The best and worst of Phillies (so far)

July 12, 1991|By Paul Hagen | Paul Hagen,Knight-Ridder News Service

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies are in last place again, but as always the season has had its share of amusements and oddments, ranging from the serious (Lenny Dykstra summoned to Mississippi during spring training to testify about illegal gambling) to the hilarious (a Phillies player tabulating the actual number of expletives used by general manager Lee Thomas during a brief, but purple, clubhouse outburst).

Here, without further ado, is a look at the best and worst of the 1991 Phillies:

Best win: On April 30 at Veterans Stadium, the Phillies trailed the Giants, 9-3, going into the bottom of the fifth. Dale Murphy, Ricky Jordan, John Kruk and Charlie Hayes all homered as the Phillies rallied to win, 11-9. It was the first time in two seasons the Phillies had hit four homers in a game.

Worst wins: 1. Phillies 5, Houston 4 on June 13 at the Astrodome. The Phillies got only three hits, none of which came in an inning in which they scored. The two teams combined for seven errors. The Astros had a chance to tie the score in the bottom of the ninth, but Steve Finley was thrown out at the plate trying to score from second on an infield single.

2. Phillies 8, Mets 7 on April 10 at Shea Stadium. A total of 11 pitchers were used and the two teams combined to leave 31 runners on base. Tommy Greene threw a wild pitch that hit the screen on the fly. It seemed like it took four hours and 51 minutes to play the 10 innings. Come to think of it, it did.

Best feud: Phillies vs. Otis Nixon. The Phillies didn't like Nixon trying to steal second when the Braves had a big lead. They didn't like the way Nixon gored their pitcher with a karate kick. And Nixon isn't pleased that pitches from Wally Ritchie and Roger McDowell have bounced off his anatomy this year. There have been fines and suspensions. Oh, yes: Phillies at Atlanta Aug. 23 to 25 and Braves at the Vet Aug. 30 and 31 and Sept. 1.

Worst collision (non-auto division): Cardinals outfielder Ray Lankford barreled over Phillies catcher Darren Daulton at the plate in the 10th inning of the game at Busch Stadium April 21. Daulton was dazed, the ball popped loose and Lankford scored the winning run. Worse, Daulton was sore for weeks and hadn't fully recovered two weeks later when his next collision was with two Radnor Township trees as a passenger in Lenny Dykstra's Mercedes.

Best practical jokes: 1. On May 23, Tommy Greene pitched a no-hitter against the Expos at Olympic Stadium. In the clubhouse chaos that followed, Roger McDowell had one of the clubhouse attendants slip away to an outside phone, call Greene and identify himself as Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. It was a tossup who was fooled more completely that day, the Expos batters or Greene, who carried on a lengthy conversation with the phony Mulroney.

2. On June 10, a getaway day in Cincinnati, rookie second baseman Mickey Morandini returned to his locker after the game to find that his dress shoes had been replaced by a garishly painted pair of stacked heels. Morandini was forced to wear his new shoes all the way to Houston.

Worst quotes (prediction division): 1. Right-hander Ken Howell, on March 4, shrugging off the fact that he'd decided not to throw batting practice for the first time as scheduled: "The weather is just too messed up. I couldn't get loose. I'll do it in a day or two, when the weather gets warmer."

Howell had to have a bone spur removed from his shoulder and hasn't pitched yet.

2. Infielder Wally Backman, on May 30, talking about the importance of the Phillies doing well in an upcoming series against the Pirates: "This is huge. That team [Pittsburgh] is going to be there at the end. We've got to prove we can beat them."

The Pirates swept the Phillies, extending their winning streak over Philadelphia to 12 games, dating to last year.

3. Left-hander Terry Mulholland, shortly after shutting out the Giants for eight innings on May 14 to improve his record to 5-2: "This game can humble you in a hurry. Right now, though, I feel like I'm on top of my game."

Soon after, Mulholland began experiencing soreness in his left knee. He won one more game in the next seven weeks.

Best moves: 1. Extending general manager Lee Thomas' contract through the 1994 season, even though it still had a year and a half to run and despite the fact the Phillies are once again in last place. It took a long time for the Phillies to get bad under his predecessors and it will take a while to rebuild if the job is going to be done right. Thomas deserves a chance to finish what he started. By next year, certainly by 1993, it will be fair to ask that results start to be reflected in the won-lost record.

2. Signing No. 1 draft choice Tyler Green when other teams were having an awful time trying to come to terms with their first-rounders.

3. Deciding to join the nostalgia stampede and wear uniforms modeled on the classic 1950s look beginning next year.

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