In Philadelphia, they say that two-thirds of the earth's surface is covered by water. The other third is covered by Garry Maddox.
Yesterday, the fleet and graceful Philadelphia Phillie, the center fielder called "The Mighty Burner," wished that he could hide at the bottom of the deepest ocean.
Considered by many as the best fly-chaser in baseball, Maddox dropped a waist-high line drive in the 10th inning yesterday and the Los Angeles Dodgers went on to beat the Phils, 4-3, and win the National League pennant.
Some baseball games are won. This fourth playoff game was lost on a play that the city of brotherly love will long remember as "The Mighty Bummer."
For nine innings, these two powerhouses engaged in a 3-3 home run cuel - Ron Cey and Steve Garvey of the Dodgers clouting 450-foot bases-empty blasts, while Greg Luzinski and Bake McBride accounted for all the Phil runs with homers.
WIth two out in the Dodger 10th, it seemed this war might last all night, with L.A.'s Terry Forster and Philadelphia's Tug McGraw locked in a lovely relief-pitching tango.
Then McGraw got overly conservative. "I thought of the way they beat us with homers in the playoffs last year," said the fiercely competitive McGraw. "I swore I wouldn't let it happen again.
So McGraw pitched around Cey, the Penguin with the home run bat and the tiny strike zone, walking him on four pitches.
"I'll second-guess myself for that all my life," said McGraw.
The next batter, Dusty Bake, had already gone four for four. "I thought about Jim Gilliam, our coach who is in the hospital (with a massive cerebral hemorrhage)." Baker said. "I thought about all the things (he) used to preach to me about in my hitting. I remember 'em all today."
Baker lashed a liner to center just as vicious as his previous three singles and a double but directly at Maddox.
The 6-foot-3 greybound whose strides have been measured at nine feet, glided in as always, gloved the ball easily - and dropped it.
As the ball lay in the green grass of Chavez Ravine, it seemed the Phils were dommed once more. Since 1900 the Phillies have never won more than one game in any October playoff or World Series.
"The ball was right in my glove," said Maddox afterward. "Any kind of decision was just how to hold my glove when I caught it . . . It was not a tough play, just a routine line drive . . . a line drive that cost us a chance at being world champions."
The Dodgers, the entire crowd of 55,124, sensed the kill, although the were two outs and the next batter - Bill Russell - is a singles hitter.
"Jam him with sliders," thought McGraw. And he did twice."
"I fought if off, just dumped it into center field," grinned the boyish Russell. "My hands were over my head cheering before I got out of the batter's box.
"I've been so nervous I coulndn't eat or sleep properly. But I was calm that time."
Maddox sped in, trying for a perfect short-hop-and-peg play.
He missed that, too.
"I was out of the dugout before the ball hit the grass," said Dodger Manager Tommy Lasorda.
The Penguin was the main carrying the run home, and he never skated faster, tuxedo tails in the wind.
"I was yellin'. 'Come on, Penguin, come on'," teased Dodger pitcher Tommy John.
"If there had been a play at the plate, I might not have gotten up," said the always serious Cey, who also doubled and scored the first Dodger run on a Baker single in the second. "I was oblivious to everything in the world except touching home plate."
In their glee, the Dodgers acted like children, not Hollywood stars. "I wanna hug my Penguin," bellowed Lasorda careening through the bedlam. "We're in the Fall Classic and we're gonna win it this time."
Steve Garvey, who set a bushel of playoff records with his single and homer, who won the playoff MVP award hands down, sat quietly, almost bemused, watching the revelry.
"I try to stay calm," he said. By day's end, Garvey owned these records:
Single series - most runs (6): most total bases (22): most home runs (4): tied with Bob Robertson of Pittsburgh.
For a playoff career (three playoffs), Garvey also now holds the marks for most runs (12) and most homers (6).
If New York's Reggie Jackson is the king of October, then Garvey is the crown prince. In 28 career games in playoffs. World Series and All-Star games (109 at bats), Garvey has hit .394 and slugged .752.
The Phillies, so often disappointed, so often maligned, walked off the field in near shock. Gre Luzinski and Mike Schmidt passed shoulder to shoulder by the trudging Maddox and never said a word to him.
"I have no idea what the atmosphere was like in our clubhouse," said the shattered McGraw. "I didn't see it. I'll look back on it as a fog, a 10-minute period in my life that I missed.
Maddox's race was blank as he dressed quickly, spoke little and left. "It's something I'll never forget the rest of my life," Maddox said. "I'll just have to try not to let it get me down. I've had other crisis in my life and this is another one."
"Bad things happen to good people," said Manager Danny Ozark stoically.
"Everything happens to everybody," retored McGraw. "There's no rules to life, no fate . . . you never know what's gonna happen . . . the peaks and valleys in this . . . game . . . and I felt so great today."
The Phils, who have never won a world title, looked inward in their defeat.
"We left the bases loaded in the first with nobody out." said Phil starter Randy Lerch. "That haunted us."
"This isn't going to put any new stigma on this team," said McGraw. "The old stigma is just going to be reinforced. It's extremely undesirable, but "I can't say if it's undeserved."
"I thought we tried too hard, once again," said Schmidt. "The old tighen-up syndrom. We try so hard to prove something to our (skeptical) fans at home that . . . well, maybe we ought to play all our playoff games on the road next year."
About their deepest feelings, the Phils could, or would, say least.
"What I thought when Garry dropped the ball is something for me to know and no one else ever to find out," said McGraw. "It wasn't negative or personal. Maddox has never dogged a ball in his life. He's the best. I just want to keep it to myself."
The Phils have all winter to wonder why Schmidt stopped at third in the first inning on a Maddox single. "Why chance it," Schmidt said. "I figured with the Bull coming up I'd be coming across the plate Pretty soon, anyway."
But he never did as starter Doug Rau set down the side on a whiff, a line-out and a pop.