- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
But the man whose opinion really counts in this debate, General Manager Paul Owens, firmly believes that Green can do more with loud provocations than Ozark did with quiet acquiescence. "I think kids want authority," Owens says. "No matter how cool they act, they want rules." Owens acted on this belief last Aug. 31, firing Ozark when the Phillies were in fifth place, 12� games out. He replaced Ozark with the 45-year-old Green, who had been a relief pitcher with the Phils in the '60s and, having served as Philadelphia's director of minor leagues since 1972, was the heir apparent to Owens' job. In his only other tours as a manager, Green finished fifth at Huron, S. Dak. in 1968 and first at Pulaski, Va. the following season. As the Phillies' interim skipper Green went 19-11 and moved the team from fifth to fourth, but many of the dugout decisions were either made or recommended by Coach Bobby Wine, who knew the Phillies and their opposition much better than Green did.
"Managing was never a big thing to me," Green said last week, after a workout in which he had done some running and thrown batting practice. "I was studying to be a general manager, but Paul became concerned about Danny's reluctance to maintain a steady hold on the team. It became evident we weren't drilled in fundamentals or physically prepared to overcome injuries. We were a lethargic, non-caring team, just going through the motions. The ball club was ripe for Dallas Green."
Green believes he can whip—almost literally—Philadelphia into better shape, sharpen its fundamental skills and make its players more tenacious, more unwilling to yield to the sort of physical and mental breakdowns that occurred last season. He wants the Phillies to be as aggressive as he: more stolen bases, more hit-and-run plays, more sacrifices. (In '79 Philadelphia was last in the league in sacrifice bunts.) When the season starts, the Phillies will hold infield practice before every game, no matter what on-the-field promotion the front office has planned, and no players will be sitting at a card table in the clubhouse during batting practice. Once the game starts, neither umpires nor players will be safe from Green's fury.
Green is already on record as saying that if Philadelphia doesn't win the division this year there will be "wholesale changes" in the fall. "I've screamed all along that we have a good team," Green says. "I expect a winner."
And the players know what to expect from him. "If we don't run out a ground ball, we'll hear about it," says Bowa. "In fact, the whole park will. And if Dallas and a player don't agree on something, they can go into a room and scream their lungs out."
So far, Green has managed to keep his yelling to a minimum. He believes the players have shown their determination to do things his way by reporting in good shape and working hard in practice. Luzinski, who hit only 18 home runs in 1979, came to Florida in such good condition that, as one Phillie coach said, "He looks like an athlete." Bowa, who is also trying to come back from an off year—his average last season was .241—has been taking extra batting practice before and after the regular workouts. Carlton still refuses to run sprints with the other pitchers, but he does jog laps and shags flies. "Steve has his own way of getting into shape and I'm satisfied that nobody works harder than he does," says Green. "I tried his method myself, and it almost killed me."
That the Phillies were literally and figuratively on their toes last week was an overdue change for the better. Win or lose, Green's place in the Philadelphia organization is secure even if the players' is not. They know they have no other choice but to do things his way. Maddox, who doesn't like to steal bases because he feels the wear and tear on his legs diminishes his speed on defense, says he will do whatever Green asks. Bowa, who prefers to bat second but has been told he will bat eighth, accepts the demotion with equanimity. Rightfielder Bake McBride and Second Baseman Manny Trillo have convinced Green that they will hustle enough to suit the new manager and not just themselves. If they don't, you can bet that everybody within shouting distance will hear about it.