Philadelphia Inquirer - March 14, 1980
Phillies’ Green frowns on fraternization
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
CLEARWATER, Fla. – Nobody knows quite when baseball's good old days ended.
It only became official a couple years ago, when somebody stared out at the field, noticed Ty Cobb wasn't around spiking people in the kneecaps any more, and concluded, "Ah, well, it's just that modern era."
And so there you had it. Or did you? Not if you're George Dallas Green – manager, yeller-screamer-cusser and throwback to the days when nobody knew how to renegotiate and everybody knew how to take out the second baseman on the double-play ball.
Green has been a manager since last August, and he hasn't acknowledged the advent of the modern era yet.
He actually hollers at guys who make a half-million more dollars a year than he does. He has spent an entire spring teaching major league players fundamentals that they were last drilled on in the Babe Ruth League. He decorated his clubhouse with big signs that read, "WE, not I."
And yesterday, he gave a clue as to what his next hit slogan might be. How about,"WE, not THEM"?
Green may believe in the brotherhood of man, but he's not so sure he believes in the brotherhood of ballplayers. He said yesterday he sometimes worries when he sees two guys in different uniforms hanging around the batting cage making small talk, big talk and who knows what other kind of talk.
"When I played," he said, after a Phillies intrasquad game was rained out in the second inning yesterday, "when the other team came out on the field you didn't like to have anything to do with them."
Nowadays, though, players eat together, drink together, even sometimes strike together.
They are grownup laborers who share the same occupational highs and lows, ins and outs. A lot of them also shared the same locker rooms once. Like plumbers, like mailmen, like writers, they've got a lot to talk about.
There is some kind of rule on the books that forbids such fraternization. But it is enforced about as rigidly as those outdated Wyoming statutes forbidding consenting adults from running a vacuum cleaner in the same bedroom while their dogs are unleashed, or whatever it is they forbid.
Green, however, is not sure that fraternization is good for a baseball player's competitive health.
He was talking yesterday of how pitchers don't seem to pitch hitters inside any more, a trend he proclaimed he would end with this year's Phillies. He has noticed this happening for five years, he said.
"Maybe it's because players are so close," he said. "They get traded together. They play winter ball together. There's just a closer proximity among players than when I played."
There might not seem to be anything wrong with that, on the surface. But competition is the heart of sports, and Green wonders whether friendship might endanger a guy's competitive urges, even subconsciously.
"I don't know if there are any dangers," Green said. "I've got to believe in my heart that guys go out and bust their butts and play the game the way it's supposed to be played. But I just felt better, as a pitcher, knocking a guy down on 0-and-2 (counts) if I hadn't just talked to him or twen out to dinner with him.
"I don't know whether what I'm saying is right. That's just me personally. Maybe other guys can put their feelings aside and go after it. Certain guys can do it. I couldn't.
"I don't even like to go and talk to the other manager. I know I'm crazy, but I'm just that way."
Green hasn't yet ordered the Veterans Stadium grounds crew to start erecting "no trespassing" signs around the batting cage. For now, he is just confining this to his own semi-private musings. But if, during the season, he thinks fraternization has "gone too far," he might have something to say about it, he confessed.
It sounds, on the surface, like a very outdated notion. But it only reflects the kind of baseball players – and the kind of baseball team – Dallas Green would like to put out there. He would rather have guys who upend the second baseman and win than have the most sociable team in baseball and lose.
"I just like that style – aggressive," he said. "That's the type of baseball I like to play, and that's the type of guy I like to be involved with. I don't like to be involved with this 'laissez-faire' baseball."
"Laissez-faire baseball?" repeated a room full of writers. Geez, Danny Ozark never said stuff like that.
"Sure he did," said a man sitting to Dallas Green's right. "Except he was probably talking about the Largo Fair."
NOTES: The Billy Smith deal remained in a holding pattern. Green said he is not necessarily "hot to make it," but that Smith would give him "a lot more flexibility offensively off the bench." Smith, a switch hitter who drove in 33 runs in only 189 at-bats with Baltimore last year, can play all four infield positions. But Green thinks he needs him offensively because "we've got guys who can catch the ball."... Green also said that non-roster pitcher Carlos Arroyo will not be a part of the deal.... The first time Pete Rose swung a bat in a game since last September, he lined a single to right off Lerrin LaGrow.... Steve Carlton, Scott Munninghoff, Doug Bird, Burke Suter and Ron Reed will pitch against Detroit today in the exhibition opener.
Spring’s not busting out
Baseball weather, right?
The fellow who predicted six inches of snow in Philadelphia yesterday and who, instead, gave us several inches of yuk says today's highs won't leave the 40s.
The Phillies open their exhibition season at 1:30 p.m. (radio 1060) against the Detroit Tigers at Clearwater, Fla. There was a tornado warning, and it was pouring rain yesterday at the Phillies complex, but it's supposed to be in the 60s and 70s down there today.
Yes, somewhere the sun is shining....
PHILLIES vs. Detroit at Clearwater, Fla. (Radio-KYW-1060, 1:30 p.m.)