So are Clemente's injuries. Having got 'em, he flaunts 'em—until, of course, somebody accuses him of being a hypochondriac. He has a favorite St. Louis chiropractic clinic now and carries a chart showing where chiropractors trained by that clinic can be found all over the country. Also, he has an interesting new circulatory theory. Clemente has been out of action lately as a result of a pitch that hit his wrist, and last Saturday he was telling Tony Bartirome, the team trainer, that the bad blood seemed at last to have left the painfully bruised and swollen area: "I felt a pain in my stomach, like poison there, you know? I think that was the blood running down out of my wrist."
However much trouble his own vertebrae may give him, Clemente is part of the backbone of the club, with 29-year-old Willie Stargell, who has been sitting out some games but still leads the team in home runs and RBIs, and 33-year-old Bill Mazeroski. Maz is hitting .226 as compared to .323 for his 22-year-old backup man Cash. But as Cash himself says, "When Maz can play, he's got to be in there, I know that."
In Cincinnati last week Mazeroski, covering first on a bunt play, saved a game by diving all the way into the coaching box to stop a wild throw. "He's got some kind of instinct that regular people don't have," says Red Second Baseman Tommy Helms. "He's always been my hero."
Mazeroski has long been especially admired among second basemen for his mastery of the double-play pivot. The secret is, he says, "I plant my right foot before I catch the ball. It saves a half-step. Now I've taught it to Helms and Joe Morgan in Houston, and Cash, but it used to be that I was the only second baseman who did it."
Mazeroski is less restrained about tobacco-chewing on artificial turf than his manager is. "I don't spit on it," says Murtaugh. "It stains it. I look for a spot of dirt. There's plenty of spots to spit in."
"It don't hurt it," says Mazeroski.
The Pirates have not always been on top of their game this year. For some time they were fourth in the division. On the bases they once suffered a double play on two straight singles (both Alou and Hebner were trapped off base on the second single) and once failed to score, with none out, on two hits and two Dodger throwing errors.
In the field, all this happened during one loss to the Reds: Clemente fell down chasing a two-out drive to let in two runs, Stargell dropped one fly ball twice, Alou caught a liner with his thigh for another run, and a wild pitch by Joe Gibbon let in two runs when the batter pointed the wrong way as the friendly Sanguillen tried to locate the ball.
"We've gone through the cycle now," said Murtaugh earlier in the season. "Lousy hitting, lousy fielding, lousy pitching. Hitting is so bad I don't know who to sit down." As the year has worn on, though, the hitting has blossomed, with solid young line-drivers appearing all over the lineup. The pitching has improved in less predictable ways.
For instance, the Pirates have a reliever, Orlando Pena, 35, who started the season as Kansas City's batting-practice pitcher. "Clemente saw me and said, 'What you doin'?' I said I didn't want to go down to Omaha so I'm pitching batting practice and learning how to scout. He told the Pirates they ought to pick me up, so they did."