Wise came from Philadelphia to St. Louis last year in a trade for Steve Carlton in what may have been the strangest barter in baseball history. Busch was angry with Carlton for demanding a salary increase to about $65,000. The Phillies were upset because Wise was demanding around the same amount from them. And so they switched pitchers—and without argument gave the new pitcher what they had refused to give to the old. Then the St. Louis writers said the Cards had made a bad deal; the Philadelphia writers said the Phillies made a bad deal. The whole thing was absurd.
"That's all I heard last season; how do you feel about being traded for Carlton?" said Wise, grinning. "And I'm sure that's all he heard. There's enough pressure in this game without being compared to someone else all season. Instead of worrying about one club, you find yourself worrying about two. The one you're pitching against and his. I knew when he was pitching but I certainly wasn't hoping he'd lose. I like Steve and I still have a lot of friends in Philadelphia. I certainly didn't want to see him lose just to make me look good."
For Wise, there are more important things to think about anyway. He is a prolific reader, a World War II history buff and a collector of cookbooks. In the last few years he has become a master chef at the barbecue pit. "I love to cook, but only outside so far. I'm not like Gibson, he's a gourmet cook inside. When I go inside, Gibby said he'd help out with some recipes."
At the moment, Gibson was worried more about getting some help at the plate. By the time the Cards got to San Diego, he was 0-3, Wise was 3-1 and both had 2.57 earned run averages. Against San Diego on Wednesday night, the Cardinals finally gave the 37-year-old right-handed ace some help. They muscled out two home runs—just one less than they hit all spring—gave him a four-run spot and made but one error. He made it stand up for a 5-4 victory, with help from Segui over the last three innings. The next night Reggie Cleveland pitched a wobbly nine-hitter but won 3-1.
"Maybe we've finally got it turned around," Wise said hopefully. But, no. Friday night the Cardinals went into Los Angeles, sent Wise against the Dodgers, and although he pitched reasonably well, the Cardinals lost in 10 innings 6-5. They also lost Saturday and Sunday, making their record 5-19. The season is still young, but to the Cardinals it must feel like September.