Wilmington Evening Journal - April 2, 1980
Status of spring training left in doubt for Phillies
By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor
COCOA, Fla. – For the Phillies, the status of spring training remained in doubt today.
Sure, the remaining seven exhibition games have been canceled, but what about workouts? Will the players be able to use club-owned equipment and practice at Jack Russell Stadium and other club facilities?
Many of those questions were "expected to be answered today during a team meeting.
In the wee hours of the morning, Larry Bowa, the Phils' player representative, and Bob Boone, National League representative, held a closed-door session to explain details of the action taken by the Major League Players Association executive board yesterday in Dallas.
At that meeting, the board voted to strike the remainder of spring training, but to open the season as scheduled. Then, if an agreement with the owners is not reached by May 22, another strike will be held.
"Damn!" blurted Manager Dallas Green when he heard the news. "All our hard work goes down the drain. It was for nothing. This is the one thing I was worried about, the only anxiety I had. A strike was the one thing I felt could hurt us most."
Even though today's Grapefruit League game with Houston will not be played, the drivers of the two buses were told to continue here after yesterday's rain-abbreviated loss to Texas at Pompano Beach.
And to the players' amazement, they were told to spend the night at the Holiday Inn rather than return to spring-training headquarters in Clearwater.
Soon after they checked in, Green told them he will hold his session today.
"There are a lot of things I want to go over and this is a good place to hold it," he said.
"I guess he is going to tell us what the club's policy is going to be from here on out," said Pete Rose. "Will we be able to work out as a team, or are we going to be on our own? Those are the things we want to know."
Bowa and Boone returned to Tampa from Dallas after 10 o'clock last night and because there was so much concern, decided to drive straight to Cocoa and brief their teammates. They arrived a few minutes before 1 a.m.
In Dallas, some of the player representatives said they felt it would be in the owners' best interest to keep the camps open even though 92 exhibition games have been canceled.
"Everybody is still in the dark about the particulars," said left fielder Greg Luzinski.
"I think we all forgot to realize that there are some big exhibition games still left," added Rose. "You know, there are some in the Astrodome and some on the West Coast. I guess this is why this action was taken. But, by setting the May 22 deadline, there is ample time for progress to be made in the negotiations that is if they don't wait until May 20 to start talking again."
In Clearwater, Phils' owner Ruly Carpenter and Player Personnel Director Paul Owens had little to say. In fact, owners' representative Ray Grebey sent a telex to each club official stating that they were to reply to questions regarding the players association action with no comment.
"We just can't comment at this time," said Carpenter, who was so edgy that he spent the afternoon working out at Jack Russell Stadium in the rain. "We have to get all the details first. All we know right now is what we heard on the radio."
When asked if he thought the camp would be closed to the players, Owens said: "Yes, I think it will. We have no alternative."
However, a spokesman for the owners said camps will remain open to those players who wish to work out for the remainder of spring training, but that the players would not receive meal money or allowances.
One theory advanced was that the players took the action they did yesterday to see just what the owners would do.
They have strut down the last week or so of spring training, so will the owners let them go ahead and open the season as scheduled?
Maybe not. Then, the players would get some support from the fans and the owners would be the heavies. It's not likely the owners are going to sit back and accept yesterday's action without taking some strong stand. On the other hand, if the owners lock the players out, they would not be able to collect the strike insurance they supposedly have bought.
"The players who went to Dallas were in an angry mood," said Bowa. "They feel the owners have done nothing to help settle this issue. When May 22 comes, if nothing has been done, we're out of here and it doesn't matter if we're hitting .040 or .800."
"This came as somewhat of a shock to me," said pitcher Larry Christenson. "I don't know what to think. I'm coming off that injury (bruised leg) and this is definitely not what I needed. I need all the spring-training time now I can get. It's also going to be tough on the guys trying to make the club."
"Most of the guys I talked with are going to stay in Florida and continue working out," said Rose. "It's ridiculous to go to Philadelphia considering the weather there. We all want to keep in shape and this is the best place to do it"
EXTRA POINTS – Yesterday’s loss was the Phils' fifth in a row and left them with a 10-9 exhibition record... Randy Lerch struggled again, allowing four runs on five hits. He walked three in five innings... Ferguson Jenkins blanked the Phils before John Henry Johnson took over in the seventh... The Phils got their only run when Luzinski walked with the bases loaded... Rookie Scott Munninghoff, who seemed destined to make the team, pitched two perfect innings... Veterans Ron Reed and Buddy Harrelson appear to be in some trouble as far as making it is concerned.
Players call two strikes on owners
DALLAS Taking dead aim at management's wallet, the Major League Players Association has called not one, but two strikes against baseball.
And the surprising part is that neither of them is coming on opening day, which had seemed to be the logical target. Instead of endangering the start of the regular season, the players chose a two-pronged attack that they hope will do the greatest possible economic damage to the owners.
The owners, however, struck back at the players' pocketbooks, saying they would leave training camps open but would refuse to pay meal money, allowances and hotel costs.
The players said yesterday they would cancel the final 92 games of the spring training exhibition sched ule and then they promised that unless a new Basic Agreement is negotiated by midnight on May 22, they would not play games starting the following day.
The canceled exhibitions include lucrative intrastate series in California between the Angels and the Los Angeles Dodgers and in Texas between the Rangers and Houston Astros. And, for their second strike date, the players chose the weekend before Memorial Day, traditionally one of baseball's largest revenue periods.
"We're trying to hurt them in the pocketbook as deeply as we can," said pitcher Mike Marshall, who doubles as player representative for the Minnesota Twins and the American League. "We refuse to allow them to generate any more money before opening day."
The players were prepared to stay in training camps and continue working out, even playing intrasquad games to stay in shape if management wants that. But they will not play exhibition games where admissions would be charged.
In return, a spokesman for the owners said camps will remain open to those players who wish to work out for the remainder of the spring training period. But, "since the individual player contract requires that players will appear in scheduled exhibition games and since the players have announced they will not appear in such games, meal money, allowances and hotel costs will not be paid."
Several of the player reps left the impression the players might not stay at the camps if they didn't get their expenses.
"I'll be on strike Wednesday and I'll be off strike on opening day," Marshall said.
Many players had expressed a sentiment for striking immediately rather than waiting until the season is under way. In 1972, players walked out three days before the start of the season and remained on strike for 13 days, causing 86 games to be canceled. But the strategy this time was altered.
"I came here with the feeling that doing something early would be in our best interest," said Jon Matlack, player rep of the Texas Rangers. "I was not totally convinced but I was leaning in that direction. After listening to the thoughts in the meeting, though, I think this is the better route to take."
One advantage to delaying any regular-season strike action is that the players will receive three paychecks between opening day and May 22. That could go a long way toward withstanding the economic pressures that a walkout might bring.
Some observers questioned whether the players would be as unified to take a strike action once the season is under way as they might be before opening day. Suppose, for example, a player is on a hitting streak when the strike date arrives.
"I don't care if I'm hitting .040 or .840," said Larry Bowa, player rep of the Phillies. "If nothing is worked out by May 22, we're gone."
Ray Grebey, management's chief representative who has negotiated for 20 weeks with Marvin Miller, executive director of the union, said last night:
"It is encouraging to note that the championship season will start as scheduled. It is the continued objective of major league baseball to achieve a negotiated settlement without interruption of the championship season."
But Miller said: "It has been the owners' strategy throughout the talks to provoke a strike and portray themselves as the wounded parties.
"Owner demands, not player proposals, have bogged down the meetings so far. We are taking this action in one last good-faith effort to try and reach an agreement. The players have decided they are willing to open the season and will continue to negotiate in good faith to reach an agreement."
Ken Moffett, the federal mediator who joined the talks Sunday, summoned both sides to a negotiating session in New York Thursday.
The vote by the union's 28-member executive board was unanimous, although it was clear that some representatives had come to the meeting favoring an immediate strike that would include opening day.
"I think it shows how unified we really are, when we can go on strike now, come back opening day, and then go out again," said Marshall.
Then the Twins' pitcher was asked if he believed the players could hang together once the season is six weeks old.
"We are so together," he said, "that if after the second strike in the third inning of a game, the player reps got up and said, 'Let's go,' everybody would leave."
Owners wouldn’t be ruined if players won their freedom
By Dave Kindred, Washington Post
DALLAS – The Dallas Times Herald carried a story at the top of the first page yesterday that reassured those of us who were worried that Nelson Bunker Hunt, the Texas oil man, might be ruined financially by the collapse of the silver market. A lawyer announced that while the precipitous decline of silver hurt the Hunts, the family "is still worth billions of dollars."
Whew, that was a close one.
Now we can worry about the owners of baseball teams.
Poor fellows. They would have us stay up nights praying for their economic salvation. The owners say the players are out to kill baseball. The owners also say players are greedy for those million-dollar contracts that will drive the game into bankruptcy.
Maybe we should take up an office collection and send it to Ray Kroc, the San Diego Padres' owner Why, if he paid Dave Winfield $1 million a year. Kroc would be dead broke in 600 years. Poor fellow.
In the current bargaining for a new Basic Agreement between the owners and players, the players say all they want is the status quo. The players say the owners can't control themselves. They say the owners are making those million-dollar deals without anyone putting a gun to their heads The players say they aren't about to give up the freedom they won in contract talks four years ago. They aren't going to save the owners from themselves.
Unless things change quickly, then, there will be a strike by the players this season, coming on May 23.
The critical issue, as always, is free agency.
The mind reels. Free agency has been a godsend to baseball. The last five seasons have been among the most exciting In baseball history. Attendance set records, television revenues increased dramatically, public attention was riveted to the game year ‘round.
But the owners don't like free agents.
In fact, the players are not truly free to move from job to job, as any American is to leave the line at General Motors for a job at Ford. The players struck a compromise with the owners four years ago when they signed the Basic Agreement that expired December 31. It was a compromise that revived America's interest in baseball, because suddenly stars moved from team to team in big-money deals that had the power to change a team's character overnight.
The compromise in that contract was that the players could become free agents after six years with their original team. As free agents, they were able to deal with a maximum of 12 of the 26 teams.
Under a previous ruling by a federal judge, the players had been set totally free. They could change jobs at the end of their contracts, just as, say, a sportswriter could move from Washington to New York.
But the players agreed to a compromise with the owners, who said total freedom would wreck their business by allowing the richest teams to buy up all the stars. So the players gave away some of their freedom by agreeing to the six-year, 13-team arrangement.
And now baseball's owners want out of the deal.
The owners want to go back to the slave-owning days of the 50 years preceding the federal judge's proclamation of emancipation. "The owners liked it better," said Marvin Miller, the players' labor leader, "when they had a full monopoly, when they could say 'you take this or go pick cotton.’"
The baseball owners look at the National Football League with envy. They see the NFL having none of this million-dollar contract trouble. They see no free agents jumping from team to team. Of 200 free agents in the NFL, only one has signed with another team that then gave compensation to the original team.
Baseball owners would like that. It won't happen. Ed Garvey, the NFL players labor boss, says the football owners differ from baseball's in that the NFL people make big money no matter how their teams perform. That's because each team gets $5 million annually from a TV deal.
"There's no economic incentive for Jack Kent Cooke (the Redskins' owner) to sign free agents but there is for George Steinbrenner (the Yankees' owner)," Garvey said. "If an NFL team goes 0-16, it still makes its $5.5 million. If it goes 16-0, it will make maybe $10,000 more.
"But if you took, say, half the TV contract and split it up between just the two Super Bowl teams, boy, if the teams could make $150 million dollars from the Super Bowl, you'd see some scrambling for free agents then."
The NFL is a giant system of socialism, with all the teams sharing in all the revenues. The football owners work together to a common end. Baseball owners are independent competitors of such cutthroat habits that, according to Miller, one told him, "Our problem is we can't control our own people. One year it's Kroc, and the next it's Gene Autry or Brad Corbett, then Steinbrenner. So you're it, Marvin."
It is weird, Miller said, to have management asking the labor-union leader to save management from itself.
The owners' position in the current negotiations is also unusual in that they are asking the players to pretty please go back to working in the cotton fields of the old plantations. The owners have given up a fixed-salary proposal which was ridiculous on face, but they still want an end to an existing free agency.
Much as football and basketball have compensation rules that have discouraged the movement of free agents, baseball wants a compensation rule. The owners have proposed that a team losing a free agent be entitled to pick a player from the other team's roster after that team protects 15 men.
Miller smiles at the audacity. "The player, under such a rule, is now not free. There is a cost to sign him. The 16th best player, almost by definition, is a regular. That will inhibit the bargaining power of the free agent."
Without our sympathy, Nelson Bunker Hunt and Ray Kroc will get along with their mere billions and millions and so will Dave Winfield make do with several hundred thousand for swinging a stick. The average baseball salary is $121,000, basketball's is $189,000, football's $69,000. Athletes are paid well, but they have rare talents that produce big money for the owners.
If we withhold our sympathy for the poor $121,000-a-year baseball player, he yet deserves the freedom of the assembly line worker. And when, by the way, did you last see the owner of a baseball team sell out at a loss? If the owner doesn't like what's happening, he can always sell for a profit. The Mets brought $22 million.
Sing us no sad songs, Ray Kroc.