Philadelphia Inquirer - April 1, 1980
Forget it, Kiteman: Strike looks inevitable
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Bill Giles hasn’t started searching for a new Kiteman yet.
“But I’ll tell you what,” Phillies vice president Giles conceded the other day. “I’m getting worried.”
What Giles is worried about is not Kiteman, the free spirit who swoops from the sky toward season-fresh pitching mounds. It’s what Kiteman represents – Opening Day.
And right now, chances that there will be an Opening Day look about as good as Patty Hearst’s chances of winning the Cy Young Award.
The Major League Players Association’s executive board gathers in Dallas today to set a date for the players’ strike that now is inevitable. If, as expected, that date is Opening Day or sooner, not only is the fate of Kiteman up in the air, but so is the entire future of baseball.
“This thing could be a long, drawn-out affair,” said Pittsburg Pirates player representative Phil Garner. “There’ll be a lot of name-calling and a lot of bad feeling. And we (the players) are bound to be the bad guys.”
But the players don’t want to lose this war. And plainly, the owners don’t, either. But today, the ball moves into the players’ court. And here is an examination of the matters they will decide:
Who will attend today’s meeting? The player representatives of all 26 major league teams (Larry Bowa is the Phillies’ representative), plus the National League player rep (Bob Boone) and American League player rep (Mike Marshall, of the Minnesota Twins). Marvin Miller, the players’ chief negotiator, will run the meeting.
“But the board is going to decide,” Boone said, “not Marvin. What Marvin does, and has consistently done, is inform the players. And they decide.”
What are the players’ options? Since all 26 teams have authorized a strike and there has been no change of position by either side on the crucial issue – compensation for free agents – the players simply will set a strike date.
Their three alternatives are: to strike immediately, probably tomorrow; to strike Opening Day (April 9 in Cincinnati and Seattle); to choose a date during the season, possibly as early as the first national TV game (April 12) or as late as Memorial Day.
Why would they start a strike tomorrow? “If you strike now, you don’t put it off,” Garner said. “The merits of doing it now are, we’ve bargained in good faith to this point, and if we go out early we still might avoid the loss of playing dates.
“Sooner or later,” Garner said, “there’s going to have to be a strike. So why put it off?”
What are the chances the strike will begin tomorrow? About 50-50. Several player reps have said publicly that they favor going out immediately. And Marshall also is said to be in the do-it-now camp.
But Boone seems to favor waiting, and so do a number of other Phillies. In general, the players who least want a strike are the ones attempting to forestall an immediate strike.
What are the merits of waiting until Opening Day? “There’s still a lot of wishful thinking on players’ parts that if you go early, before the season, something could be negotiated out,” Boone said. “But I don’t know that that’s true. I don’t see any signs of that happening.”
The owners have known for 20 weeks that they would have to compromise on free-agent compensation, and they haven’t, Boone feels. So why would a strike in spring training motivate them?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of waiting until later in the season? “If you start too early, it’s too easy on the owners,” Bowa said. “The owners anticipate that in April they’re going to have rainouts and bad crowds, so they wouldn’t lose too much. Why make it that easy?”
Waiting until May 1 or Memorial Day also means that players will have drawn a few paychecks. But on the other hand, strike after the season has begun creates serious problems, including a potential break in the ranks by players. Bowa is aware of that.
“What happens if you’ve got a team that jumps to a seven-game lead or something, then there’s a strike?” he said. “They might say, ‘Hey, we’ve got momentum going. We don’t want to go now.’
“Or suppose somebody’s hitting .390. Is he going to want to strike? I don’t know, but I think the players have enough respect for Marvin that even if you’re hitting .390 and Marvin says, ‘That’s it,’ then that’s it.”
If the strike began immediately, what would the players do? They probably would remain in Florida as long as they had a place to stay. They would, however, have to find their own sites to work out, because they couldn’t use team facilities.
What would managers and coaches do during a strike? Whatever the owners tell them to do. “Ruly might tell me to take a vacation. I don’t know,” said manager Dallas Green.
What could prevent a strike? Only a withdrawal of the owners’ free-agent compensation proposal, Boone said.
“I don’t know if the owners think we’re kidding or what,” he said. “But if that compensation issue stays up, there’s not going to be baseball, period.”
The owners want to use major league players, not amateur draft choices, as compensation for teams that lose free agents. All the players want, Boone said, is “exactly what we’ve got right now.”
How long would a strike last? “It might be a month. It might be two months,” Garner said. “I can’t conceive of it being the whole season, because I don’t think they (the owners) would want to suffer the loss that long.
“But maybe it will be the whole season. I guess we’ll all have to wait to find out.”
NOTES: Steve Carlton had a strange outing in the Phillies’ 7-3 loss to the Yankees last night. Carlton had his A-1 slider, striking out four of the first six hitters, and nine altogether in his six-inning stint. But he also had less than his best fastball and allowed eight hits and four runs…. The Yankees’ Ron Guidry had a string of 9-1/3 hitless innings interrupted by a Manny Trillo single leading off the fourth. Mike Schmidt followed with the first of two homers (Nos. 6 and 7 of the spring), a cannon over the shrubbery beyond the fence in left. Schmidt’s other homer was a muscle job over the 325 sign in right…. Lerrin LaGrow gave up his first run in nine spring innings in the seventh…. Jim Kaat (spring ERA: 0.00 in 12 innings) shut the Phils out in the seventh and eighth.
Miller: Owners have strike fund
By the Associated Press
DALLAS – Major league baseball owners have assembled a strike fund and insured themselves to the point that a walkout by players might be profitable for the clubs, Marvin Miller, executive director of the players’ association, said last night.
“The owners taxed themselves 2 percent of last season’s gate, amounting to about $3.5 million,” said Miller, who arrived here for today’s meeting of the union’s executive board.
“We understand they also have strike insurance that will pay the 26 clubs $1 million per day after the first two weeks of a strike. There is also an override on top of that, insured by Lloyd’s of London for $40 million.
Miller has said throughout 20 weeks of fruitless negotiations that he believes that the owners are trying to provoke a strike.
“They see it as a time to take the players on, to dismantle the players’ association,” he said. “They have been on the offensive for four years. During the negotiations, 95 to 98 percent of our time has been spent on owner demands.”
Miller said more than nine hours of meetings that included a federal mediator have been concerned totally with owner demands. Asked what had been accomplished at that meeting, Miller said: “Absolutely nothing. We accomplished zero.”
Phillies trade catcher Rader to the Red Sox
By Jayson Stark
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The most available catcher in baseball finally found a team that wanted him yesterday.
The Phillies sent the much-traveled Dave Rader to the Boston Red Sox for a player to be named later.
With Carlton Fisk hurting again, Rader will get a chance to be the regular catcher in Boston, Red Sox manager Don Zimmer said.
It will be Rader’s fifth team in five years. He got to the plate only 54 times for the Phillies last season and totaled but 11 hits (.204).