After the game, Brock politely but wearily answered questions about his early success, about replacing Garvey, about what pitches did he hit. Brock is a very cool customer—calm, professional. He's somewhat shy with reporters, which his friend, Anderson, has turned into a joke. "I handle all of Greg's questions," says Anderson, who's waiting for Shortstop Bill Russell, the last remaining link in the old Dodger infield, to play out his string. "I'm his press agent. Greg was born a poor, black child...."
Actually, Brock grew up middle class and white in Stayton, Ore., where he played for his coach-father in high school. He attended Wyoming because it was the only school that offered him a scholarship. His celebrity still hasn't caught up with his ability. "Somebody called me today and said he knew my father," Brock said the other day. "The man told me he thought my father was one of the greatest players he'd ever seen, and that he loved watching him steal bases for the St. Louis Cardinals. I said he must have known my father real well."
How good is Brock? Scouting Director Ben Wade says potentially he is better than—dare we say it?—the Duke. In spring training, Manager Tom Lasorda asked Ted Williams to look at Brock in the batting cage. "Greg didn't even hit the ball very good," says Lasorda. "Williams watched him and said he had good balance, quick hands and tremendous hip action. Then he said something that made me quiver all over. He said, 'He reminds me a bit of myself.' "
"In the Dodger organization, we nickname the changing of a player's position 'coconut snatching.' You move players from one position to another to fill your needs."
—THE DODGERS' WAY TO PLAY BASEBALL
"Coconut snatching" was a phrase of Rickey's, and it requires explanation. "Mr. Rickey got it from the islands, or Hawaii, or some tropical place," says Campanis. "He noticed that one native would climb to the top of the coconut tree and hold on with his legs and snatch the coconuts, throwing them to a native below. When the coconut snatcher's legs got tired, he would climb down and the coconut catcher would climb up to become the coconut snatcher. They were filling the position by need."
In recent years, the Dodgers have taken centerfielders Russell and Davey Lopes and made them a shortstop and second baseman, respectively. They converted Garvey from third to first. This year they decided to make a permanent third baseman out of Guerrero because they had an up-and-coming rightfielder in Mike Marshall.
The returns are not yet in on this grand experiment. Guerrero looked awful defensively in spring training, making 10 errors. But he has begun to settle down at third, and although he has seven miscues, one of which cost L.A. the 15-inning game with the Expos last week, he's making some plays that Cey probably would not have made.
Although Marshall's batting average was a respectable .262 through Sunday, he wasn't swinging the bat well, and Lasorda elected to sit him down to relax him last week. In John R. Tunis' The Kid from Tomkinsville, Manager Dave Leonard sat Roy Tucker down for the same reason, and Tucker responded by helping the fictional Dodgers win the pennant. When Marshall came back against the Mets on Sunday he hit a two-run homer off Tom Seaver in a 5-0 victory. Stay tuned.
"Pitching is an art."
—The first sentence of THE DODGERS' WAY TO PLAY BASEBALL
If pitching is an art, then the Los Angeles bullpen is now at work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Through 37 games last Sunday, the relievers had a collective ERA of 1.66 in 103⅓ innings. Their record was 11-2 with 14 saves, which is half of what they had in 1982, when they were last in that category in the league. The bullpen provides the most obvious statistical difference between the boys of '82 and '83. After 37 games last year, Los Angeles was 18-19, and the relievers had five saves and an ERA of 4.84.