Philadelphia Daily News - May 21, 1980
Compensation's the Thing
By Stan Hochman
Under the present agreement, a team losing a player to free agency inherits a first-round draft pick from the team that signs him.
The owners want more "meaningful" compensation. They have submitted a sliding scale... a player picked by three teams or less, no compensation; a player picked by 4-to-7 teams, an amateur draft choice; a "quality" player picked by 8-to-13 teams, a player off the big-league roster.
To avoid charges of collusion, the picks would have to be made within a certain number of rounds of the draft To define a "quality" player, certain standards would be established, based on performance such as ERA, batting average, relief appearances, and so on.
Do Players Know the Issue?
By Stan Hochman
Compensation has become a four-letter word.
If the Phillies lose Larry Christenson to the. pitcher-poor Giants in the free-agent marketplace, they want something in return besides the right to sign some pimply-faced high school kid put of San Bernardino.
But what? The Giants' 16th-best player? Their 18th-best player? Some phenom out of their minor-league system? A partridge in a pear tree?
Would Christenson have to be picked in the re-entry draft by eight teams? Ten teams? A baker's dozen?
Must Christenson finish over.500. this season, or pitch 200 innings, or have an ERA better than half the hurters in the National League?
Do the players poised to go out on strike tomorrow night know the details of the current owners' proposal on compensation?"
"They may not know the details," National League player rep Bob Boone said last night, "but they know the bottom line."
"And the-bottom line is... it will cost them money!"
BOONE WAS RIGHT. A man quizzed a cross-section of the ballclub, rich man, poor man, Indian, chief, and discovered a fuzzy knowledge of the specifics of the key issue in the snarled negotiations, which resume today in New York.
But if the players didn't know whether it was arsenic or strychnine, no matter how prettily it was packaged, they felt poison is poison, and they did not plan to smoke it, inhale it or swallow it.
And if the surgeon general is too busy to label it dangerous to their health, they know that Marvin Miller will protect them from its painful side effects.
"I'm like a lot of guys who don't know all the details on compensation,” said Pete Rose, who turned free-agent millionaire at 38.
"I think it's too screwed up. But if you want my personal opinion, I don't see how the Reds could expect to get a player for me.
"Didn't I give 'em back 16 years, 16 years of the hardest baseball I could play? And then, they didn't even offer me a contract.
"How are you gonna figure out who's a 'super' free agent? Rennie Stennett, they called him a super free agent because 12 teams drafted him. But he was just a fringe guy.
"Joe Morgan got drafted by four teams, Stennett by the maximum. Does that mean a team wants to be compensated for a guy like Stennett, but not for a guy like Morgan, just because Joe had two off years and was 35 years old?
"SOME YEARS, NOBODY would qualify to be a 'super' player and other years all of 'em would be.
"Just tell me this... is it the players or the owners who got themselves into the situation of offering guys $4 million contracts?
"They don’t make sense. At one point they put out this salary scale, based on years in the big leagues. OK, so Bruce Sutter fit in at the three-year level, where the Cubs would have to pay him $120,000 or $130,000.
"That same week, they turned around and offered him $350,000. They're saying one thing and doing another thing. The owners aren't together. They aren’t as sound an organization as we are.
"I wish I knew more about the issues. I've got a lot to lose. But if it hadn't been for the improvements Marvin Miller made, I wouldn't be in the situation to have a lot to lose.
"Marvin held that meeting in spring training. Talked for 45 minutes. When he asked for a vote, if you didn't raise your hand, I don’t know what you'd have been classified as.
"If it had been a secret ballot, I'd have voted the same. Sure, it'd be different if you took a secret ballot tonight.
"A strike aunt gonna help me in the future. But it is gonna help a Scott Munninghoff. a Kevin Saucier, a Dickie Noles, and I'd vote for it,"
IF THE STRIKE comes, Rose will find a batting cage and keep swinging. Other guys will get calluses in other ways.
John Vukovich, who has operated a fork-lift in the off-season, and is 15 days short of qualifying for a pension, came closest to knowing the specifics of the owners' compensation proposal.
"If you're picked by less than three teams, there's no compensation," he said. "If it's 4 to 7 teams, they get the 18th player on the roster. Past that, it's the 15th player.
"That's unjust restriction. And the perfect example is Pete Rose. Cincy was willing to get rid of his salary, and they weren't looking for any compensation.
"Look, I'm never gonna be a free agent. It isn't going to affect me. But the crux of it is, why should we take a step backward, simply because Marvin Miller did a good job back in 76?
"It doesn’t seem, in my eyes, to be an issue you strike over. If this was a situation that was tearing the game -vdown, then there'd be a roadblock.
"But the game has done nothing but prosper since 76. The biggest problem as far as I can see, the owners can't control one another, so they want to make us control 'em.
"I'm in a funny situation. People ask me how close am I (to qualifying for the pension)? I tell 'em I'm 15 days away.
"BUT MARVIN MILLER cut it from five years (of service) to four years. And he's been leading us for 15 years and he's never made a bad decision for us.
"I don't think he's vengeful or trying to bury anybody. He stood up in 72 and in 76. For us to go backward and give something back would be wrong.
"So, even though I'll never be a free agent and this won't affect me personally, or monetarily, I've got friends and teammates it will affect.
"You have to consider what's right, even if you're not involved. Look, nobody can afford a strike, whether he's making Pete's kind of money, or my kind of money."
Larry Christenson is making a lot more than Vukovich, a lot less than Rose. His contract expires this year. He likes the free-agent setup just the way it exists now.
"I know what we already have," Christenson said. "I look at the situation as players trying to improve a four-year-old basic agreement.
"We already have the free-agent thing that slipped through the owners' fingers in the Andy Messersmith case. I don't see why we should give in on compensation.
"They were wanting the No. 16 player. I think that's ridiculous. If they're talking down around the 30th player, I would say, maybe.
"THAT 16TH PLAYER could be a helluva player. But when you get down around the 25th or 30th, you might give those guys a chance to move over to another team.
"I know the major issues even if I don’t know every single issue. I don’t think either side knows exactly what they want.
"The players are up here (hand held forehead high) and the owners are down here (hand held knee high), and they haven't gotten even a quarter of the way toward getting together."
That, you should excuse the expression, is some strike zone Christenson pantomimed.
For rookie catcher Keith Moreland, involvement seems a long way down a twisting, dusty road.
"I understand they want to protect 15 players and a team could take the 16th," he said. "That, plus a draft choice.
"There's no limit on how many guys a team can pick, so every guy is gonna get picked by at least eight teams. And then he'll be a 'prime' player.
"Say I'm in my situation for six years (backing up Bob Boone). I think they'd never give up their 16th player to sign me. They wouldn't be sure I could catch every day.
"How do you define a 'prime' player? There's no way you can negotiate that. But I'd say there's going to have to be some compensation. Maybe the 30th player.
"AS A YOUNG player, I see guys stuck in the minors because there's no room for them. We have a guy, John Poff, he could be a pretty good big-league player.
"But the numbers are against him, with Pete at first, a Hall of Famer. For someone like John, he might get the chance to get out.
"Secret vote or not, I'd vote the same way. It is for me. The writing is on the wall.
"I'm not saying I'll go free agent some day. I'm with an organization that is gonna take care of me. But suppose I was with the Twins. Or Texas and behind a guy like Sundberg. I'd want a way to get out.
"These guys are sincere. They're doing it for a cause. And the main cause is us, guys like Saucier, George Vukovich, Dickie Noles, the guys just coming along."
Larry Bowa is the Phillies player rep, and last night, with electrode stimulators taped to a sore back, he was throwing off angry sparks.
"I'd lock the two, guys in a room," he snarled. "Ray Grebey and Marvin Miller. Lock 'em in a room even if it means slipping meals under the door.
"No one was pointing a gun at the owners' heads forcing them to give Rennie Stennett or John Curtis the kind of money they got The owners did it on their own.
"MY WHOLE POINT is, if you've got a guy in your organization for six years and you don't know in six years if he's a player, then you're never gonna know.
"If he's a player, you treat him accordingly. Six years is long enough to find out if the guy's gonna make it.
"I don’t know every detail of every issue. I guess Bob Boone is the only one who does. But I know it would hurt the middle-of-the-road players. Guys like me.
"How many superstars are there? You can count 'em on one hand. OK, maybe two hands.
"I will never go free agent. I want to finish here. If I sign another contract, it will be a one-year thing.
"We've got the hammer. We were awarded something by a judge. Now. they want us to give something back.
"How are you going to define a 'quality' ballplayer? If a pitcher loses 18, he doesn’t belong? Suppose he loses 18 2-1 games?
"Suppose Carlton gets hurt and has a lousy year? Does that mean he's not a 'quality' player?
"A guy like Gene Autry, he used the free-agent thing to the maximum. Signed four guys a year. Wound up winning a division. And now he says free agency is ruining him.
"THAT'S TALKING OUT of both sides of your mouth. There are 26 owners and they all hate each other.
"You know what they want? On Friday, they want 10 or 15 players to come in and put the uniform on. They get a Pete Rose or a Jim Rice or a Greg Luzinski to put the 'uni' on and you can throw the union right out the window and we'd be back where we were 100 years ago."
And while Bowa mutters angrily about the strength of the pack, Boone talks quietly, firmly, realistically.
"A strike is going to hurt everybody," Boone said. "The big money guys, the little money guys, the owners, the fans.
"You hear guys arguing about players making ridiculous amounts of money, averaging $130,000. That average is jacked up by a few players making astronomical amounts.
"They're not the majority. The majority of players have not reached the sixth year of service. The majority have not reached the fourth year of service.
"Someone like Kevin Saucier, if he's making $30,000, he's gambling those thousands against the possibility of millions, based on what's happened so far.
"Sure, a strike will hurt him. He's got bills to pay, mouths to feed. But, it is still the greatest gamble in the world."
Negotiations Not Working Out
United Press International
As the strike clouds continue to gather and the country tries to pick a new national pastime – NASL soccer is not one of the early favorites – Pittsburgh's Dave Parker is getting out the travel brochures.
"First I'm going to drive home to Cincinnati, then fly to Atlanta, then to Houston, then maybe to Chicago, New York and I’ll probably go back to the West Coast too," Parker said. "I'm going to work out in the process, take all my gear with me. but I'm not going to sit home. I'll leave a list of phone numbers here and with my attorney and tell them that when it's over to call me."
It might be a while.
With the issue of compensation standing in the way of a settlement, negotiators for team owners and players will begin last-minute talks today to avert a baseball strike that will stop the season at midnight tomorrow.
KENNETH MOFFETT, a federal mediator, directed Marvin Miller and Ray Grebey to man the bargaining tables at 2 p.m. today. Miller, the executive director of the Players' Association, and Grebey, who is representing the owners, will likely conduct round-the-clock negotiations.
And if those negotiations fail, don't look for the Pirates players to organize formal workouts, even though they did so during the spring training strike. Some players, like Parker, will work out on their own, but to work out together, says Pittsburgh player representative Phil Garner, would weaken the effectiveness of the strike.
"Sure, we worked out during the spring because we knew we were going to go ahead and play the regular season," Garner said last night "But if we're staying in shape during a strike, the owners will think we're ready to go right back to playing the day after it ends, and we won't be.
"If it's a long strike, we're going to need a week or so to get ready to play. I, for one, would be scared to death to put a starting pitcher or a Kent Tekulve out there on the mound right after a strike without giving him time to get into shape. You're risking damage to a very valuable property.
Besides, Garner said, some of the lower-salaried players may have to find part-time jobs or go to their winter homes to save money during a strike.
THEY MIGHT BE packing soon. To this point, there has been no progress on the compensation issue since the talks were initiated months ago. The owners insist they should receive a player of their choice from a team which signs a star to a big contract via free agency.
Miller, however, maintains the owners should curb their free spending and not ask the players to give up their own bargaining rights.
The strike, which would be the second in the history of the Players' Association, looms a near certainty since talks broke off on the compensation issue last weekend. Moffett, who said at the time that the situation "doesn't look good," returned to Washington, DC, Sunday afternoon and summoned the parties to the new meeting on Monday.
Miller offered last Friday to take the issue of compensation off the table and that a joint study committee be formed to monitor free agency for the first two years of a four-year contract. He said if the committee could not come to an agreement by the second year of the new contract, the owners would have a unilateral right to reopen the issue.
The players struck for 13 days at the start of the 1972 season over the issue of pension money and medical benefits. The strike ended with compromise agreements in both areas. The players lost an estimated $600,000 in salaries and the 24 clubs lost an estimated $5 million in ticket sales, parking, concessions and radio and TV revenue.
Ruthven Makes Bad Pitch
By Bill Conlin
No, Dick Ruthven didn’t want to throw that dumb 0-2 breaking ball to Dave Collins in the seventh, not any more than the dumb ballplayers and dumb owners want the strike they will inflict on each other at midnight tomorrow.
It was a pitcher's pitch – the kind a pitcher likes to get when he's up there hitting.
"If I wanted to get a sure hit, that's the kind of pitch I would throw to myself." Ruthven said last night after the Reds came from behind to beat the Phillies, 7-6, at the rain-swept Vet.
Ruthven was in a jam because Mike Schmidt threw away a two-out ground ball by Johnny Bench, because Dallas Green gambled that Reds Manager John McNamara wouldn't pinch hit for reliever Paul Moskau.
Bench reached second on Schmidt's error and Green ordered an intentional walk to reserve infielder Ron Oester, who was filling in for the injured David Concepcion. The rookie took a.200 average into the game.
NOBODY WAS WARMING in the bullpen for the Reds. Until Bob Boone held up four fingers, that is. Then, while Cesar Geronimo stepped to the bat rack, reliever Mario Soto, who needs only about 10 pitches to get ready, was up and throwing. As it turned out, Mario had time to throw 50.
Ruthven compounded the "gotcha" by walking The Chief, a gaffe that didn't particularly distress the righthander.
"Cesar as quite a few hits off me over the years," Ruthven said. "He hits me pretty well, so I pitched him carefully. Walking him was no big thing because I knew I wasn’t going to walk a run home."
He blitzed ahead of Collins, 0-2, then slopped np a breaking ball he wanted to run after and tackle. Collins lined a two-run single to center and the Reds had a 6-5 lead.
With only one game standing between last night and a strike which could last at least six weeks. Green let his obviously off-form righthander go out to pitch the seventh. Junior Kennedy led off the inning with his second double and fourth hit of the game. Ken Griffey moved him to third with a ball to the right side tind George Foster made it 7-5 with a single to center. Exit Ruthven.
“I had to make ignorant mistakes on a night when we scored so many runs." said Ruthven, who was coming off a masterful shntout in Houston. "I didn't feel that strong tonight and I was just overthrowing and making too many mistakes. I've been playing long enough to adjust better than that"
THE PHILLIES LOST despite an offense which produced 4 homers, 2 triples and 2 doubles. Mike Schmidt slammed his 10th homer with two outs in the first and Greg Luzinski followed with homer No. 9 off lefthander Charlie Leibrandt, a rookie who muffled the Phils' offense on the team's last road trip.
They took a 4-2 lead in the third when Garry Maddox doubled and scored on a triple by Manny Trillo. The hot-hitting second baseman scored on an artful squeeze bunt by Ruthven. The Reds pecked way for two more runs in the third, but Bake McBride got one of them back when he led off the Phils' third with a solo homer to right.
Moskau came on and retired nine straight hitters. Soto waded out of a second and third, two-out jam by striking out Larry Bowa, who left the game with a lower back injury he has played with since Sunday in Houston.
With one out in the eighth, Luzinski tied Schmidt for the major-league home-run lead with his 10th homer Maddox who lashed three extra-base hits, chased Soto with a two-out triple to right But Doug Bair got pinch-hitter Greg Gross, thanks to a fine play on the wet turf by Oester.
Del Unser's one-out single in the ninth raised the Phillies' pinch-hitting average to.410, but Bair got Pete Rose on a tap to the mound and struck out McBride with a breaking ball on his fists.
WHEN YOUR OFFENSE pounds 12 hits, eight of them for extra bases, and your bullpen allows no runs and just one hit in 2 innings, somebody goofed. An inquest at this stage of the threatened season, however, seems irrelevant.
Luzinski, who fell into a deep slump during the Phils' 4-4 road trip, has three home runs and a single in his last five at-bats. It seems safe to say that he has solved the problem which led to 11 strikeouts on the trip.
"Overstriding." The Bull said. "I knew I was doing something wrong but it was hard to pinpoint."
His ideal swing is so short quick and economical it takes only a miniscule flaw to throw it off. When Luzinski overstrides, he tends to hit more with his arms than with his hands, which robs him of bat speed and tends to make him pull off the ball.
“I said I'd get hot before I went out on strike," Bull said with less mirth in his voice than he intended.
He is in better shape to weather a strike of long duration than most of his teammates. Luzinski does off-season public relations work for a meat supplier.
"They've told me if there's a strike I can go to work for them full-time until it's over. We'll all know in about 48 hours. It's going right down to the bell."
Ask not for whom the bell tolls... Or for whom the Bull toils.
PHILUPS: With his second four-hit performance in the Reds' past four games, second baseman Junior Kennedy raised his average to.310. Dave Collins has hit in 15 straight games... If you're awarding mini-pennants in case the season never gets started again after a strike, the Pirates clinched the East last night by getting rained out. There were no echos of "We Are Fam-i-lee," in Three Rivers Stadium, however... Kevin Saucier came in behind Dick Ruthven in the seventh and gave up a single to Dan Driessen. Dickie Noles ended the Reds' rally. Tug McGraw pitched a perfect eighth and ninth... McGraw received his Rolaids Fireman of the Year plaque, symbolic of his 1979 club lead in saves, before the game. "I think they gave me one because I was so good for business," Tug said. "Every time I threw a grand slam last year, a lot of people got upset stomachs."... With the strike countdown at one, Tom Seaver will oppose Larry Christenson tonight... A fan who brandished a No Strike banner between innings behind the plate in the 200 level was greeted with total apathy by the crowd of 25,202.
There Are Always Innocent Bystanders
By Tom Cushman
"As everyone realizes, Veterans Stadium may be closed to baseball starting Friday, May 23, 1980. It is my sorrowful duty to inform all of our part-time help that you will be laid off until the work stoppage is over... We hope to see everyone as soon as possible."
The above memorandum was signed by Patrick J. Cassidy, director of stadium operations, and distributed to some 400 employees of the Philadelphia Phillies prior to last evening's rounder with Cincinnati, which was played in conditions appropriate to the mood of the season at hand. Light rain fell throughout, and even though the product on display had its spectacular moments, no one could really enjoy.
"It's the first time in the 10 years since I've been boss here that I had to do anything like I did tonight," Pat Cassidy said along about the eighth inning. "I hated it."
LABOR WILL OF course see the Cassidy Memorandum as premature, another ploy by management to cast the millionaires of the diamond in a light of callous yellow. Management will insist that admitting it is separating loyal employees from their jobs is not exactly the device you would select to improve public relations. And all the while, Marvin Miller and Ray Grebey, the hired guns, will continue dealing hands in a poker game only they seem to understand.
"The fans are blaming the players, and that's not fair," Bill Giles, executive vice president of the Phillies, was saying late last night. "I've talked to three or four of our players in the last couple of days, and they don’t really understand what's going on. They don't want a strike, the owners don't want a strike, but a strike is what we're gonna have, I, guess."
Mike Schmidt and Greg Luzinski launched back-to-back rockets off the unfortunate Charlie Leibrandt in the first inning last evening, but spectacular as they were, neither blow had the impact of the Cassidy Memorandum.
"We sure had some tears," said Bill Giles. "We're only talking' about maybe $800 to $1,200 a year, but many (ushers, usherettes, ticket-takers, security people) are young people and for them that money might be the difference between going to college next year and not going."
IN OTHER WORDS, the strike which is scheduled to arrive at midnight Thursday affects many people in many different ways. The fan tends to accept it as a personal slight, betrayal by a sport which historically has harmonized with the down tempo of the leisure months. Basketball, hockey, even football, cause the nerve endings to fray. Baseball was like sailing through a light chop.
This spring, though, there have. been more quotes from Marvin Miller than Reggie Jackson. And fans, whose supply of bad news already had been ample, hear only the clanging of the stadium gates. Most of them I've listened to figure the players will sit it out on the beaches while the owners sip mint juleps in their drawing rooms, waiting for the negotiators to phone in between cocktail dates.
The public perception does not alter the fact that beginning Friday, Eddie Ferenz, the traveling secretary, has to begin a game of Russian Roulette with the airline and hotel industries. The Phillies are booked for the season, but once the season goes down Eddie has to begin making cancellations. And what happens if the season suddenly reappears the day after he has scratched the hotel in Chicago?
"We have to hope there's no" convention in town," he says, "or we may end up with the kind of accommodations to which our people have become unaccustomed."
AIR-TRAVEL DURING the vacation months can be an especially difficult package to rearrange. "I would expect we'll get where we have to, even if we have to hire a fleet of Lear jets," Eddie said. "Or, we could go Greyhound."
Harry Kalas, who along with fellow broadcasters Rich Ashburn, Andy Musser and Tim McCarver, is paid a handsome fee for bringing Phillies games to you over radio and television, said that he is not certain how the strike will be handled by those media.
"We're still hired by Channel 17," Harry said, "and if there's a strike we can't go out and get an interim job, because you don't know when the thing might end. There's been talk about a sports phone-in show on television, there's the possibility we might do some minor-league games, but all of that is talk at the moment. We're like everyone else, delaying decisions until after it happens."
Bill Giles says the Phillies already have paid the city their minimum rental, which is $160,000 per year. "But the city gets a percentage of what we draw," he adds, "and last summer they made $4.2 million. I would guess that, including parking, taxes, everything, if we shut down for the season the city of Philadelphia would lose around $10 million."
The Phillies, Giles points out, also have paid a pre-strike fee in dollars not received. "Since April 1, our ticket sales have been horrible," he says. "We came in here off this last trip playing pretty decent ball, with some attractive teams due in, and I can't believe the lack of sales. We've definitely been hurt already. So has the game of baseball. The thing that's so hard to cope with is that this is happening even though neither side wants it to."
By late last night a melancholy had begun to grip not only the ones who play and administer the game, but those who service it.
"THERE GOES MY acting career," said Debbie Nocito, who runs the press elevator during home games. Debbie made light of this, but the fact is that she has been saving the money earned at the Vet so that she might attend a drama school in Society Hill.
Early last night Debbie was presented with a copy of the Cassidy Memorandum.
Dallas Green, who had just been presented with a 7-6 loss, says he is taking the countdown to the strike one game at a time. "I'm no soothsayer, so I can't tell you what they're gonna do,", he pointed out from behind his office desk. “One guy says there will be a strike, another says no.
"I do think we have a good blend of pitching and offense going for us, so I hate to see it end right now, but what the hell can 1 do about it?"
Quizzed about the same matter, Greg Luzinski replied:
"We have a good owner here, and I don't think anybody wants to go out. But I'm behind the Players' Association and I'll do what's necessary to support it.
"Everbody tries to be optimistic, to not let all this interfere with the way we play. We.were looking at the scoreboard tonight, noticing that Houston is due in next (Friday), and talking about their pitching rotation. There's still hope. Let's put it this way... it will all be over in 48 hours, one way or another."
The Philadelphia Phillies conclude the series with Cincinnati, and very possibly the season, tonight at the Vet. One more payday for the part-time help.
Starting time is 7:35. The forecast is for volcanic ash.
Richer by $1,025
Bake McBride led off the third inning for the Phillies last night with a drive over the right-field fence, a home run. For Jean Blank, it was a very enriching experience.
Jean, of Lynford St. near Princeton Ave. in. the Northeast, will collect $1,025 and four tickets to a Phillies game as the latest winner in the Daily News Home Run Payoff.
But Jean Blank wasn't the only winner. Isaiah Carroll and Marie Ellis of Philadelphia and Robert Carson of New Castle, Del., each won four tickets.
With McBride's big blast, the Daily News has paid out $4,550 so far this season. To enter, send in the coupon that appears on Page 71.