Philadelphia Inquirer - April 3, 1980

All that is missing for Phils are exhibition games, checks

 

By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer

 

CLEARWATER, Fla. – It was 2:45 p.m.  The Phillies and Astros should have been rumbling into the fourth inning in Cocoa.

 

Instead, the action in Strike Training 1980 (formerly referred to as Spring Training 1980) was all in Room 100 of the Holiday Inn, Clearwater.

 

A message was clattering across a teletype machine from the minor league office.  And Ruly Carpenter and Paul Owens, two men who otherwise might have been sitting in a stadium trying to decide whether Luis Aguayo was ready to play in the big leagues, huddled near, reading it.  The decisions were out of their hands now.

 

The directive said that major league teams could leave their facilities open and hold supervised workouts.  So, starting today, the Phillies will begin supervised workouts.

 

The directive said that major league teams should cut off expense money.  So each Phillie immediately stopped receiving his $374.50 a week expense money.

 

The directive said that players who reported for those workouts would get their transportation paid back to Philadelphia for opening day.  So Carpenter said he would do that, top.

 

“I just do what my player-relations people tell me to do,” Carpenter said dutifully.

 

Baseball on the field is a game of individual duels.  Baseball at the bargaining table has turned into a game of strategy for the masses.

 

When Larry Bowa talked to Carpenter late Tuesday night and told him that the players had voted to boycott the rest of the exhibition schedule, Carpenter’s first reaction was, “Everything’s closed.  You’re on your own,” Bowa said.

 

But strategy for one is strategy for all.  So the Phillies go back today to what boils down to a fairly normal spring training schedule.  All that’s missing are games and paychecks.

 

“I don’t think anybody will have any problem getting physically ready now,” Bowa said.  “It’s the mental part of it right now.  I think we have to say, ‘Let’s forget what happened, forget all the stuff that’s been going on,’ and think about what going to happen.  Before you know it, April 11 will be here.”

 

Carpenter said Dallas Green would plan “tough workouts” for the Phillies, and that will include as many intrasquad games as possible.

 

Green will attempt to work his pitching rotation in order.  Steve Carlton will have the challenge of pitching to Mike Schmidt instead of the challenge of pitching to Bobby Bonds.  And those final couple of roster decisions that Green and Owens haven’t resolved will have to be resolved through simulated games instead of the real thing.

 

“I’d rather have had games,” Carpenter said.  “But if we don’t, I’d rather have them work out under our supervision than have them working out on some high school field doing things in some semi-half-brained fashion.”

 

The players didn’t have any great desire to mess with the lumps and bumps of the Clearwater High field, either.  But they still have questions they want to resolve at a 10 a.m. meeting today with Carpenter, Green and Owens.

 

One is, would they be better off returning to Philadelphia and working out there?  And two, since these workouts are supposed to be voluntary, what happens if Green wants some things done and some guys don’t want to do them?

 

Weather certainly would be a factor in returning to Philadelphia.  Nobody particularly wants to turn double plays in his ski parka.

 

“But we’ve got the batting cages under the stands up there and the Nautilus equipment,” Bowa said.  “And I think it would help to get used to the Astroturf.  I know if I only get one day, the next day I’m sore.  So maybe it would be beneficial to go up two or three days ahead of time.”

 

On the matter of just how voluntary the workouts are, Bowa can foresee a scenario in which guys work out hard all morning, them balk at playing a squad game after that.

 

“Some guy might say, ‘That’s enough for me,’” Bowa said.  “But I think that if you stay down here you ought to do it the way he (Green) wants to do it.  If there are guys who don’t want to do it that way, maybe they just ought to leave.  I think we have to go about this in a professional manner.”

 

As all these new problems were being worked on, the debate continued over whether the players’ strike-and-play-and-strike-again strategy would be effective.

 

“I think it’s a plus that the season’s going to start on time,” Carpenter said.  “I think it’s important to get baseball going.  And it’s very important to have Marvin Miller and Ray Grebey and the mediator back at the negotiating table.

 

“I hoped we could have a negotiated settlement.  But the owners are very strong on the compensation issue.  And if we don’t get some kind of compensation (for free agents), I’m sure we’re going to have further problems on May 22.”

 

Bowa quoted Miller as saying that a May 22 deadline (a strike would start May 23) provided enough time to “hammer out five agreements.”  But he said that in the meantime, he was sure that players could get their minds back on basic baseball instead of basic agreements.

 

“I just think that when you start you get that extra adrenalin,” Bowa said.  “It’s different than when it’s just a spring training game.  I know when I get out on that field at Veteran’s Stadium, everything’s different.

 

“I’d compare it to a guy having trouble negotiating a contract.  Sure, it weighs on you for a while.  But when the season starts you forget all about it.  It’s in your mind, but you can play with it.  I think that’s what’s going to happen.”

 

Carpenter said he was “only interested in winning ball games.  I’m not going to worry about May 22 right now.”

 

But he couldn’t help thinking about 1976, the last time the season began without a signed basic agreement.

 

“We were having a helluva year in ’76 before the contract was signed,” he said.  “After it was signed, we almost blew a 14- or 15-game lead.  So if we play this time like we did last time, we should have a pretty good season.”

 

 

NOTES:  Yes, the Phillies did get to ride the team bus back from Cocoa.  But players traveled on one bus, the coaches, trainers, publicity men and Green on the other….  Bowa said it was his understanding that all players would have their transportation to Philadelphia paid for, regardless of whether they attended workouts….  Green said the strike “can be disruptive if we let it.  It will test the character of our team again….  Green also said his roster “had almost been decided before this happened.”

Players continue workouts

 

By the Associated Press

 

Most players held workouts at their own expense yesterday as the Major League Baseball Players Association began a strike cancelling the remaining exhibition games.

 

And while the participants continued to round into shape for the opening of the regular season a week from today, the two sides negotiating a new basic agreement were moving further apart.

 

The April 1 deadline has passed for the players’ association’s modified proposals, and those proposals are no longer on the bargaining table.  That means, for example, that the time period of five years before a player can opt for free agentry reverts to the initial proposal of four years, and the minimum-salary demand moves from $37.500 to $40,000.

 

The Montreal Expos and San Diego Padres reported no workouts.  The Phils did not work out yesterday but planned to do so today.

 

In Daytona Beach, Fla., the Expos had their coaches ready to supervise a workout.  But Steve Rogers, the team’s player representative, met with his teammates, and about half of them decided to go home and work out on their own, according to team publicist Richard Griffin.

 

He said the remaining player had said they would work out only if the coaches left the field.  The coaches did not leave, and there was no workout.

 

“The coaches will be there again (today), and the players are welcome to work out,” Griffin said.

 

The Padres voted in Yuma, Ariz., to return to San Diego.  A spokesman said they would look for some place to work out unsupervised when they arrived home.

 

The Oakland A’s worked out in Scottsdale, Ariz., despite rain.  Manager Billy Martin said the field would be open through Tuesday, when the A’s are scheduled to return to Oakland.

 

Some other teams, such as the California Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers, also will return to their home areas.  They had been scheduled to play their annual three-game Freeway Series this weekend.  Instead, the Angels will work out at California State University at Fullerton, and the Dodgers will practice at the University of Southern California.

 

Marvin Miller, executive director of the players’ union, and Ray Grebey, chief negotiator for the 26 owners, are to meet in New York today for their second session with federal mediator Kenneth E. Moffett.

 

Both Miller and Grebey were angry in the wake of Tuesday’s decision by the union’s executive board to strike the remining 92 exhibition games and set a regular season strike deadline of May 22 (a strike would start May 23).

 

Grebey criticized the players’ association for not notifying the owners of the exhibition-season strike.  “In all my years in this business, that’s never happened before,” he said.

 

Miller was critical of the owners’ refusal to provide expense money for meals and hotels for players working out on their own.

 

“First, those expenses will be a part of any settlement,” Miller said.  “Second, I’m perpetually astonished that businessmen can be so small.  For a couple of hundred dollars, they’re taking the risk of alienating the players and making any settlement that much more difficult.

 

“It’s lunacy… unless they’re trying to provoke a strike,” Miller added.  “In that case, it’s very smart.  They’ll succeed.”

 

The owners’ player-relations committee said Tuesday night that the camps would remain open to players desiring to work out.  But “since the individual player contract requires that players will appear in scheduled exhibition games… meal money, allowances and hotel costs will not be paid.”

 

One factor for the May 22 deadline was that regular-season crowds normally begin picking up near Memorial Day.  Another reason for setting a strike date in late May was to allow players to receive paychecks on April 15, May 1 and May 15.

 

Players in the league for two years received $1,600 each yesterday.  Miller said that the money was licensing revenue from bubble gum cards and the like, which had been “held back since 1968 and belongs to the players.”

 

If reports are true, the owners might make money from a strike.  Miller said he had heard that owners have a strike insurance policy that would pay the 26 clubs $1 million per day after the first two weeks of any strike.

 

 

Grebey said the owners had taken “a variety of actions to best protect their financial interests,” but would not elaborate.

Players, owners, ennui:  Hang it all, how about fans?

 

By Frank Dolson, Sports Editor

 

The gates to Jack Russell Stadium were open.  A few dozen spectators had wandered in to see an exhibition game between the Phillies’ Double-A farm club and their Triple-A farm club.  It was the only game in town.

 

And so, a week and a half before the 1980 baseball season is scheduled to start, big league spring-training competition has ended.

 

Suddenly, it no longer seems to matter that much who’s right or who’s wrong in the sport’s long-running labor squabble.  What doe matter is that the people who support baseball – the men and women who plunk down their hard-earned dollars to see big league baseball at escalating prices – have had it up to here.  The letters prove it.  The conversations you hear on the street prove it.

 

They’re fed up, and they ought to be fed up.

 

I mean, here’s Ray Grebey fighting for the owners.  And here’s Marvin Miller fighting for the players.  But who’s fighting for the people who really matter, the people whose interest and goodwill must be maintained if the game is to flourish?

 

That’s the saddest part of all this.  All the interested parties are represented except the fans.

 

Look, I know the owners are responsible for much of the current mess – at least those owners who went haywire in the free-agent market.  But frankly, I’m sick and tired of hearing players talk about how much more the owners can give.  I think it’s about time they started thinking about how much more the fans can take.

 

Maybe there are baseball fans out there who are willing to accept the players’ proposal – the strike-now-then-play-then-strike-again-if-necessary plan that Marvin Miller and Co. devised.  Maybe they’re so relieved that the players plan to start the season on time, under that proposal, that they’re willing to accept it with open arms.

 

But think about it.  Is it really going to be possible for Joe Fan to get wrapped up in the exploits of his favorite ball club for the first seven weeks of the season with the threat of a May 23 play stoppage drawing closer by the minute?

 

I know those early weeks aren’t going to seem the same to me – unless a settlement is reached.  Getting emotionally involved in a baseball season is like watching a TV serial.  Would you get caught up in the early installments if you thought the last ones would never be shown?

 

The players take the stand that their latest ploy will force an early settlement.  I’m not sure.  From the very start of this mess – and it started a long time ago – the owners have misjudged the players and the players have misjudged the owners.

 

So here we are, the season a little more than a week off, and no real spring training.  There are players who will be hurt by that, and there are teams that will be hurt by that.

 

“This kind of thing will definitely hurt the Phillies,” manager Dallas Green said yesterday. “There are no ifs, ands and buts about it.  Physically, we’re still not where we should be.”

 

From that standpoint then, it’s not fair to the fans of Philadelphia, who have supported their team and its players over the years – A support that has enabled these players to demand, and get, those whopping salaries.

 

“I’m very disappointed, not only for myself and the coaching staff but for our players,” Green said, barely controlling the anger he obviously felt.  “It’s going to be a test of their character, the character we’ve been trying to mold and build.  This thing hurts the Philadelphia Phillies because we were a fourth-place team and we think we have the possibility of doing something in 1980, and it is taking away 10 days of preparation as a team….  But I’m more concerned about the game of baseball….”

 

He’s not alone in that last concern.  Each side in this struggle seems so eager to whip the other that it’s lost sight of what’s best for the game and what’s best for the people who support the game.

 

“I think a lot of the owners don’t care as much about the issues as they do about beating Marvin Miller,” a White Sox player told me the other day.

 

“The thing that worries me,” a Phillie player said yesterday, “is that I think some of the players have lost their cool.  All they want to do is stick it to the owners.”

 

And so here they are, busily trying to stick the other side and succeeding only in sticking it to the fans – and to themselves.

 

The crazy thing about all this is that the great majority of players don’t want to strike.  The very thought of it turns them off.  And yet here they are, swept up in the wave.  Even the ones who are dying to get to the big leagues.

 

“They’re the guys that are getting s---,” Dallas Green said, “and if they’re getting s---, they ought to stand up and say, ‘I’m getting s---.’  But they won’t.  They vote 40-zip (to authorize a strike).  Well, they’re burying themselves to a degree, just like the owners have buried themselves.”

 

“The game has really gotten out of hand,” said Dane Iorg, who is starting his second full year with the Cardinals.  “I’ve gotten sick of it myself to be honest with you.  I want to play baseball, enjoy what I’m doing. Now all that’s disrupted.  I can’t believe it.”

 

I feel sorry for some of those striking players.  Not the half-a-million-dollar-a-year guys; they can afford it.  But how about the fringe big leaguers and the kids who have been battling to get to the big leagues, who are genuinely thrilled to be here and want only to be a part of it.

 

“I don’t know what to think,” said Phillies rookie Keith Moreland yesterday, standing near that closed clubhouse.  “It’s sort of an empty feeling.  That’s the only word I can use – empty.  I’m ready to participate in my first National League season, and even though it’s going to open up on time you don’t know how long it’s going to stay open….”

 

Larry Bowa, the Phillies’ player rep, said he was confident that the season would not be interrupted, that a settlement would be reached before May 23.  Others weren’t so sure.  The simple fact is, nobody knows.

 

“I’ve heard some rumors that are unbelievable,” Alan Bannister of the White Sox said.  “I heard Bill Veeck was going to file for bankruptcy, say the hell with the whole year.  It’s scary… just think, all I want to do is be a ballplayer, and now I’m a striker.  All I know about strikes is what I’ve seen on TV.  I half expect to go out and see my car tires slashed, to drive along and get run off a cliff.  I don’t know what to expect.”

 

Except for one thing, that is.  “I wouldn’t be surprised if we get booed on opening day,” he said.

 

All of them.  The home-team players and the visiting-team players.  The fans are fed up.  It doesn’t matter who’s right or who’s wrong.  It doesn’t matter who’s wearing the home uniform or who’s wearing the visiting uniform.  The fans are fed up.

 

“The ball is in the players’ court,” National League player rep Bob Boone was saying yesterday, repeating a line he’d used before.

 

 

I don’t think that’s entirely accurate any more.  I think the ball is in the fans’ court.  If somebody doesn’t start to think about them pretty soon, they may feel obligated to call a strike of their own.

Stanky saw it coming, and he doesn’t like it

 

By the Associated Press

 

MOBILE, Ala. – More than 20 years ago, Eddie Stanky saw a baseball strike coming, but he said yesterday, “I think it’s degrading.”

 

In an interview as manager of the Chicago White Sox in the mid-1960s, Stanky said, “People say that I talk too much about the ‘new breed’ of ballplayer, but the ‘new breed’ ballplayer is here to stay.  He is intelligent enough to be planning an estate for his family, and he’s much better off than players were when I was playing.

 

“I am for the ballplayers getting all they can get in the right manner, but I do not like a strike at all.”

 

He said he could understand both sides of the issue.

 

“I agree with the owners on free agents.  Owners should get something in return.”

 

He said, however, that television had “saved the ball clubs due to increased revenues, and the players are entitled to it, as long as they give 100 percent on the ballfield.”

 

Stanky, recovering from recent open-heart surgery, is head baseball coach at the University of South Alabama, where he vows never to retire.

 

The former Dodger second baseman traced the players-owners troubles to his Brooklyn days, when the Mexican League started pulling players away from the States with offers of cash.  “That’s when the pension plan started,” he said.

 

“I think the fans are most of the time in the ballplayers’ corner.  Most baseball fans do not like strikes.  They’re looking forward to the season opening April 9.

 

Stanky conceded that strikes were the “American way of living now.  You see strikes in the newspapers all the time.”

 

 

He added, “I would just like to see it all settled.”