You know you're going bad when your wife takes you aside before the fourth game of the World Series and Tries to change your batting stance. And you take her advice.
Ask Kansas City's Willie Wilson, who is hitting .182 in the fall classic, and doesn't know where to turn. "I don't know exactly where I am," he said. "My wife says I should stand up straighter at the plate, so I'm trying it; anybody wanna buy me a hit?"
You know you're going bad when an usher calls you to the box-seat railing before the fifth game of the World Series, hands you a bat and says, "You gave this to me as a gift back on June 2 when you were hitting .333. Now, I'm giving it back. You need it more than I do." And you immediately use the bat in the game.
Ask the Royals' Darrell Porter, who was one for 20 this postseason until he got two hits with his old bat Sunday.
You know you're going bad when you hit .305 for the season but, with the bases loaded and a Series game on the line, your manager sends up a 36-year-old has-been to pinch-hit instead. And then the manager says, "Should I have used John. In that situation, he never crossed my mind."."
Ask K.C.'s John Wathan, who is zero for 19 for his postseason career and is so deep in the doghouse that you have to put his Alpo at the back door. "All I can say," said Watham, "is that I'm still here."
You know you're going bad when you finally get enough Series at bats so that your average on the scoreboard can drop below .100.
Ask Frank White of the Royals, the man who hit .545 against the New York Yankees and won the American League Championship Series MVP, but now has a Series average of .095.
You know you're going bad when strangers leave boxes of All-Bran in your locker. Ask George Brett, he of the hemorrhoid problems, who has gone one for nine since saying, "My problems are all behind me."
Yes, resin-bag breath, the World Series is a tough time for people with sensitive feelings and thin skins. It's a bad time to go into a slump or tell your manager that you think he should change deodorant pads.
You know you are going bad when your Series ERA is 2.19 but your manager has so little confidence in your courage that he takes you out with a seventh-inning lead twice in five days after you've only thrown 82 and 77 pitches. And both times the manager's pet relief pitcher blows the lead.
Ask Larry Gura, the Kansas City southpaw, who says, "Boy, would I like to say some stuff. I wasn't the least bit tired either time.I didn't even have a chance to argue."
You know you are going bad when you are the leading winner in the history of your franchise and are still in the prime of your career, but when you finally get to the World Series, you don't get to pitch a single inning, even though many scouts say you might be the best antidote to the other team's .301 team batting average.
Ask K.C.'s mad-as-hell Paul Splittorff who, after a strong start against the Yankees in the playoffs, has been passed over twice for starts in favor of young, sore-armed Rich Gale. "If Jim Frey doesn't think that I am still a top-flight starter, if he doesn't think that's my role," said Splittorff, "I'll leave here. I'll make so many waves the can't keep me. . . I don't talk to him (Frey). I don't think anybody does."
You know you are going bad when George Brett, who never bad-mouths anybody, says of you, "He's the reason we get all those errors," then adds, concerning the tough plays you botched in Game 5, "You have to make those plays."
Ask Willie Aikens, who says, "One day everybody's looking for a hero. The next day, they're looking for a scape-goat."
You know you're going bad when you're hitting .417 in the Series and your manager still pinch-hits for you every time you're supposed to face a lefty.
Ask Clint Hurdle, who says, "It's breaking my heart."
You know you're going bad when your Series ERA is 10.80 and the only excuse your manager can come up with is, "He didn't have his good wrist pop tonight."
Ask Philadelphia's Larry Christenson, who lasted six batters against the Royals, allowing a single, two doubles, a triple and a 450-foot home run into a water fountain, and then said, "They didn't show me that much."
You know you're going bad when you allow 18 runners on base in one game and your manager says the main reason was that the baseballs weren't "rubbed up properly."
Ask Steve Carlton, who complained about "slick balls" in Game 2, prompting umpire Don Denkinger to say, "And here I thought I'd heard 'em all."
You know you're going bad when you jog off the field with your .158 batting average, get hit right between the eyes by a paper wad thrown by a fan, and the only sympathy you get from teammate Larry Bowa is a wisecrack: "They don't know how to be mean in Kansas City; if that had happened in Philadelphia, it would have been a shot put."
Ask Pete Rose, who was so mad that he cocked his arm and almost threw the infield ball into the box seats at the assassin. "I stopped," said Rose. "I'm not that dumb."
You know you're going bad when the manager sends you up to hit with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning of the fifth game of a tied World Series and the second time you swing, your bat flies out to the pitcher's mound. And when you go out to fetch it, the pitcher picks it up, hands it to you, then pokes you in the pit of the stomach with the handle end.
Ask Jose Cardenal, zero for six in his first Series, who not only got gored by Tug McGraw, but then had it reported back to him that McGraw claimed Cardenal had cursed him in Spanish. "I no say nothing to him," said Cardenal. "Everybody knows McGraw is a crazy man. He jab me in the stomach with my own bat."
Is the World Series fair? Is it fun?
"No," said Cardenal, summing up the feelings of generations of those for whom the Series has been a pie in the face, a theater of humiliation. "I go to home plate thinking, 'Jose, you are going to be the hero. One little hit and you will be everywhere, even on the "good morning" talk shows.'
"Then I strike out to end the game," said Cardenal. "As I walk back to the dugout, I say to myself, 'Jose, you were wrong. You are not the hero. Today, you are the bum.'"