Camden Courier-Post - May 13, 1980
People need courage to watch Braves play
By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post
ATLANTA – When people say Atlanta is "muggy" they're complaining about the crime, not the weather. It's bad enough Atlantans must endure one of the nation's highest per capita crime rates. It's even worse when the baseball team is Ted Turner's Fulton Flying Circus.
Sometimes known as the Braves, Turner's collection of have-nots and will-nots is once again deeply committed to winning-not. Fulton County Stadium has become known as the "Home of the Brave" not because of the team, but because of the fans who display considerable courage by watching its games.
Turner, the owner-operator of this fast-less franchise, pulled a coup on himself Sunday when he suddenly reinstate banished Bob Homer and Gary Matthews after consulting other Braves players. That may seem a little like a general putting an order of attack to a democratic vote but, in this case, the advice from the troops was sound.
Horner, a 22-year-old who has hit 56 home runs in 210 major league games prior to this season, and Matthews, the Braves only All-Star a year ago, were exiled by Turner to the bench April 20 because the team was losing. In effect, the Atlanta owner had told his Manager, Bobby Cox, to step unarmed into a gun-fight with the rest of the National League.
The case of Horner gained wide attention when third baseman refused to be sent down to the minor leagues, where Turner wanted Horner to serve his sentence for hitting .059 in his first few games. It was, for awhile, a baseball soap opera. Would Horner change his stance? Would he instead retire, as he had threatened? Would he take his case to the Players Association? Would Turner, always the club's de facto manager, trade Horner to PRISM for Tim McCarver and a video replay disc? Tune in tomorrow...
Turner himself brought a temporary resolution to the conflict by giving Cox permission to play Horner and Matthews, whose benching passed all but silently amid the clamor over Horner. Cox had Larvell Blanks batting second and playing third base in Sunday's lineup before Turner had his change of heart. Cox immediately scratched Blanks, inserting Horner in the spot, and gave Dale Murphy the day off by putting Matthews in right field.
All of this is bad news to the Phillies, who open a two-game series here with the Braves tonight. The Phils left Cincinnati, their first stop on an important eight-game road trip, having lost two of three to the Reds and were anticipating playing the Braves without having to contend with Horner, Matthews and knuckleballer Phil Niekro.
“I’m not saying they (the Braves) are a bad team, but they're not as good without Horner and Matthews," said shortstop Larry Bowa. "We'll miss Niekro (who won Sunday), but we're going to have to apply ourselves.
"We can't get too far behind Pittsburgh. We get too far behind, the Pirates could run away with the thing. It's still early to be looking at the scoreboard, but we just can't let too much distance get between us."
That is one of the principal reasons why these two games with the Braves are important. After dropping two of three to the Reds, the Phils were 4½ games behind the Pirates in the National League East standings.
The Phils' 12-12 record may be diplomatic, but it's hardly threatening to the Pirates right now. It would be even less so if the Phils were to lose here before going to Houston to play the pitching-rich Astros in a three-game set this weekend.
Manager Dallas Green, who organized a voluntary workout to give Nino Espinosa a chance to work his ailing right arm yesterday, would not argue with Bowa's assessment. Green knows as well as anyone that – a May 22 strike not withstanding – the Phillies must soon begin playing considerably better than .500 baseball if they hope to make it a race in the East.
Another in agreement is first baseman Pete Rose, whose batting average remains uncharacteristically close to .200. "We got to win more than one out of three in Cincinnati when (George) Foster is on the bench and (Ken) Griffey is ailing," said Rose. "That's like going into Philadelphia and playing the Phillies without (Mike) Schmidt and (Greg) Luzinski. I just wish I could get more hits so we can win more games."
Who knows? Perhaps Ted Turner, in another moment of charity, could grant Rose his wish.
Baseball talks resume today
NEW YORK (AP) – With just over one week remaining before a strike deadline, talks resume today between representatives of baseball management and the players association.
Negotiations recessed over the weekend after Thursday's session in which the subject of compensation for free agent signings came up for the first time.
The owners want a system which would supply a replacement for each top free agent signed and the players are balking at that suggestion.
Also discussed Thursday for the first time was the percentage of television revenues set aside for player pension funds.
The players have set a May 22 strike deadline, saying they will walk out on the eve of the Memorial Day weekend unless a new basic agreement is reached by that time.
Management has rejected any specific strike deadline, saying there is no reason why negotiations can't continue while baseball is being played.
Little progress has been reported in the talks which' began last winter and have included federal mediator Kenneth Moffett since March 31. Moffett seemed glum after the last round of talks ended when he said, "there are many unresolved issues and the clock is ticking."
Striking players would owe money
SAN DIEGO (AP) – Nearly half of the San Diego Padres' 25 players will owe the club money if the threatened major league players' strike occurs May 22, club president Ballard Smith has disclosed.
"A dozen of them either have drawn advances on their salaries, or would owe us money because they're being paid on a 12 months basis," Smith said.
Since the walkout could mean the end of the season, Smith said he is pursuing ways of having the money returned.
"I don't know how we would get the money back, but I'm working on some ideas," he said.
Meanwhile, Buzzie Bavasi, executive vice president of the California Angels, says he expects some of his players will also owe the American League team money if there is a strike.
Bavasi noted that baseball's Basic Agreement requires salary payments on the first and 15th of each month, starting with the opening day of the season and ending with the last.
The Angels and Padres are two of the many clubs that pay players on any basis they choose, be it spread out over 12 months, 10 months, the 178 day of the season or delivered in one lump sum.
Explaining the advances, a common practice among major league clubs, Smith said most salaries are based on a 177-day regular season. A player making $177,000 a year, or $26,000 above the Padres' average, would earn $1,000 a day, starting with the April 10 season opener. By May 22, or 43 days into the season, that player would have grossed $43,000.
However, if (hat same player was being paid on a 12 month basis, as some of the Padres are, he would have drawn approximately $70,000 by May 22, an overpayment of $27,000.
Smith said none of the 25 San Diego players has contract provisions calling for a continuation of salary during a strike.