John Felske took the fall, but people in and around the Philadelphia Phillies think their problems run deeper than one quiet manager. In 1983, when things clicked, the Phillies were seen as something akin to the Waltons, with a nice old man running the team (Paul Owens) and a sharp young man handling the money (Bill Giles).
And there were others scattered around, a sharp coach named Bobby Wine, a respected scout named Hugh Alexander and a couple more. Everyone, it seemed, had a voice in running the Phillies.
That was then, and this is now. And now, Joe Cowley can't throw strikes and Lance Parrish may get run back to the American League and Mike Schmidt is probably in his last year of full-time play. So now, Felske -- fired as manager -- takes the fall, and a bigger problem may be unsolved.
"I think Bill Giles should take charge a little bit more," said San Diego Padres Manager Larry Bowa, a former Phillie. "Everyone calls the Phillies' front office the 'Court of Seven.' The story around the league is that every time they want to make a trade, they have to take a vote. It's hard to get seven guys agreeing on anything."Seaver: Second Thoughts
After getting hit hard a couple of times, Tom Seaver is again talking like a man considering retirement. "I didn't see a whole lot of improvement," he said after a simulated-game shelling this week. "From a realistic point of view, there's a possibility I won't make it. Everybody's mind is ahead of my body." . . .
The Detroit Tigers' signing of Bill Madlock is the best indication yet they will win the American League East. Here's why: In 1979, he was traded from San Francisco to Pittsburgh and hit .328 the rest of the year to help the Pirates win a World Series; in 1985, he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and he hit .360 to help them win their division; and, as the weekend began, he was hitting .380 and the Tigers had gone 9-4 since his arrival . . .
The Dodgers still don't know what to make of Fernando Valenzuela's slump, but the longer it lasts, the more National League scouts are convinced he has an arm problem. As the weekend began, he'd won only one of his last seven starts and had allowed four or more runs in seven of his last nine.
By comparison, seven former Dodgers pitchers had as many or more victories than Valenzuela's five: Sid Fernandez of the Mets (8-3), Rick Sutcliffe of the Cubs (9-3), Rick Rhoden of the Yankees (8-4), Dave Stewart of the A's (7-7), Tommy John of the Yankees (7-2), Charlie Hough of the Rangers (6-2) and Ted Power of the Reds (5-3). They total 50-24 . . .
The California Angels have banned alcoholic beverages from their clubhouse and team flights. This move apparently is one result of John Candelaria's much publicized drinking problems this year, but also because of a court ruling that people who serve drinks to drunks are responsible for their behavior . . .
Former Angel Darryl Sconiers is playing a second straight year at San Jose and leading the Class A California League in hitting. The money apparently isn't too good because he recently had his car repossessed . . .
How bad are the Chicago White Sox going? So bad that Tuesday in Seattle, Carlton Fisk hit a fly down the left field line, and, as Mariners left fielder Phil Bradley went to catch the ball, he bumped White Sox bullpen catcher Ron Karkovice. Fisk was called out on interference. . .
The Atlanta Braves would like to take second baseman Damaso Garcia and wrap him in a big package and ship him back to Toronto. He'll make $850,000 this year and might not play a game. He had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee March 31. At the time, the estimate was that he'd play again in two weeks. He hasn't played since, and last Tuesday agreed to a second operation. Then, on Wednesday, he changed his mind and said he didn't want the surgery . . .
Boston's Roger Clemens is 2-0 with two shutouts against Cleveland, but 3-6 with a 3.86 ERA against the rest of the league. He has struck out Cleveland's Cory Snyder six straight times, and Joe Carter is one for 20 . . .
Here's to the old guys. From May 31 through June 17, Phil Niekro and Steve Carlton were 4-0 with a 1.95 ERA. They averaged 6 2/3 innings per start. The Indians' other starters -- Greg Swindell, Tom Candiotti and Ken Schrom -- were 1-4 with a 6.35 ERA in that span . . .
Charles Hudson's slump was so bad the Yankees sent him to the minors. Since starting 6-0 with a 2.02 ERA, he has gone 0-2 with three no-decisions and a 9.47 ERA. . .
A San Jose sportswriter has nicknamed Oakland A's rookie Mark McGwire "Marco Solo." That's because 15 of his 21 homers have come with no one on base, and 10 have led off innings . . .
How bad are the Red Sox going? So bad that leadoff man Ellis Burks has 10 homers and cleanup hitter Jim Rice has four . . .
The Red Sox are worried that Bill Buckner's career might be over. He was put on the disabled list Friday and his hip injury is more severe than first thought. The Red Sox have a couple of kids ready to take his place . . .
Eric Davis gets the headlines, but on the Reds they don't overlook their two platooning left fielders. Tracy Jones and Kal Daniels are hitting better than .300 and have totaled 21 homers and 51 RBI. Davis has 21 homers and 57 RBI . . .
Scouts love young Oakland catcher Terry Steinbach, who has thrown out 21 of 44 would-be stealers.
Bryn Smith turned down a $150,000 guaranteed contract from the Expos, choosing instead to sign for the major league minimum of $62,500. But he also receives $11,000 per start and has already made 10. Salary so far: $172,500 . . . Stability of the Yankees, part 99: Rhoden joined the club in January and already has more seniority than 11 other players . . .
Through Friday, Atlanta catcher Ozzie Virgil has hit more homers (17) than he has thrown out would-be stealers (15 for 75). Quote of the Week
"In my opinion, he can play third base as good as Brooks Robinson." -- Indians Manager Pat Corrales on Boston's Wade Boggs.