Philadelphia Daily News - May 14, 1980

Braves Shake Up LaGrow, Phils

 

By Bill Conlin

 

ATLANTA – Lerrin LaGrow is an even-tempered man who has been around baseball long enough to handle the bad times and the good times with calm demeanor.

 

The right-handed reliever walked away from his locker with a short answer last night and nobody could blame him. He wasn't being rude; he was merely walking away from a question he couldn't answer. In the cold type of a box score it will look like the Braves jumped on LaGrow for three eighth-inning runs which turned a shaky 4-3 Atlanta lead into a 7-3 victory.

 

LaGrow threw sliders to Gary Matthews and Chris Chambliss which produced the kind of contact every pitcher dreams of – feeble.

 

Matthews hit a 40-foot swinging bunt off the end of his bat and beat Mike Schmidt's bare-handed pickup and throw to first The left-handed Chambliss fought off a slider that was down and away and lofted a soft wedge shot down the left-field line. The ball took a weird bounce on the soccer-scarred surface of the worst playing surface in baseball and skidded into the Phils' bullpen. The former Yankees first baseman was running out the triple when Schmidt's relay throw ricocheted past shortstop Ramon Aviles and crazy-bounced over the first-baseline.

 

TWO OUTSTANDING pitches, two Braves runs.

 

LaGrow's outrage was complete when Dale Murphy lined an opposite-field homer over the 6-foot fence in right-center on a 3-0 pitch, a ball that would have been a line-drive double in 25 other parks.

 

"I don't want to talk about it,". LaGrow said, heading for the trainer's room. "It's happened to me all year and I'm sick of talking about it. It's nothing personal against you writers."

 

What does pitching coach Herm Starrette tell a pitcher who fails to do a job despite making good pitches?

 

"I tell him that maybe his pitches are either too good or not quite good enough," Herm said. "In Lerrin's case I think one reason he's struggling is he's throwing more pitches an inning than a short man should be throwing. When you get a guy throwing 20 pitches in an inning it means he's pitching behind in the count. A short man's got to jump ahead so he can make the hitter hit his pitch. The 3-0 fastball that Murphy hit is a hitter's pitch, not a pitcher's pitch."

 

Randy Lerch started, gave up four runs in the first two innings and settled down too late to avert his fifth loss of a winless season. A two-out bouncer by Matthews that almost ate Schmidt alive set up back-to-back doubles by Chambliss and Jeff Burroughs.

 

ITS TOUGH," Schmidt said after a two-error evening. "It's chewed up pretty bad out there, some sort of muddy sand where every footprint leaves a mark that has a bad hop in it. The ball comes at you with a lot of topspin off it."

 

The outfield is a patchwork jumble of sod patches. It is no upset that the Braves, a team that would have trouble catching the ball on a perfect surface, have 45 errors to date. And when errors No. 44 and 45 gift-wrapped a first-inning Phillies run off Doyle Alexander it looked like squirming owner Ted Turner was in for another long night behind the dugout.

 

Oddly, brilliant defense won it for the Braves.

 

After Lerch walked with one out in the fifth, shortstop Luis Gomez made a diving stop up the middle on Pete Rose. Second baseman Jerry Royster made a strong pivot throw to finish a spectacular double play. Alexander held the Phillies hitless until the eighth after Lerch doubled leading off the third and was cut down trying foolishly to advance on Rose's bouncer to short. But George Vukovich walked leading off the eighth and Rose sent him to third with a double to left-center. Bake McBride made it 4-3 with a single to center off right-handed reliever Rick Camp and the rally looked even more promising when Camp's first pitch to Schmidt nicked him on the uniform. Greg Luzinski struck out on a high fastball and Bob Boone hit a medium-speed grounder to Bob Horner, who was lustily booed and cheered all night by the crowd of 10,146. Schmidt went into Royster like a pulling guard picking out a linebacker. It was a great takeout slide, but Royster's throw to first was even better.

 

"I CAN’T HIT THE guy any better," Schmidt said. "But he hung right in there, kept control of the ball somehow and made a helluva play."

 

The signature on one of the few defensive masterpieces the Braves have managed to play this season was in the form of a ninth-inning double play Aviles hit into after Garry Maddox led off the inning with a single.

 

Aviles was playing shortstop because plate umpire Steve Fields ejected Larry Bowa in the Phillies seventh. Larry did some griping at the plate after a questionable strike call. After flying out to center, Bowa directed some comments at Fields on the way back to the bench. The umpire promptly thumbed him and Bowa was just as promptly in his face. Fields is one of the umpires who worked during the strike last season. More than a year later, the regular umpires treat the "scabs" with silence and contempt. Which is why the other three umpires stood their ground and let Fields handle the angry shortstop himself.

 

"I asked Steve why he threw Larry out," said Dallas Green, who managed to get between Bowa and Fields, a lot of man sliding into a little daylight. "For about two or three minutes we weren't communicating there. I don't think he heard what Larry said."

 

When the TV camera closed in on Bowa in the dugout, Atlanta lipreaders were treated to many words beginning with "C" and "F."

 

You hardly ever get that kind of action on the captioned news.

 

PHILUPS: Herm Starrette said Randy Lerch settled down after he asked the lefthander to use both sides of the strike zone. "He has a tendency to only use the plate from the middle on out," the pitching coach said. "Usually when a pitcher starts getting hit it's because he's getting too much of the plate. Randy's got to learn to come inside more. When he started doing that tonight he was much more effective"... Steve Carlton vs. Larry McWilliams tonight... Larry Christenson is upset because Dallas Green is holding him back from his turn. "It's my decision," Dallas said. "He's got some swelling in his elbow area and I don't want to risk him going out there and getting an injury that could keep him out a lot longer than one turn."

Owners Soften Stand

 

NEW YORK (UPI) – Major league baseball owners, in what could be a significant step in negotiations with the Players' Association, yesterday offered a proposal covering Jhe two biggest issues in their dispute.

 

The offer, which the Players' Association said it would examine, softens the owners' position on free-agent compensation and also raises the pension offer. Marvin Miller, executive director of the association, requested time to study the offer before resuming negotiations.

 

Ray Grebey, negotiator for the owners, indicated the talks would resume today. He declined to reveal the nature of the proposal after the factions met for two hours, but details became public.

 

The proposal includes a clause for compensating a team for a so-called "elite free agent." For a team to be compensated for the loss of a player, that player must be selected by seven or more teams in a limited, though unspecified, number of rounds. He must also be a "ranking" player on a list of pitchers, catchers, infielders and outfielders.

 

If a player is deemed "elite," the team picking up the free agent can protect 15 players from its roster. If the free agent is a "lesser" player, 18 players can be protected from the player's new club. Only 20 percent of last year's free agents would have required compensation by the new team.

 

IF A PLAYER is selected by zero to three teams, no compensation will be required. If he is selected by four to seven teams, an amateur draft pick will serve as compensation.

 

Other proposals included an increase of 70 percent in the pension plan from 8.3 to 14.4 percent and a proposal to increase the minimum salary of a major league player to $32,500 over three years.

 

The players have said they will strike, even if there is progress in the negotiations, on May 23 if there is no new agreement

 

"If we do not have an agreement signed, sealed, and delivered by May 22," said Jerry Terrell, player rep for the Kansas City Royals, "there will be no baseball on May 23."

 

"Management did give the union a comprehensive proposal," said M. David Vaughn, who is assisting federal mediator Kenneth Moffett in the negotiations. "And the union gave to the company proposals on a number of matters, some of which were language changes and some of which were responses to prior company and union positions."

 

Vaughn declined to characterize the exchange of proposals as progress.

 

"My guess is that the parties still have a sizeable length of bargaining space between them and there is still a lot of work to be done between now and the end of the weekend if a strike is going to be avoided," he said.

 

Vaughn even declined to say that the negotiations were taking more form now that the deadline is approaching.

 

"I would not want anyone to draw the assumption that everything is on track," Vaughn said, "because it may or may not be on track. I wouldn't want to give anybody a false sense."

Phils’ Big 8th Worth $110

 

There were six winners in the Daily News Home Run Payoff during last night's Phillies-Braves game.

 

In the eighth inning Jerri Williams of Philadelphia won $60 and four tickets to a Phillies game on a two-run single by Bake McBride. Richard Oertel of Ardsley won $50 and tickets on a Pete Rose double. Leona Graves and Ralph Peteson, of Philadelphia, Robert Uczynski of Reading and Alice T. Molleur of Ridley Park all won tickets.

 

 

So far the Daily News has paid out $3,495. To enter, send in the coupon that appears on Page 64.