Phillies

An appreciation: Dallas Green, a great baseball man (1934-2017)

An appreciation: Dallas Green, a great baseball man (1934-2017)

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Spring training hasn't been the same this year.

You can see the difference.

You can hear it.

Dallas Green didn't make it to camp this year, and it just wasn't the same.

We missed his hulking presence ambling across the fields of Carpenter Complex during early workouts. We missed seeing him on the rooftop, under a big, straw hat, evaluating young prospects just like he had for decades.

We missed the booming, bellowing voice, the one that once lit up some of the best players in Phillies history and acted as the cattle prod that transformed them from underachievers to champions back in 1980.

The Phillies, the baseball world, the Philadelphia sporting community -- shoot, all of us -- lost a great one today when Big D lost his courageous battle with kidney disease.

He was 82.

And he was one of a kind, from the thick shock of white hair on top his head to those huge, rough hands, to that imposing 6-foot-5 inch frame, to the booming voice, to the demeanor and personality that could one minute be in-your-face and confrontational and the next soothing and gentle.

. . .

A local guy, Green came out of the University of Delaware and was destined to be a great pitcher before he hurt his arm in the days when surgery couldn't yet fix those things. He pitched six seasons with the Phillies, lived through the '64 collapse, and when his playing career ended stayed in the organization as a member of the player-development staff.

It was in this role that Green helped develop that great core of players that arrived at Veterans Stadium in the 1970s and blossomed into the organization's first World Series championship team in 1980.

From Schmidt and Carlton to Bowa, Maddox, Luzinski and Boone, the Phils had a great collection of talent in those days. But they were too often the bridesmaid and never had their day in the sun.

Late in the 1979 season, general manager Paul Owens began to worry that the clock was ticking on this collection of talent. Those Phillies were just a little too country club, he believed, to get over the hump. Owens decided they needed some old-school toughness, so he summoned Green from his player-development role and installed him as manager.

Green immediately took some sandpaper to those shiny, big egos.

And if they didn't like it, too bad.

Predictably, they hated him at first.

Hated him.

Green thought nothing of ripping a player face to face, or in the newspaper, if he sensed they needed it.

And the players thought nothing of ripping him back.

But on the night Tug McGraw threw that pitch past Willie Wilson at the Vet, they all loved him.

Larry Bowa, who had been a vocal critic of Green during that season, approached the skipper in the joyous clubhouse after the final game. With tears in his eyes and a champagne bottle in his hand, Bowa hugged Green.

"We couldn't have done it without you," the shortstop told the manager.

. . .

Controversy followed Green. That tends to happen to those who are loud, opinionated and prone to speak their mind. A few years after spraying champagne and hugging Paul Owens in the winning clubhouse -- what an awesome picture that is! -- Green got sideways with a new Phillies management group. He moved on to run the Chicago Cubs and in the process pulled one over on his old team and managed to take an infielder named Ryne Sandberg with him. Sandberg, a throw-in in the trade, blossomed into a Hall of Famer.

Eventually Green moved on from Chicago. He managed the Yankees and the Mets and never took an ounce of crap from anyone along the way.

But he was always a Phillie. In fact, 46 of his 62 years in pro ball were with the Phils.

He ended up back with the club in 1998 as a front office adviser. He remained outspoken, clashing with Scott Rolen and Charlie Manuel. But one of the things about Dallas was that he spoke his mind, said what he had to say, and the next day it was over. After he and Manuel had clashed over Manuel's managing style, the two men talked out their differences. Green admitted that he was wrong, that he saw the merits of Manuel's managerial style, and a wonderful friendship developed between the only two men to lead the Phillies to a World Series championship.

Green was never afraid to show his emotions and we saw a lot of them over the years, some we wished we never had to see.

All of our hearts bled for him and his family in January 2011 when his precious, little granddaughter, 9-year-old Christina, was killed in the shooting that seriously injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona.

Five weeks later, Dallas was on the field at Carpenter Complex for the first day of spring training. I recall pitcher J.C. Romero breaking free from a drill, sprinting over to Dallas and saying, "Mr. Green, I'm so sorry." A couple of days later, Dallas decided that he would talk about the tragedy and how his family was doing. I remember a couple of reporters from New York, guys that Dallas had locked horns with over the years, showed up because they wanted to pay their respects to the great baseball man. On that day, with tears welling in his eyes, Dallas talked about his precious, little granddaughter. Coming to spring training helped, he said, because, "I don't see a little girl with a hole in her chest."

. . .

It was clear that Dallas wasn't doing well last spring training. He was in Clearwater, but going to dialysis three days a week. He talked about the possibility of getting a kidney transplant. But he didn't want any sympathy. He just wanted to feel better and help out around the team that he loved so much.

But you knew he wasn't right. He wasn't at the ballpark much last season. I remember calling him late last summer and getting a little worried because the booming voice was soft and hushed. But I also remember the Thursday before Thanksgiving. It was crazy warm that day. I called Dallas and was thrilled to hear the old boom back in his voice. I told him I wanted to come by for a visit.

"Bring your dog," he barked.

I pulled up to his home and immediately noticed a peacock roaming the property. Needless to say, Hazel stayed in the truck. I didn't want to feel the wrath of Big D if something went wrong.

For the next hour, I sat with Dallas in his big, old farmhouse. We talked about a lot of things, but mostly baseball, the rise of the '80 team, the clashes, the triumphs, working for George Steinbrenner. Dallas was feeling good that day and was especially enthused because Andy MacPhail, the Phillies club president, had called the day before to make sure he'd be in spring training.

"I'm tickled you came down," Dallas said as I left that day. "See you in Clearwater."

Well, Big D, it was me that was tickled that day. It was magic talking to you, magic knowing you. You were missed in Clearwater this year. And you'll never be forgotten. By anyone. You were one of a kind, a great baseball man and a Phillies legend.

Nationals 2, Phillies 0: Max Scherzer outduels Jake Arrieta as Phillies lose nightcap of doubleheader

Nationals 2, Phillies 0: Max Scherzer outduels Jake Arrieta as Phillies lose nightcap of doubleheader

Updated: 11:19 p.m.

BOX SCORE 

Two runs in 18 innings didn’t cut it for the Phillies Wednesday in Washington, D.C. 

The Phils fell to the Nationals in the second game of their doubleheader, 2-0. They lost in the afternoon, 6-2 (see observations)

Brian Dozier crushed a 3-2 sinker from Jake Arrieta that split the plate over the left-field wall in the second inning to give the Nationals the lead. The only other hit Arrieta allowed in his six innings was a fourth-inning single by Adam Eaton.

Victor Robles added an insurance run in the eighth inning with a homer off Pat Neshek.

Max Scherzer outdueled Arrieta in a contest between former Cy Young Award winners, throwing seven scoreless innings and recording 10 strikeouts.

The Phillies are 39-34, four games behind the Braves in the NL East. 

Quite a sight 

Scherzer started despite breaking his nose in batting practice Tuesday, when he bunted a foul ball against his face.

He took the mound looking like he’d already been through a fight or two, with a dark bruise encircling his right eye. 

Sluggish start

Jean Segura led off with a single that could have been a double had he run hard out of the box. Juan Soto dove and failed to catch Segura’s bloop to shallow left field, but Segura settled for a single despite the ball ending up behind Soto. Segura was stranded on third base when Scherzer struck out Rhys Hoskins looking on a 3-2 breaking ball to end the inning.

It was a missed opportunity for the Phillies’ offense against Scherzer, who’s allowed 10 first-inning runs in 16 starts this season and pitched like the three-time Cy Young Award winner he is once he escaped the early trouble. 

Arrieta’s night 

Outside of his lapse to Dozier, Arrieta was excellent. 

He induced just one swinging strike on 48 sinkers but spotted the pitch well down in the zone. Ten of Arrieta’s 18 outs came via the ground ball. 

Manager Gabe Kapler elected to pinch-hit for Arrieta in the top of the seventh, sending J.T. Realmuto to the plate with two outs and Cesar Hernandez on second base. Realmuto struck out swinging.

Tip of the cap 

Like Arrieta, Scherzer pitched very, very well. His electric stuff helped him power through the Phillies’ best threat of the night.

He worked around Hernandez’s leadoff double in the seventh by getting Brad Miller to swing through a 97.5 mph, 3-2 fastball, striking out Andrew Knapp on a 96.7 fastball and baffling Realmuto with a wipeout slider on his 117th and final pitch of the night. 

A nightmare return

Neshek's first game back from the injured list couldn't have gone much worse. After serving up a one-out home run to Robles, Neshek got Kurt Suzuki to fly out to left field. He then grimaced following a 1-0 sinker to Trea Turner that missed outside. Neshek left the game with a limp.

Kapler told reporters after the game that Neshek has a left hamstring strain and will "likely" go on the IL again.

Seeing the ball well … just not hitting it 

Bryce Harper was hitless in the doubleheader, though he did walk four times. He saw 16 pitches in three plate appearances against Scherzer. 

Harper’s struggles against the fastball continued as he swung through or fouled off four heaters in the heart of the zone. 

Still no sign of Franco 

Maikel Franco started neither game of the doubleheader. Scott Kingery played third base in the afternoon, Miller in the nightcap. In June, Franco is hitting .143 (4 for 28). His last multi-hit game was on May 13, and it appears he’s no longer a regular option for Kapler.

Up next

The Phillies wrap up their series against the Nationals Thursday night (7:05 p.m./NBCSP).

They begin a seven-game homestand Friday with the first matchup of a three-game set vs. the last-place Marlins. 

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Nationals 6, Phillies 2: Bats go silent in first game of doubleheader

Nationals 6, Phillies 2: Bats go silent in first game of doubleheader

BOX SCORE

After two straight nights of rainouts, the Phillies were well-rested heading into the first game of a doubleheader against the Nationals. 

Didn’t help. They got stuck in the mud. 

The Phillies lost 6-2 this afternoon and will now try to even the series at a game apiece in a few hours when they send Jake Arrieta to the mound. 

Zach Eflin gave the Phillies six innings and gave up just two earned runs, but the bats didn’t back him up again. Eflin now has a 6-7 record on the season and the Phillies have scored a total of 11 runs (an average of just 1.57 runs per game) in his seven losses. 

Any chance of a Phillies’ comeback was ruined in the bottom of the eighth inning, when the Nationals added another three insurance runs against Cole Irvin. First, Brian Dozier hit a two-run shot and then Gerardo Parra added a solo homer. The Phils added a run in the top of the ninth, but too little, too late. 

Oh well. Time to get ready for tonight’s game in just a few hours. 

At least he hustles

In the top of the sixth inning, Bryce Harper tried to generate a little offense after a walk to lead off the inning. He tried to make it to third on a Scott Kingery single but was gunned out by Parra at third base for the first out of the inning. 

After Harper was thrown out, Rhys Hoskins singled. At worst, the Phillies would have had bases loaded, no outs for J.T. Realmuto. Instead, Realmuto grounded into a fielder’s choice and Sean Rodriguez grounded out to end the top of the frame. 

The Phillies lost their chance to tie the ballgame or take a lead and Washington added a run in the bottom of the inning. 

Fit for a King(ery)

Scott Kingery stayed hot from the plate on Wednesday. He homered on a 1-2 count in the top of the first inning for his ninth bomb of the season. He came into the day batting .344 and had another multi-hit game, his third in four games. 

Kingery did have a throwing error in the first inning that led to the unearned run the Nats scored in the bottom of the first inning. 

Eflin’s day  

Eflin pitched well again today, but the Phillies just didn’t give him enough support, which has been all too common this season. He went 6 innings, gave up 3 runs (2 earned) on 5 hits, with 3 walks and 7 Ks. He’s gotten losses in each of his last two starts after giving up just two earned runs in each. 

Up next 

After rainouts for a couple straight days, the Phillies have another game tonight with first pitch in Washington at 7:05 p.m. Jake Arrieta (6-5, 4.31 ERA) will take the mound for the Phillies in the second game. He’ll be opposed by Max Scherzer (5-5, 2.81), who actually broke his nose during a freak batting incident yesterday.

After today, the Phillies are scheduled to have one more game in Washington (a 7:05 start time) on Thursday, before getting out of town and hopefully away from soggy weather. They’ll start a three-game home series against the Marlins on Friday and then welcome the Mets to town for four starting Monday. 

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