Wilmington Evening Journal - May 21, 1980

Reds beat Phils, but the big story is still the strike


By John Bannon, Staff Writer


PHILADELPHIA – The Phillies had two strikes going against them last night. One they didn't get and the other one they weren't fond of talking about.


On the baseball front, Cincinnati's Dave Collins drove an 0-2 pitch from Dick Ruthven into centerfield, scoring two sixth-inning runs as the Reds beat the Phillies 7-6 last night at Veterans Stadium.


"Ruthven got the ball over the plate more than he wanted to," said Collins, who extended his hitting streak to 15 games. "I try not to think about the hitting streak while the game is going on. I'm just glad that the hit that kept the streak going also helped us win a game."


On the labor front, there wasn't any news – which is just as bad. Tonight – when the Reds finish the three-game set against the Phils – is the last regularly-scheduled game before the irregular stoppage of play, the compensation conflagration set to go up in the flames of a strike at midnight tomorrow.


That subject, and not the lusty hitting show, seemed to be on everybody's mind.


"Sure, it's difficult. I don't know what's going to happen," said Manager Dallas Green. "It's hard not to think about it. Our attitude has been to just take one game at a time. That's been our approach. Just play one game and have some fun."


Green's minions, though, were hardly in a jovial mood and it wasn't so much the game that had gotten away.


"It doesn't really affect you when you're out there playing the game. Nobody wants a strike. The players don't want it. The owners don't want it," said Greg Luzinski, who had two of the Phils' season-high four homers in the losing cause last night. "Everybody wants the season to keep going. You have to keep hoping for some sort of 11th hour break. They'll keep negotiating right to the last minute."


Still, there are the reminders, some ironic, some tedious.


"The players are thinking baseball. They're concerned about the pitching rotation," Luzinsk said.


"You see the things flash op on the scoreboard during the game about Houston coming in and then Pittsburgh," Luzinksi said. "It gets you to thinking about whether you'll be and well..."


Bill Giles, a Phils vice-president, came forth with strong evidence that the Delaware Valley fans don't expect Luzinski and cronies to be there for the coming games.


"Our advance sales are nothing," he said. "We're playing good baseball and you have two teams in the Astros and Pirates that are good attractions and we haven't sold any tickets."


Both Giles and Luzinski know that strikes that come with pickets and not those on the umpire's indicator is what has cast a pall over the game.


"We'll all know in about 48 hours," Luzinski said. "I don't know of another team that is better prepared for a strike than this one. With Bob Boone being the NL player rep, we're kept up-to-date. Boonie keeps us filled in on what's going on."


One person, though, is tired of the briefings – Mike Schmidt.


"I just don't want to talk about it. I'm sick of hearing about it," he said. "All the time, it's strike this and strike that."


Schmidt's temperament wasn't helped by last night's game. Oh, he hit a first-inning homer that at night's end left him tied with Luzinski for the major league lead with 10. It was his gold glove that helped heighten the sour mood.


Ruthven, who had settled down after yielding four runs in the first three innings, retired the first two batters in the sixth in routine fashion.


Johnny Bench seemed headed for the same fate when he bounced one down the third baseline. Schmidt, though, couldn't get the ball out of his glove cleanly and when he did get it out, he skipped a one-bouncer past Pete Rose.


Ruthven then walked the next two batters, the first one intentionally, and Collins followed and delivered his single to put the Reds ahead for good at 6-5.


Cincinnati stretched the advantage to two runs with their final tally against Ruthven in the seventh before Luzinski's second homer of the night trimmed the margin to one in the eighth.


The Phils left Gary Maddox stranded at third following Luzinski's blast when Larry Bowa struck out. And the Phils last chance, Lonnie Smith, was left at second in the ninth when Bake McBride, who had homered in the third to give the Phils a 5-4 lead, did the same.


"They're all bad to lose," said Green . "This one was tough. We did some things right. We score some runs. We hit some homers. We just couldn't hold them down."


Somehow, though, the loss seemed like the minor disappointment compared to the news on the labor front.


"It comes at bad time for us," Green said. "We're starting to play some good baseball. But let's face it. If there's a strike, it's not going to be bad for the Phillies. It's going to be bad for all of baseball."


EXTRA POINTS - The Phillies plan a press conference at 10:30 a.m. Friday to announce their plans concerning season ticket holders if the players strike... "We don't know the answers right now," said Giles. "We're working on a lot of areas and will have the complete details on Friday"... The Phils are 4-1 against southpaws... Last night's starter, Leibrandt, the only lefty with a victory over the Phils... McBride – second in the NL in RBI – has hit in 14 of his last 15 tames at over a.350 pace... McBride was hitting.222 at this time last year... Bowa entered last night's game hitting .236. He's hitting just .187 left-handed but .474 right-handed... Bowa was forced to leave the game after the sixth with a strained lower back that he hurt in Houston... Bowa said he wasn't sure he'd be able to play tonight's game... Phils got shutout relief from Dickie Noles and Tug McGraw... Tonight, it's Tom Seaver (2-2) vs. Larry Christenson (3-0)... Tomorrow, consult your local labor-law expert.

No news is bad news as strike draws near


Associated Press


NEW YORK - With the strike countdown reduced to hours instead of weeks or days, federal mediator Kenneth Moffett hoped negotiators in the continuing baseball contract dispute would return to the bargaining table today prepared to hammer out an agreement.


"What is needed is a change in philosophies, by one side or the other," Moffett said Sunday when he ordered a two-day recess in the talks. He said the climate of the negotiations had become highly charged and it was his feeling that the two sides needed some time away from each other.


Marvin Miller, executive director of the players association, and Ray Grebey, chief negotiator for management, spent Monday and yesterday in almost constant communication with their constituencies. Miller discussed strike logistics with the players while Grebey conferred with owners, updating them on the situation.


Still on the table were proposals covering a broad range of topics in the basic agreement such as pensions, minimum salaries, salary arbitration, scheduling, expenses, etc. Agreement seemed attainable on most of those subjects last week, but the talks broke down with two sides remaining far apart on the major issue of compensation for free agents.


The compensation question involves the demand of owners that replacement players be made available from the rosters of teams signing "premium" free agents. The players feel that such a system would restrict their movement and eventually eliminate the free agent system entirely.


Whereas the collective bargaining agreement does not include player salaries, which are negotiated by the players individually, Miller and his union feel that the compensation clause sought by management is basically a money issue.


"The compensation question has been blown up in the wrong direction," Miller said. "What the owners are trying to do is drive down salaries. It's like three-card monte, your eye follows the wrong card."


Miller offered this example.


"They don't have to worry about players coming along, saying, I'm as good as Rod Carew, I want as much as he makes.' What they worry about is the large group of players who are not the top-paid superstars. These players are more numerous. The savings there would be far more substantial. That's why in their last compensation proposal, their definition of 'premium players' included 50 percent of all players.


"I'm not saying there is no relationship between the top and the middle, but the middle is where the real money is, and that's what they're after."


The owners have insisted all along that the season need not be interrupted and that negotiations could continue with no concern for the strike deadline of midnight tomorrow.


But the players association feels that open-ended negotiations would not serve the union's best interests and has refused to stop the clock.