The Archive: Dallas Green's greatest explosion ever
(This story was originially published in August of 1980.)
PITTSBURGH - The voice filled the corridor outside the visitors' locker room, crashing off the concrete walls and gushing through the narrow hallway like flood water pouring through a sewer pipe.
The voice had the cold, sharp edge of a rattled sabre. It left the floor sooty with volcanic ash. It was all profanity and exclamation points, a voice that spun heads and buckled knees like a siren screaming in the night.
The voice belonged to Dallas Green, the Phillies' manager, and it drowned out everything else that went on between games of yesterday's doubleheader with the Pittsburgh Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium.
The Phillies had just lost the opener, 7-1, in the style that has become their trademark, slipping into defeat as if it were a lounge chair. The loss was their third straight to the Pirates, their ninth straight on the road and it splashed kerosene on the fire that was already burning in the manager's belly.
DALLAS GREEN STALKED into the clubhouse and opened up on his players, spraying them with a machine-gun burst of anger. The news media were locked outside but that hardly mattered, what with Green's voice echoing through the Allegheny Mountains.
"This bleeping game isn't easy," Green bellowed. "It's tough, especially when you have injuries. But you guys (have) got your bleeping heads down.
"You've gotta stop being so bleeping cool. Get that through your bleeping heads. If you don't, you'll get so bleeping buried, it ain't gonna be funny.
"Get the bleep off your asses," Green said, "and just be the way you can be because you're a good bleeping baseball team. But you're not now and you can't look in the bleeping mirror and tell me you are.
"You tell me you can do it but you bleeping give up. If you don't want to bleeping play, get the bleep in that (manager's) office and bleeping tell me because I don't want to bleeping play you."
That was Dallas Green's best shot, his longest and surely his loudest thrust at what remains of this team's conscience. The Phillies reflected on Green's words, then went out and lost the nightcap, 4-1, swinging the bats as grudgingly as lifers working on a Leavenworth rockpile.
The Phillies did not win one for the Griper but, then, who really expected them to? I mean, they were playing at Three Rivers Stadium and the Phillies take the field here like butterflies waiting to be pinned. They have lost 15 of their last 20 games here and the dugout is littered with the skeletons of past campaigns.
BESIDES, THE PHILLIES don't like to be chewed out. Wasn't it just last month that Greg Luzinski criticized Dallas Green's outspoken method of managing? The Phillies, it seems, don't mind playing lousy. They just don't like being told about it.
Well, Dallas Green took the whip to his team yesterday and the team responded by fluttering its eyelids momentarily, then drifting back to sleep.
The Phillies managed six hits in the second game, four in seven innings off starting pitcher Don Robinson, who earned his first win since July 13.
Manny Trillo picked up three hits but dropped a throw from Mike Schmidt which could have started a double play and prevented the first Pittsburgh run.
Larry Bowa fielded Robinson's routine grounder and, with Robinson not even running to first, threw the ball away.
The doubleheader loss ended on an appropriate note, with lightning flashing on an eerie horizon and Bowa swinging at - and missing - an abusive fan on the roof of the dugout. The Phillies are now six games back in the National League East and this is as good a time as any to order the headstone for their 1980 season.
Schmidt has two hits in the last two weeks, Luzinski is still on the disabled list and, as a result, the offense has dried up. Defensively, they cannot cope with the speed of the Pirates and Montreal. In this series, the Pirates stole seven bases in eight attempts and forced the Phillies catchers into three throwing errors.
THE PHILLIES HAVE about as much chance of winning the National League East as Ted Kennedy has of stealing the Democratic nomination away from Jimmy Carter. But, like a crusty old campaign manager, Dallas Green is not about to concede until the last delegate is counted.
Late yesterday afternoon, Green sat behind his desk, reminding everyone there were still 55 games left on the Phillies schedule. He seemed happy about moving on to Chicago, saying the cozy, ivy-covered fences and the jet-stream breezes might be just what his hitters need to regain their confidence.
Green's mood had softened considerably in the three-plus hours since his opening-game outburst. He was still angry about his team's performance - the displeasure crept into his voice occasionally - but he was trying hard to put this series behind him and look ahead.
Someone asked about his earlier tirade. Green's jaws tightened a bit. He slid a clenched fist across his desk.
"I'm not gonna let these guys quit on themselves," Green said. "I haven't quit on them, I'm sure our fans haven't quit on them, so I'm not gonna let them quit on themselves. If I have to yell at them to get them going, I'll yell good and loud.
"I may not be doing this (leading the club) the right way but I'm doing it the only way I know how. It's the way I've gotten to where I am now. The other way (the softer, Danny Ozark approach) was tried with these guys and that was unsuccessful. Now we'll try it my way.
"YOU HAVE A tendency to hurt tender feelings with an outburst like that," Green admitted, "but I've never been one to hold a grudge. I say what's on my mind and, once it's said, it's over and done with. If more guys on this club were like that, I think we'd be a lot better off.
"I believe there's character on this ballclub. That's why I feel we'll bounce back from this. Hell, it's not even mid-August yet. We can turn this thing around. We're a streaky club. If we get off on a streak, we can climb right back in the race.
"I never did say this was a make-or-break series for us," Green said. ''Sure it was important, but every series is important. Last week the Pirates lost six in a row and everybody was worried about them.
"I don't feel this club will quit," Green said firmly. "I felt I got a good effort from everyone in the second game."
There was some clumsy throat-clearing and foot-shuffling over that last comment. What game was Dallas Green watching? The Phillies' effort was, once again, uninspiring. If anything, some players seemed distracted, preoccupied.
Pete Rose played his usual game but he would have done that if Dallas Green had simply locked himself in his office between games. Rose doesn't need guys telling him to keep his head up because he's been playing that way ever since he was in the Little Leagues.
Rose did not resent Green's outburst. In fact, he said he thought it was a very good idea.
"THERE'S A TIME and a place for everything," Rose said, "but just because a manager has a scream-out doesn't mean you're gonna go out and score 10 runs right away. It might take a day or two.
"But, in this case, the manager was absolutely right. Just because we got beat 4-1 doesn't mean it didn't sink in. I think it did. There was a whole lot of chatter on the bench in the second game and it wasn't because of that (fan) in the Kent State T-shirt, either. Dallas got some guys thinking.
"Each manager is different," Rose said. "Fred Hutchinson (the late Cincinnati manager) was like Danny (Ozark), he kept things inside. I remember one time he finally exploded. He picked up a bag full of balls and tossed them through a window.
"Personally, I like a manager like Dallas . He lets you know what he's thinking all the time. If he's unhappy, he lets you know it and he was unhappy today."
"I think Dallas had great timing, sounding off like he did today," said Mike Schmidt. "A manager needs to do that . . . give you the old 'hang-in-there, the-cream-will-rise-to-the-top' speech once in awhile.
"I know I was ready to go in that second game. Heck, I was ready to go every game in this series. I sure didn't want to come in here and lose four games to the Pirates.
"I CAN'T WORRY about it now, though. We've got three more games coming up with the Cubs and that's what we've gotta be thinking about. We get a few hits, score a few runs and everybody will forget about what happened here this weekend.
"I'd be a babbling idiot if every time we lost a game or a series, I went into a coma over it. I don't go crazy when I do good, so why should I make myself miserable when things go bad?
"It's like Pops Stargell said to me at first base today," Schmidt recalled. "He said, 'Win or lose, life goes on.'"
Pops Stargell can afford to say things like that. The Pirates are tied for first place. The Phillies are third and sinking like they have an anchor tied to their shoelaces.
Dallas Green had better stock up on throat lozenges for the weeks ahead.