To the list of sporting souls whose sorriest moments have come in games that mattered most -- Jackie Smith, Willie Wilson, Elvin Hayes and so many more -- get ready to add Jerry Manuel. He is the luckless Expo being measured for trophy-sized goat horns in Montreal even before his potentially classic blunder today.
Manuel is the second baseman who missed second base on a double play ball in the third inning and cost the Expos two runs in what could have been a playoff-clinching victory that ended as an extra-inning loss to the Phillies. He missed it everywhere but in his own mind.
"I felt I started off the bag (with the ball)," said Manuel, who left 12 runners on base the first three playoff games. "I just didn't get the call. It was a close game. They were callin' everything."
Umpire Jerry Crawford called that one exactly right. Manuel's pivot foot was nearly two feet to the shortstop side of second when he took Chris Speier's throw, turned and threw Gary Matthews out at first. The man he should have forced at second for the next-to-last out, but didn't, elaborated about the escape. Manuel labor around second has been tough lately.
"The last time I was on first in Montreal," Mike Schmidt said, "I went into him, got him on my back and flipped him over. I think he was trying to get out a little quicker than normal this time."
Manuel is subbing for the injured Rodney Scott, who was deactivated the day these playoffs began.
Cocking his head back to a knot of reporters on his way to the shower, Schmidt said Manuel's mistake might have been the worst of the inning, but hardly the only one.
"They gotta walk (Keith) Moreland to get to (Larry) Bowa," he said.
Instead of being out of the inning, the Expos had Pete Rose on third and Schmidt dusting himself off at second. With first open, Expo Manager Jim Fanning chose to change pitchers when the count got to 2-0 on Moreland, but not to walk him at least semiintentionally.
The hot-hitting Moreland tagged Stan Bahnsen's second pitch for a two-run single to right. Two runs, two mental errors.
"Even if I get a hit," Bowa admitted, "the outfield is playing so shallow that only one run scores."
The Phils were being unusually candid. But they were not near the head of the line in the second-guessers' parade that began after George Vukovich's game-winning pinch-hit homer in the 10th. Bill Lee was grand marshal, with the scenario that would have made the Expos' clubhouse joyous instead of gloomy.
"(Tim) Raines should have run for (Gary) Carter in the 10th," said Lee, hanging by his hands from his dressing stall. "He steals second, 'cause nobody's gotten him out yet. Then (Larry) Parrish moves him over to third and you (here he points to reserve catcher Bobby Ramos) pinch hit for reliever Jeff (Reardon) and drive him home.
"I come in and get 'em out in the last of the 10th, one, two, three."
In addition to being about as cheap a shot as a man can to throw at his manager, Lee's logic is flawed. Or at least the part that concerns his own heroic hurling. The game before, lefty Lee surrendered a pinch single to lefty Vukovich.
How do you spell spaceman in French?
In English, you spell how the Phils survived today L-U-C-K.
It was that as much as skill that allowed them to turn the double play that ended the Expos' hopes in the 10th and got Lee to thinking. Let the Phils take you through it:
"When Tug (McGraw) fields the (Parrish) bunt (instead of catching it in the air)," Bowa said, "I figure he's gotta come to me (at second to force Carter)."
Tug goes to first, which is unconventional, but probably acceptable, because a good relay throw to Manny Trillo allows him to relay the ball to Bowa in time to tag the lumbering Carter.
Tug's throw is close to awful.
"I had to catch the ball and scramble for the bag at the same time," Trillo admitted. "And I was so off balance I couldn't get anything on the throw to second. I had to double clutch it."
He double clutched it toward Carter's back, a Bowa constrictor of a throw.
"I honestly lost sight of the ball," the shortstop said. "I said to myself: 'It's gotta be coming somewhere; I saw Manny throw the thing.' Then Carter slid, the ball came over his shoulder and we got him."
It may have seemed otherwise, but Trillo said that play was much harder to execute than an even more important one in the fifth. That came with none out and the bases loaded, when Warren Cromartie lined what seemed a certain two-run double and possible base-clearing gapper.
Leaping to his right, Trillo got his glove in front of it. Backhanded. Out. Instead of two or three runs on one clutch stroke, Montreal had to settle for one run the entire inning.
"Kinda easy," said Trillo, with an aw-shucks shrug. "One of those lucky days again."
Miners of athletic momentum were not sure what they gleaned from trips to both clubhouses after the 6-5 drama. The Phils were strutting, though cautiously, confident their experience and Steve Carlton would lift them from disaster two days ago to the NL finals Sunday night.
"Lefty had a bad game (when the Expos won in Montreal), and we still could have won," Bowa said.
"Hope it's not cloudy tomorrow," said Rose, thinking of the 4 p.m. start, of the Expos hitting in the Vet shadows and Cy Silent working in sunshine. "The harder it is to see, the more advantage we have."
But Steve Rogers is not chopped liver. And the Expos were not hopelessly cut by Vukovich's homer. They were stunned at first, stone-faced and hardly moving at all in their chairs when the first wave of reporters was admitted. Perhaps 10 minutes later, John Milner rose from his seat, walked to the end of the room and switched the stereo not only on but to full volume.
Heads turned. Some growls were uttered, but all of a sudden Milner's move began to be penetrate his teammates.
"We're not goin' to no funeral," he said. "We lost but we ain't beat yet. I've been here before, with the Pirates. We were down two games to the Orioles in the '79 Series and won. We can do it here tomorrow."