Author Topic: Danger, Will Callaway  (Read 251 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline EasyAce

  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 9,119
  • I'll play the blues for you . . .
Danger, Will Callaway
« on: April 16, 2019, 01:36:33 PM »
Mickey Callaway says four-out saves from Edwin Diaz aren't a topic. Plan your attacks and counterattacks accordingly.
By Yours Truly
https://throneberryfields.com/2019/04/16/danger-will-callaway/


Mickey Callaway, after the Mets beat the
Phillies the hard way Monday night.


If you don’t ask your best bullpen bull for a four-out save in April, it doesn’t normally matter. Don’t want to burn a reliever too early, too often, right? But it might be just a little different if you’re trying to stake an early claim upon your division, as the Mets were against the Phillies Monday night.

It’s smart long-term strategy to be sure your bulls stay healthy enough for a stretch drive and then a postseason. But now and then you just have to ask for a four-out save. Especially, when the guy you want most to give it to you—unless you were foolish enough to warm him up a few times in the interim without using him—hasn’t pitched in a game in three days.

And if you don’t do it against one of your top division rivals now and then before the stretch drive, there’s a fair chance you may not do it when it might mean the last barrier between triumph or disaster down the stretch or in the postseason if you get there.

Mets manager Mickey Callaway, formerly a respected pitching coach who should know better, didn’t do it Monday night, when his Mets had a grand chance to bump into first in the National League East at the Phillies’ explicit expense. And unless he’d warmed Edwin Diaz up over the three days prior during which Diaz didn’t see game action, he had a fresh enough resource to do it.

Callaway says he won’t ask Diaz for a four-out save or bring him into a tie game unless it is the postseason. That’s not exactly unsound thinking, but it’s not exactly unwise to test it now and then before the stretch and be absolutely sure Diaz can handle it at all. He didn’t get the chance in Seattle last year, but then last year’s Mariners weren’t exactly like this year’s early-season threshing machine.

Not testing it Monday almost cost Callaway a game he could have won without having to escape a gasoline fire. Oops. The fire was burning already in the bottom of the eighth, after the Mets wrestled back to a 6-5 lead, but prodigal erstwhile closer Jeurys Familia allowed a hit, a walk, then lured a double play ball—before two more walks to set up Philadelphia ducks on the pond.

Callaway instead reached for Robert Gsellman, his 4.00 ERA, and his 1.66 walks/hits per inning pitched rate. And with Bryce Harper on deck, Gsellman walked Jean Segura unintentionally on four straight pitches to tie the game at six. Gsellman was probably lucky to catch Harper off guard swinging into an inning-ending pop out to shortstop.

But he did get through the ninth unscathed to send the game to the extra innings that might have been avoided if Callaway had reached for Diaz instead. And the Mets yanked the lead back in the top of the eleventh with a little derring-do aided by a little Phillies derring-don’t: Juan Lagares, atoning for an earlier baserunning blunder on an earlier Phillies error, shot home on a Rhys Hoskins error for the seventh and ultimate winning run.

Then Callaway reached for Diaz. And Diaz struck out the side to save it for Luis Avilan, who’d pitched a scoreless but slightly bumpy tenth. It brought Avilan’s 2019 ERA down to 10.80.

“They kept trying to give us the bleepin’ game,” said Larry Bowa, the former Phillies shortstop and manager who now works as a senior advisor to the team. And every time the Phillies tried giving it back, the Mets tried giving it back again, when they didn’t have to.

Fair is fair: the game did get to that 6-5 lead in the first place thanks to both starting pitchers, the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard and the Phillies’ Aaron Nola, playing with matches before five innings were in the books. And the Mets should have heard some alarm bells there, too, considering Syndergaard complained after the game that he couldn’t grip the ball properly.

But it was hard to escape the feeling that Callaway played with a little fire himself. Especially when he reiterated after the game that Diaz wouldn’t be a topic until the ninth inning. “I think we’ve said this before,” Callaway told one reporter. “He’s not going to get four outs.”

Congratulations, Elliot Ness. You’ve just sold the Mob some explosives.

Callaway should be reminded that a lot of baseball’s grounds are scorched, and still have debris from, similar late game reluctance by managers who could have or should have known better than to cling to The Book in their hours of deepest need:

Tony La Russa—Twice in the 1990 World Series his Athletics led in the eighth inning. Neither time did he think of bringing in his Hall of Fame closer, Dennis Eckersley, who’d had more than one outing of more than three outs on the year. (And, was notoriously stingy with inherited runners when he entered with them.)

They led Game Two 4-3 in the eighth . . . and lost. They led Game Four 1-0 in the eighth . . . and lost. Guess what both games had in common? La Russa didn’t bring in Dennis the Menace to start the eighth. And instead of the Series being tied at two games each, the upstart Reds swept the Series.

Grady Little—He stayed with Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez’s heart while ignoring Martinez’s tank, on which the needle was past E. Trouble was, it was Game Seven of the 2003 American League Championship Series.

Little had Mike Timlin and Alan Embree ready in the pen after Martinez surrendered a one-out RBI single. Staying with Martinez cost him Jorge Posada’s game-tying two-run double. Then Little went to Embree for one out and Timlin for a pair, interrupted only by a walk for which Aaron Boone entered the game as a pinch runner.

And it ended up in an extra-inning thriller with Timlin and then Tim Wakefield going scoreless against Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera. Until Wakefield’s first knuckleball of the bottom of the eleventh flew into the left field seats off Boone’s bat with a Yankee pennant attached.

Dusty Baker—Bad enough he’d sent a hard-ridden and now spent Mark Prior out to start the eighth of Game Six, 2003 National League Championship Series, with the Cubs six outs from the World Series.

Worse: Leaving Prior to surrender a one-out double, throw a wild pitch, endure the infamous Bartman Foul, give up a walk, give up an RBI single, and watch in horror when the double play ball bounced off shortstop Alex Gonzalez’s chest, before serving the two-run double that tied the game.

Then Baker reached . . . for Kyle Farnsworth; for a sacrifice fly, an intentional walk, and a three-run double; and, for Mike Remlinger, and for an RBI single. And, an eight-run Marlins eighth.

Far worse: Baker’s closer Joe Borowski, the one Cub bullpen bull he could have and should have trusted that year, wasn’t even a topic. Especially since Borowski hadn’t seen game action since Game Three. The Cubs might have returned to the World Series fourteen seasons before they finally did if Baker asked Borowski to start the Game Six eighth.

Mike Matheny—Bottom of the ninth, Game Five of the 2014 NLCS, the game tied at three as the inning began. The Book told him don’t bring in your closer unless there’s something to save. So Matheny stayed with Michael Wacha with one out and two on but still rusty after a late-season injury layoff. His then circuit-breakers-off closer Trevor Rosenthal wasn’t even a subject.

Not until the postgame interviews. Because Travis Ishikawa couldn’t have cared less what The Book said. And Ishikawa backed up his disdain with the noisiest three-run homer in Giants history since Bobby Thomson in 1951. The ball and the National League pennant landed atop Levi’s Landing.

Buck Showalter—His power-station closer Zach Britton, the best in the business in 2016, nowhere to be found in the bottom of the eleventh, that year’s American League wild card game. Ubaldo Jimenez, normally a starter but now the fifth Orioles reliever of the night, staying in the game much to everyone’s surprise—including his own, he said later.

“We wanted to have a strong Zach and have him there in case the game goes to extra innings,” Showalter said. With two on and one out the thought that he needed a true stopper right then, no matter how well Jimenez had pitched of late, didn’t cross his mind.

Not until Edwin Encarnacion drove the first pitch Jimenez threw him so far into the Rogers Centre second deck it said there goes that idea on its way out.

You’re not necessarily going to have to think about things like that two straight nights, and that’s probably a good thing. And there’s no written guarantee that the move won’t blow up in your face. But you’ve got to try it now and then. Better to lose if the other guys overcome your best weapon than if they don’t.

Last October Dodgers manager Dave Roberts asked Kenley Jansen for six-out saves in consecutive World Series games. The first one Jansen surrendered the homer Jackie Bradley, Jr. hit to send Game Three to its eighteen-inning marathon; the next, he got two quick outs before Steve Pearce began his Series MVP destruction in earnest with a shot into a fan’s glove in the left field bleachers.

Both times Roberts made his best move. The first one he came up roses even if it took almost to sunrise for Max Muncy to hand him the bouquet; the second, he got nuked. But he went down playing his best prospective hand. And Jansen in fairness was pitching with offseason heart surgery on his calendar, too.

But Callaway may have been lucky that the Mets pulled Monday night’s game out. And luck is something these Mets haven’t had for a few years. The next time he has a prime need for more than a single-inning save from his man Diaz, but stays by his Book even on the road and even in an eighth-inning tie, his and the Mets’ luck may run out.

“We got away with stuff,” Callaway said after the Mets banked the 7-6 win the hard way. “But we still came up with a win. That says a lot.” It’ll say even more if and when Callaway’s luck runs out at the wrong time while clinging to The Book too hard.

All he has to do is remind himself about La Russa, Little, Baker, Matheny, and Showalter. And learn not to sell explosives to the Mob.
-----------------------
@Polly Ticks
@Machiavelli
@AllThatJazzZ
@AmericanaPrime
@andy58-in-nh
@Applewood
@Bigun
@catfish1957
@corbe
@Cyber Liberty
@DCPatriot
@dfwgator
@Freya
@goatprairie
@GrouchoTex
@Jazzhead
@Mom MD
@musiclady
@mystery-ak
@Right_in_Virginia
@Sanguine
@skeeter
@Skeptic
@Slip18
@SZonian
@TomSea
@truth_seeker

Offline SZonian

  • Strike without warning
  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 2,443
  • 415th Nightstalker
Re: Danger, Will Callaway
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2019, 12:12:33 PM »
You could add Jim Fregosi and Mitch Williams in the 93 WS to your list.

Granted, that Toronto team was a great team and I didn't feel too bad when the Phillies lost to them given the level of competition, but...

Fregosi had gassed Williams in the NLDS and WS..."Wild Thing" had essentially flamed out by the time Joe Carter won the Series for Toronto.   8888crybaby
Throwing our allegiances to political parties in the long run gave away our liberty.

Offline EasyAce

  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 9,119
  • I'll play the blues for you . . .
Re: Danger, Will Callaway
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2019, 02:21:15 PM »
You could add Jim Fregosi and Mitch Williams in the 93 WS to your list.

Granted, that Toronto team was a great team and I didn't feel too bad when the Phillies lost to them given the level of competition, but...

Fregosi had gassed Williams in the NLDS and WS..."Wild Thing" had essentially flamed out by the time Joe Carter won the Series for Toronto.   8888crybaby
@SZonian
Whether Mitch Williams was gassed by the time he came into Game Six of the 1993 World Series may be very open for debate.

If you look up his 1993 regular season, Williams had 65 appearances and 62 innings pitched. Jim Fregosi took the clue from Tony La Russa viz Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley and restricted Williams to ninth-inning use very strictly. He had 43 saves and six blown saves on the season, and Williams himself credited the Phillies' two primary setup men that season (Larry Andersen and David West) for the saves:

I will say to the day I die that the seventh and eighth innings are harder to pitch than the ninth because you have to make quality pitches. In the ninth inning, hitters don't have a safety net; they don't have that many batters coming up after them. The guys who pitch the seventh and eighth innings don't have that much margin for error. They get the important outs. I got all the recognition for the save. Well, a lot of times that season, the save happened in the seventh or eighth inning. Those guys made my job a hell of a lot easier.

(Williams was so appreciative that it's said that when the regular season ended he sprung for expensive gifts for everyone in the Phillies' bullpen that year.)

In the 1993 NLCS, Williams got into four of the games and pitched five and a third in-game innings. He got credit for the wins in Games One and Five; he earned saves in Games Four and Six:

* Game One---Williams surrendered the tying run in the ninth and the game went to extra innings. Williams pitched two full innings in that gig. He faced eleven batters and threw 43 pitches over the two innings, 24 in the ninth and 19 in the tenth. (The Phillies won on a walkoff RBI double.)

* Game Four---Williams was asked for a four-out save when Phillies starter Danny Jackson found himself with a pair of two-out baserunners. Williams got the third out, then pitched a ninth marred by an infield error leaving him with first and second and nobody out. He got a forceout at third base and a double play to end the game. He threw sixteen pitches in that outing and never got to a ball three count while he was at it.

* Game Five---Curt Schilling took a 3-0 shutout into the ninth when he opened with two on thanks to a leadoff walk and another infield error. Fregosi went to Williams. Fred McGriff punched Williams's first pitch through the hole at short for an RBI single and David Justice took six pitches to hit a sacrifice fly. Terry Pendleton followed with a base hit and Francisco Cabrera tied the game with an RBI single. Then Williams got the final two outs of the inning. After Lenny Dykstra homered in the top of the tenth to make it 4-3, Phillies, Fregosi brought in Andersen to save it, which he did with a leadoff fly out and back-to-back strikeouts.

* Game Six---Williams was sent out to pitch the ninth and for once it was spotless, on both his and the infield's part. 1-2-3 and the Phillies won the pennant.

Now---if Fregosi had been like Tommy Lasorda and Pete Rose in handling their bullpens, maybe Williams was gassed. By which I mean you'd have to try to remember how often he was warmed up before coming into a game and how many pitches he was allowed to throw in the bullpen before he was brought in. (Lasorda and Rose were notorious for warming up relievers, sitting them, warming them up again, then either bringing them in or leaving them be, and if leaving them be they'd warm those pitchers up again the next game once or twice more before bringing them in, then be shocked to discover, as Rose once said, "He ain't pitched in three days!" Blissfully unaware that they might have pitched the equal of two quality starts' worth of pitches in the bullpen. What a surprised those guys would be gassed!)

Game Two was a Braves blowout, so Williams wasn't likely to have been warmed up there. In Game Three the Braves got out of hand with a five-run sixth and a four-run seventh, so Williams likely didn't poke his nose out of his bullpen hole in that game, either.

Now, the World Series:

* Game One---Curt Schilling ran out of fuel in the seventh with the Blue Jays taking a 5-4 lead; the game ended with an 8-5 Blue Jays win. Williams wasn't even a topic.

* Game Two---Williams relieved Roger Mason (who'd relieved starter Terry Mulholland in the sixth) in the eighth and inherited Hall of Famer Paul Molitor on second with a leadoff double before Mason struck out Joe Carter. Williams paid no attention to Molitor as he went to work on John Olerud, and Molitor stole third before Olerud brought him home with a sacrifice fly. (That, by the way was the moment Schilling continued his postseason habit of putting a towel over his head while Williams pitched, which drove Williams and a few other teammates to no end of mad.) Then Williams walked Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar, who stole second almost in a blink. This time Williams didn't ignore the runner; Alomar broke to steal third, but Williams in mid-delivery turned and whipped a throw to third to nail Alomar for the side. The ninth was a little less high-wire: a leadoff walk, a ground out, and a game-ending double play. 6-4, Phillies.

But it took Williams 27 pitches to get out of the eighth and 13 in the ninth. Forty pitches in two innings. If that was a starting pitcher, you might start worrying that he'd throw 80 pitches before the fifth inning arrived.

Williams, by the way, called Schilling out about the towel bit in the clubhouse after the game: You're a great pitcher. But sooner or later you won't be able to pitch anymore and you'll have to be a man. And right now, you aren't acting like a very good one.

* Game Three---By the seventh inning the Blue Jays led 9-2; the final would be 10-3, Jays. Williams probably wasn't even a warmup topic.

* Game Four---The 15-14 loss, charged to Williams. Bad enough: The Phillies blew 6-3, 12-7, and 14-9 leads before losing. Worse: Williams was brought in to protect that 14-9 lead with one out and two on after Andersen surrendered the tenth run on Molitor's RBI double. It went like so: RBI single, walk, strikeout, RBI single, two-run triple. 15-14, Blue Jays; the score held through the end of the ninth.

Williams threw twenty pitches in his turn. He actually got behind only his first two hitters; he struck out Ed Sprague on three pitches, he had Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson at 1-1 when Henderson slashed the RBI single, and he had Devon White at 1-2 when White ripped the two-run triple. But still . . .

* Game Five---Schilling's 2-0 masterpiece, and the first Phillies complete game Series win since Hall of Famer Robin Roberts in the 1950s series.

Very important: While Schilling was pitching that shutout, a deranged fan called the Phillies threatening Williams's life, specifying the 15-14 game while the fan was at it. Williams himself was told about it when he got home from the game at 2 a.m. Needless to say, Williams was scared to death---he actually stayed up all night holding his gun in his hand just in case. He insisted no one would scare him that much out of pitching when called upon, but don't think for a minute that he was completely able to push it out of his mind.

* Game Six---Williams didn't have to come in in the middle of an inning this time. He had a 6-5 lead to protect. But he was facing the top of the Jays lineup not by design but because two Phillies relievers faltered in the eighth; though no one scored, the bottom of the Jays order wasn't going to be Williams's target. And then:

---The Wild Thing walked Henderson on four pitches to open. Phillies pitching coach Johnny Podres suggested Williams go to the slide step when delivering to keep Henderson from stealing.
---He got White to fly out on a full count, but served Molitor a base hit for first and second.
---He had Joe Carter at 2-2 and shook off a sign for a second consecutive slider, thinking, as he said later, he had a better chance to get rid of Carter with a fastball up and away. Apparently, Podres insisted Williams stay with the slide step; Williams said later that not going with his full high leg kick meant the pitch going down and level because slide-stepping makes you rush the pitch a little too much.

Williams never flinched from the homer. He sat at his locker for a couple of hours afterward answering even the most inane questions with no excuses. He never blamed anyone else for the home run pitch.

So what do I think after all the foregoing?

I notice that only twice in the entire postseason did Jim Fregosi ask Mitch Williams for more than a three-out save.

I think Williams may have been a little gassed when he got into Game Six, but I don't know just how likely it is, and I don't know whether the blame belongs to Fregosi's usage of him or to Williams's own high-wire, high-pitches performances.

I think Williams would rather have walked through a gasoline fire wall than admit the pre-Game Six death threat he was told about shook him up, and if he said later that he sat up most of the night into the morning holding his gun in his hand he was very shaken up by it.

I think Williams should have ignored his pitching coach and done away with the slide step delivery when pitching to Carter.

I think Podres should have known better than to keep Williams on the slide step, especially since he didn't use one in Game Two with Alomar on base and was still able to nail him trying to steal third, so it's not impossible that even without a slide step he could have nailed Henderson if Henderson had a thought about stealing third.

And, I think what happened to Williams after the World Series ended was an absolute disgrace: In the immediate moment, his teammates stood by their man, but days later first Lenny Dykstra and then Curt Schilling took it to the press---first saying it wouldn't be wise for Williams to remain with the Phillies, but then, especially Schilling, calling outright for Williams to be traded. Schilling's disdain was so pronounced that nobody reminded him, when he suggested Williams was "tired" at the end of the regular season, that a closer restricted to the ninth inning and actually pitching a shade less innings than the number of games he appeared in couldn't exactly be gassed. Williams did get traded after the World Series, to the Astros, and he was never the same pitcher again. In the years that followed, Williams never rejected responsibility for the Series loss while Dykstra and Schilling continued taking pot shots at him, especially after those few occasions when he responded to them.

Strangely enough, when Williams was traded, as he recalls in his memoir Straight Talk from Wild Thing, the Phillies owners also thought he'd be "crucified" the next season if he stayed in Philadelphia. "They didn't understand," Williams wrote, "that the fans appreciated that I didn't run and hide after the World Series or during the off-season. They knew I was a guy who fit into their city. They knew that every day I walked out there I gave everything I had."

He was proven right when he returned to Philadelphia for the first time as an Astro---he got a standing O from the Veterans Stadium crowd. Indeed they had remembered and respected that he didn't run and hide while some of his teammates went from standing by him in the immediate aftermath to hoping publicly that he'd be run out of town.

And---much the way Ralph Branca and Bobby Thomson did (I lost a ballgame but I gained a friend---Ralph Branca), until the confirmation that the 1951 Giants did indeed have a somewhat sophisticated sign-stealing scheme in operation during that 1951 pennant race comeback---Williams and Carter have since forged a friendship, from autograph shows together to television appearances, all the way to charity bowling tournaments together.

Offline Restored

  • TBR Advisory Committee
  • ***
  • Posts: 3,105
Re: Danger, Will Callaway
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2019, 02:58:19 PM »
Baseball has always suffered from the curse of "Tell me how you're feeling, kid, and you better say 'good'". There were too many managers who accused a pitcher of being soft if he told him the truth.
Hahahahaha....No seriously. Who is the President?

Offline EasyAce

  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 9,119
  • I'll play the blues for you . . .
Re: Danger, Will Callaway
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2019, 03:22:42 PM »
Baseball has always suffered from the curse of "Tell me how you're feeling, kid, and you better say 'good'". There were too many managers who accused a pitcher of being soft if he told him the truth.
@Restored
Leo Durocher was infamous for calling injured players "quitters." So was Gene Mauch in the years immediately following the 1964 Phillies' collapse. And Burt Shotton---who was otherwise a players' manager who usually left his men alone to play the game---was so convinced that the way you got over injuries was to play through them he may have kept Carl Erskine from becoming the Hall of Famer he had the pitching talent to be: Erskine suffered a shoulder injury in his first season and Shotton counseled him to pitch through it, and Erskine ended up pitching a thirteen-year career (including two no-hitters) with a bad shoulder.

There've also been players stubborn enough to play through injuries even when they did have managers who wouldn't accuse them of being soft. Pete Reiser, Butch Hobson, and Denny McLain are three who come to mind. (McLain's shoulder began resigning its commission in 1970, after several seasons' of insane workload, and he was foolish enough to try pitching through it. He was finished within two years of that decision.) And if you consider Sandy Koufax pitching two full seasons with that arthritic elbow and under a medical regimen that would have some people wondering how he didn't kill himself with it, his retirement at 30 makes even more sad sense.

Offline SZonian

  • Strike without warning
  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 2,443
  • 415th Nightstalker
Re: Danger, Will Callaway
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2019, 10:44:07 PM »
@SZonian
Whether Mitch Williams was gassed by the time he came into Game Six of the 1993 World Series may be very open for debate.

If you look up his 1993 regular season, Williams had 65 appearances and 62 innings pitched. Jim Fregosi took the clue from Tony La Russa viz Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley and restricted Williams to ninth-inning use very strictly. He had 43 saves and six blown saves on the season, and Williams himself credited the Phillies' two primary setup men that season (Larry Andersen and David West) for the saves:

I will say to the day I die that the seventh and eighth innings are harder to pitch than the ninth because you have to make quality pitches. In the ninth inning, hitters don't have a safety net; they don't have that many batters coming up after them. The guys who pitch the seventh and eighth innings don't have that much margin for error. They get the important outs. I got all the recognition for the save. Well, a lot of times that season, the save happened in the seventh or eighth inning. Those guys made my job a hell of a lot easier.

(Williams was so appreciative that it's said that when the regular season ended he sprung for expensive gifts for everyone in the Phillies' bullpen that year.)

In the 1993 NLCS, Williams got into four of the games and pitched five and a third in-game innings. He got credit for the wins in Games One and Five; he earned saves in Games Four and Six:

* Game One---Williams surrendered the tying run in the ninth and the game went to extra innings. Williams pitched two full innings in that gig. He faced eleven batters and threw 43 pitches over the two innings, 24 in the ninth and 19 in the tenth. (The Phillies won on a walkoff RBI double.)

* Game Four---Williams was asked for a four-out save when Phillies starter Danny Jackson found himself with a pair of two-out baserunners. Williams got the third out, then pitched a ninth marred by an infield error leaving him with first and second and nobody out. He got a forceout at third base and a double play to end the game. He threw sixteen pitches in that outing and never got to a ball three count while he was at it.

* Game Five---Curt Schilling took a 3-0 shutout into the ninth when he opened with two on thanks to a leadoff walk and another infield error. Fregosi went to Williams. Fred McGriff punched Williams's first pitch through the hole at short for an RBI single and David Justice took six pitches to hit a sacrifice fly. Terry Pendleton followed with a base hit and Francisco Cabrera tied the game with an RBI single. Then Williams got the final two outs of the inning. After Lenny Dykstra homered in the top of the tenth to make it 4-3, Phillies, Fregosi brought in Andersen to save it, which he did with a leadoff fly out and back-to-back strikeouts.

* Game Six---Williams was sent out to pitch the ninth and for once it was spotless, on both his and the infield's part. 1-2-3 and the Phillies won the pennant.

Now---if Fregosi had been like Tommy Lasorda and Pete Rose in handling their bullpens, maybe Williams was gassed. By which I mean you'd have to try to remember how often he was warmed up before coming into a game and how many pitches he was allowed to throw in the bullpen before he was brought in. (Lasorda and Rose were notorious for warming up relievers, sitting them, warming them up again, then either bringing them in or leaving them be, and if leaving them be they'd warm those pitchers up again the next game once or twice more before bringing them in, then be shocked to discover, as Rose once said, "He ain't pitched in three days!" Blissfully unaware that they might have pitched the equal of two quality starts' worth of pitches in the bullpen. What a surprised those guys would be gassed!)

Game Two was a Braves blowout, so Williams wasn't likely to have been warmed up there. In Game Three the Braves got out of hand with a five-run sixth and a four-run seventh, so Williams likely didn't poke his nose out of his bullpen hole in that game, either.

Now, the World Series:

* Game One---Curt Schilling ran out of fuel in the seventh with the Blue Jays taking a 5-4 lead; the game ended with an 8-5 Blue Jays win. Williams wasn't even a topic.

* Game Two---Williams relieved Roger Mason (who'd relieved starter Terry Mulholland in the sixth) in the eighth and inherited Hall of Famer Paul Molitor on second with a leadoff double before Mason struck out Joe Carter. Williams paid no attention to Molitor as he went to work on John Olerud, and Molitor stole third before Olerud brought him home with a sacrifice fly. (That, by the way was the moment Schilling continued his postseason habit of putting a towel over his head while Williams pitched, which drove Williams and a few other teammates to no end of mad.) Then Williams walked Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar, who stole second almost in a blink. This time Williams didn't ignore the runner; Alomar broke to steal third, but Williams in mid-delivery turned and whipped a throw to third to nail Alomar for the side. The ninth was a little less high-wire: a leadoff walk, a ground out, and a game-ending double play. 6-4, Phillies.

But it took Williams 27 pitches to get out of the eighth and 13 in the ninth. Forty pitches in two innings. If that was a starting pitcher, you might start worrying that he'd throw 80 pitches before the fifth inning arrived.

Williams, by the way, called Schilling out about the towel bit in the clubhouse after the game: You're a great pitcher. But sooner or later you won't be able to pitch anymore and you'll have to be a man. And right now, you aren't acting like a very good one.

* Game Three---By the seventh inning the Blue Jays led 9-2; the final would be 10-3, Jays. Williams probably wasn't even a warmup topic.

* Game Four---The 15-14 loss, charged to Williams. Bad enough: The Phillies blew 6-3, 12-7, and 14-9 leads before losing. Worse: Williams was brought in to protect that 14-9 lead with one out and two on after Andersen surrendered the tenth run on Molitor's RBI double. It went like so: RBI single, walk, strikeout, RBI single, two-run triple. 15-14, Blue Jays; the score held through the end of the ninth.

Williams threw twenty pitches in his turn. He actually got behind only his first two hitters; he struck out Ed Sprague on three pitches, he had Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson at 1-1 when Henderson slashed the RBI single, and he had Devon White at 1-2 when White ripped the two-run triple. But still . . .

* Game Five---Schilling's 2-0 masterpiece, and the first Phillies complete game Series win since Hall of Famer Robin Roberts in the 1950s series.

Very important: While Schilling was pitching that shutout, a deranged fan called the Phillies threatening Williams's life, specifying the 15-14 game while the fan was at it. Williams himself was told about it when he got home from the game at 2 a.m. Needless to say, Williams was scared to death---he actually stayed up all night holding his gun in his hand just in case. He insisted no one would scare him that much out of pitching when called upon, but don't think for a minute that he was completely able to push it out of his mind.

* Game Six---Williams didn't have to come in in the middle of an inning this time. He had a 6-5 lead to protect. But he was facing the top of the Jays lineup not by design but because two Phillies relievers faltered in the eighth; though no one scored, the bottom of the Jays order wasn't going to be Williams's target. And then:

---The Wild Thing walked Henderson on four pitches to open. Phillies pitching coach Johnny Podres suggested Williams go to the slide step when delivering to keep Henderson from stealing.
---He got White to fly out on a full count, but served Molitor a base hit for first and second.
---He had Joe Carter at 2-2 and shook off a sign for a second consecutive slider, thinking, as he said later, he had a better chance to get rid of Carter with a fastball up and away. Apparently, Podres insisted Williams stay with the slide step; Williams said later that not going with his full high leg kick meant the pitch going down and level because slide-stepping makes you rush the pitch a little too much.

Williams never flinched from the homer. He sat at his locker for a couple of hours afterward answering even the most inane questions with no excuses. He never blamed anyone else for the home run pitch.

So what do I think after all the foregoing?

I notice that only twice in the entire postseason did Jim Fregosi ask Mitch Williams for more than a three-out save.

I think Williams may have been a little gassed when he got into Game Six, but I don't know just how likely it is, and I don't know whether the blame belongs to Fregosi's usage of him or to Williams's own high-wire, high-pitches performances.

I think Williams would rather have walked through a gasoline fire wall than admit the pre-Game Six death threat he was told about shook him up, and if he said later that he sat up most of the night into the morning holding his gun in his hand he was very shaken up by it.

I think Williams should have ignored his pitching coach and done away with the slide step delivery when pitching to Carter.

I think Podres should have known better than to keep Williams on the slide step, especially since he didn't use one in Game Two with Alomar on base and was still able to nail him trying to steal third, so it's not impossible that even without a slide step he could have nailed Henderson if Henderson had a thought about stealing third.

And, I think what happened to Williams after the World Series ended was an absolute disgrace: In the immediate moment, his teammates stood by their man, but days later first Lenny Dykstra and then Curt Schilling took it to the press---first saying it wouldn't be wise for Williams to remain with the Phillies, but then, especially Schilling, calling outright for Williams to be traded. Schilling's disdain was so pronounced that nobody reminded him, when he suggested Williams was "tired" at the end of the regular season, that a closer restricted to the ninth inning and actually pitching a shade less innings than the number of games he appeared in couldn't exactly be gassed. Williams did get traded after the World Series, to the Astros, and he was never the same pitcher again. In the years that followed, Williams never rejected responsibility for the Series loss while Dykstra and Schilling continued taking pot shots at him, especially after those few occasions when he responded to them.

Strangely enough, when Williams was traded, as he recalls in his memoir Straight Talk from Wild Thing, the Phillies owners also thought he'd be "crucified" the next season if he stayed in Philadelphia. "They didn't understand," Williams wrote, "that the fans appreciated that I didn't run and hide after the World Series or during the off-season. They knew I was a guy who fit into their city. They knew that every day I walked out there I gave everything I had."

He was proven right when he returned to Philadelphia for the first time as an Astro---he got a standing O from the Veterans Stadium crowd. Indeed they had remembered and respected that he didn't run and hide while some of his teammates went from standing by him in the immediate aftermath to hoping publicly that he'd be run out of town.

And---much the way Ralph Branca and Bobby Thomson did (I lost a ballgame but I gained a friend---Ralph Branca), until the confirmation that the 1951 Giants did indeed have a somewhat sophisticated sign-stealing scheme in operation during that 1951 pennant race comeback---Williams and Carter have since forged a friendship, from autograph shows together to television appearances, all the way to charity bowling tournaments together.
@EasyAce  Thanks for a very introspective view.  I learned a lot from that, much appreciated.  Mitch will always have a place in Philly's "heart"...we know he gave it all he had.
Throwing our allegiances to political parties in the long run gave away our liberty.

Offline EasyAce

  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 9,119
  • I'll play the blues for you . . .
Re: Danger, Will Callaway
« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2019, 01:17:36 PM »
@EasyAce  Thanks for a very introspective view.  I learned a lot from that, much appreciated.  Mitch will always have a place in Philly's "heart"...we know he gave it all he had.
@SZonian
I verified the games themselves by way of reviewing the game logs at Retrosheet and at Baseball-Reference.

And I got other information by way of William C. Kashatus's Macho Row: The 1993 Phillies and Baseball's Unwritten Code, which will probably endure as the best book to be written about that team.

Offline SZonian

  • Strike without warning
  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 2,443
  • 415th Nightstalker
Re: Danger, Will Callaway
« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2019, 11:45:23 PM »
@SZonian
I verified the games themselves by way of reviewing the game logs at Retrosheet and at Baseball-Reference.

And I got other information by way of William C. Kashatus's Macho Row: The 1993 Phillies and Baseball's Unwritten Code, which will probably endure as the best book to be written about that team.
Thanks @EasyAce , looking for the book now.  Loved those guys...what a team.
Throwing our allegiances to political parties in the long run gave away our liberty.

Offline SZonian

  • Strike without warning
  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 2,443
  • 415th Nightstalker
Re: Danger, Will Callaway
« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2019, 01:02:36 AM »
@EasyAce , one of my favorites....
Error 404 (Not Found)!!1

Throwing our allegiances to political parties in the long run gave away our liberty.

Offline EasyAce

  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 9,119
  • I'll play the blues for you . . .
Re: Danger, Will Callaway
« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2019, 12:31:49 PM »
@EasyAce , one of my favorites....
Error 404 (Not Found)!!1

@SZonian
That's good, but Kashatus's book is far better.

And if you want to go deeper with the Phillies, Kashatus first wrote about them in this splendid book:



Share me

Digg  Facebook  SlashDot  Delicious  Technorati  Twitter  Google  Yahoo
Smf