To Have and Have Not a Bullpen

Excuse the schmaltz, but it’s my anniversary this week…

Far from the distant sounds of organ music and crunched peanut shells, I held Sheila in my arms. The horrors of Bill Campbell had subsided for the time being, but my body was still bruised, my brain spent. Sheila, having endured no such pain with her Pirates on the triumphant end of another massacre, sympathized but could not share my grief.

“What will become of us darling?” she asked, “If your team is eliminated before mine?”

“Oh, must we talk of this again? I’ll evaporate, like a pussy willow before a child’s breath, and will be heard of no more.”

“Then I want the Bucs to be eliminated first, or at least on the same day!”

“I’m afraid baseball isn’t like that, my love. It has been proven since time immemorial, that when it comes to predicting or affecting the game’s outcomes, no one knows diddly crap.”

“Tell me that isn’t true, Carlton! Tell me there’s a season to everything, and a time to every purpose under Heaven.”

“Where the hell’d you hear that?”

“Never mind. Just put today’s game behind you. There’s still the whole month of September coming. You can get hot again. I know it!”

“I need at least ten minutes for that. And I’m awful sorry, sweetheart, but today’s game was a demoralizing puddle of vomit. A 7-2 lead on K.C. going to the 9th with Soup Campbell pitching and they score five runs on a bunch of bleeders and walks? Followed by six more of the same in the 11th topped by a pinch-hit 3-run homer by Joe Zdeb? YOU tell me how to recover from that! Go ahead, tell me!”

“Oh Carlton, I hate it so when you lose your emotional equilibrium.”

“Well, then I suppose you should get used to it. Because right now with our hitting cooled off, our rotation is pitching us off a cliff!”

Her dry but tender fingers came up from below the sheets and rubbed the back of my neck, for the moment easing my mental scars.

“Forgive me, darling…for kicking the Dodgers’ butts again on one of your worst days. I hope you realize it had nothing to do with us.”

Suddenly Friendly Fred popped up from the bus row in front of us, wearing his star-shaped sleeping sunglasses.

“Hey yo! Romeo and Jive-Lady! Shut the hell up!”

K.C. 000 200 005 06 – 13 16 1
BOS 010 330 000 00 – 7 14 1

W-Littell L-Campbell HRS: Mayberry, Zdeb GWRBI-Mayberry
Tiant in his last three starts: 16 IP, 32 H, 21 ER

The Buzz Line

at YANKEES 8-14-0, TWINS 5-13-0
Fred has a right to be all cocky after this, almost the mirror image of the Boston game. Zahn and the Twins are up 5-1 when the Yanks score six in the 5th, capped by a Nettles grand slam off reliever Gary Serum, and win going away despite another bad Mike Torrez game. In a real twist, Lyle gets the save with three innings of 1-hit relief.

at INDIANS 8-13-1, RANGERS 5-5-0
Well, this Texas first-place stay lasts about a day. Andre Thornton crushes homers no. 29 and 30 off Dock Ellis, and Don Hood gets a CG win to put the Royals back on top by a hair.

at ORIOLES 5-12-0, WHITE SOX 4-9-3 (10 innings)
Your basic Jim Palmer nightmare (zero run support and untimely homers given up to Zisk, Essian, and Downing) turns out just fine when the wretched Chicago defense helps the Birds tie it in the 9th. Murray, Maddox , and May then fill the bases with singles off LaGrow in extras, before Rick Dempsey wins it with another one.

at PIRATES 10-16-1, DODGERS 1-8-0
Dodger skipper Tommy Lar-sorda hires a psychic consultant to try some new lineups, but the mind-0-gram unfortunately doesn’t arrive in the clubhouse before this tragedy is played. Don Sutton, loser of seven of his last nine decisions, has apparently caught Steve Blass disease. Not-too-dandy-Don is knocked out in the 3rd inning, after giving up two homers to Bill Robinson and one each to Parker and Duffy Dyer. Pittsburgh’s lead is up to a game and a half because…

CUBS 4-12-0, at PHILLIES 1-6-0
Newly acquired Dave Roberts (the pitcher) does it again, hoodwinking the Phils in their own yeard as the Cubs score single runs off Lonborg in the first three innings, and Sutter and Moore throw almost four innings of shutout relief. The Cubbies were 3-15 vs. Philly going in. Just sayin’.

CARDS 11-10-1, at EXPOS 4-7-3
Simmons gets hit by a Bahnsen pitch in the first and knocked out for three games, but helps fuel St. Louis’ 7-run rally and two-out grand slam by Ken Reitz. Forsch has no trouble at all, as Montreal simply cannot beat this team, 4-15 now against them with three to play. Meanwhile, the Cards have tied the Dodgers for fourth.

ASTROS 5-10-0, at REDS 2-9-1
So the Dodgers leave town and Cincy goes back to doing nothing, even with their full lineup back, against the twirling mastery of Bo McLaughlin. For what it isn’t worth, George Foster has become the Iceman. Still stuck at 49 dingers, in his last seven games he has zero homers and just two RBIs. The Reds have lost five of them.

American League through Friday, August 22

Kansas City 70 56 .556
Texas 69 56 .552 0.5
Boston 66 56 .541 2
New York 66 57 .537 2.5
Baltimore 63 62 .504 6.5
Cleveland 56 69 .448 13.5
Minnesota 53 70 .431 15.5
Chicago 53 70 .431 15.5

National League through Friday, August 22

Pittsburgh 73 52 .584
Philadelphia 70 52 .574 1.5
Cincinnati 67 56 .545 5
Los Angeles 65 57 .533 6.5
St. Louis 66 58 .532 6.5
Houston 55 69 .444 17.5
Montreal 51 72 .415 21
Chicago 46 77 .374 26

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