Wilmington Morning News - April 11, 1980
Maddox gets more time
By Ray Finocchiaro
PHILADELPHIA - A new deadline and a preseason protest.
Those were the only bits of hard news as the Phillies held their final workout before several thousand fans last night at Veterans Stadium for tonight's season-opener with the Montreal Expos.
The new deadline is good news for the Phillies, who will be able to bargain beyond today's original cutoff date for the services of center fielder Garry Maddox, who said he wouldn't negotiate beyond the start of the season if he hadn't signed a new contract.
But Maddox and agent Jerry Kapstein both felt that enough movement had been made to extend the deadline. Kapstein went so far as to say that Maddox and the' Phillies "were close to a new agreement" and that the signing could come in the next few days.
Maddox said he felt "optimistic because they're still working at it. We were at an impasse at one time early in spring training but I've come to 'em a couple of times – I've changed my stance and they've moved a little also."
As for the protest, the Expos took batting practice at the Vet yesterday afternoon and objected to the Phillies' new home-run tableau on the center field tarpaulins, the former home of Phil and Phillis and their defunct cannon.
Expo hitters said the tableau – a cartoonist's depiction of the Philadelphia skyline from th Art Museum to the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, with stops at City Hall and Independence Hall – obstructed their view of the pitched ball.
"Dick Williams (the Expos' manager) threatened to protest the game," said Phillies' vice president Bill Giles, who attended the open-to-the-public workout with a sign around his neck that read: "Plenty of Good Tickets Left." "I talked to (N.L. president Charles) Feeney and told him I couldn't find anything in the rule book against it.
"Anyway, we were supposed to have a 60-foot section of black tarps in dead center and we're extending it to 90 feet right now. If it doesn't work out, we'll move the home run show to the bullpens in left and right fields. I talked to Pete Rose and he said we'd be okay if we took the fountain part of the display down and stopped at City Hall.”
Terrific. So perhaps the fans who watched their favorites hit and dodge baseballs in a batting drill that lasted over an hour in the chill Vet air will be the first – and last – to see the unadulterated view of Philadelphia.
Giles, who's more worried by attendance predictions that range from 35-40,000 for tonight's game, figures the home run show will survive any relocations.
"The home run stuff is done with lights behind the black tarps," he said. "We've got all sorts of tricks planned. It was done by the guy who does the light tricks for the Who. I haven't seen it yet."
Hopefully tonight's fans will... if a Phillies player homers. Steve Carlton will start for the Phillies, but Manager Dallas Green would make no estimates about how many innings Carlton would pitch. Righthander Steve Rogers, a perennial Phillie-killer, will start for the Expos.
Maddox took his swings during last night's workouts to the crowd's cheers. He was fearful that his contract squabble – which Included threats of trades and reports of million-dollar demands – would turn the crowd against him. So far it hasn't happened. And if a new contract is signed, all will be forgiven.
But maybe not forgotten.
"Something as important as this, I just can't put it in the back of my mind and play as if it wasn't happening," Maddox said of the continuing negotiations. "I'm still going into the season unsigned, with the possibility of being traded hanging over my head. That part of it's the same as it was in spring training."
Maddox parried figures about how much he's asking. Reports had him asking for $750,000 with the Phils offering $550,000 per year in a multi-year deal.
"I don't want $800,000... but I'd take it," Maddox smiled. "I'm not asking $700,000, either."
Somebody wondered if Maddox's original demands were so unreasonable and the outfielder shook his head.
"The Phillies said my original demands were reasonable," Maddox said. "What I can't understand is that, if they say I can get what I'm asking for and it's reasonable, why can't! get it from them?
"They just chose to draw the line. That's their right and I have to accept that, but It's still hard to understand. I think we could split the difference right now but they weren't coming up in dollars what we were coming down in dollars."
So why the deadline extension?
"We figure we're close enough to where we feel we can work something out," Maddox said. "Negotiations have been intense and in good faith, so we decided to move back the deadline."
Kapstein, who is handling the negotiations with Phillies' owner Ruly Carpenter from his office in San Diego, Calif., agreed with Maddox.
"We are so close, and enough momentum has been achieved that I am optimistic we can work out something in the next couple of days," Kapstein said. "So I called Ruly Carpenter at his home and told him the deadline is off."
Kapstein declined to discuss areas of agreement, but said both sides had made "significant modifications" and that "we are headed in the right direction." Kapstein said that final agreement could be only four or five days away.
"Some areas of disagreement remain, but I am hopeful they can be settled," he said.
Tonight's 8:05 game features the return of Kiteman. The first two attempts ended less-than-successfully. The first one crashed in the stands and Kiteman II wound up in short center. This year's edition – a Cypress Gardens stunt-kiter named T.J. Beatty – will take three or four steps off a 16-foot long platform in dead center field and let the kite take over.
"The only problem is getting over the bleachers," said Beatty. "Once I'm in the air, I can't get hurt."
Beatty is obviously unaware that there is no Kiteman booed like a Kiteman who lands short of home plate in Veterans Stadium. If his ego is fragile, his aim better be good.