Camden Courier-Post - May 22, 1980
Phillies undaunted by threat of strike
By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Pos
PHILADELPHIA – The average baseball fan attending last night’s game between the Phillies and the Cincinnati Reds would have left Veterans Stadium knowing two things: that the strike by major league players was just hours away, and that the game he had just witnessed was performed in a highly-professional, entertaining manner.
Just as it was hard not to consider that last night was the eve of the strike, so it was difficult to ignore the fact that both clubs produced an admirable effort that would conclude as a 9-8 Phillies' victory.
Dallas Green, who managed the Phils in what might well have been their 1980 finale, noticed it. Greg Luzinski, who homered in the second and drove in the game-tying run in the bottom of the ninth, was aware of it. And Mike Schmidt, whose aggressive baserunning was the centerpiece of a ninth-inning rally, knew it.
"I'VE GOT enough faith in the people out there," said Green, pointing toward the clubhouse from behind his office desk, "to know that they want to play baseball.
"Yes, they're thinking about the strike. Yes, they're as puzzled as we are over what's going to happen. But I think they showed professionalism tonight."
That professionalism could be seen in Luzinski, who put on an awesome offensive display in the three-game series. His home run, a single in the sixth and the single that sent Schmidt home with the tying run in the ninth, gave Luzinski seven hits – four of them home runs – in his last nine at bats.
"There's no question today was different," he said. "There's a telegram from Marvin Miller (the executive director of the Major League Players Association) on the board about the strike. There was a definite mood around the batting cage (prior to the game) among the players and coaches hoping that it (a new Basic Agreement) would be signed."
BUT THE mood was not one of optimism. Rather, the players and coaches seemed to accept the inevitability of a walkout, then went about the business of playing one more game before tonight's midnight strike deadline.
Making the most of the final pre-strike hours, Schmidt walked twice, doubled twice and scored three runs. His second double, coming in the ninth, was a prime example of the kind of aggressive philosophy Green would like the Phillies to follow.
Schmidt opened the inning with a ground ball that hit a seam in the AstroTurf and bounced over the glove of Cincinnati third baseman Ray Knight. Left fielder George Foster tracked the ball down and fired to second base. But his throw was not good enough to get Schmidt, who slid, neatly around the tag.
"It was," Schmidt shrugged, "just instinct. I saw it bad-hop him (Knight) and, when a ball bad-hops a guy, you automatically think second. A good throw might have had me, but that's always the case when you play aggressive baseball."
IRONICALLY, it was overly-aggressive baserunning that won the game. After pinchhitter Del Unser walked and Garry Maddox flied out, Manny Trillo lifted a liner in the direction of right fielder Dave Collins. Lonnie Smith, pinch-running for Luzinski, took off as the ball was hit and was rounding third when Collins and the ball intersected.
By all rights, Smith should have been an easy double-play victim. But Collins, perhaps distracted by Smith's blunder, took his eye off the ball and dropped it. Smith scored on the error and the game – maybe the season – was over.
"That," said Green, "was not a very good play. It was inexperience more than anything else. But it distracted the right fielder.
"He (Smith) was intent on scoring the winning run, I'll say that for him. I told him when I sent him out there, 'You're the winning run. Go get it.' He took me to heart."
THERE WERE other signs that the impending strike failed to leave its mark on the game. Pete Rose played some flashy defense at first, diving to turn a couple potential base hits into outs. Similarly, Reds first baseman Dan Driessen, after dropping a foul hall that opened the door for Tom Seaver to walk home a run in the first, made a diving stab of a Ramon Aviles line drive and turned that into a double play.
Keith Moreland; catching in place of the beleaguered Bob Boone, smashed his first major league home run, as did Aviles, who played shortstop in place of Larry Bowa.
All pf it, in fact, added up to a game the average fan could appreciate; to a game that refused to be upstaged by the coming strike.
PHIL UPS – Luzinski, who went into the series against the Reds with a .243 average, is now hitting .278 and leads the majors in homers with 11... Schmidt is second with 10… Seaver, usually poison to the Phils, allowed six hits, five earned runs and walked four in 1⅔ innings... Steve Carlton could face Houston's Nolan Ryan tomorrow night should a strike somehow be averted.
Aviles’ magical night is probably too late
By Ray W. Kelly of the Courier-Post
PHILADELPHIA – For 11 years he waited and prayed for a night such as this, a night when he would start a game for a major league team and he would hit, field and throw like a man possessed.
Yet, when it finally happened, Ramon Aviles of the Phillies found himself talking about dipping into his meager savings and pumping gas to survive the summer.
Make no mistake, the proud native of Puerto Rico was not looking for sympathy. If he had to dig ditches to give his family a good life, he would do it gladly with his head held high. For him, dignity was something you brought with you to work, whether it be at a dusty gas station in South Carolina or at Veterans Stadium.
Of course he felt frustrated at the thought of being caught in the crunch of the impending strike of baseball by the Players Association. But, he couldn't help smiling when his Philly teammates called to him after last night's 9-8 victory over the Cincinnati Reds, "At least you're leaving the game in style."
It was true. If this turns out to be the Phils' final performance of the 1980 season, the hustling, little utility infielder will at least know that he gave the men who will decide his fate something to remember him by.
"I have never played a big league game such as this," he said, recalling how he kept his composure enough to walk with the bases loaded in the first inning, how he lined his first home run in the majors over the left field fence in the third inning, how he took a bad relay throw and gunned a runner out at third base in the sixth and topped it off with two dazzling defensive plays at shortstop.
Such days are made for celebrating. But, in a grimly-silent locker room filled with teammates trying to swallow the reality of the word "strike," there was only gloom mixed with irony.
With Larry Bowa sidelined with back problems and rookie hotshot Luis Aguayo ticketed for Oklahoma City, where he could get a chance to hone his budding talents, Aviles saw the opportunity for his anticipated short stay in Philly to turn into something more permanent.
"The way I played tonight... hitting the ball hard three times... going to both my left and right on defense... I feel they would keep me in the lineup until Bowa is sound enough to play once more."
Play where? Baseball was headed into the twilight zone. And, a lot of guys like Ramon were being asked to pay the price.
"Yes, I've been caught in the middle," he said. "In the spring, I could not vote because I was not a rostered player. But, I'm going to back my teammates. I would vote today to strike with them because it will help the players on their way up.
"After 11 years in the minor leagues, I don't want to go back. It is a little depressing that after I worked so hard for so many years, this is happening."
The possibility of the strike helping bim were minimal. And, when the fans thought of the striking players, they would not think of him, but of well-heeled athletes lounging by the pool soaking up the sun.
"I'm in better shape than some guys," he said with a grin. "I don't have to pay any big bills. I made good money (it's not that good) playing winter ball in Puerto Rico. Since I live at home, I was able to save.
"I don't spend much, because I don't drink, smoke or gamble. I just buy groceries and put the rest in the bank. I handle my money good. It will come in handy."
Aviles will start dipping into his savings next week when he returns to his wife's home town in South Carolina. He will help coach the local college team and begin looking for a job to keep him busy.
"I will spend time with my little daughter, Amy. It doesn't matter what kind of work I do. Ill pump gas or whatever. As long as it is an honest job. I don't care how tough it is. If I have to do it to support my little girl, I will do it."
It was 11 years ago that a scared kid who understood English, but couldn't speak the language very well, got on a team bus. He sat near the talkative players. He listened. He learned. He asked to be corrected. He never compromised his high morals in order to be popular. He dreamed of the majors and a magical night.
Somebody should have told him baseball is big business.
Baseball has reached D-Day
NEW YORK (AP) - With a strike deadline only hours away, baseball negotiators faced a nearly impossible task today, meeting for one last time in an effort to reach an agreement on a new contract that would prevent a play stoppage.
There was little hope that a strike could be averted after another round of fruitless talks yesterday.
"Unless there is a complete change of heart, we're headed pell mell for a strike," said federal mediator Kenneth Moffett. "We're in deep trouble."
MOFFETT SAID no progress had been made at yesterday's session when the players association presented a revised proposal to owner representatives.
"Sitting at the end of the table and hearing the two sides, it sounded to me as if we were a month away from a deadline instead of 30 hours," the mediator said.
Marvin Miller, executive director of the union, said there would be no avoiding the deadline in his talks with management.
"A strike creates pressure," Miller said. "Removing the deadline creates no pressure."
MILLER SAID player representatives of all 26 major league teams had been sent telegrams restating the will of the union's executive board which voted unanimously on April 1 to strike unless a contract is negotiated by May 23.
"Games Thursday night will be completed. The strike begins May 23," Miller said. "Nothing changes that except an agreement."
But the two sides seem miles away from any settlement.
"We did not make any progress," Miller reported. "We have, negotiated for six months and produced nothing even approaching an agreement, even with a strike deadline. That's the best shot for progress. Now they propose removing the deadline and then work for an agreement. They say if we reach one, it would be retroactive. Well I learned a long time ago that if you're offered zero retroactively, it's still zero."
RAY GREBEY, chief of the management negotiating team, dismissed a player association proposal made yesterday which Miller said had "substantially revised downward" a number of union demands.
"It contained nothing new or that we hadn't already talked about," Grebey said. "And there was a serious omission. It didn't deal with compensation."
Miller bristled at that description.
"I love the way he obscures the truth," the union chief said. "It's true that the proposal dealt with no issues not discussed before. But he led you to believe it didn't change anything and that's misleading."
MILLER SAID the players had offered reduced demands in the areas of minimum salaries, pension contributions and "split" contracts for players who perform both in the major and minor leagues in a single season.
"There were other important revisions and deletions," Miller said. "It produced virtually nothing in the way of movement."
The movement management still insists on from the players is acceptance of a formula for compensating clubs losing "premium" free agents. The last proposal on that matter was made last week. At that time the owners suggested ranking players by pitching or batting appearances in order to determine whether they would qualify for compensation as free agents.
THE PLAYERS association rejected that idea, saying such a formula would classify .222 hitters and pitchers with earned run averages of over 6.00 as "premium" free agents.
Management responded yesterday with a four-page information sheet distributed to all players. It said that only nine of last winter's 44 free agents would qualify for compensation under their proposal. Some who would not have fallen into "premium" classification, the owners said, included Rudy May, Fred Norman, Tony Perez and Rennie Stennett.
Meanwhile, clubs prepared for what seemed an almost certain interruption in the season. Although weekend advance ticket sales remained strong in many cities, teams were readying refund plans.
"OUR TICKET sales have never been better," said Jack Schrom, vice president of public relations and marketing for the Pittsburgh Pirates. "The threat of a strike has not put a dent in us in the least. In fact, we have well over a half million seats sold for future games, conservatively speaking. The money's in."
The Pirates expected about 80,000 fans this weekend for a series against San Diego. If the strike comes, the team said refunds would be made.
Cincinnati hoped for 100,000 for a three-game series against Montreal, slightly higher than the team drew over Memorial Day last year. Fans have not asked for refunds yet and the club has not made any refund plans yet.
IN BALTIMORE, the Orioles sold 37,000 advance tickets for a weekend series against Detroit. It would be the club's first weekend home series this season. "We don't want to say anything at this moment about refunds," said General Manager Hank Peters. "We'll make those announcements at the proper time."
Milwaukee has sold between 65,000 and 70,000 seats for a six-game home stand against Minnesota and Seattle which was to begin tomorrow night.
"Seattle and Minnesota traditionally don't draw that well anyway," said Dick Hackett, the Brewers' vice president for marketing. "Right now the team isn't playing all that well. That has a bearing on ticket sales. There's the threat of a strike, that has a bearing on it."
Hackett said no fans have asked for their money back and the team would have an announcement Friday concerning refunds.