There is no joy in Philly, even when somebody hits a ninth-inning, game-winning, pinch-hit homer before the home folks in the middle of a pennant race. When Len Matuszek did that recently he found a two-person reception committee at the plate—the bat boy and Ivan DeJesus, who had been on base for the homer.
"I couldn't believe it," Matuszek said. "I thought for a second that the team was playing a joke on me. Then I thought I had the inning wrong, that it was the eighth, not the ninth. But I didn't even get much of a reception when I got to the clubhouse."
The Phillies just don't smile a lot when they're home. Their record in the Vet is 25-28, and those harsh Phillie fans have been booing them all season. Last week, reliever Larry Andersen described the clubhouse atmosphere this way: "There's no joy here."
There are some hitters who come to bat with runners in scoring position and get so uptight that they try to squeeze the sawdust out of their bats. Then there are the guys who bat in tense situations and act as if they're in nothing more important than a sandlot game—guys like Cleveland's Julio Franco.
Franco, 22, admits that his concentration wanders occasionally—that's one way for a shortstop to make 26 errors in the first 98 games—but when men are in scoring position, he's as good as they come.
Last year Franco drove in 80 runs, despite hitting only eight homers. You can get 80 RBIs when you bat .315 with men in scoring position (he hit .256 the rest of the time). This year Franco, who bats No. 2 in the Cleveland lineup, has 54 RBIs and only two homers. He's hitting .350 with men in scoring position, .254 the rest of the time.
"He can relax when other guys can't," says Cleveland batting coach Bobby Bonds.
"I don't have to be nervous," says Franco. "The pitcher has to be nervous. He's the one who should be squeezing the ball. He's got to come to you. I just swing like it's batting practice."
The name is Terry Pendleton, the team is St. Louis, the position is third base, the batting average is .444—not bad for the first 72 at bats of a major league career. Or, as Pendleton says, "No one just comes up, at any level, and hits as well as I have so far."
Pendleton, 24, was a 5'9", 180-pound second baseman last year in Class AA, but when he showed up at spring training the Cardinals had a surprise for him. "They said, 'You're moving to third.' It wasn't an ask-me kind of thing," he recalls.