"CHICKENMAN! He's everywhere. He's everywhere!" Like a line from the old radio script, San Diego's (5-1) own Chicken Man was everywhere. Dressed as the KGB Chicken, 24-year-old Ted Giannoulas, a local radio-station employee, has been a feature at Padre home games for several years. He dances on top of dugouts, mimics coaches' signals and helps the grounds crew. Last week the Chicken took flight to the East Coast when he went on the road with the Padres. Landing in Shea Stadium, he feigned an attack on a woman, pretended to eat a kid's hat, waved to airplanes and did a spectacular imitation of Willie Montanez' home-run trot. After Chicken's first appearance, the Padres won three one-run games in New York and Montreal behind superb pitching. Subbing for Rollie Fingers, who went home for the birth of his new son, Mickey Lolich and Mark Lee pitched six innings of hitless relief. Eric Rasmussen won twice and the 17-year veteran Gaylord Perry won No. 260, most among active pitchers. As a result, San Diego had a 64-59 record. compared to 54-71 at this point a year ago.
Reggie Smith hit four home runs early in the week, including a grand slam that beat the Phillies 5-2, as the Dodgers (4-2) swept a three-game series from stumbling Philadelphia and moved ahead of the Giants into first. Steve Garvey helped them stay there by driving in four runs to beat New York 7-3.
The Giants (3-3) and the Reds (3-4) were faltering. After Montreal's Woodie Fryman one-hit the Giants and Vida Blue, San Francisco Manager Joe Altobelli told his young players that it was possible they might never have another chance like this one, so why not seize the opportunity. The Giants then won two straight, one of them on Mike Ivie's fourth pinch homer of the season. "Poison's a worrier," Willie McCovey said of Ivie. "Coming off the bencb, he doesn't have time."
August 27, 1978
Red Manager Sparky Anderson was plenty worried. Uncharacteristically, he dressed quickly and left the clubhouse without a word after one defeat and locked the clubhouse door after another. He also reversed his usual road strategy by bunting for a tie in the ninth innning. The move worked as the Reds won in the 10th on Dan Driessen's homer. On the whole, the Reds' bats were silent, especially for Tom Seaver, who was shut out 2-0 by the Cubs. In 25 of his 27 starts, Seaver's teammates have produced an average of just 2.56 runs—nothing that the ex-Met isn't used to.
Atlanta (2-5) and Houston (3-5) lost more ground. The Braves led the Cubs 7-0 in one game but lost it 12-8. A bright spot was Phil Niekro's 9-0 win over Chicago. The same day, Niekro's brother Joe, who pitches for Houston, stopped the Cardinals 4-2. Unfortunately, the Astros were just about out of hitting. Bob Watson, who had fueled the Astros' attack since Cesar Cedeno was lost for the season in June, suffered a pulled hamstring and will be sidelined for three weeks.
LA 72-51 SF 71-52 CIN 70-53 SD 64-59 ATL 56-66 HOUS 56-66
Some of their big guns boomed, and the Cubs (4-3) moved back into the race. Dave Kingman hit .346 with four homers and nine RBIs. and Rick Reuschel won twice. But the most consistent Cub, Reliever Bruce Sutter, was slumping. In a 9-7 loss to Cincinnati, he gave up a run-scoring single to Joe Morgan, a game-tying two-run homer to Ken Griffey and three more runs in the 10th.
Philadelphia (1-5) played the losers' role perfectly. The Phillies averaged 3.2 runs per game and Manager Danny Ozark made three moves that backfired. Ozark's worst maneuver was pitching to the Dodgers' hot-hitting Reggie Smith with a man on third and first base open. Smith hit a sacrifice fly and the Phillies lost 5-4. Regarding his players, Ozark said, "I'd like to take the brains out of their heads when they bat so they can't think."
Pittsburgh took six of seven from the Reds and Astros, but Manager Chuck Tanner cast a pallor over the happy home stand by calling Joe West "the worst, most incompetent umpire ever to wear the blue." West had called a balk on Bert Blyleven. Tanner didn't object to that—he hadn't even seen the balk—but he howled when West gave Blyleven a quick heave-ho for disputing the call.
Montreal's (2-4) starting eight hit. 121 with men in scoring position. "My wife met a French-Canadian comedian the other night," said Manager Dick Williams. "He said I should open the sports page and stand on it, because I have a good team on paper."
After 95 consecutive days in last place, St. Louis (4-3) breathed the heady air of fifth place. Pete Vuckovich lifted the Cardinals out of the cellar by allowing just two runs in two games, winning twice and lowering his league-leading ERA to 2.18. New York (2-4) thoroughly enjoyed the visit of San Diego's KGB Chicken. "He's my hero," said Pitcher Jerry Koosman. "I think there should be more of that in baseball. I think the Mets should have a duck." It would be appropriate, too, because the Mets were drowning in last place.
PHIL 64-55 CHI 62-59 PITT 58-62 MONT 58-65 ST.L 51-72 NY 50-72
"I know exactly how they felt," said George Brett of Kansas City (3-5). He was envisioning the fans in California (3-3). "They were going crazy when the score of our first game [a 5-1 loss to Minnesota that dropped the Royals into a first-place tie with the Angels] was posted. And they were giving standing ovations when zeros began showing up in our second game. But when that big '4' went up, the whole stadium was one big groan." Brett was largely responsible for the 4, slugging a three-run homer that powered K.C. to an 11-5 win.
Another voluble Royal was Manager Whitey Herzog. After the Twins hit K.C. Pitcher Doug Bird for—consecutively—a single, double, triple and home run, three of which came on two-strike counts, Herzog said, "Bird's been hurt all his life after getting two strikes on the batter." Turning his venom on Minnesota Manager Gene Mauch, who had pooh-poohed the Mad Hungarian act of K.C. Reliever Al Hrabosky, Herzog fumed, "Gene Mauch is a genius. That's why he's won all those pennants." Mauch hasn't won a pennant in his 18 years as a major league manager, but he did have the sense to unleash rookie Pitchers Roger Erickson and Barry Serum when Dave Goltz and Mike Marshall were ailing. The kids each won two complete-game victories as Minnesota went 7-2.
Chicago (4-3) was windy, indeed. Wilbur Wood, whose 10 wins led the staff, was upset when he was sent to the bullpen so that rookie Ross Baumgarten could be used in the rotation, and Manager Larry Doby was furious when the umpires reversed a decision and gave Detroit's Tim Corcoran another chance to bat. Noticing shoe polish on the ball, the umpires decided it had bounced off Corcoran's foot before rolling fair. "I've never seen brown polish on a black shoe," Doby said. "I saw nothing but dirt on the ball."
There was a bomb scare during one Texas (5-3) game against the White Sox. It developed that the bomb was actually a package of golf balls left for Umpire Larry Barnett. The Rangers won 4-3 as Bobby Bonds had three hits against his former teammates. Then Jon Matlack beat the White Sox 1-0. Finally, there was the Great Locker Robbery. Arriving in Arlington, ex-Ranger Claudell Washington discovered that two gloves, three pairs of shoes, some underwear and a bottle of cologne were missing from his locker. It turned out that Texas clubhouse man Joe Macko was trying to get even for the $158 he claimed Washington owed him. "After Washington got to the park, he sent one of the clubhouse kids to tell me we're even now," Macko said. "But I sent the kid back with the message that we aren't close. I got everything in his locker and I'll do it again next season until I get my $158 worth." The next day White Sox General Manager Roland Hemond paid Macko the $158 and promised he would take it out of Washington's paycheck. Unruffled, Washington singled, doubled and tripled as the White Sox jolted the Rangers 6-2
Seattle was not only playing good baseball (3-2), but also making interesting conversation. After stealing a team-record three bases in a 4-1 win over California, Julio Cruz said, "My body is all tore up. I guess when I get married the lady gonna say, 'What's the matter with you? You always in a fight or something?' "
Oakland (1-5) ended a seven-game losing streak by beating Boston 8-4 as newly acquired Rico Carty hit a home run. Oddly, Oakland seemed the most placid team in a warring division. "Damn, it's relaxing out here," said Reggie Jackson of the Yankees.
KC 66-55 CAL 68-57 TEX 60-60 OAK 62-63 MINN 56-67 CHI 51-70 SEA 46-77
Leading 5-3 in the seventh. New York (4-2) was rained out after a 36-minute delay in Baltimore. The score automatically reverted to the previous completed inning, and suddenly the Yankees were 3-0 losers—not 5-3 winners. Predictably, they were furious. "The little shrimp [Oriole Manager Earl Weaver] has these umpires intimidated," said Lou Piniella, speaking at the top of his lungs so that the umpires in the adjoining room could hear. "Weaver shows up the bums all day, then they don't nail him to the wall when they have the chance." The next night the Yankee-Oriole game was delayed by a 23-minute power failure at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium, but the lights came back on. Mickey Rivers scored one run and drove in another, and Graig Nettles hit a two-run homer as New York won 4-1. The Yankees also were generous winners. Piniella called a fielding play that Baltimore Shortstop Mark Belanger made on his grounder "the greatest I've ever seen." Smiling from coast to coast, the Yankees took two more in Oakland and a rare road win over Seattle, where they had won only two in their previous eight attempts.
Milwaukee (6-2) began the week in despair, losing to the Red Sox 4-3 in 10 innings—the Brewers' 15th loss in 20 games. Eleven games behind Boston, the Brewers had to convince themselves they weren't out of the race. A visit by Toronto was the perfect elixir. Jerry Augustine stopped the Blue Jays 9-1, and Mike Caldwell and Ed Rodriguez cleaned up 8-1 and 3-2 in a doubleheader. Crowed Paul Molitor, who won the second game of the doubleheader with a two-run single, "Playing these guys is like facing Bob Uecker in batting practice." All the Blue Jays (1-6) had to crow about was Bob Bailor, who went 4 for 5 and scored the winning run from second base on a forceout as Toronto beat the Royals 3-2 in 10 innings.
With Carl Yastrzemski and Fred Lynn sidelined for varying periods, the Boston (4-3) attack leaned heavily on Jim Rice, who hit .455 with two homers and seven RBIs.
Baltimore (2-4) had 11 hits against California but Jim Palmer lost 4-3 on a base-running mistake by Rick Dempsey and some defensive lapses by his outfielders. The Orioles are 19-17 since the All-Star break. Detroit (5-2) has a 25-11 record over the same period. Last week's heroes were Jack Billing-ham and Steve Kemp. Supposedly washed up when he reported from Cincinnati at the start of the season, Billingham won his 13th game in 18 decisions as a Tiger, whipping Cleveland 2-0. Booed one night when he booted away a game with two errors, Kemp came back two days later to drive in six runs.
The Indians (1-7) could not even come up with a good joke. "Is that the right time?" Manager Jeff Torborg asked a reporter. "Ten-oh-three," the writer said. "Time flies when you're having fun," Torborg said. Nobody laughed.
BOS 77-45 NY 69-52 MIL 68-53 DET 67-53 BALT 64-57 CLEV 53-68 TOR 46-76
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Dave Parker: The Pirate rightfielder ripped Cincinnati pitchers for two homers and five RBIs in a 13-2 mauling. With a 10-for-30 week, four homers and 14 RBIs, he now has 23 home runs, 80 RBIs and is hitting .304.