More than likely, the St. Louis Cardinals are convinced now. After losing the fifth game of the World Series to the Milwaukee Brewers, 6-4, to fall behind, three games to two, the Cardinals have seen enough of the True Blue Brew Crew to get the general idea.
Here the Cardinals were led to believe that they would be playing the champions of the American League -- the patsy circuit -- and what do they get? A kind of hybrid gang of National League spleen crushers.
Harvey's Wallbangers, indeed. Harvey's Headbangers, more likely. With your head.
Power everywhere. More speed than advertised. Defense to beat the band. No conspicuous weaknesses. Never quit, play hurt. Eat adversity, yawn when you've got 'em down. Throw at your head, slide in your face, spit in your eye, and never apologize. Score runs in an avalanche just when you think you have them beaten. Thump you any way they have to, even if the greatest relief pitcher in history is hurt, even if two-thirds of their outfield is injured, even if their starters look sort of frazzled, even if their good ol' manager barely seems to know what inning it is.
Best team in baseball. One game away from winning its first World Series. Better get out of the way before something ugly happens.
When a team that hits 216 home runs in the regular season comes from behind to take charge of a World Series, as the Brewers have done, without hitting many home runs, it's time to worry. When the Brewers beat you with their gloves, as they did this gloomy afternoon, then it's time for concern.
One day ago, when they led the Brewers, 5-1, in the seventh inning of Game 4, the Cardinals -- on the verge of a three-games-to-one lead -- were ready to measure themselves for world championship rings.
Now, after watching Robin Yount get four more hits, after watching Mike Caldwell survive for 8 1/3 innings on a day when he had nothing and allowed 14 hits, after seeing Bruce Sutter give up what proved to be the two winning runs, after watching as the Brewers made a half-dozen brilliant defensive robberies, the Cardinals know better.
Make no mistake, the Cardinals are worried, from their Manager Whitey Herzog, who is already talking in post-mortem tones, to their solemnal veterans, who know from experience when a good thing has gone bad.
"If we should be fortunate enough to win the sixth game, then . . . " began Herzog in the manner of a mortal fellow who doesn't wish to annoy an extremely large person.
Herzog and the rest of the Busch Bunch are going home now. They can look at matchups. On Tuesday, it's 258-game winner Don Sutton against their nine-game-career winner John Stuper. Make your own jokes.
The Brewers have the wind behind them now. Every time they look around, somebody from the Hall of Fame is lurking around their locker room asking one of them for a bat to enshrine. First, it was Paul Molitor for his five hits in the opener. This evening, it was Yount for being the first man in 79 Series to get four hits in a game twice in the same Series; he has 11 hits now, just one off the record for most hits in a six-game Series and just two away from the record, held by Bobby Richardson and Lou Brock, of 13 in a seven-game Series.
At this game's end, as a cast of 56,562 mauled the field, Yount was brought back out of the dugout for a curtain call by the chants of "MVP . . . MVP."
This time, however, it was Series MVP that the fans meant.
On this raw, blustery, basically miserable day, Yount was at the center of almost all the Brewers' mischief making.
He hit a first-inning shot off the foot of starter Bob Forsch and scored when Ted Simmons chopped to first.
A couple of innings later, Yount's double was instrumental in the Brewers scoring another run. Finally, when the Cardinals closed to 3-2 in the seventh, there was Yount again to make a dramatic point. How, you ask? With a home run. And not an ordinary one. Opposite field. Flick of the wrists. Into a gale-force wind. A bullet to the bleachers.
Yount did it with the glove, too. But, then, so did almost every Brewer. Charlie Moore slid across the grass in right to rob Lonnie Smith of a double. Molitor leaped high at third, stomped on the bag, then fired to first for a double play. Cecil Cooper made a diving stop of a shot to his right, then threw from his knees to Caldwell covering to end a rally in the seventh. Yount roamed behind second, ignored a terrible hop and took a hit away from Smith. Jim Gantner dove behind second to hold another ball in the infield and prevent a run.
"Against a mediocre defensive team, we'd have had 20 hits today and I don't know how many runs," said Keith Hernandez, who had three of St. Louis' futile 15 hits.
"Don't know how many hits we'd have had on a turf field," Herzog said with a growl. "We didn't play on turf. Can't cry about that."
"I'm so glad that a national TV audience could see us kill somebody with leather," said Brewers General Manager Harry Dalton. "It kills me that people think we're just a crunch-and-run club."
The Brewers could hardly have captured this game with more authority. They scored the first time they got to bat as a Simmons ground out scored Yount. When the Cardinals tied matters, 1-1, on a triple by David Green and double by Hernandez double, the Brewers responded with a go-ahead run in their next time at the plate, this time on a Cooper ground out, scoring Molitor.
The Brewers, just like the textbook says, pushed that margin out to 3-1 with a double by Moore and single by Molitor in the fifth. And, when the Cardinals made scary noises with an RBI single from silent George Hendrick in the seventh, what did Yount do but hit that homer for emphasis.
In fact, when the Brewers beat on Sutter in the eighth for two insurance runs with three smoking singles to center, plus a walk, their 6-2 lead entering the ninth looked like overkill. Surely those clutch two-out RBI hits by Moore and Gantner had merely been window dressing, a final cause for celebration by a Milwaukee crowd that hadn't had a world champion in County Stadium in 25 years.
However, the Cardinals actually got the go-ahead run to the plate.
Only those whose sensitivities are ground to dust would say that a one-legged manager who has had heart and stomach surgery could make a sequence of colossal mistakes that almost lost a pivotal Series game for his team. So, let's not say it. Let's pretend that there was nothing unusual in leaving Caldwell on the mound in the ninth as, with one out, Green doubled, Hernandez doubled and Hendrick singled. Let's pretend that anyone might leave in a pitcher who has given up 14 hits and let the tying run get to the plate.
Let's pretend that every Milwaukee heart didn't jump into every Milwaukee throat when Darrell Porter lined reliever Bob McClure's first pitch to right for yet another hit -- go-ahead run now at the plate, tying run on first.
And let's slough over the good fortune needed for McClure to strike out Willie McGee and get Gene Tenace to fly out to end the game. Let's not dwell on why a lefty, McClure, was allowed to work to Tenace, a fellow who once hit four home runs in one World Series.
Above all, don't listen to Tenace when he says how close that last fly out was to a home run that would have turned this Series on its head.
"About two inches farther up on the bat, away from the label," said Tenace, "and that ball is way out of the park."
But, it wasn't. And, now, the Brewers are measuring fingers. The Cardinals, boxes.