The Philadelphia Phillies seemd to take today's 5-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals with equanimity, which may help explain why the World Series is tied at two games apiece.
"I think it was a combination of one team not being completely ready to play and the other being hot," said Manager Dallas Green in a tranquil Phillie locker room.
When one veteran Philadelphia sportswriter asked how it is possible for a team not to be ready to play a World Series game, Green replied candidly, "You've known the Phillies a long time."
Today's Philadelphia team was the one that is known in its hometown as SOP -- Same Old Phillies.
One of the highest-paid teams in baseball history, the Phillies have been known as the masters of nonchalance. They will never be billed as "The Team Called Desire."
This year's Phillies had shaken that reputation in September with a stretch drive that saw them win 19 of their last 27 games, including two victories in a row in Montreal that gave them the Eastern Division title. They followed that with a gut-wrenching, five-game playoff with Houston that gave them their first National League title since 1950.
But Saturday they looked like the Phillies of old in the first two innings, when they allowed the Royals to take three extra bases and made some casual plays in the field.
The Royals led, 5-1, after two innings and repulsed the Phillie comeback efforts behind the steady, if unspectacular, pitching of starter Dennis Leonard and reliever Dan Quisenberry.
"That is the first time they have had a chance to take the extra base and they took advantage of it," Green said. "That's the first chance they have had to strut a little.
"We know they like to run and they'll do it if you let them. We just have to realize we're playing a pretty good baseball team and make it work for us. But regardless of the extra bases, the big hit was the home run. You can't defense that."
Hal McRae stretched two singles into doubles as Phillie outfielders loped after his base hits in the first and second innings and George Brett stretched an apparent double to right into a triple in the first inning, when the Royals scored four runs.
"That's the first time that has happened to us in a long time," said Phillie Gold Glove second baseman Manny Trillo. "We knew they like to run."
Phillie starter Larry Christenson exited after retiring only one batter in the decisive first inning. Willie Mays Aikens got the first of his two homers today off Christenson and now has four in the series, one short of Reggie Jackson's World Series record.
"I remember a game in 1973 when I was a 19-year-old rookie," a subdued Christenson said after the game. "I didn't get anybody out then; but this is the World Series.
"They hit me. What can I say? There's nothing I can do about it. Brett hit a good pitch -- a slider down and in -- for the triple and Aikens hit a fast ball for his home run. I tried to get it inside, but I didn't get it where I wanted it . . . obviously."
"If anybody has a book on Aikens, I'll take it," Green said. "You can throw anything up there when a guy gets hot like that and he'll hit it. There isn't any book on Brett and I'm beginning to believe there isn't a book on Aikens, either."
"It's two to two and we have three games left," said shortstop Larry Bowa, one of the few consistent hitters for the Philadelphians. "Our backs are to the wall, but we are used to it. We didn't win our division by 15 games and then sweep the playoffs in three straight (as the Royals did). We know what pressure is. The way I look at it, it's a best of three series and two of the games are in Philly."
Green announced that Greg Luzinski, who has missed the two games here after a bout with the flu, would be in the lineup for Sunday's fifth game, probably as the designated hitter.
"Bull was unhappy he didn't get to play today, but I've had players unhappy with me before," Green said.
The Phillies have had their long-suffering fans unhappy with them before. And they will again if they continue to play like the Same Old Philies.