Wilmington Morning News - April 2, 1980

When it rains… it pours on Phillies


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


COCOA, Fla. – The Phillies, trailing the Rangers 4-1, had the bases loaded with two out in the eighth inning when the downpour came.


Umpire Billy Williams tried to let Keith Moreland finish his at-bat, but finally threw his arms in the air and it was over.


Texas 4, Philadelphia 1.


That was the Phils' final moment of exhibition baseball in 1980. Two hours later, enroute here by bus, the players learned the Major League Baseball Players Association executive board, meeting in Dallas, had voted to strike the remaining exhibition games. They will open the regular season on schedule, but if a new basic agreement cannot be hammered out with the owners by May 22, they will walk off the job.


"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. 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 a meeting at 9 this morning in the motel.


"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."


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. "Larry Bowa (Phils' player rep) is supposed to call us and let us know what is going on.


Rose thought some of the players may have looked past the economic importance of some of the remaining exhibition games. "I think we all forgot to realize that there are some big exhibition games still left," said 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."


"I guess they figured they were close enough to the bell (season opener) that they could stay in shape on their own," said Owens, who followed that with: "I really don't know what to think."


One theory advanced was that the players took the action they did yesterday to see just what the owners would do.


They have shut 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.


"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."


Pitcher Larry Christenson said, "This came as somewhat of a shock to me. 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."


Rose figures the players will stay in Florida whether or not the owners keep the camps open. "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."


As, far as decisions on the roster are concerned, Owens said some of the players obviously will be hurt.


"We have to go on with our plans and make the decisions the best way we can. Really, the thing is out of our hands right now."


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.

Baseball players call a strike (of sorts)


By Hal Bock


DALLAS (AP) – The executive board of the Major League Players Association voted yesterday to cancel the remaining exhibition games but agreed to open the 1980 season on time, delaying possible strike action until May 22.


Marvin Miller, executive director of the players association, announced the decision after two hours of meetings with the player representatives.


“The executive board decided unanimously that after today no exhibitions will be played," Miller said. "In one last good faith effort to provide the time to try and reach an agreement, the players decided they are willing to open the season and negotiate in good faith to reach an agreement.


"If an agreement is not reached by midnight, May 22, a strike will begin on Friday, May 23," Miller said.


The decision did not affect exhibition games scheduled for Tuesday night but wiped out 92 games which remained before opening day, April 9. Included in that number was 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 from 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 seeks and achieve a negotiated settlement that is in the interests of the players, the clubs and the fans."


Tuesday'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 prefered to wait until the season is underway 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.