Two days' rest show CBS is interfering with playoffs

October 07, 1990|By Dave Anderson | Dave Anderson,N.Y. Times News Service

CINCINNATI -- And on the third day, the Pirates and the Reds will rest. Which is normal. But on the fourth day, they will also rest. And that's not normal.

Over 162 games, baseball is a day-to-day game, a grind, a test of a team's pitching depth. That's part of its beauty.

But this year's National League Championship Series is now on hold over the weekend so that CBS can bring you the Florida State-Miami college football game Saturday and several National Football League games Sunday as well as the first two games of the American League showdown.

Without the usual one-day break after the conclusion of the regular season because of the season extended by the spring training lockout, the first two games of the NLCS were played Thursday night and Friday afternoon.

But after a 1-1 split, the Pirates and Reds now come to a standstill Saturday and Sunday. The four-of-seven-game playoff won't resume until Monday afternoon in Pittsburgh.

Monday afternoon? Yes, Monday afternoon because CBS doesn't dare go against Monday night's Browns-Broncos game.

In the confusion, the Pirates can't even hold proper workouts in Three Rivers Stadium, already in its football configuration for Sunday's Steelers-Chargers game. All the Pirates can do is throw on the football yard lines and take batting practice in their indoor cages while the Reds stay here for workouts at Riverfront Stadium.

Just when the NLCS is heating up, it's suddenly put on the back burner to simmer while the ALCS and football are put in the microwave. Such is life when the television tail wags the baseball dog.

When the NLCS is completed, the two days off could prove to be a turning point. Especially if either team's bullpen turns sour after this lost weekend.

In assessing the NL playoff, the Reds' bullpen, notably Rob Dibble and Randy Myers, was considered to be the difference between the two teams. As it was in yesterday's 2-1 squeaker when Dibble and Myers stopped the Pirates over the last three innings.

"When you can carry a lead into the seventh inning," said Lou Piniella, the Reds' manager, "these guys can do a job. With two days off now, they'll be nice and rested for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday."

But by their nature, relief pitchers would rather keep throwing to stay sharp than rest and risk their control getting rusty. When Dibble and Myers were asked if the two days off would help them or hurt them, each acknowledged the risk involved.

"It hurts a guy like me," Dibble said. "You want to pitch as much as possible to keep your edge."

"I don't think it affects me, having pitched today," Myers said. "If I hadn't, I would've had to throw 15, 20 minutes tomorrow. We're going to Pittsburgh figuring we're going to have to pitch Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday."

Jim Leyland, the Pirates' manager, wasn't complaining about the two consecutive days off. Or was he?

"You live by the rules," he said. "I lived by the rules last night so I'm not going to say anything about having Saturday and Sunday off now. You live by the rules."

In referring to Thursday night's opener, Leyland was obviously aware of having had to start immediately.

But with Leyland staying with Doug Drabek, the Pirates' ace, throughout yesterday's game, not only were none of the Pirate relief pitchers used, but they were also never warmed up.

In order to maintain their control, some of the Pirate relief pitchers might be throwing more than usual during their restricted workouts. So will the Reds relievers, especially their Nasty Boys Dibble, Myers and Norm Charlton.

"I think the Nasty Boys is how we're perceived on the mound," said Myers, obtained from the Mets during the off season in a trade for John Franco. "We all throw 95 miles an hour."

If the Mets had won the East title, the NLCS would be shifting to Shea Stadium now. But at least one Shea Stadium fixture, Harry Petruzzo, a security guard in the visitors bullpen, will be at Three Rivers Stadium on Monday afternoon.

"Harry's my buddy," Jim Leyland said. "Harry takes me to Belmont in the afternoon when we've got a night game at Shea. When were there a few weeks ago, I told him, 'If we get in, you've got a ticket if you want it.' When we won, he called me and said: 'I need that ticket. I'm coming.'"

Thinking of Petruzzo, the Pirates' manager laughed. "In a game at Shea two years ago, I had four guys warming up at once," Leyland said. "I had so many guys warming up, they had to throw at an angle to have enough room. When I finally called down there, I said, 'Is Bob Kipper ready?' and I was told, 'Harry's even ready.' "

Just as the Pirates and the Reds are ready to play and pitch now. But not until Monday afternoon, thank you.

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