Philadelphia Inquirer - March 1, 1980

A sure sign of spring


There are many harbingers of spring. The ground hog makes its annual prognostication. The boat show and then the flower show are sure signs. The days get longer. Buds appear, still peeking tentatively from the limbs of trees and shrubs. But the real clincher, the positive guarantee that spring can't be far off, is the one that arrived the other day: the first photo from a Florida training camp showing a hurler loosening up under the "watchful eye" of a pitching coach.


Pitching coaches, and batting coaches too, invariably take watchful eyes into spring training. It's reminiscent of a mother hen looking after her brood. A watchful eye is a neutral, noncommittal eye – protective, yes, but making no assessment of things as they ought to be or should become. Maybe what baseball needs at this time of year is more coaches with a critical eye or even a scornful eye. A watchful eye is too benign. It doesn't do much to remove the flab of winter, with opening day not all that far away.


Considering the performance of some of the local mound corps last season, what the Phillies need in spring training camp is a pitching coach with a cold, steely eye.