The most widly demonstrative and the most stoically phlegmatic of the Philadelphia Phillies -- Tug McGraw and Bake McBride -- combined their opposite styles tonight in a ninth-inning 2-1 victory in Veterans Stadium that left the Montreal Expos stunned.
The fuse was lit by the pugnacious reliever McGraw who stormed off the mound after he fanned Expo Andre Dawson to end the top of the ninth. Pounding his thigh, pumping his fist and generally acting the madman, the little southpaw was a one-man cheering section as he roused the previously torpid gang of 50,887 to a worthy lather.
The house started rocking, begging McBride, the Philis' top average hitter at 308, to start something to break up this artistic, but jittery jewel of a pennant-race gut wrencher.
McBride, the 6-foot-3 outfielder who uses the tiniest, most comical-looking bat in the major leagues, not only started something, he finished it.
On David Palmer's first pitch of the ninth -- an ill-fated high hook -- McBride smacked a homer that just cleared the 371-foot sign in right field as the huge crowd seemed to suck the ball toward the Phils' bullpen with its collective will.
If McGraw's shenanigans just a minute before seemed untoward, then the dance of victory that the Phils staged at home plate was downright pagan. Sure, the Phils now have a 1 1/2-game over Montreal in the Eastern Division. And, sure, these two clubs must face each other five more times in the next nine days with a whole season on the line between them.
But is that any reason for such insanity?
You bet it is.
"Who the hell wrote the script for this baby?" crowed vet Tim McCarver, a four-decade old salt who has come down from the Phils' broadcast booth to be a pinch hitter in these last magic days.
"I barely know where I am. I can't even remember the pitches I threw 15 minutes ago," said winner McGraw, who has a 0.62 ERA in his last 29 impeccable appearances. "I'm still blitzed. When I get home and watch the replays on TV on the 11 o'clock news, I might be kind of embarassed. I did some weird stuff there at the end.
"Actually," he asked, "what did I do?"
Well, first he, Bob Boone and Pete Rose had a foot race to home plate to see who could greet McBride first. Once there, they ripped each other's hats off, yanked hair indiscriminately, slapped every hand in sight, and all the while, jumped up and down in 4/4-time.
"This is the one the Expos didn't want to lose," said Rose. "Now, they gotta face Steve Carlton on Saturday and he's only the best pitcher in the world. Well, I haven't been to Russia, but he's the best I've seen. If Lefty beats 'em, they'll be three games down in the loss column, and I don't think they want that."
The normally rich and somewhat staid Phils have definitely turned an emotional corner, taking their cue from the likes of McGraw Rose and Larry Bowa. They're a mini-wild bunch.
"I was thinking about the game all day," said McGraw, who has helped the Phils to three straight wins in which they have managed only five runs: 1-0, 2-1, and 2-1.
"I spent the day thinking about the Expos," said McGraw, mischievously. "What's a synonym for 'hate?' Something stronger than disdain. Contempt! That's it. I was working on my contempt for the Expos. I'd go through their lineup and think of each one and what rotten guys they are and how much I'd hate to watch 'em on TV in the World Series with me stuck at home. I had a good fast ball tonight, but even better contempt."
If McGraw is the most extroverted Phil, then McBride is the most introverted. Together, they are the almost unsung stars who have been outshown by Carlton's 23 wins and Mike Schmidt's 43 homers.
While McGraw bubbled, praising Garry Maddox for his homer in the second and even tipping his cap to young Palmer, the strong complete-game loser, McBride refused comment. He is one of the often-burned, now-silent, Phillies.
But McBride's story should be told, even if he resists. For an hour before each game, he treats his two bad knees and his two not-so-hot ankles with intense heat and then cold. For 45 minutes after each game, when most of the other Phils are gone, he is repeating the treatment.
McBride, you see, is a gamer. His spindly legs weren't made for Astro-Turf wear-and-tear. One knee has a long scar, and doctors say both joints may need offseason repairs. McBride's wheels are so tender that he even has to hand-make his own shoes with extra padding and such.
With age, and lost speed, he has had to transform himself from a .300 chopper into a .300 hitter. The work is complete. McBride now has 31 doubles, 10 triples, nine homers and 82 RBI. Those RBI rank him second on the Philis after Schmidt.
The McBride breakthrough came in spring training this year when Coach Billy DeMars shortened his stride, quickened his stroke and flattened his swing -- all in one lesson. That day in the cage was a revelation. As DeMars shouted, "Be quick, be short," McBride lashed liners, a smile on his face all the while.