Brown’s Hit Inspiration for Pirates
The Pittsburgh Pirates don’t all agree with their new general manager’s assessment that some of the players have attitude problems, but no one is upset that he upbraided them in public.
In fact, some think Joe L. Brown’s threat to trade or bench players with attitude problems, made at a news conference Tuesday, may have been the inspiration for the aggressive way in which they broke a seven-game losing streak that evening, with an 18-hit, 13-2 romp over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Brown, who came out of retirement in late May to replace fired general manager Harding (Pete) Peterson, said at his news conference that “some players are approaching the (losing) problem as if this team is designed to lose. I can’t stand that. If we can’t trade them, they still won’t play.”
Only two players, catcher Tony Pena and new shortstop Johnnie LeMaster, were at Brown’s news conference. But LeMaster said after the game that he felt sure Brown’s words had filtered down to his teammates and probably had contributed to the extra hustle they showed on the field.
“When you’re losing, it doesn’t hurt for someone to scold you. If you’re a family, like Brown says, it doesn’t hurt for your father to bawl you out. In fact, sometimes it’s the best thing that could happen,” said LeMaster.
“Maybe the time has come that we took a little pride in ourselves,” added rookie Joe Orsulak. “It isn’t a question of winning or losing. If every guy gives 100% effort, then we can live with ourselves. You can’t do it for the other guy. This is the big leagues. Everyone is experienced and talented. But you can only play your own game. You can’t play for others.”
Team captain Bill Madlock said he didn’t buy Brown’s theory that some of the players had a bad attitude.
“It’s true that everyone’s not playing up to capabilities--myself included,” Madlock said. “But there are 25 guys here, and I’m not about to say we have the worst attitude.
“Sure, we have the worst record, but I’m not going to say we have the worst team attitude. I know this is just my opinion, but I just can’t say that about my team.”
But Pena and left-handed relief pitcher John Candelaria were willing to say that, though both declined to name names.
The players’ attitude, Pena said, “is really bad . . . the worst in baseball. Look at the Mets. They’re near the bottom of the league in hitting but they’re near first place. We’re ranked higher than them in hitting but we’re in last place.”
“Sometimes it isn’t hitting or pitching (that decides a game). It’s attitude, Pena added. “Sometimes I wonder how much longer I can stand it.”
Candelaria said the team’s losing record is the primary reason he has asked to be traded.
Losing, he said, “has been eating me up. It has been a combined 25-man effort. We just totally stink.”