Philadelphia Inquirer - May 17, 1980
Owners reject offer to play now, talk later
NEW YORK - The atmosphere turned gloomy in the baseball contract talks again yesterday when management rejected a players association offer that might have ended the deadlock.
Calling the union proposal to place compensation and other free agent-reserve clause topics on a two-year hold "an effort to avoid bargaining on the remaining issue," the owners turned the bid down.
"It is another way of not dealing with the issue," said Ray Grebey, chief negotiator for the owners. "The clubs feel that now is the time to deal with this issue, not two years from now."
The players had said that with agreement close on other contract issues, such as minimum salaries, pensions and health and safety questions, they would withdraw all of their free-agency proposals and turn the entire matter over to a joint study committee. The committee would examine the re-entry system through 1981. At that time, if the owners still were unhappy with the system's operation, they would have the right to demand that the contract be reopened and the question be negotiated.
Marvin Miller, executive director of the players' association, was disappointed at the management reaction.
"We made a good-faith proposal," he said. "I hoped they would see the merit in it and accept it. They have not."
Miller said the owners did not issue a flat-out rejection at the negotiating session, which lasted about two hours yesterday morning. "They talk as if they are rejecting it, but the formal words haven't come out yet," he said.
"If they reject it, and they may, it will be clear that what the players association has said all along is true. They (the owners) are the aggressors and they want to provoke a strike."
Kenneth Moffett, deputy director of the federal mediation service, said that the meeting yesterday had produced no action.
"We didn't make any progress and I'm very concerned," he said. "I think they're farther apart now than they have been. Unless we start spending time at the table, there is the likelihood of a strike."
Miller described the session as "not fruitful. I am pessimistic, based on their tone."
Grebey said that the owners' demand on compensation would have to be dealt with at these negotiations and not put off for the future.
"There is no need to postpone a decision on this matter for some two years or more," he said. After the short morning meeting, negotiations were recessed, with both sides going into separate strategy sessions. Talks are expected to continue through the weekend, with the May 22 strike deadline rapidly approaching.
"There is plenty of time to reach a negotiated settlement," Grebey said. "The clubs' bargaining committee is available now, will be available next week and will be available thereafter."
Miller has said that he could negotiate through Sunday but would have to devote the early part of next week to strike preparations.
Ruthven slams door on Astros in 3-0 win
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
HOUSTON – Dick Ruthven isn't 6-feet, 7-inches tall. He doesn't ram the ball down anybody's Louisville Slugger at 97 m.p.h. He doesn't even use initials in front of his last name.
But he conclusively proved last night that none of that stuff is required to throw a shutout in the Astrodome.
Ruthven blanked the Astros, 3-0, on five hits last night, even outdueling J. R. Richard in the process. But while Richard lived and died with sheer scorching power, Ruthven simply weaved his way through the Astros with finesse.
"That," said Bob Boone, before anybody asked, "is the Dick Ruthven.
"He just made great pitches all night long. If anything, he got better as he went along."
It was Ruthven's fourth strong start in a row, each one better than the one before it. It was his first shutout since he one-hit the Padres a year ago last week. It was his first complete game since the same day (May 9, 1979).
"You could kind of see it coming," said Boone. "Then tonight, all of a sudden, he's there."
Ruthven hit the Astros with everything he had a sinking and a rising fastball, a big curve he could throw strikes with, even his long-missing changeup the last half of the game.
And he made them work because he could put pitches where he was aiming them again. And this was a guy who, a few starts ago, looked like a case for a radar repair shop.
"It's really nice to play behind a guy who goes with the scouting report like that," said Larry Bowa. "You say pitch a guy away, play him away, and it's difficult sometimes when you play away and guys pitch in. But Dick put the ball where he wanted to all night."
Richard, meanwhile, wasn't even the fastest pitcher the Phillies will see this weekend. The Astros aimed their highway-patrol radar kit at Richard and his new teammate, Nolan Ryan, recently. And the results: Ryan's fastball was timed at 98 m.p.h. Richard's locked in at a poky 97.
That was still fast enough, however, to cause Dallas Green to do some serious thinking about his lineup last night. He eventually yanked Greg Luzinski and Garry Maddox. In went Greg Gross to left and Del Unser to center.
"(Chief scout) Hugh Alexander and I talked about it last night for quite a while," Green said. "And he felt the lefthanded hitters might give him a little more trouble than right-hand hitters. The two outfielders I took out are just the guys I've got left-handed hitters for."
Green wound up looking like the winner of the John McGraw Memorial Managerial Brilliance Award. Gross saved Ruthven's shutout with a great defensive play. And Unser was the key to the Phillies' first run off Richard, a run that stood alone for a lot of innings.
In the Astros third, Craig Reynolds led off with a triple and was still there with one out when Denny Walling lofted a fly to short left-center. Gross threw out 42 runners in three seasons in Houston, but the Astros overlooked that and sent Reynolds anyway. Gross gunned him out by 10 feet.
"I understood what they were doing," Gross said. "They've struggled a couple games. They're trying to score some runs early in the ball game. They've got J. R. pitching. They figure he's not going to give up too many runs. And they've got a guy on third base who runs real well. They're just taking a chance."
But it didn't work. So the game stayed scoreless until Unser came along with one out in the fourth and lined a triple past a Cesar Cedeno half-gainer in right-center. It was Unser's second at-bat off Richard since 1978. In the first one, three innings earlier, he struck out on a 3-and-2 fastball that could have air-conditioned Caracas.
Mike Schmidt, whose second-inning single represented one more hit than he'd gotten off Richard last year, battled J. R. for a sacrifice fly, and it was 1-0.
It was still 1-0 in the eighth, when the Phils used a Craig Reynolds error on a Bowa roller, a hit-and-run single by Manny Trillo and a walk to Pete Rose to load the bases.
Then the Bake McBride RBI machine drilled a two-run single, and Ruthven had all the runs he needed. McBride now has an 11-game hitting streak rolling and is 18-for-37, with 24 RBIs, with men in scoring position.
"I don't suppose many pitchers are going to throw the ball past Bake McBride these days," Green said "Even J. R. Richard."
Ruthven's toughest jam came in the sixth, when a Terry Puhl single, a stolen base and a walk to Joe Morgan got him in trouble. But Rose saved two runs, stabbing Jose Cruz' hot bouncer down the first-base line. Then Ruthven jammed Cedeno with a 3-and-1 fastball, and Cedeno flied to left.
Ruthven then burned off three perfect innings to raise his record to 4-2.
"It was just a matter of patience," said Green, "which you writers did not use. Yeah, maybe I had some worries, too. But I put him out there again. It looks now like it was just a matter of him getting some strength back. The last three times out, he's thrown the ball very, very close to the Dick Ruthven we're used to."
NOTES: Optimism doesn't abound on the strike front. But Larry Bowa says he feels good about the fact that at least there are issues on the table now. "Before, there was nothing on the table," Bowa said. "The only thing they were talking was compensation."... Nino Espinosa was philosophical about getting his Oklahoma City start rained out. "It would have helped me," Espinosa said ... And finally: One year ago today, the score was 23-22.