World Series Notebook : Johnson Pulls a Switch but Result Is the Same

October 20, 1986|MIKE PENNER | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — The evidence had become too obvious for Davey Johnson to ignore: a .184 postseason batting average, a 1-0 loss to the Boston Red Sox Saturday night and a 1-0 deficit in a World Series they were overwhelming favorites to win.

The New York Mets weren't hitting, so Johnson figured he had to start reshuffling.

Johnson's lineup for Game 2 featured new faces at third base and in left field. In: Howard Johnson and Danny Heep. Out: Ray Knight and Mookie Wilson.

The deposed Knight did not take his reassignment to the bench well.

"I was devastated," said Knight, who batted .167 in the National League playoffs and went 0-for-3 with a double play in World Series Game 1. "I take it personally. I was totally shocked.

"I can't describe it in the right words. I felt alone, it got me nervous, it got me mad. After all I've done for the team this year and they don't care; I don't care, either."

The reaction of Wilson (.115 in the playoffs) was somewhat less melodramatic.

"I'm disappointed, but I'm not depressed," Wilson said. "I haven't exactly been an offensive threat. If one thing doesn't work in this situation, you have to try something else--quick."

Said Johnson: "I wanted to shake up things a bit. I'm doing what I think is best for the team.

"Raymond has done as much as anybody to get us here, but the fact remains that he and Mookie have not been getting the hits. This team doesn't revolve around just eight guys."

Howard Johnson, Knight's replacement at third base, approached Davey Johnson after Game 1 and planted the idea for the switch in the manager's head. Johnson mentioned that he played for the Detroit Tigers in 1984, a season that included a home run off Roger Clemens.

"All I said was that I hit Roger all year and I'm a good fastball hitter," Johnson said. "As long as he doesn't use sandpaper, I'll be all right."

Add Sandpaper: The dugout conversation had turned to Mike Scott and his alleged "scuffball," and Boston reliever Joe Sambito, a former teammate of Scott's, was asked if he ever cheated.

"Only once," Sambito said. "I looked over at another paper in the 11th grade and got answer No. 10. That got me into the 12th grade."

Tim Teufel, on the noise at Shea Stadium: "The humming here is constant. It never stops. I don't mean to come out with a Yogi Berra-ism, but you hear this crowd even when it's quiet."

Quiet Please: A Boston Globe thumbnail sketch on Red Sox pitcher Bruce Hurst contains the phrase "Hates New York."

Oh yeah?

"I don't know if I'd go as far as 'hate,' " Hurst said with smile. "It's a little crowded for me. I'm from the open spaces (St. George, Utah). New York intimidates you a little bit."

Especially during the World Series. Hurst admits he doesn't much care for the media circus surrounding these games.

"No offense, but it would sure be more fun without all the media here," Hurst said. "I wish they could do this like the last scene in Rocky III, where Rocky and Apollo Creed go into the ring by themselves and close the door. Do that here. Close the gates and let us go at it."

Hurst, a 1-0 winner in Game 1, was asked whether he remembered the name of the last Red Sox pitcher to win a World Series opener by a score of 1-0.

Hurst answered before he could blink.

"Babe Ruth," he blurted. "He's got all our pitching records."

Hurst had it right. Ruth pitched Boston to a 1-0 victory in Game 1 of the 1918 World Series--coincidentally, the last World Series the Red Sox won.

Like almost everybody else who makes his living on a pitcher's mound these days, Joe Sambito says he is experimenting with the split-finger fastball. The split-finger is thrown the same as the forkball but is better, according to Sambito because "you don't have to spread your fingers as far apart. My fingers are too small to throw a forkball.

"Hurstie (Bruce Hurst) has a 16-year old nephew who can hold a baseball and touch his thumb with three of his fingers. His hands are huge. "

Sounds like an ace forkballer in the making.

Sambito shook his head.

"He plays basketball," Sambito said in mock disgust. "What a waste. He could probably throw a forkball with a basketball."

Time staff writer Ross Newhan also contributed to this story.

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