As he had 18 times before, Bobby Wine watched the Philadelphia Phillies on Opening Day. Only this year, Wine, one of the most successful managers who never managed, wasn't sitting with guys named Callison and Bunning, Schmidt and Carlton. Last week, Wine sat in the living room of his Norristown, Pa. home with his wife, Fran, a neighbor, a reporter and two dogs and watched impassively as the Phillies, his old employer, beat his new team, the Atlanta Braves, 5-0.
Wine, who is the Braves' advance scout, ended his career as a Phillie player (1960-68) and coach (1972-83) last October after owner Bill Giles and manager Paul Owens decided to bring Class AAA manager John Felske to Philadelphia and groom him to replace Owens next season. It was the fourth time Wine had been passed over, even though he made most of Philadelphia's strategic decisions in the pennant-winning years of 1980 and '83 when first Dallas Green and then Paul Owens left the G.M.'s office for the dugout. Despite Wine's behind-the-scenes success, Giles said last week, "I never considered him to be a managerial candidate, and I told him so a few years ago. I didn't feel he would be a good manager and neither did Paul."
Owens became convinced that Wine should be fired after the Phillies lost the '83 Series in five games to the Orioles. According to Owens, Wine disdained the Phils' own extensive scouting reports in planning how to play Baltimore. "All our scouts' hard work hadn't been put to its best use," Owens says. "He just wasn't cooperating with everybody else."
The dismissal shocked Wine, who says, "When they allowed me to run the club, no one interfered with me. Then after we won the pennant in L.A., Bill Giles walked past me and said, 'Nice going, genius.' Everything went fine in the World Series, except that we didn't hit. By that token, we should fire the hitting coach. I guess they just didn't know what to do with me, and they weren't going to give me the job, so they let me go to get me out of the way."
April 16, 1984
For the Braves, Wine will keep charts on opposing players that show what type of pitch they were thrown and where they hit it, while also evaluating their other skills. Wine has been keeping such charts since he became a coach and they proved accurate in the Braves' opening loss. When Len Barker struck out Phillie first baseman Len Matuszek with an outside fastball in the top of the third, Wine read aloud, "Will chase high fastball out over strike zone."
Wine was verbally nimble when talking about his old and new teams, using "we" and "us" as the situation demanded, but his wife caught herself rooting for Philly's Von Hayes as he beat a throw to the plate in the sixth inning. "It sure is strange rooting for the other team," she says. "I can't handle going by that Vet. It's ours. It really chokes me up."
According to statistician Bill James, the Expos are making a mistake in putting Pete Rose, who'll be 43 this week, at the top of their batting order and dropping Tim Raines, 24, from first to third. Although James believes Rose is the greatest leadoff hitter of all time, he calls him a "terrible" player now and argues that Raines's 1983 season was the greatest any National League leadoff man ever had.
In 1983, Rose's on-base percentage for Philadelphia was .316, compared with Raines's .393. Rose reached scoring position under his own power 24 times (with 14 doubles, 3 triples, no homers and 7 steals of second base), while Raines did it 137 times (32, 8, 11, 86). Finally, while Rose scored 52 runs, Raines scored 133, setting a National League record, James says, by accounting for 19.6% of the Expos' team total.
Montreal manager Bill Virdon made the change because he believes Rose will get on base more frequently this year than he did in '83 and he wants to take advantage of Raines's greater run-producing ability. James anticipates, however, that Raines will soon return to the leadoff position and suggests that Rose "should bat eighth."
The decision to open the season with a "warm-weather schedule" proved sound. Opening Day games were held at all five California parks and in the three domed stadiums. The schedule makers replaced 1983 opening hosts Boston, the Cubs (whose '83 opener was rained out), the Mets and St. Louis with Kansas City, Atlanta, Los Angeles and San' Diego. Ironically, the Royals-Yankees game was '84's only Opening Day rainout, while New York City basked in sunny 60° weather. The nine outdoor openers were played in an average temperature of 63°, four degrees higher than in '83.
Reds president Bob Howsam's decision to lower the Riverfront Stadium outfield fence from 12 to eight feet was an instant success on Opening Day. Centerfielder Eddie Milner and shortstop Dave Concepcion both hit homers that just cleared the new fence in Cincinnati's 8-1 defeat of New York. But Mets rightfielder Darryl Strawberry's leaping grab to steal a second home run from Milner exhibited the thinking behind the change, according to Cincinnati publicity boss Jim Ferguson, who suggested it. "The most exciting plays I saw last year were outfielders stealing home runs," he said. "You've got that two or three seconds where you can't tell if the guy caught the ball or not."
Rookie shortstops Joaquin Gutierrez of Boston and Bobby Meacham of the Yankees both lost games with throwing errors, but they took different routes from there. Gutierrez appeared in three more games and didn't make an error. Meacham, however, was dispatched to the Yanks' Class AA Nashville team the morning after his mistake, on the orders of owner George Steinbrenner, and to the consternation of manager Yogi Berra and Meacham's teammates. About the only person who wasn't upset, in fact, was Meacham, who discussed the change the next morning in a phone conversation with the Boss himself. "I was surprised he called," said Meacham. "He doesn't have to answer to me. Some people were worried I'd be discouraged, but that's not me. Mr. Steinbrenner said he wants me to play every day."
Royals pitcher Larry Gura, who beat New York 15-4 last week, has this plan to deal with a heckler: "I want to find out where he works. I'll go there, and if he drops a pencil I'll throw a beer at him, yell obscenities and throw batteries."
Only after the Giants had thoroughly checked out the drug-abuse rumors concerning outfielder Dusty Baker did they sign him to a two-year contract for nearly $1.4 million. "We asked a lot of questions about these rumors," Giants owner Bob Lurie says, "and they didn't prove out. We went to the commissioner's office and talked [to its investigators] and got assurances that Dusty isn't on their list."
Giants fans greeted Baker with an extended standing ovation on Opening Day. "I didn't know what to expect," the former Dodger said, "because Candlestick Park hasn't been the friendliest park I've played in. I've never had a reception like that in my life."
Texas catcher Ned Yost supposedly has' corrected his throwing flaw—he threw out only 16 of 101 base stealers in four seasons with Milwaukee—but the early results don't prove it. In two games last week the Indians were successful on eight of nine stolen-base attempts against Yost, including six in Thursday's 7-3 win. That tied a Ranger club record for most steals allowed in a game. In spring training, Texas bullpen coach Glenn Ezell worked with the 28-year-old Yost, whom Texas got from Milwaukee in exchange for Jim Sundberg, and changed his footwork. Yost's throws were stronger and more accurate last month, but he nailed only two of 15 runners in exhibition games. However, manager Doug Rader blamed Cleveland's thefts on his pitchers, not Yost, calling Thursday's debacle "the worst display of holding runners I've ever seen." The Indians may be tough on everyone in '84; they stole six more bases off Kansas City's Don Slaught in a 2-0 win on Friday night, and finished the week with 15 steals (in 18 attempts) in four games.
The eight-year vigil of Toledo's "Semi-Anonymous Len Matuszek Fan Club," a group of 50 or 60 friends and relatives from Matuszek's hometown, ended happily Friday night when its hero, the Phillies' first baseman, played in Cincinnati. Though Matuszek had been called up to the Phils in each of the last three Septembers, he had never appeared in Cincinnati and, in fact, didn't start on Friday. But after coming off the bench he thrilled his fans by going 2 for 2 with an RBI in Philadelphia's 8-4 victory.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
JACK MORRIS: Relying mainly on his split-fingered fastball, the Detroit righthander no-hit Chicago 4-0. Morris tanned eight and walked six, including three in the fourth inning. A double play and a strikeout got him out of that jam, and two fine plays by first baseman Dave Bergman, a seventh-inning sub, saved the no-hitter. Said Morris, "I hope they don't expect me to do this all the time."
BALL PARK FIGURES
Here are the number of rookies on each team's 25-man roster and in its Opening Day lineup:
American League (43/8): Baltimore (0/0), Boston (2/0), California (5/2), Chicago (1/0), Cleveland (5/2), Detroit (2/0), Kansas City (7/1), Milwaukee (4/1), Minnesota (4/1), New York (3/0), Oakland (1/0), Seattle (2/0), Texas (3/1), Toronto (4/0).
National League (24/5): Atlanta (4/0), Chicago (1/0), Cincinnati (1/0), Houston (1/0), Los Angeles (2/1), Montreal (2/1), New York (4/0), Philadelphia (1/1), Pittsburgh (2/1), St. Louis (2/0), San Diego (1/1), San Francisco (3/0).
"He looks younger than I do," Oriole manager Joe Altobelli, 51, said of President Ronald Reagan, 73, who threw out the first ball on Opening Day in Baltimore, "but he's got an easier job."