Allentown Morning Call - April 2, 1980
Phillies not exactly celebrating
By Jack McCallum, Call Sports Writer
COCOA, Fla. – The Philadelphia Phillies found out about the Players' Association stike decision at a ‘76 roadstop on traffic-clogged, raindeluged 1-95. They had just battled an hour of commuter traffic after sleep-playing through a windy and rainy 4-1 loss to the Texas Rangers at Pompano Beach.
So, as they made their way to Cocoa for a game today with the Houston Astros that they now know wouldn't take place, there was not exactly an air of celebrating.
Later, as they settled in for an exciting night at the Holiday Inn bar in Astrotown, a few expressed surprise, but not disappointment, at the strike-now-but-play-Opening-Day decision.
Manager Dallas Green, on orders from the front office, refused any comment on the situation last night.
"No, it's something I don't think a lot of guys on this team thought said Pete Rose, watching his young son, Petie, climb on a golf cart parked outside the inn, "but everybody forgot about some of the big exhibition games coming up. There's California-L.A. and Texas-Houston and the owners will be counting on some of that revenue."
"It not an alternative the Phillies talked about," said Del Unser, "and I think it surprised some of the guys, including myself to some degree. But that's not to say it wasn't discussed by other teams.
"As I think more and more about it, it's really nota bad idea. We make our decision right away, then show our good faith by going out there Opening Day. We're hurting them the owners now a little at the gate but don't forget that Opening Day's a big gate and we're giving them that one.
"Heck, when I was in Cleveland (he played with the Indians in 1972) we had a nice crowd Opening Day and that was it for the season."
"It's not something anyone here foresaw," said Tug McGraw, "but when you think about it, it makes sense. You make it clear to the owners that we are serious. And, at the same time, we're going out of our way to see that baseball is not overly disrupted. If something can't be settled in the time between Opening Day and the season strike date (May 22) something's wrong."
"You know how many days actual negotiating went on?" Rose asked rhetorically. "One. That's all. Now maybe they'll stop bleeping around and make some decisions."
The big question now, of course, is what the players will do to stay in shape in the week (10 days for the Phillies) before Opening Day. The Phillies are meeting this morning at the inn before they go back to Clearwater to discuss it, but it appears many players will stay down in Clearwater.
“In ‘72 (the year of the last player strike) we flew up to Cleveland to work out together and it was just a big waste," said Unser. "I have a lease on my place through next week and a lot of guys are in the same position.
"During the lockout (in 1976) I was with the Mets. Us, the Cards and the Pirates got together and got a high school field in the St. Petersburg area. We had a great time over there but we probably didn't quite get the work in that we would've in a team situation.
"The way it looks now, though, everybody's ready. It's really just a matter of maintaining conditioning. It might hurt certain pitchers but that's about all."
Rose said he and some of the Reds worked out on a Little League field in Tampa during the 76 lockout. He'll be staying in Florida, too.
"I don't know why anybody would go back up to Philly with the weather up there," said Rose. "We'll get a lot more done down here.
"Everybody here's just about ready, most of the regulars anyway, except Garry (Maddox who has a slight muscle pull). And I don't think it'll be any problem for the relievers, either, because they're used to doing their two or three innings. We'll have to see about the starters but (Steve) Carlton went six his last time out and (Randy) Lerch has gone five or six."
McGraw, speaking as a pitcher, said a week of inactivity won't be too damaging even for the starters.
"Early in the season, they're usually only called upon to go maybe five or six innings anyway," said McGraw. "With all the off days and the rainouts, I don't think it will be a problem."
Unser said the week of inactivity will be easier on a veteran team like the Phillies.
"We have enough leadership to get us through something like this," said Unser, a 35-year-old who maintains the physical conditioning of a 25-year-old. "Because of what happened last year, this team wants to get off to a fast start and I think that will work to make guys stay in shape.
The strike is a little more confusing, however, for two Phillies named Vukovich. As nonroster players, neither participated in the strike vote. And as longshots fighting to make the final 25-man roster, the strike certainly hasn't made their playing status any more certain.
"I assume I'll be reassigned," said 23-year-old outfielder George Vukovich. "I'm not as financially well oil as some of the others (ah, understatement) so just waiting around would be tough on me.
"But I'm all for the strike because of what it means in the future for younger players like myself. And if I have to struggle through the next week to stay up here, I'll do it."
The situation is a little tougher for 32-year-old utility infielder John Vukovich who realizes this may be his last real shot at playing a full season.
"I don't want to do anything to give up my chances of making the club," he said, "but I don't really have the bucks to stand a long strike if we go out in May.
"You know, I have no idea whether I'm frozen here or not during the strike. I didn't ask anybody because maybe I really didn't want to know. I'm sure I'll find out soon enough."
Are players really the bad guys?
By John Kunda, Executive Sports Editor
"There's gonna be a lot of people mad at me (for striking) because they know how much money I make. Hell, I don't want any more money." – Pete Rose March 5, 1980
The man in the three-piece suit tried to make it as simple as possible.
"The key to the whole baseball issue," he said, "is that management (the owners) has succumbed to the players' demands back in 1976. The owners were somewhat short-sided on their part and now all this is coming back to bite them."
The man in the three-piece suit is a labor-relations man. He works for a good-sized firm in the Lehigh Valley. He is, by the nature of his employment, pro management.
But what he is saying is as basic as the 37½-hour work week – "What one giveth (in negotiations), one doesn't taketh (back)." In other words, what the owners gave out in 1976 is the players for keeps, forever.
The man in the three-piece suit doesn't believe in the astronomical salaries pro athletes are getting, but he asks, "who started it all?"
The answer is simple – the owners did. They did it with wide-open checkbooks. They started the free agent price war.
"A couple of owners were making so much money, or, had a lot of money to start with that they didn't know what to do with it. so they went out and tried to buy championships," the man in the three-piece suit said. "Now, they want to stop it. Well, that appears to be an impossibility."
There is no doubt that the baseball player is going to be the bad guy in the strike. Multimillionaires rarely get sympathy from the man who goes to work each day with a brown bag tucked under his arm.
The workingman will point to the players' big salaries and say. "I guess the owners will have to raise the ticket prices to pay for them." Thus, he's immediately turned off.
The same workingman should have been turned off when the owners started dishing out the big bucks. Instead, baseball attendance is at an all-time high. At the time, however, whoever thought it would reach the stages it has in the last two years or so.
The players have been taking verbal raps ever since the hint of a strike when spring training opened. You can hear those raps wherever sportsmen congregate.
At Joe DiGiacomo's Bar in Allen-town the adjectives come easily. The players, a number of patrons said, are "over-paid, over-zealous, greedy… they got everything they want. They don't deserve anymore."
A businessman pointed to the risk factor. "Who's taking the risk?" he asked. "Certainly not the players. They are putting up their talent, but the owners have the investment. The owner is taking a business chance and he is looking for a return. Isn't that the way business works?"
At the Beef Baron in Bethlehem, another favorite stop for the sportsman, a young man, who has a Sunday season ticket at Veterans Stadium, called the players "a bunch of leeches… they got the best pension plan, the best pay, what else do they want?"
The young man, who loves baseball so much that he visited a number of the camps this spring, brought up the loyalty factor. "There is no such thing as loyalty anymore," he said. "You can't identify a player by town anymore, you identify him by how much money he makes. It's all wrong."
The veteran players, such as Pete Rose, Tom Seaver and Steve Garvey keep on saying that they are behind the strike because of the younger players. They aren't that much concerned about themselves, they say.
It could be a smoke screen. After all. the veterans got what they wanted, and. as Rose said during spring training: "There's gonna be a lot of people mad at me because they know how much money I make. Hell, I don't want any more money."
Then, there are cases like Larry Bowa. Instant turnoff for Joe Fan.
Bowa DID want to make more money. Never mind that he signed a multiyear contract in 1978 for what amounts to around $300,000 a year. He wanted more when he learned that St. Louis signed its shortstop Gary Templeton to a $4-miIlion contract over six years.
Bowa made a fuss about it at spring training and it got back to Phillies' owner Ruly Carpenter. Bowa apologized publicly. What he did was put his foot in his mouth.
There are others who tried to make bigger demands after signing on for security. And how about Dave Winfield's demands? Talk about turnoff. that's it with a capital “T.”
The situation has been created. The owners gave and now appear to want it back. The players accepted, but still aren't content.
It's a helluva mess all right. The public's losing faith in a hurry. And that means baseball's losing – period.
Strike one… and two
By Hal Bock, AP Sports Writer
DALLAS (AP) – In a move aimed directly at the wallets of baseball's owners, the Major League Player Association voted unanimously yesterday to cancel the remaining 92 exhibition games and threatened to go on strike around May 22 unless a new agreement is signed by that time.
The 26 player representatives said they would open the season on time, removing the threat of a walkout on April 9. In its place, however, the players plan to cut into substantial management income that would have been generated by the remaining exhibitions.
"We refuse to allow them to generate any more money before opening day," said Mike Marshall of the Minnesota Twins, the American League Player rep. "We'll hurt them the most by going out May 22, right before Memorial Day. We are trying to hurt them in the pocketbook, as deeply as we can," said Marshall.
Meanwhile. Kenneth E. Moffett, deputy director of the federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in Washington, said both sides have agreed to meet for talks tomorrow in New York. No time or location was set for the meeting.
"We continue to believe that an early resolution of the differences between the players and the owners is possible and we will be making every effort to bring that about," Moffett said.
Reggie Jackson, player rep of the New York Yankees, called his team's clubhouse in Fort Lauderdale, to deliver the news of the strike.
"We acted in the best interests of 900 players," Jackson said.
The decision on whether the players "will remain in training camp seems to be up to management. According to their representatives, the players are prepared to remain in camp, work out and even play intrasquad games to stay in shape.
"If they ask us to stay in camp and to work under their auspices they must continue to pay expenses and per diems." said Marshall.
The decision did not affect exhibition games scheduled for last night but wiped out 92 games which remained before opening day. April 9. Included in that number was a lucrative freeway series between the California Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers, which had been expected to provide a large amount of revenue for both teams.
No further negotiating sessions were scheduled, but both sides remained on call by a federal mediator, who entered the talks Sunday in Palm Springs, Calif.
In New York, the owners' Player Relations Committee released the following statement:
"We have no comments with respect to the news reports from Dallas and will have none until the Player Relations Committee is officially notified by the players association of the action taken today.
"As you know, negotiations were recessed Sunday evening subject to recall by the federal mediator, Mr. Ken Moffett. Therefore any comments regarding future negotiations should at this time come from Moffett.
"The position of major league baseball remains as it has been throughout these negotiations and that is to seek and achieve a negotiated settlement that is in the interests of the players, the clubs and the fans."
Yesterday's decision followed 20 weeks of what Miller described as fruitless negotiations between the two sides. "Their (management's) strategy has been to provoke a strike and to portray themselves as the wounded party;" Miller said. "Owner demands, not player proposals, have bogged down our meetings. We have spent 95 percent of our time on two owner proposals – salary scales and free agent compensation."
The owners withdrew their salary scale demand two weeks ago but have remained adamant about getting players to agree to a compensation clause attached to free agency.
"I had nothing to present to the players here," Miller said, "not even the outline of a possible settlement. We have had no responses to our proposals."
The decision came eight years to the day and in the same city where the players initiated the only general player strike to date in major league history. That 1972 walkout over pension and health benefits lasted 13 days and caused 86 games to be postponed.
Miller and Ray Grebey, representing management, have been trying to construct a new basic agreement to replace the one which expired Dec. 31, 1979. The basic agreement outlines general working conditions for the players and includes the revolutionary free agent provisions which permit veteran players to move from one team to another.
Owners have demanded a compensation clause allowing teams that lose free agent players to receive replacements from clubs who sign those players.
Miller and the players association -have bitterly opposed any such compensation, fearing it would restrict the marketplace and result in the type of limited free agency which professional football players have.
The decision to seek strike authorization was made March 4, and the question facing the player reps Tuesday was not whether to strike but rather when to strike.
Several clubs favored an immediate walkout, while others reportedly pre-fered to wait until the season is under way and they had received some paychecks.
Miller contended that the owners' intention from the start of negotiations was to force a players' strike, and he insisted that their negotiations had been little more than "surface and cosmetic."
Miller contended that the owners move inviting a federal mediator to join the talks on Sunday was useless because the mediator spent most of his time being briefed on the disagreements between the two sides.
The owners reportedly have assembled a war chest of $3.5 million made up of 2 percent of their 1979 gate receipts. In addition, according to Miller, there is a strike insurance policy which would pay the 26 clubs $1 million per day after the first two weeks of any strike. That would produce $40,000 income daily to help clubs offset the loss of gate and television receipts. Over the course of a season, that could result in nearly $6 million per club.
In addition, the clubs would save payroll expenses for the players at an average salary of $121,000 for a 25-man roster. That would mean another $3 million per club in savings over the course of a full season.