We will pause now in this World Serious for two comic scenes that will live forever.
Scene 1, Phillies' locker room.
"Did you," a man with a notebook wanted to know of Mike Schmidt, "send hemorrhoid ointment over to George Brett?"
Now this is journalism.
This is getting to the bottom of things.
Mike Schmidt, the Phillies' third baseman and hero of game two, said to the newspaperman, "That's amazing you'd know that. Nothing gets by you guys."
If Watergate had been a sports story, we'd have told the world how well James McCord moves to his left. When Ralph Terry of the Yankees pitched a wonderful World Series game 20 years ago, he apologized to the press for keeping them waiting. He had to talk first by phone to his wife, that week a new mother, who, the pitcher said, was feeding the baby. "Breast or bottle?" Stan Isaacs asked, ballpoint pen at the ready.
"Yeah," an amused Mike Schmidt said, "I sent George a used tube of -- don't use the brand name; George may eventually be endorsing something." o
"How'd you come to have the used tube of ointment?" someone asked.
"I had 'em the whole season in '75. Then I had surgery. You can call Dr. Stevens for further details."
Schmidt truly blushed. "This is ridiculous," he said, laughing, "to stand here after a World Series game and talk about hemorrhoids."
In fact, people stood there before the game and talked. The old curmudgeon baseball manager, Herman Franks, was described by a Chicago writer as "the only man ever born with hermorrhoids." The consensus was that Brett would play, certainly, but he wanted to renegotiate his contract and add a no-slide clause.
Brett underwent surgery yesterday to lance an external hemorrhoid and was expected to stay in St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City overnight. A spokesman for the team said that Brett probably would head straight for the ballpark Friday following his release and that he might be ready to play in the third game of the Series. Dr. John Heryer, who performed the surgery, said it was likely that Brett would be able to play Friday.
"Seeing that you and George are both third basemen," a reporter full of mischief said to Schmidt, "is this an ailment that is particular to your profession?"
"Yeah, it's a disease only third basemen catch. And it happens a lot if you're pregnant," Schmidt said. "Maybe George is pregnant. Check it out, guys."
Pregnant third basemen are not the only sufferes of the melancholy malady. The president, Jimmy Carter, once spent a month in close company with a doughnut ring, as did Alan Page, the all-pro defensive tackle. And an old sports writer in Tennessee, Dudley (Waxo) Green, has said, "Hemroads is lahk Yankees. If'n they come down for a li'l while and go back up no'th, they not too bad. but if'n they come down and decide to stay, they can be a real pain in the rear."
Scene 2, home plate.
We have seen Pete Rose crash into catchers.
We have seen Lou Brock elude catchers.
Now we have seen Darrell Porter tippy-toe into a catcher.
It was the third inning of game one when Porter, the Kansas City Royal catcher, tried to score from second base on a two-out single to left field.
Even trying to score was foolish, for Porter runs little faster than a pregnant third baseman, and the single was a solidly hit line drive directly to the left fielder, Lonnie Smith.
But here he came around third base, and here came Smith's throw far, far ahead of him. Catcher Bob Boone had the ball, waiting for the inevitable collision with the 200-pound catcher from the other team.
There was no collision. Nor did Porter try a nifty hook slide around the catcher. Instead, he stopped running. He truly came to home plate on his tippy-toes, allowing Boone to touch him ever so gently for the third out.
It was so dainty.
Men with notebooks, who would later ask each other how to spell the melancholy malady, went to Darrell Porter's locker after game one to ask if he could explain his Baryshnikov performance at the plate.
"First off, my foot slipped on the third-base bag," Porter said. That slowed him down, he said.
"I didn't have any idea Boone already had the ball," he said. Not only is Porter immobile, he is asleep. But that wasn't the reason he didn't slide, he said.
"The reason I didn't slide is my feet were tangled up."
He meant that even though he was running forward, his feet felt like they were going sideways. Catchers get that way sometimes, which is why he shouldn't have been trying to score in the first place.
"And if I had tried to slide," Porter said, "I probably would have killed myself. I just got messed up in my feet. I couldn't get really out to slide."
Kansas City lost that game by one run, 7-6.