Philadelphia Daily News - April 9, 1980

Play Ball – For Now


By The United Press International


Six months of ranting and raving about strikes, strife, free agents, multi-year contracts and life in the pits of the major leagues will be drowned out today by the sound baseball fans have been waiting to hear for six months: the crack of the bat on the ball.


The 1980 season, still under threat of a May 23 strike, will open with traditional inaugurals in Cincinnati and Seattle – the one dating back to the 1870s and the other to all of three years ago.


There will be nine more openings tomorrow, a couple of games on Friday and then a weekend on which the schedules in both the National and American Leagues will send 26 teams on their way down a path which will end with the World Series in late October.


That strike threat on May 23 could make the 1980 season one of the most forgettable in history but for six weeks at least, baseball's millions of fans (40 million paid their way into the parks in 1979) can ignore the sound and the fury created by owner and player representatives, lawyers, players, owners and all the rest, of the gaggle.


THEY'LL BE PLAYING ball for the first time in the 1980s at about 2:30 p.m. today in Cincinnati where Tom Seaver of the Reds throws his first fastball at the leadoff man of the Atlanta Braves. Some eight hours after the National League opener, the American League season will get underway when the Toronto Blue Jays face the Seattle Mariners in Seattle.


Seaver, who had a 16-6 record in 1979, will take the mound against Phil Niekro, 21-20, with both the Reds and Braves entering the season as question marks.


The Reds, perhaps the most representative team of the 1970s, have lost key stars and rate behind the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers as chief contenders in the National League West. The Braves, dismal last-place finishers in 1979, are weak in pitching and defense but have assembled a hard-hitting crew which could be at least an early threat for leadership.


A crowd of 52,000 is expected in Cincinnati where the opening day of the baseball season is a traditionally festive occasion.


The Blue Jays and Mariners, expansion teams which are hoping for .500 seasons, open against each other at night in Seattle. Dave Lemanczyk, 8-10, will start on the mound for the Blue Jays while Mike Parrott, 14-12, will start for the Mariners. A crowd of about 20,000 expected.