The Phillies and Reds tried to kill each other with comedy here yesterday, choosing pies in-the-face at point-blank range as their weapons.
When the rubble of this 7-4 Philadelphia victory had been combed, the tally in mental blunders was a standoff.
Even a trio of Phil homers by Mike Schmidt, Greg Luzinski and Richie Hebner could not upstage this circus of balks, dented walls, hot-dog errors and hung-up runners.
One man - Cincinnati's God Glove Dave Concepcion - even woolgathered himself into discovering a new way for a shortstop to make a fool of himself.
Philadelphia, however, had the day's outstanding performer, Jay Johnstone, perhaps the only man in baseball whose nickname is formally listed as "Crazy Jay."
Johnstone, a .307 hitter the last five Phil years, documented again how he can be a triple threat of the absurd whenever he does not have a bat in his hands. This afternoon he stunned even his own mates with his unique fielding, running and thinking.
In the sixth, he ran past a vicious George Foster liner, then reached back to snag it as an afterthought. In the eighth with two on, Foster hit a towering fly to the base of the wall in Johnstone Land. When it dropped, Johnstone had both arms over his head in self defense. Two men scored and Foster reached third when the ball almost ricocheted back to the infield off the wall.
Twice Johnstone tried to steal second with Schmidt and Luzinski due up. Twice the ball was waiting for him at second.
Perhaps Johnstone needed sleep. In the previous a.m. he was in the lobby of a hotel, along with hundreds of teeny-boppers, waiting to get autographs from the Grateful Dead.
The Reds' dugout should have been searched for controlled substances. Cesar Geronimo and Ken Griffey were trapped off base. Pete Rose bobbled a grounder, letting a run score. Foster, famous for his one-handed snatch catches, finally botched one, clobbering a routine fly to the earth rather than catching it.
"That's the new style," said Red Manager Sparky Anderson ruefully. "It looks better one hand . . . especially if you catch it."
On the next batter, Foster made a diving catch. However, he was so busy sliding on his back showing what a great catch he had made that he failed to double up a runner who was almost 90 feet off base.
The most embarrased Red, however, was Concepcion. In the first inning he set the day's tone by inventing a new play.
The Phils had men on second and third with two out. Concepcion thought the bases were loaded.
When Jerry Martin slapped a grounder to Concepcion, he grabbed the hopper, then made a throwing motion to get a force out at second base. Except there was no force. As the stunned Concepcion held the ball, run scored.
To double the red in the Cincinnati faces, second baseman Junior Kennedy had raced over to take the throw on the nonexistant force play.
"No, I didn't say anything to either of 'em," said Anderson. "What could I tell 'em? I'd never seen it before. You couldn't come up with a reason good enough for that one."
For the Reds, nonetheless, the day's most revolting development was the continued failure of starter Tom Hume, to whom they are totally committed.
"Hume (2.5, 6.32 ERA) and Paul Moskau (7.71) are both going to start," insisted Anderson. "They're 25. If they're not experienced enough now, they never will be."
Hume-s eighth start was painfully typical. After three tainted runs in the first inning, he got 15 outs in 15 batters (thanks to Johnstone's steal attempts). In the sixth inning, however, trailing just 3-1, Hume threw only five strikes.
Schmidt hit the first strike up against the Reds' team emblem behind the left field fence. Luzinski bouned the second off the right field wall for a double. Hebner hit the third off the Phils' insignia behind the right field fence. Bob Boone tried to kill a fan with a foul liner, then creamed a single to center.
"Why didn't I take him out sooner?" Anderson asked; "I couldn't get nobody warm fast enough. They were zoomin' out of here like antiaircraft."