Doylestown Daily Intelligencer - March 18, 1980

Green The Maestro:

 

McGraw thinks the Phillies manager and his staff can make beautiful music

 

By Paul Giordano, Intelligencer Writer

 

CLEARWATER, Fla.- For Tug McGraw, 1979 was a learning, year. Not so much in the mechanics of pitching, what he could have done with a baseball, but possibly getting to know himself a little better and adding life to his 12-year career.

 

It was a year when McGraw's ERA mushroomed to 5.14, although he did record a team-high 16 saves, and a year in which he tied a National League record for most home runs allowed with the bases full in a season, four. All against lefthanders, too.

 

"I had a chance to set the record against Houston,' McGraw said with that boyish grin on his face, "when they had the bases loaded on me. However, I put the team ahead of my personal records and got Terry Puhl to hit into a double play.

 

"The home run ball I threw to (Terry) Kennedy (Cardinals) I should have never thrown. I was ahead of him 0-2 and threw him a screwball. I just wasn't concentrating. I should have known better."

 

But knowing better and doing what he was supposed to do when he was on the mound wasn't there for McGraw in 1979. Nor was it for the entire Phillies' team, which finished a disappointing fourth.

 

"It was a frustrating year," Mc- Graw said, "but I learned from my mistakes. I consider myself to be very lucky that I still have an arm left after five years under Danny Ozark. I probably never will have to use what I learned last year, but I will have the knowledge."

 

To put it bluntly, what happened or didn't happen to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1979, and to Tug McGraw was because of Danny Ozark.

 

"Danny was a wonderful man, though, "McGraw said, "He was likeable, like a good friend. But in the areas where it came to winning, he didn't necessarily have the
prequlsite to winning.''

 

But what about the three straight division titles? What about the 1976 and 1977 season when the Phils won 101 games?

 

"But he didn't take it far enough," McGraw said. "We should have won 120. You should never be satisfied with 100. We had so much talent. It's like the Boston Symphony. You can have the best musicians in the world, but take away the maestro and they can't stay together, can't flow."

 

"And in baseball, if you don't have the right leader, you can't keep together, you can't flow. It's almost impossible to win. Dallas appears to be the right man. He's put together a coaching staff to help him in the gray areas he's not familiar with. It seems great now that we have the maestro to make beautiful music."

 

In other words, Ozark lacked the necessary communication, especially when it came to handling pitchers, that a manager needs to win. And McGraw should know. He once worked under a master of such skills, the late Gil Hodges of the New York Mets.

 

"At this point it's difficult to say what Dallas can do," McGraw said, "as far as how things are going to be handled. But it's already a help knowing he has to know more than the other man. He's already said whose going to be the long men, short men and starters."

 

Which too, had a lot to do with McGraw's erractic season in 1979.

 

"It was a combination of things," McGraw said, ."The pitching staff was disrupted. There was no consistency in the way the relief pitchers were being used. There was a tremendous lack of communication between the manager and the pitchers. This made it hard to be consistent.

 

"There were times when I wasn't used enough, used when I wasn't sharp. Times when my arm was tired. This all mounted up and I couldn't do it physically or mentally.

 

"There were times, too, when I shouldn't have taken the ball at all. And when I hurt my arm (broken bone in right arm), it didn't hurt me all that much, but it didn't help me, either. I changed mechanically. I was opening too soon and developed stiffness.

 

"Like that time I gave up the grand slam to Milner (John). He was already in the batting circle, warming up with the lead bat. That's when Danny called down to the bullpen and said to get McGraw ready. But he didn't give me enough time. He just walked out to the mound and called for me. I had only thrown six pitches. It's not all his fault, I should have known better. I just let my emotions get in the way of practical decision making.

 

"And this is what I learned last year. I have to be able to say no sometimes. Maybe under Hodges I was spoiled because he knew when and how much time it took you to get ready, how to handle his pitchers. I guess I felt all managers could do this. Last year was frustrating. It wasn't any fun."

 

And because of what McGraw didn't do last season, his name appeared more than any other when trade talks bounced back and forth over the winter.

 

"That never bothered me,"McGraw said. "The club never came to me to see what my position was. So anything that was said or written didn't bother me, I didn't take that serious. I'm a 10 and five man and I have to approve any trades.

 

"I know I had a bad second half (7.30 ERA), but if you look at my overall stats, the final 5.14 ERA could be misleading. I only gave up 83 hits in 84 innings pitched and my strikeout ratio (57 in 84 innings) was good.

 

"There's no reason why I shouldn't have a good year this season. The communications will be there, and this has to help everyone, especially the pitchers."

Ruthven Looks Sharp In First Season Outing

 

By Paul Giordano, Intelligencer Writer

 

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. - St. Patrick's Day was something a little extra special for the Phillies. The green it brought could pay greener dividends come October.

 

It was Dick Ruthven's first test. Ruthven, who had elbow surgery last September, was making his first round appearance since being disabled last Aug. 8.

 

Ruthven was impressive as the Phils downed the Boston Red Sox, 9-3.

 

Rookie catcher Keith Moreland and Greg Gross supplied the necessary lumber. Moreland collected three hits, including a triple, scored three runs and Gross had a pair of RBI, including an RBI double.

 

But it was Ruthven and how he pitched that was of interest. Without him on the mound with a sound arm, the Phils are in very deep trouble in 1980.

 

Ruthven retired the first four batters he faced. The Red Sox, playing their A lineup, did manage a run, but it came on a pair of singles and a double-play ball.

 

Ruthven pitched a total of three innings, allowed just three hits and only one run. He didn't strike out anyone, but neither did he walk anyone.

 

"I was really surprised and impressed with the way he pitched,'"Dallas Green said. "He kept the ball down and had a very good change, curve and fastball. He didn't have any pain in the arm at all."

 

"No," Ruthven said, sitting in the training room with his elbow packed in ice, "no pain at all. I don't even think about it when I'm out there. There's no concern about it as far as I'm concerned.

 

"I go out there with the same idea as every spring, working on the things I know I have to have ready for the regular season. I take my time and I don't push.

 

EXTRA BASES - According to a source close to the Los Angeles Dodgers, there was a trade involving Garry Maddox last week. The deal would have sent Maddox to the Dodgers in exchange for pitcher Don Sutton. However, it was reported that Sutton vetoed the trade, saying he would not sit in the other dugout in Dodger Stadium. In other words, Sutton would have only okayed a trade to the American League.