Looking at Series strategies, controversial calls, and designated hitters
St. Louis — The biennial use of the designated hitter rule in World Series play eliminates one of the prime areas for second-guessing, but critics still found a number of managerial moves or non-moves to question this year.
Of course the contrast in styles between the two pilots made comparisons inevitable. Milwaukee's laid back Harvey Kuenn tends to hang in there for long stretches with his starting pitchers, while Whitey Herzog of St. Louis is much quicker to change pitchers. And a case can be made that there were times when each went a little bit overboard.
Kuenn stuck with his starters for what seemed an eternity in the three games at Milwaukee, but it was academic since no outcomes were affected.
Harvey did move more quickly in Game 7, bringing in left-hander Bob McClure in the sixth to relieve Pete Vuckovich. But a question arose later in this frame, too, when he left McClure in to face cleanup man George Hendrick, the Cardinals' most dangerous right-handed hitter, and Hendrick singled home what proved to be the winning run.
Herzog's use of his No. 1 reliever, Bruce Sutter also raised eyebrows a couple of times.
St. Louis led 5-0 in the seventh inning of Game 3 and Milwaukee had the bases loaded with two out and the bottom of the order up when Herzog brought in his ace. In retrospect, that move seemed possibly premature when a situation that cried for Sutter arose the next day and Herzog refrained from using him. Again it was bases load, two out in the seventh, but this time with the score 5-2 and against the heart of the batting order, and the result was a winning six-run rally.
Herzog's explanation - that he didn't want to bring Sutter right back except for a maximum of four outs in the eighth and ninth innings - didn't satisfy everyone either. As one critic put it: ''Whitey himself says he was willing to use Sutter for four outs - and where is it written in stone that they have to be the last four outs?''
Herzog had the last laugh, though, winding up in Game 7 with a rested Sutter, who mowed down the last six Milwaukee batters to preserve the victory. Debatable calls; DH report
* As usual the Series produced several controversial umpiring calls, too. The biggest two came on plays involving Cardinal outfielder Lonnie Smith, and both were by American League arbiters.
The first and by far most crucial instance came in the eighth inning of Game 2 with the score tied, men on first and second, one out, and a 3-2 count. Milwaukee reliever Peter Ladd froze Smith with a pitch that, as he later put it, ''looked like a strike to everybody in the ballpark except Bill Haller.'' Even Smith appeared to realize he had been struck out, and later said as much. But Haller's was the only opinion that counted, so Smith walked, loading the bases, whereupon a seething Ladd lost both his poise and control, walking the next batter on four pitches to force in what proved to be the winning run.
The other play involving Smith came in Game 6. This time the Cardinals' speedster took off in a spectacular bid to steal home. He appeared to have it made, too - especially in several TV replays from various angles - but plate umpire Jim Evans called him out. Again, though, the call turned out to be meaningless in terms of the 13-1 final score.
* For the second time in the four occasions on which the American League's designated hitter rule has been used in World Series play, the National League team made better use of it. The Cardinal designated hitters outhit their Brewer counterparts - largely because of Dane Iorg, who batted .529 and tied the DH record for hits with nine even though he played in only five games. The two times the American League has benefitted from the rule came in 1978, when Reggie Jackson of the Yankees outdid his Los Angeles Dodger counterparts, and 1980, when Kansas City's Hal McRae had a nine-hit Series against Philadelphia.