Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Friday, April 13, 2012

Part Two : Mike Marshall, on Dodger Years, Managing and more

What follows is a continuation of a transcript from the promotional event in Mill Valley on April 11th with San Rafael Pacifics Manager and former Dodger outfielder, Mike Marshall.    Marshall was joined by 25 year veteran baseball executive Mike Shapiro who worked approximately 20 years with Stan Kasten in Atlanta and Washington.  The interview was conducted by Bay Area Sportstalk host Bruce Macgowen.  Macgowen also allowed 5 questions from the audience, a sparce crowd of approximately 20 persons.  Of the 5 questions, three were asked by me and are provided towards the end of this transcript.  Portions of the event were not included due to the longevity and topics of answers that didn’t pertain to this forum. 

Bruce Macgowen:  The steroid era was just starting up when I covered the Oakland A’s.  I was telling Mike about this, I’d go to the clubhouse after the game to get interviews and you couldn’t find anyone because they were all working out with weights.  The whole team was in there.  Did that kind of freak you out when you first saw that happening?
Mike Marshall: Um, not a whole lot.  I never experienced it first hand.  We saw it, body building, weight training, supplements, creatine.  you know it was all starting to come over from the Olympics, it was coming over from Europe.  Track and Field.  Nobody ever thought that you could build that kind of muscle and play baseball.  It just didn’t go hand and hand.  With the guys that lifted weights, you saw if they got a little bit too muscle bound, they’d not be able to swing the bat...but there were these really talented athletes that found the ability to add that strength and not lose very much flexibility.  And for 5 or 6 years there, the numbers, wow.  Putting strength into the game of baseball that had never been there.  I’m kind of glad I really wasn’t part of it, you know I went over to Japan and then retired.  I’m kind of glad that I wasn’t put in that situation.  I would have been the perfect guy to do that.
Bruce Macgowen:  Do you think you might have done it, been tempted to?
Mike Marshall:  Well I hate lifting weights.  There’s nothing worse than having to go and lift weights, it’s so tedious.  I love to practice.  You know my weight lifting was to take 200 swings or take 200 fly balls, or to play long toss.  I loved to get my strength by playing, I would have never thought that training and conditioning was the way to go.  I practiced the game to play the game.  I went to Spring Training after leaving the Dodgers to the Mets and then the Red Sox and it was like 1:00 pm and I’d turn around and say, “Where is everybody?”  It’s not even one o’clock and everyone’s on the golf course.  With the Dodgers, Tommy was just getting going.  And many, many nights we would be turning on the lights playing until 8 or 9 at night right through dinner and we would still be on the field.  So that’s the way we trained.  I just liked playing.   
The other thing that happened, and we could spend hours on the topic, was that the money was starting to evolve.  Arbitration and free agency.  All of a sudden players were starting to make 4, 5 maybe 10 million dollars.  When that kind of money is on the table, you are getting compared to everybody else with stats.  Unfortunately, even myself, I got caught up in that, to put up big numbers.  We forgot about what really mattered and that was team, the organization and winning games.  Playing it the right way.  When it was all said and done, there was probably more good that came out of it.  I’m kind of glad that they have controlled it.
The conversation continued on in more detail about the steroid era and the impact it had on the game.  Eventually the interviewer turned the discussion to Tommy Lasorda.

Bruce Macgowen: The thing about baseball is the characters that made the game what I think it is.  You had Tommy Lasorda, about as colorful a guy as there can be.  Was he as irascible and crazy in the clubhouse as we believe?
Sports Illustrated photo, October 1988

Mike Marshall: Oh my goodness.  Everybody asks me about Tommy.  The enthusiasm, the way he handled the players.  Game strategy.  Whenever I have a setting like this where I have to go and give a speech or something, I just tell Tommy stories. (Audience laughs).    We’d go to Philadelphia, his whole family was from Morristown, PA, so whenever we’d go to Philadelphia we’d go to his restaurant.  And it was after the Godfather, and we know the horse head scene.  He would get on Sax, Steve Sax.  I mean he loved Sax, but he would always get on him.  We had a festival at his restaurant and they had one of those big pig heads, you know with the apple in the mouth and the ugly face with teeth.  I get a call when we get back (to the hotel) and Sax is telling me that I gotta help him because he doesn’t know what’s going on.  There was a pigs head in his bed.   Tommy had gotten the pig head back from the restaurant, got in his room, put that ugly thing under the sheets.   Saxy got into bed, there’s that big ugly thing.  (audience laughter).  I mean we had guys like Jerry Reuss, Jay Johnstone, and Burt Hooton.
Bruce Macgowen:  Jay Johnstone was one of the craziest guys I ever heard of.
Mike Marshall: Crazy.  Tommy had to hide his clothes.  On every road trip in spring, Tommy would go to all the exhibition games, the national anthem would be played and Tommy’s clothes would be hanging up there on the flag pole.  He’d come back from a game and his nice $200 shoes would be nailed to the wall.  It was quite an experience, Reuss and Johnstone and the people I got to meet.
Bruce Macgowen: Then there’s a guy like Orel Hershiser, who was like a goody two shoes all American kid who would apologize for saying “Gosh.”  I got to meet him when he came to the Giants for one year.  He was just a sweetheart.
Mike Marshall:  And that’s why Tommy, because of that, it was like Orel was going 8-10 and 10-10 and Tommy was like you’ve got the stuff to be the best in baseball.  From now on you’re the bulldog.  I want bulldog mentality, you’re the bulldog.  And he looks like a poodle, but Tommy said bulldog and he wanted him to be fierce and tough and then all of a sudden, it came all together.  
If you had to pick a guy that you’d have to play for, it’s Tommy Lasorda.  He just is baseball.  He has magic.    Who’d have thought that he could take the kids on the Olympic team after he retired and win a gold medal and beat Cuba.  I saw him last year at the winter meetings and he’s still going strong in his golf cart in spring training in Arizona.  You’ll see him at the games again, I’m sure he’ll be close to Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten in this new era with the Dodgers,  I mean, he’ll forever be the Dodgers.    I was very, very fortunate to get to play for him.
Bruce Macgowen: The unofficial ambassador for Major League Baseball.  The writers loved him because they could always go to him.  Sometimes he would pepper his phrases with salty language that the writers just loved.  The radio and TV guys weren’t interested in it because we couldn’t play it on the air.  The famous story about Dave Kingman, where a reported asked him his opinion of Kingman’s Performance.  Tommy aswered him with “What the blank do you think I thought of it, he hit three blanking home runs!”  
Marshall: And you know the greatest thing about Tommy was that he never forgot a name.  The other thing is that Tommy could go off on a F bomb tirade using it every other word for 15 minutes and just go nuts and then about ten minutes later, he might have three nuns in his office sipping tea and talking calmly.  The cardinal from the church would arrive.  I never saw a guy that could turn it off, then turn it on, never forget a face.  He had it all, he is just a personality.  The same guy that was cussing away is now hosting a tea and coffee chat with three nuns as if the tirade never happened.
Bruce Macgowen:  He loved being in L.A. I think.  The celebrity, notoriety.  Playing in L.A. was different.  Mike, I don’t know if I can mention this, because his wife is here, but I’m sure she probably knows.  Mike went out with Belinda Carlisle, lead singer of the GoGos..  Did you get a lot of flack from your teammates?  Did they rib you a lot about that?
Mike Marshall: It didn’t really last that long.  Because their rock group was touring a lot.  It was really Bobby Welch that got me into it, there was another girl, she had a group called “X” and her name was Excene.  He dragged me to a concert one night, the GoGos were opening.  Nobody knew who the GoGos were.  I met her and we dated, but it wasn’t, uh, what can I say? Baseball and rock stars in the 80s, that’s not a good thing....I saw the handwriting on the wall with a lot of athletes.  the Steve Howe thing was bubbling at the time with the cocaine problem...that was a real problem, almost an epidemic with not only society but it leaked into baseball.  I was very fortunate, you know, the Dodgers were very straight laced.  We wore a coat and tie when we traveled, we didn’t drink on the planes and the way the O’Malley’s ran things  for the most part..and then when Steve Howe problem happened, it was a real issue.  I’m kind of glad that that’s out of baseball also.
Macgowen: Tim Raines told us that he broke the cocaine vials in his pocket once when he slid into second base while stealing.  It was that endemic to the game back then.
Marshall:  Yeah, young guys with a lot of money.  A lot of people just didn’t know.
Macgowen: Well at least you weren’t around in the early 70s when Doc Ellis pitched a no-hitter under the influence of LSD...

Mike Shapiro: We had a different situation in the Giants clubhouse in the late 80s, early 90s.  Roger Craig ran not what I’d call a tight ship but he had clubhouse leaders like Bob Brenly.  But there were some guys that had different issues doing on.  Kevin Mitchell, who was a great guy,  very funny, light hearted kind of guy, but I remember getting a phone call in the middle of the night to come and get him out of jail.  He had this love for guns and at night he’d go outside and shoot them off.  He got arrested and they took all the guns away from him.  A few weeks later, I get another phone call, Kevin’s in jail again for shooting off his guns.  In the middle of Redwood City.  You just can’t go around shooting off guns in Redwood City.
Macgowen: Well do we have questions from the audience.  We’ve been going on here for a while.  What about you sir in the front row,
(He selects me)
Evan Bladh:  Yes, I have a question for Mike Marshall.  I know when you came up in ’81, I think you were Minor League Player of the Year.  There was transition period with the Dodgers just starting.  A changing of the guard per se.  You had, Garvey, Lopes, Cey, Dusty Baker, Reggie Smith, they were coming towards the tail end of their careers with the Dodgers.  Eventually they started to be dealt off and traded away.  So you came up, and Sax and Candy Maldonado, Brock, Alejandro Pena, a new core of youngsters.  How were you received by the old vets, who had to see the writing on the wall with their careers coming to an end?  Were they accommodating towards the young up and comers that were gunning for their jobs?  How was it?
Mike Marshall:  You know it’s interesting.  That’s a great question.  I think that that group of guys did the same thing that they experienced with the late 60s and early 70s Dodgers.  There was a lot of success there in the early 70s and that group with Wes Parker, Wills, Willie and Tommy Davis.  So I think it was a very intelligent group of guys that they realized and understood the Dodger way and what was going to happen.  Ron Cey went to the Cubs, Lopes to the A’s and Cubs. Garvey to the Padres, Dusty with the Giants and A’s.  And quite a few of the pitchers, Burt Hooton went to the Astros, Charlie Hough went to Texas.  So, you know what, looking back on it, you would think that they would be more bitter and they wouldn’t have treated us well, but I can’t say that.  
I mean they gave me number five, so I had six and seven right next to me which was Garvey and Yeager.  I’ll never forget, I was having trouble hitting and I came in and they gave me a prescription for some glasses.  That’s what they did when you had trouble hitting, you go and see the eye doctor.  So I’m talking to Steve Yeager about it, and I said “yeah, I kind of like your glasses.”  He wore glasses when he caught and they wrapped around.  And at the time they were kind of high tech, they wrapped around, they were really neat.  And the next day, he had bought me two sets of glasses. He had taken my prescription in and had two sets of glasses made for me.
Steve Garvey, he’d take me out to dinner.  Billy Russell, a really, really great group of guys.  I think that they knew it was their time.  I would have to say, eh, maybe it came from Tommy, you know Tommy had all those guys from back in the minors, Triple A Albuquerque.  Probably Tommy just said, you know, it’s time.  Unfortunately Al Campanis had the issue with Nightline and the famous Ted Koppel thing were he got himself in hot water with what he said, but I must say that Al Campanis was the architect of all that system development.  He was the architect of how we were moving guys a little bit before everybody knew they needed to be moved.  He was a real genius, it was sad that later on in his career he would make mistakes with what he said.  He was uninformed.
So yeah, to answer your question.  Those guys were great.  Reggie Smith, Dusty Baker.  They all knew they still had some time left but they knew that this group of guys was going to take over and be the 80s.
Bruce Macgowen:  You mentioned Reggie Smith, there was a guy that was kinda...he would be a good guy to have in your corner.  He went through a lot and boy, if there was any kind of racial slight or you were looking down on him, he’d challenge you to a fight like that.
Mike Marshall: Yeah, and again, going back to those players that played in the late 60s and early 70s, especially the African-American players.  There was a time when there were only a couple of African-American players on each team, and it started to grow and Henry Aaron and Dusty Baker, those guys having to play in Atlanta.  Going down to Houston and playing in the South.  I mean it was still bad, going to Spring Training in Florida.  Those guys for years and years and years, when you go down to Vero Beach where our Spring Training was, they couldn’t eat in the same places.  Still in the 60s and early 70s a lot of those players all experienced that.  For me personally, what an education I got, being with Reggie Smith.  You know, he played in Boston at a time when black men didn’t play in Boston, unless you were a Celtic.  It was tough.  He taught me a lot about life.  A lot about baseball.  How to conduct myself.  What an experience getting to play with him.  You talk about walking in someone’s shoes, the Hank Aarons and the Dusty Bakers, and the Bob Gibsons. (interrupted)
Bruce Macgowen: Did you ever face Bob Gibson?
Mike Marshall: No, he was retired by then.  J.R. Richard, I faced J.R., and so...Dusty talked about it a lot, he was close to Henry Aaron and those guys overcame a lot.
Bruce Macgowen:  Who was the toughest pitcher you ever faced?
Mike Marshall:  You know stats wise, I looked back on that because everybody asks me that question.  I was something like 1 for 22 against John Candelaria.  I think about it now and six foot seven or eight, a left hander with those good Pirate teams.  John Candelaria gave me fits.  For pure, “I can’t believe what I just saw” stuff, there were three guys.  The early on Doc Gooden.  For one year, Mike Scott and forever, Nolan Ryan.  You kept waiting for when 99 MPH would end with Ryan.  He was 41 or 42 years old and we were in a  tie game in the top of the ninth.  0-0, and the bases were loaded.  He hit me with a 99MPH fastball, he was 41(years old) I think.  
I’m telling you, one of the saddest things I saw, the greatest talent I ever saw on a baseball field for a short period of time was Doc Gooden.  I mean, 95, 96 MPH and it looked like he was playing catch.  And Mike Scott, did he pitch a little for the Giants?
Macgowen: No, I believe it was the Astros.
Marshall: Astros, before I think it was the Mets.  Anyway, that year he won the Cy Young, I don’t know if he was cheating, or if Roger had taught him the split finger.
Macgowen:  He used to scuff up the baseball and Giant fans would rub emory boards together when he pitched.
Marshall: Whether he was cheating or not.  He was doing things to a baseball that made them un-hittable.  I mean balls were dropping and they were going over 90 MPH.  It was unfair there for a year or so.
Shapiro: Let me tell you a story.  That year (1986), Roger Craig was collecting the baseballs to build this case against Mike Scott.  He told me to put a camera down the first base line and fix it to film Mike Scott.  He said “I know he’s scuffing up the baseball and I’m going to come out to the mound, and you keep that camera focused on him, because at some point he’s going to drop that sandpaper or whatever he’s using to scuff the ball.”  So sure enough, its like the 5th or 6th inning. Craig has collected all the balls.  They’re all scuffed up.  He goes out to the mound and starts yelling and screaming at the umpires.  I tell the cameraman to stay on Mike Scott.  At the end of the game we go back to the clubhouse, now Roger had gotten thrown out, we set up a monitor to look at the tape and see if we had footage that Mike Scott had dropped an emory board, which everybody could see, but we wanted it on tape.  So the cameraman’s on Mike Scott, Mike Scott, Mike Scott, and Roger comes out and starts arguing.  The umpire throws him out of the game, and the camera cuts away for a second to show it.  Then back to Mike Scott and the emory board is already on the ground.  We missed it.
Evan Bladh: (to Mike Marshall) What are your recollections of Fernando Valenzuela and “Fernandomania?”
Mike Marshall:  Quick story.  I’m in Reno, Nevada.  I’m playing for the Lodi Dodgers and I’m 19 years old.  It’s a half an hour before the game and they tell us that we signed a kid out of Mexico, he’s 19 years old and he’s pitching that night and I’m playing first base.  It was Fernando Valenzuela.  He had hair down to about here, (points to his shoulders). Big long black hair.  He didn’t speak a word of English.  He was from somewhere in Mexico and Mike Brito had signed him.  He threw about 90 MPH.  He had a curve ball.  I think we got beat that night.  It was nothing special.  It was towards the end of the season.  
So we went to Spring Training the next year and Bobby Castillo, a Mexican-American, right handed pitcher, taught him the screwball.  And the next year we went up to Double A in San Antonio and it got a little more interesting,  He still didn’t speak any English.  He’s still drinking his Budweiser.  He’s 20 now and Hershiser was on that staff.  And all of a sudden he’s lights out.  He’s up to the big club.  He didn’t even go to Triple A.  Next year there’s a bunch of injuries coming out of Spring Training and this kid could flat out pitch. With a screwball, change up, threw over 90 MPH.  He’s a heck of an athlete and he’s the guy.  That was another move by Al Campanis.  He had no fear.  You know Freddie didn’t even go to Triple A, he pitched opening day against the Astros, I think he struck out 12 or 13 guys and threw a 3 hitter, and Fernandomania starts.  

You know, to see him at 19 and then the changes at 20.  It just shows you that one pitch, just one little change, what can happen.  And then to be a Mexican American pitching in Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine.  The year the Dodgers won in ’81, I got called up at the end of the year.  But to be a part of that.  And then to experience something very similar with Orel Hershiser with dominating, dominating performances.  It was special.  
I must say though if I say anything negative about Tommy, I think he over-pitched him.  Fernando got a little afraid of his stuff about mid-way through his career and his pitch counts were in the 150s and 160s.  He was afraid to throw in the middle of the plate and his stuff wasn’t quite as good.  Tommy would just leave him out there and leave him out there and got Fernando burned out a little bit.  Fernando was treated much like the Japanese treat their guys.  They just keep them out there and burn them out a little bit.  But we didn’t have much of a bullpen and Fernando wanted to keep going out there.  But I would say, if there’s anything negative, and I love Tommy, but I would say he I thought he overused Fernando a little bit in his mid twenties and I think it took a toll on his career.
Bruce Macgowen: Dusty Baker told me that the one mistake that Tommy made was at the end of the 1980 season, the Dodgers beat the Astros three straight to force the one game playoff and Fernando was a rookie and the hottest pitcher on his staff, and Tommy wasn’t sure about him enough to start him in the one-game playoff.  So he went with the veteran, it was Dave Goltz and he lost.  So with Dusty, here it was 13 years later and they needed a win to win the division and so he went with the young hot hand, Solomon Torres.  And he lost and Dusty was second guessing himself for years later.
Other comments made during the night:
Asked by an audience member to further to elaborate about concentration and being in a “zone” while playing:
Mike Marshall: From the age of 18 years old until 32-33 years old, I swung a baseball bat everyday of my life.  And i equate it to a Michael Phelps, the Olympic Swimmer, or a skier or somebody that trains at a high level.  And I was close to maybe a top level player, I wasn’t a Hall of Famer but I was an All Star and I played on World Championship teams.  The dedication and the hours I spent on the baseball field, was what it takes.  Ken Griffey Jr., an extremely talented player, the most talented kid I’ve ever seen.  He could kind of almost just walk out on the field.  But I can’t imagine how many times I swung a baseball bat.  And so when you do something that many times, and you work at something that hard, and then you get to do it at the highest levels and compete against the best.  it’s just something, I’d say it’s a confidence thing.
But believe me.  Later on in my career, when I became not an everyday player and I’d pinch hit or I was having trouble.  It was funny because I would hear the crowd.  I’d hear the Giant fan talking to me, just saying things.  It’s funny, you’re not always in the zone and you have to train for it and work at it.  I would imagine those race car driver and those skiers going down the slopes at those incredible speeds, it’s the same thing, like an out of body experience.
50,000 people at Dodger Stadium and I hit a home run to win the game and I come around and I touch home plate and there’s your teammates, and all of a sudden you hear the crowd.  For all that time you’re performing, you’re just in another world.  It’s hard to explain. 
On Sports psychologists in the game today
Marshall:  Now, with sports psychologists.  I’m kind of in to that now.  You see a guy that totally blew the game and he says something like, “I’m beyond that.”  You can see that the sports psychologists are training these athletes that failure isn’t in the equation.  It was a big part of our equation, we succeeded out of a fear of failure sometimes.  We didn’t want to fail.  And now the sports psychologists are changing the mentality where even when they fail, its either not their fault or they don’t want to dwell on it.  That is really interesting to have that attitude.  
The negative and feeling like you let your team down, especially with all the money you’re making, it’s hard on you.  These sports psychologists at the high levels of sports have these athletes convinced that there is nothing negative, everything is positive.  So that’s another way the game and sports have evolved.
Mike Marshall was asked to define his managerial style
Marshall: It has really changed.  I grew up in an era where a teammate could punch another teammate over a mistake.  Or a football coach could grab a players face mask and a manager could get in your face.  And you know, you can’t do that anymore.  The Larry Bowa type of managing anymore doesn’t work.  Leo Durocher managed with fear, he’d get in a players face and he could intimidate the other team or hey could intimidate his players.  Tommy did it in kind of a funny way.  You used to be able to intimidate umpires.  You can’t do that anymore.  Players today are making 5, 6, 10 times what the managers are making.  Back then , the managers made more than the players.  Tommy was making more than I was, but now it’s not like that.  
It is society and the mentality that has changed.  When I was playing. there was the intimidation, and fear factor we had in our manager or football coach.  Now, players will quit on you.  Players will quit on you.  So you watch the demeanor of the dugout.  You watch if a player boots a ball or if a pitcher makes a bad pitch.  Look at Bruce Bochy and how calm he is.  If Lincecum gives up a home run, you look at the manager...nothing.  Heck, Tommy and Larry Bowa and these managers they couldn’t even watch the game.  Tommy would leave the dugout in the 9th if we were in a one run game.  Now the players feed off the manager and how the manager reacts.  They see how he responds to a player making an error or a base running mistake.  So to answer your question, I have really had to change.  
You can’t kick the water cooler anymore.  You can’t show emotion, cuz the players feed off of you.  You need to keep yourself under control.  Pick your spots when you can argue with an umpire.  You can’t argue with an umpire every inning, you can’t do it.  Players will argue with umpires every inning and will lose focus.  I take a little of Tommy and a little of Mike Scioscia and a little of Kirk Gibson and Orel Hershiser and Sparky Anderson and Chuck Tanner.  All these great managers and Del Crandell my minor league manager.  I take as many good qualities that I learned from them during my career.  And if you watch, it’s an amazing thing to see how managerial styles have evolved over the last ten years because the Larry Bowa style with today’s player doesn’t work anymore.
Scioscia’s probably the most volatile of the bunch.  Scioscia’s still got that going.  He’s still yelling at the umpires and he’s still emotional.

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