Philadelphia Inquirer - May 22, 1980

Baseball talks stall again; strike deadline tonight

 

Associated Press

 

NEW YORK – Deadlocked talks between owners and players in the continuing baseball contract dispute made no progress yesterday, leaving the two sides about 24 hours away from a threatened strike that would interrupt the 1980 major league season.

 

The players association offered a new proposal in an effort to settle the dispute, according to Marvin Miller, executive director of the union. "They noted the proposal with no comment," said Miller. "We did not make progress today."

 

Miller described the negotiations as taking place in "a tense atmosphere."

 

The two sides met for less than an hour before adjourning to separate caucuses that lasted about 90 minutes. They returned for another 1½ hours before finishing for the day.

 

"I'm guardedly optimistic," said Ray Grebey, chief negotiator for the 26 clubowners. "This is a tough emotional problem."

 

Grebey described the union proposal as containing nothing new.

 

"The players association proposed what it considers the basis for a settlement," Grebey said. "It contained nothing we had not already talked about, and there was a serious omission. It didn't deal with compensation."

 

Management had insisted through out these talks that the union agree to a system of compensation for teams losing free agents in the reentry draft. The players association has balked at that suggestion.

 

"Our proposal revised a number of items downward substantially," said Miller. "To say as Mr. Grebey did that it contained 'nothing new' well, technically that's true. But he led you to believe that it didn't change anything, and that's misleading. We made important revisions and deletions and reduced many of our demands. I love the way he (Grebey) obscures the truth."

 

Asked if the talks had been productive, Miller frowned.

 

"There was nothing in the way of movement," he said.

 

Miller said he would meet with Grebey again today. The players' strike deadline is midnight tonight.

 

"I'm never going to give up," he said. "Telegrams have been sent to the player representatives setting forth the unanimous decision of the executive board on April 1 that if there is no agreement prior to May 23, a strike begins May 23. Nothing changes that except an agreement."

 

Miller said that management has proposed removing the strike deadline in order to permit contract negotiations to continue.

 

 

"A strike creates pressure," he said. "Removing the deadline creates no pressure."

No end in sight to this tie game

 

By Bill Lyon

 

The night was something out of Edgar Allen Poe. Sinister sky. The kind of fog Jack the Ripper would have loved. A night when you keep looking over your shoulder, a night made for a werewolf serenade.  Things die on nights like this.

 

It was raw and damp, as it always is when the baseball season ends. Except this was May, not October, and the Phillies were simply playing Game No. 32. There would be 130 to follow before the playoffs began.

 

Or would there?

 

 

Three hours before last night's game with the Reds, the Phillies clubhouse had all the cheeriness of a funeral parlor.

 

The most widely read piece of literature was a telegram from Marvin Miller, executive director of the players' association, reminding the team that the baseball season would end at midnight tonight... "as authorized by a 967 to 1 vote of the players...." That wire had been stapled to the clubhouse bulletin board, and it cast a shadow like a hangman's noosd along Death Row.

 

The players were subdued and solemn.

 

Larry Bowa, who would normally be chugging coffee to make himself even more hyper and generally agitating and needling, had a mourner's face and rested his forehead on his bat handle, staring forlornly at the carpet. Bowa is lugging around the weight of an 0-for-17 stretch, and he would not be playing on this, perhaps the last night of the season, because he had pulled muscles in his lower back.

 

But mostly what accounted for his distraught appearance was the very real possibility of a summer without baseball. Larry Bowa is one of those for whom the game is a consuming passion. He literally would play it for free.

 

Now, unless there is an llth-hour reprieve, a stay of execution, by tonight he will not be playing the game at all, for pay or for free.

 

 

This situation may be unique in the history of labor relations. What we appear to have here is a strike that nobody wants.

 

Normally, there are hawks who want a strike, who relish the thought of it, who would force one even if a settlement seemed imminent. Either the employees are anxious to hit the bricks and put the squeeze on management or the employers can't wait to shut down and starve the malcontents into submission. But you don't get the sense of any of that here; just two sides who remain stubborn, unmoving and on an irreconcilable collision course.

 

The players don't want it. The alternative is running the unemployment lines instead of the bases.  

 

The owners don't want it. The alternative is paying the rent on empty stadiums.

 

The umpires don't want it. They just went through this last year.

 

The news media doesn't want it. The alternative is learning that strange game they call soccer.

 

"Both sides will lose if there is a strike," said Garry Maddox.

 

And what of the fans?

 

"I sense indifference on their part," said Tim McCarver, "and that can be worse than hatred. If they don't care, then they don't come.

 

"It's a strange situation because no one has identified a villain yet. You'd hate to think that people could get used to the idea of going without the game."

 

 

Only once in the long hours leading up to what was maybe their final game, did the Phillies muster any gallows humor. Del Unser walked by a cluster of writers who, with batting practice cut short because of the weather, were left with interviewing each other.

 

"You guys know of any exclusive country clubs that are hiring caddies for the summer?" Unser asked.

 

 

"You'd think," said McCarver, who is spending his first spring behind a microphone instead of a catcher's mask, "that this was Good Friday. You know, your heart's supposed to stop from noon to 3.

 

"But I can understand all the gloom. There's something so final about this. If there is a strike, how long will it last? And if it is settled, will the people come back once they start playing again?"

 

Or will a strike, if it is a long one, be what saves, say, the attendance-starved Fury franchise? Will Keystone and Brandywine and all the other tracks profit from baseball's misfortune? How many golf tournaments can a writer cover before he goes over the edge for keeps?

 

 

Somehow, you expected the Vet to be jammed last night. There are people who are trivia buffs, who would like to be able to say, "Yeah, I was at the last baseball game of the 1980 season. You remember that, don't you? The year baseball died."

 

But there seemed to be no mad stampede to be a spectator at what was either historic or inconsequential, depending on your viewpoint. There were more empty seats than full ones. Maybe it was the weather. Or maybe no one really believed there would be a summer without baseball. Or maybe it was the sobering possibility suggested by Tim McCarver... maybe not that many people care. Maybe the sports fan, like that tragic hero in "Network," is "mad as hell and won't take it any more."

 

If Game No.32 was to be the last of the season, the Phillies seemed determined to make it one to remember.

 

Those who did show up witnessed the uncharacteristically early departure of Tom Seaver, raked for six runs in less than two innings. Greg Luzinski clubbed his fourth homer in three games, and when Keith Moreland followed with another shot, the Vet scoreboard lit up with: "You Are Now Entering Rip City."

 

 

The Reds, however, were scoring in three-run clusters themselves, and the game took on a posture of unsettled suspense... just like the whole strike situation. The big difference is, baseball games get decided. Matters are resolved. Even if it takes extra innings.

Phils nip Reds in their ‘season-ender’

 

Luzinski hits 11th homer in 9-8 victory

 

By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer

 

There was nothing left on their horizon but bulletins from the bargaining table. But the Phillies didn't act like a team paralyzed by strike thoughts last night.

 

Guys with their minds on their mortgage bills don't score nine runs. Guys obsessed with compensation debates don't manufacture two-run rallies in the bottom of the ninth. Guys wondering where their next check is coming from don't come back and win after blowing a four-run lead.

 

But the Phillies did all that in a 9-8 victory over the Reds. For three hours, they pushed those dire possibilities out of their heads and just played ball.

 

"I'm sure they're all thinking about the strike," said Dallas Green. "And they're probably as puzzled about it as we are. But they showed pretty good professionalism tonight – and nothing less than I expected."

 

Two hours before game time, the mood was so listless you could have gotten bets this would be a 0-0 double no-hitter.

 

"No question there was a different mood," said Greg Luzinski. "Around the batting cage there was a definite (somber) mood. Everybody was just hoping that something was going to happen, that it (an agreement) was going to be signed."

 

But eventually, a crowd of 26,099 filed in through the drizzle. And they were a stunningly normal group – not a nasty-banner carrier in the bunch.

 

"I didn't hear a thing," Luzinski said. "I think they were just into the game."

 

Maybe all the early offense distracted everybody from the impending apocalypse. Ray Knight gave the Reds a 3-0 lead with a bases-loaded triple in the top of the first. But something that may have been a first, four Tom Seaver walks in one inning (he once walked only 48 in a 278-inning season), helped the Phillies score three to tie it in the bottom of the inning.

 

Then the Phillies exploded to a 7-3 lead after three on homers by Luzinski, Keith Moreland and (hang on, folks) Ramon Aviles.

 

Luzinski and Moreland drilled theirs back-to-back, finishing Seaver in the second. For Luzinski, it was his fourth homer in six at-bats and his 11th of the year, about locking up the prestrike home run title. At least he knows his nearest competition, Mike Schmidt (10), won't be crashing any between now and midnight.

 

For Moreland, it was his first big-league homer or at least the first one that wasn't overturned by Mary Sue Styles and a panel of umpires.

 

"I didn't hit it all that great," said the rookie catcher, who started in place of slumping labor figure Bob Boone. "The one I hit last year that didn't count, that one I thought was gone."

 

Aviles' homer in the third also was his first in the majors, and his eighth in 11 pro seasons. Aviles, who started at short for Larry Bowa, out with a strained back muscle, didn't think his was out, either. Guys with eight homers don't even know what that feels like. So he sprinted all the way to second, then saw umpire Harry Wendelstedt waving him around.

 

Did he think there must be some mistake?

 

"The only mistake," he said, "was the pitcher (Mario Soto) throwing a high fastball to a small guy."

 

But Larry Christenson didn't have it. He allowed four straight hits to start the fourth and was gone. Lerrin LaGrow entered, walked Heity Cruz on four pitches and he was through, too.

 

Green went to lefthander Kevin Saucier, even though the next batter, Dave Collins, was hitting .356 right-handed and .208 lefthanded. And Collins made it 7-6 with a forceout.

 

The Reds then tied it off Saucier in a weird sixth in which they had two doubles and a triple and only scored once. (A great relay throw by Aviles cut down Ron Oester trying for a triple.) And Knight's second triple made it 8-7 off eventual winner Ron Reed (2-0) in the seventh.

 

So the Phillies came to their final at-bat, maybe their final final at-bat, a run behind and with nothing to lose. Schmidt led off against Tom Hume with a chopper that bad-hopped off an Astroturf seam and flew by Knight at third. Then Schmidt stunned a few folks by rounding first and heading for second.

 

"Just instinctive," he said. "I figure the ball bad-hops the third baseman, he just got his glove on it, I ought to be able to make second easy. But he must not have touched it, right? It sure got out to (George) Foster awful fast."

 

But Schmidt made it, anyhow, with a tumbling slide around Junior Kennedy's tag. Three pitches later, Luzinski tied it with his third hit, a single. If this is it for 1980, the Bull finished it smoking 7 for 9 with four homers.

 

"I'm frustrated that this thing is coming now because of the groove I'm in," Luzinski said. "But I believe in what we're fighting for. My contract's up in a couple years, so this could mean something to me." A walk and an out later, the batter was Manny Trillo, with the winning run at second in pinch-runner Lonnie Smith. Trillo hit a floating liner to right, and Smith took off without even waiting to see if Collins might catch it.

 

The rightfielder got there. But a funny thing happened on the way to the double play – he dropped it, Smith scored jogging, and all of a sudden there was nothing left to do but wait for the next pitch from Marvin Miller.

 

"If the strike is anything over two weeks, then you're starting to tear down everything we've worked at," said Green, whose club rolled down the prestrike stretch at 5-2. "Anything under two weeks I think we can handle pretty easily. Anything over that, you're starting to deteriorate."

 

On his desk was an Opened schedule. It will take a lot bigger figures than Dallas Green to keep it from being closed now.

 

 

NOTES: If there is a strike, all of the Phillies' part-time employees will be laid off for the duration, said Bill Giles. And if the strike is a long one, some front-office people will be laid off eventually, too, Giles said. Ironically, the club might need more people working in the ticket office than usual if there is a strike, just to handle refunds and inquiries, Giles said.... If there is a game tomorrow, it will feature Nolan Ryan vs. Steve Carlton. Dallas Green has removed Randy Lerch from the rotation.