bake McBride started the sixth with the third of his four hits, a single to center.
With Mike Schmidt waiting patiently for a decent pitch to hit, Dallas Green put on the hit and run. It is not always the best play to use with a 36-homer man. but there's a time when a manager stops dreaming about baseballs jumping out of the park and faces the reality of trying to manufacture a seeing-eye single. Green had seen just two homers off the bats of friendly forces in 11 games on the Coast.
McBride broke for second and Don Robinson unfurled a sailing, eye-high fastball. The count was 1-0 and the book rule is for the hitter to do something which will distract the catcher. A nice, awkward swing and miss seems to be the favorite ploy. Or a quick shift into a bunting crouch. But Schmidt took the pitch and Ed Ott's throw beat Bake's head-first slide by an eyelash.
"Schmidt kind of tried to protect him." Green said, after the Phillies' 6-2 victory, "but he probably should have shelled down (squared around) on him at least."
Instead, Schmidt shelled a 2-2 pitch out of the park in center and the Phillies were finally off the Schneider.
THEIR LUCK CHANGED immediately. Manny Trillo, robbed of a base hit Sunday when umpire Dave Pallone ruled that a clearly trapped ball was cleanly caught by Dusty Baker, had the Pirates screaming. Leftfielder Mike Easier made a diving shoestring catch of Manny's humpbacked liner. He rolled twice and coughed up the ball when his glove hit the turf at the end of his second revolution. Trillo stood on second while Chuck Tanner waged a futile debate with his favorite umpiring crew. The call which went the Phillies' way turned into a 2-1 lead when Garry Maddox singled to center.
The rare home run followed by the even rarer break was not exactly a clarion which unleashed the dogs of war.
It took some broken bats and textbook execution during a four-run eighth to nail the victory to the wall.
One decision over the defending world champions will not erase the memory of past indignities. The Phillies were in against a floundering giant mired in the quicksand of a slump which has now seen the Bucs lose 12 of their last 14 and 16 of their last 21. If the Phillies came home dragging that kind of arithmetic, vultures would have been circling the Vet. Not that the 40,576 who turned out last night did a bad imitation of vultures.
During the early stages of what began as an outstanding duel between Walk and D. Robinson, many of little faith homed their boos in on Bob Boone and Greg Luzinski. It did not begin the evening as a festive, supportive crowd. Fortunately, the Vet does not have a noose concession.
IT WAS NICE, then, that Luzinski drove home the winning run in the big eighth after McBride and Schmidt started it off with singles.
Enrique Romo. who gives Luzinski fits, made a serious mistake with a 1-2 pitch. Senor Romo bobbed his head and dropped down to deliver an off-speed breaking ball. A strike was the last thing the righthander had in mind. But the pitch hung. Bull got his hands out in front and stroked a broken-bat RBI single to left.
"He made a little bit of a mistake with it." Luzinski said. "I waited on the ball good. He's the kind of guy who can really get you thinking out there. When you're trying to get into any kind of groove, he's not the greatest pitcher to face. First time up I walked, next time it was 3-1 and I swung at two bad pitches. When you're not getting any balls you can handle you can get yourself in trouble, start thinking and try to do too much."
Rookie speedster Jay Loviglio went in to run for Luzinski. Trillo made it second and third with a perfect sacrifice and Tanner brought in his ace. Kent Tekulve. He elected to walk Maddox intentionally and have Tekulve pitch to Larry Bowa with the bases loaded-and the infield halfway. Thinking squeeze, Ott called a pitchout on Tekulve's first pitch. Nothing was on.
FIRST BASEMAN John Milner was edging in suspiciously on the 1-0 pitch. Bowa swung away and high-bounced a two-run double over Milner into right, alertly racing to second when Dave Parker was slow in getting off a throw. Boone was walked to re-load the bases and Tug McGraw made it 6-2 with a little nubbed squeeze bunt in front of the plate which scored Maddox. It became the nicest double play McGraw has ever hit into when Bowa was out at the plate on a hustling attempt to score from second.
"Pete Rose was due up next," Schmidt grinned. "I don't know how much he appreciated Larry's hustle."
Even though there was a determined attempt to downplay one victory over the dreaded Pirates at this stage of the three-team dogfight, 25 survivors of the Three Rivers Massacre felt better shaving this morning.
"Every game now has to be played like, I don't know, the last game of a World Series." Schmidt said. "I've never been in a World Series, so maybe I better say last game of a playoff. I can't say that we have to beat the Pirates, because we have to beat Montreal, we have to go to New York and beat them, too. It doesnt matter who you play because a loss is a one-game swing in the standings if somebody else wins.”
The Pirates, however, are not any old team on the Eastern Division block. They are the swaggering Huns who rode over the Phillies last month, leaving Green, pistol in hand, threatening to shoot deserters.
EVEN A GOOD Christian like Mike Schmidt must get tired of turning the other cheek, turning away wrath with a soft answer and beating his sword into a ploughshare.
"Smite my oppressors?" Schmidt said, "Yeah, I guess sometimes I want to smite my oppressors. Like every time I go to home plate I want to smite the hell out of that pitcher or out of that ball."
He says he hasn’t been getting many good pitches to smite lately on the hit and run and he didn't want to waste a strike on a pitch too high for any purpose but a foul-tip. "I thought Bake might have a chance to steal the base when I saw where the pitch was," he said.
Schmidt always has preferred to talk more about lesser hits which ignite or continue innings than about his home runs. He liked this home run more than most, though.
"I thought the home run was a big hit," he said. "Robinson was throwing good. We had been pressing to score runs at that point. We just needed to get back and get tied. It put a run on the scoreboard and not another zero. In the eighth, we had a couple of broken-bat hits. I'm sure they're gonna say we didn't hit the ball hard that inning. But I’ve seen a lot of those over at Three Rivers Stadium, too, that beat the hell out of us. I was going to right field, going with the pitch and just hit it on the bat. It wasn't like I was pulling off the ball. That bat went out in style and I like it when a bat goes out in style like that. Greg got a broken-bat hit, too. I guess we're due to get some broken-bat hits."
DURING THE LONG flight from Los Angeles Sunday night. Green called off batting practice. There were no complaints.
"If we'd have had batting practice I would have been out there trying to find my stroke," McBride said after his 4-for-4. "I guess I just went out and found it in the game. Tired? Yes I'm tired. I've been tired for a long time. But I think everybody's tired. This is the time now when no matter if you're tired or hurt you've got to play."
The Phillies tiptoed quietly into the night, determined not to let the three games they hold on the Pirates in the loss column burn a hole in their pockets, even more determined not to make any kind of noise which could wake up the sleeping giants in the black and gold uniforms.
PHILUPS: Steve Carlton vs. John Candelaria tonight... Rookie Marty Bystrom will make his starting debut tomorrow night against the Mets... Mike Schmidt's homer was No. 22 at the Vet this season, tying a record he already shared with Greg Luzinski and Deron Johnson.
Tug’s Winning Personality Is Back
By Tom Cushman
While celebrating his first victory of the new decade. Tug McGraw last night paraded through the Philadelphia clubhouse, modeling the most recent addition to his wardrobe. Those members of the media unacquainted with West Coast fashions, or the history of the Phillies' late August home stand, will be excused if they presumed that Tug had just been called up from Guadalcanal. John Wayne did wear similar costumes while he was winning World War II.
"It's a camouflage shirt,"" said McGraw, who went on to explain that the purchase had been made in Los Angeles, which is logical. In their Pacific theater of operations, the Phillies seem to have Dodger Stadium confused with Bataan.
"I had people out there threatening to kill me," added Tug McGraw, and the good news one can extract from that statement is that Tug has rediscovered the disposition he misplaced during the celebrated butt-ball incident of Aug. 25. That, fans, is the evening when Joe Ferguson of the Dodgers, refusing to accept the courtesy of an intentional walk, reached out and slapped a McGraw delivery into right field. After which Tug fired at Bill Russell in the accepted military pattern, bracketing him with three pitches before firing for effect.
THE FIGHT WHICH ensued has since been filed along with others involving reluctant opponents of the new television generation. "Russell was just as mad when I hit him as I was when Ferguson hit the ball," Tug McGraw recalls, "but only momentarily. We're both kind of mellow guys. It was the first time he had ever gone to the mound after somebody, and the first time I'd had anyone come after me.
"We had eye contact the whole time, and it was kind of like, 'What do we do now that we've got this started?' It was not exactly your classic heavyweight match."
It is amusing in retrospect, but it was a scene that did not play well at the time. Even the Philadelphia fans, who would go to Guadalcanal and back with teams which represent them well, seemed embarrassed.
Tug McGraw, whose professionalism in this city has been interrupted only by the parentheses of that evening, quickly removed them in a style to which we had become accustomed. He made people laugh.
"If the quotes were correct, they had some guys who were really angry that night in Philly," Tug says. "I read where (Davey) Lopes said he was gonna kill me, even if it took eight years. I wanted to tell him, 'If you're serious, wait and do it the eighth year because my wife would appreciate the extra time on the pension plan.' But Lopes is not the kind of guy you walk up to and say, "Hey, Dave, you still mad?'"
BILL RUSSELL IS that kind of guy. And so Tug McGraw bought his camouflage jacket and wore if onto the field at Dodger Stadium, where the fans probably thought he'd been sent over from Universal Studios. Tug also wore it when he went before the television cameras to be interviewed by Stu Nahan. Bill Russell was there, too, wearing boxing gloves, and in this manner the two took an incident which had the potential to remain over-inflated, and made it incidental.
"I went on television with Russell to apologize," Tug McGraw said last night. "I knew I was horsebleep for doing what I did."
Since apology is not a word common to the modern professional athlete, hearing it from one is cause for turning quickly to the statistical columns to see what type of guy we're dealing with.
After mopping up for talented young Bob Walk last night, the most relevant of McGraw's current statistics is 1.90, which is his earned run average. The most deceiving is 1-4, his record, and – since the Dodgers were unavailable – it seems somehow fitting that Tug's first victory of the summer would come at the expense of the Pirates, who have a habit of taking the mop and using the handle on the Phillies in primitive fashion.
"Milner and Ott got two of the four grand slams off me last year," Tug McGraw was saying, as he stood in front of his locker, fingering the pocket flaps on his camouflage shirt recalling other memorable moment in his career.
JOHN MILNER HAD provided one of less consequence a half-hour earlier when he turned into a delivery that Tug McGraw presumed was the final strike of the baseball game. Tug was already in his familiar victory ballet when he noticed that the pitch had been called a ball. The adventures thereafter were plentiful, but since they will be recounted elsewhere in this edition, suffice it to say that Phil Garner of the Pirates at least had the opportunity to hit grand slam home run before the ninth inning ended. "
Garner had never hit one against me, so naturally I wasn't worried about him," McGraw said afterward. "I was thankful, though, that the bases weren't loaded when Milner and Ott were up. Ott's discussion with the umpire made it seem like h was up there forever. You want to say, 'Quit messing around, let's get going.' It's like standing in line when you need to go to the bathroom."
Ed Ott eventually walked to load the bases, after which Garner fanned and Tug McGraw hopped off the mound for the second time, pounding at his glove as though it had doubted his ability to get the job done.
"THE TOUGH PART was when I thought the game was over the first time," Tug admitted. "I always let it all hang out then... whoosh, everything goes out of me. It was hard to get cranked up again."
That he managed to do this is now reflected in a statistic which he finds, well, different. The guy is having a terrific season out of the bullpen – without him the Phillies would be monitoring the Eastern Division race with binoculars – yet he is 1-4. "In ‘73 (with the Mets) I didn't win a game until August. and we went all the way to the World Series. This year I don't win one until September, we should win the Series," he reasons.
"Won-loss doesn't tell you much about a reliever. Saves (there are 17 of those) does. Still, you'd hate to be 0-80, or 0-for-a-decade. Can you imagine having my record and going to the Little League banquet, where the first question they ask is, 'How many wins did you have?'
"I don't know how to explain what I do, or why this team plays in streaks like it does," Tug added. "If I was good at statistics, I wouldn't have become a bleeping ballplayer. I can’t even explain why I'm having a better year than I did last summer, except by saying that I'm a fundamentally sound pitcher – always have been – who happens to be in a good groove.”
He also is back in a groove temperamentally, following the night when his disposition developed a temporary flat. And to his credit, in his own unique manner, he has apologized, to the Philadelphia fans a well as Bill Russell.
"If you spend $28 for a jacket, you might as well wear it," he said late last night, while spending a gracious and fun-filled half-hour with members of the area media.
I wonder what Tug would think it he knew that several of those in his audience used to get that same jacket for free. From the quartermaster.
Crawford, Bucs’ Ott Try to Shout It Out
By Stan Hochman
Ed Ott thinks Gerry Crawford's eyesight is wretched. And his hearing isn't terrific either. And he wonders how come Crawford's neck is always red.
What is Ott, an eye, ear, nose and throat man?
Nope. Ott is the bulky catcher for the Pirates. Crawford is the umpire who was involved in the mid-season episode that resulted in Bill Madlock's suspension.
Last night, Crawford got into a snarling match with Ott in the ninth inning that resumed after the final out of Pittsburgh's 6-2 loss to the Phillies.
It began after Tug McGraw went 3-0 on Ott. The next pitch was close and Ott started toward first, only to have it called a strike by Crawford.
ON THE NEXT pitch, Ott flipped his bat toward the dugout and began jogging to first. Oops. Strike two.
After an X-rated exchange, Ott walked to the on-deck circle to dry his hands, and calm his nerves. Then he stepped back in and slashed a single off McGraw's glove that loaded the bases.
McGraw whiffed Phil Garner to end the game, but Ott had some things he wanted to get off his thick chest. So he scrambled to the base of the runway and screamed at Crawford.
"In the first inning," Ott muttered afterward, "he didn't hear a foul tip by Luzinski. Said he couldn't hear it over the crowd.
"The game is over, he's 20 yards away, and the crowd is screaming, and now he hears me. What would you call that, far-hearing? As opposed to near-hearing?"
Whatever you call it, it resulted in an ugly scene, with Crawford charging back down the runway to confront Ott and eject him from a game that was already over.
"You probably get at least a 15-day suspension if you come near him," Ott said, switching to a falsetto. "They've got to protect daddy's little boy."
Gerry is the son of former umpire Shag Crawford. Madlock got 15 days for rubbing Crawford's nose with his glove after a disputed strike call.
"AND HE TOLD me then 1 was a bleeping cry-baby." Ott recalled bitterly. "If he thinks I'll forget it, he can go do deviate acts with dogs.
"He's living off his old man's reputation. If that 3-and-1 pitch ain't low, I'll go do deviate things for 100 years. And then, two Phillies tell me the son of a bitch was low."
Chuck (See No Evil) Tanner said he missed the post-game debate. Said he was in the clubhouse when they told him about it. But eyewitnesses say his teammates grabbed Ott and the other umps intercepted Crawford before insult could turn to injury.
Madlock wondered about the aftermath of this one once the umpire's report reached league President Chub Feeney's desk.
"Feeney always talks about ballplayers," Madlock " said. "Maybe he ought to take a hard look at some of his umps and how they conduct themselves?
"Crawford went back to challenge Ott. And Feeney says he's an easy-going guy. How come he's always red-assed?"
It was a nasty ending to a splendid, important ballgame, the kind of ending only a proctologist could love. We have not heard, you should excuse the expression, the end of it.
Willie Wishes Knee Was Picture-Perfect
By Stan Hochman
The National League East is still a horse race to Willie Stargell, even if it looks like midget mud-wrestling to the rest of us.
"If you went to the playground to watch your kid play," Stargell said yesterday, arranging a pre-game buffet in the trainer's room, "you'd sit back and just enjoy.
“They'd be having fun. And that's all we're doing. Having fun. So how come guys are so critical, asking so many questions about this and that?
"Sometimes I wish we'd be like horses. Secretariat... he runs a good race or a bad race he don't have to worry about anyone interviewing him.
"All he knows is he's groomed to run.
"And that's just like us... groomed to play our butts off. Some days we do it better than others. But you can’t always explain everything."
The Pirates look like a field of 4-year-old maidens at Thistledown lately. They have lost 16 of 21 and that's inexplicable.
IF THEY'RE IN a horse race, the track is muddy, uphill, and it looks like somebody has turned on the slow-motion replay machine.
It looks like hell to Stargell. who watched last night's 6-2 loss through the eye-piece of his Nikon F-3.
Taking pictures gives Stargell something to do with his fidgety hands. And, besides, he can always throw the painful moments out of focus, making them soft and fuzzy.
His left knee looks like he's hiding a cantalope there. The injury has shunted him to the disabled list for the second time this year. And maybe that's as good an explanation as any for why the Pirates have lost 16 of 21.
"We're not looking for excuses." said Bill Madlock. "but the problem is, playing without Willie.
"It would have been different if he had retired. That way, you know the situation. But you come into the 80 season, and you know he's the big man.
"And then, suddenly, you're without him. We're just better with him. He don't have to get hits. All he's gotta do is stand there.
"So, maybe a lot of guys are trying to do too much. Trying to hit it out of the park. With Willie, you get on base, he's gonna make something happen."
WHEN YOU ARE 40 and you have a cantalope for a left knee, it is difficult to make things happen. It is difficult to find light at the end of the home stretch, even with a telephoto lens.
"I don't mind being on the field and going 0-for4," Stargell said. "But this way... no matter how much I try and tell myself I have faith in the guys, which I do... it's a different situation altogether.
"If you're out there going through it, you learn to accept it. You figure, tomorrow's gonna be better. But this hurts."
Tomorrow, hurting, Stargell flies to Lansing, Mich., to get the gimpy knee checked. He strains to be optimistic, because that is his style.
"I'll be a very sad individual if the doctor tells me I can forget it for this year." he said softly. "So I'm telling myself he's not gonna tell me that.
"If he does, you might see a special-assignment guy next year. I'm just not gonna go out there and embarrass myself.
"I can't see myself hitting, then they use a pinch-runner, then they send someone out the next inning to play my position.
"That's three men and you don't have guys to spare."
Meanwhile. Stargell does what he can, feeding the troops, needling the troops, consoling the troops.
LAST NIGHT HE contributed some of grandpa's barbecued ribs and bologna to a pre-game spread that included Mary Robinson's lasagna and Buck Jackson's chocolate chip cookies.
Between bites, Stargell tried to explain how a team like the Pirates could lose 11 of 12 to Atlanta, insisting it is not the same as Spectacular Bid losing 11 of 12 to a blue-nosed mule.
"Atlanta," Stargell said, "suddenly believes in themselves. And, when the game starts, it is zero-zero. And everybody gets the same amount of swings.
"I’ve always felt that talent gets you here, and your attitude decides what you make of it. Atlanta has some success against us and then they feel all they've gotta do is play aggressive against us.
"The other night, if we get Chris Chambliss out, we got a shot at 'em. But he walks. Then Murphy, he's a high-ball hitter.
"It's unlikely Teke (Kent Tekulve) will get a ball up high, one he can handle. But that's what happened.
"Hey, when Abner Doubleday applied for the patent on this game they should have declared him crazy... telling 'em he had a round ball and a round bat and people would go to the plate and try to hit it square."
PHILOSOPHIZING is fine, and barbecued ribs are terrific, but they won’t stop a four-run rally, which is what the Phillies spliced together in the eighth inning last night.
The big hit was a Baltimore chop double with the bases loaded over a drawn-in infield by Larry Bowa. Tekulve was the victim. "I'm gonna throw him a sinker," Tekulve said. "He knows it, I know it, however many people were in the stadium know it.
"I'm sure he wasn't trying to hit a chopper. I defeated his purpose, but it didn't matter.
"Luzinski, his two hits were both broken bats. And then Bowa chops that ball. When things are not going right, they're not going right.
"There isnt a whole lot you can do about your luck. Maybe tomorrow it will turn around. Hey, there's plenty of time left."
Chuck Tanner, thinks so too. But then again. Tanner would have told Cinderella there was plenty of time left at 11:59.
"If you had told me in spring training we'd be in a pennant race on Sept. 8 I'd have signed a contract for it." Tanner said. "It's nice being in a pennant race."
See, even if it looks like six furlongs for non-winners of two since July 4 at Cahokia Downs, it still looks like the Kentucky Derby to Tanner.
There were three winners last night in the Daily News Home Run Payoff contest. In the fourth inning of the Phillies-Pirates game, winners-of four tickets each to a future Phillies game were: Leroy H. Coombs of Villas, N.J., Thomas A. Murray of Camden, and A. Ludwig of Philadelphia.
To date, the Daily News has paid out $16,695.
Today's entry coupon appears on Page 59.