Philadelphia Daily News - May 24, 1980
1981 Walkout Still a Possibility
By Bill Conlin
The issue of free-agent compensation is on the back burner for a year, and possibly two years, under terms of the Death House reprieve baseball gave itself at dawn yesterday.
Bob Boone, who saved the day for the Players Association in spring training by convincing his colleagues on the executive council not to strike on opening day, says the solution was about the only way out for both parties. In essence, it is the same proposal the owners rejected last week – settle on all negotiable issues now while leaving the compensation question open to further haggling and study.
"From our point of view they are the same," Boone said last night after the Phillies beat the Astros, 3-0, at the Vet. "From the owners' point of view I'm sure it's a little different. I'm really surprised the agreement came back to us through something that was rejected. We felt acceptance of that concept was the only possible way to avert a strike. We were at our bottom line. I'm surprised it all actually came about at the 11th hour.
"THE AGREEMENT IS not ideal, but when we sit down again to discuss compensation the atmosphere will be different."
The players will reap handsome pension plan increases under terms of the open-ended four-year basic agreement. Salary minimums will increase to $35,000 by 1983. Expense allowances will be more liberal and health and safety regulations improved.
But the compensation issue remains a swamp where what looks like solid ground is really quicksand. In words quoted from a text of a release issued by the Player Relations Committee last night, here is where compensation stands:
"The clubs and the Players Association agreed on a compromise which leaves the free-agent re-entry draft unchanged in 1980. But in 1981, the clubs' proposal for compensation becomes a part of the basic agreement of the two sides."
Ray Grebey, director of the player relations committee, said a study group of four will be appointed (two management representatives and two players). The study group will meet by Aug. 1, gather, study and review information, and make a report... by Jan. 1, 1981.
(Now it gets sticky.)
If they do not reach an agreement by Feb. 1, the clubs may put into effect their current proposal for compensation for player-selection rights. At that point, the players have the right to reopen the portion of the basic agreement covering such compensation and to call a strike over the issue, if necessary.
(IN THE LONG history of American labor, has management ever sanctioned a strike if things don't work out?)
Clubs must be notified of such intention by March 1, 1981, and the notice must include the date of the proposed strike which must not be later than June 1,1981.
If the players choose not to strike at that time, there can be no strike over compensation during the life of the basic agreement. However, the players may offer, prior to March 1, 1981, to waive their right to strike with a request for the clubs to permit a substitute strike in 1982 not later than June 1.
(Baseball has pinch-runners, pinch-hitters relief pitchers and designated hitters, but this is the introduction of the pinch-strike.)
There is, however, no obligation on the part of the clubs to accept such a request.
"We still have some leverage, the right to strike next season up until June 1," Boone said. "But I think there's an excellent chance to solve the free-agent question within the study groups. They'll be small and the climate should be good. What we've done is fair to both sides. The important thing is that we're still playing baseball."
We hope you all took notes. There will be a quiz next June 1 – unless you elect to take it in June of 1982. In which case we reserve the right to give failing grades to all.
Astros’ Sigh Is Relief That Game Goes On
By Rich Hofmann
The general reaction in the Astros' clubhouse to yesterday's settlement of the baseball dispute was a sigh. As in relief.
Manager Bill Virdon: "I was very relieved, pleased that it didn't come about. I think it's probably close to being a solution. You know, you don't solve these things overnight. I think the way it was presented, the way it seems to be formulated, it's going to be difficult for something like this to happen again. It gives both parties a chance to work something out."
Player rep Joe Niekro: "I'm happy they got an agreement on it and baseball can go on. It takes a lot of pressure off everybody's mind, and it takes a lot of pressure off my head, being player rep. and I'm just glad... On the compensation, they were so far apart that if they had tried to agree on the compensation, they might never have signed it I think that the idea Marvin (Miller) gave 'em was probably the best way to handle it. Let's study it and see what happens. See what the facts are on compensation and free agency, what it's done to the game, if you need compensation or not.
"But the big thing is that the season's going on. If they don't get it settled by January, it's still not the middle of the season and they'll still have time to work something out. We don't want to strike we want to play baseball."
Shortstop Craig Reynolds: "I'm just real happy saner heads ruled out and a strike was avoided. It's not settled, but at least we're playing baseball for now... What's the purpose of-showing your muscle (by striking) if you're satisfied with the contract? There has to be a purpose for showing muscle, and anyone that wants to strike just to strike that's foolishness. We all have to be objective and reach a reasonable agreement that's acceptable for both parties, and if you can't do that, then something's wrong with both sides."
Pitcher Nolan Ryan: "We found out before we went to bed last (Thursday) night. Happy? Oh, yeah, I'm happy. Nobody wanted a strike."
Third baseman Enos Cabell: "I'm glad it's over with. It took a long time for them to do one night's work. Most of it is settled, except for the compensation thing. They're going to have a study, and if they want to change it next year and we don't like the way they want to change it, then we'll probably strike next year."
Inconsistent Ryan Offers No Excuses
By Rich Hofmann
Slumped in front of his locker, Nolan Ryan repeated the refrain.
"There are," he said, over and over and over, "no excuses."
On the night after The Strike That Wasn't, Nolan Ryan was The Pitcher That Wasn't. In 3 innings of Houston's 3-0 loss to the Phillies, Ryan gave up all three runs on Mike Schmidt's homer, 6 hits, 3 walks and struck out Steve Carlton looking. He was constantly behind in the count on everyone else.
The man makes about $1 million a year. Now that Marvin and Ray have stopped yelling at each other, Ryan probably will get in the neighborhood of 40 starts this season. Long division tells us that's about $25,000 per start.
Last night's was not a $25,000 performance, and up to now, Ryan has not been a million-dollar wonder. The model of inconsistency, his record stands at 2-4. Just last Sunday, he shut out the Phils at the Astrodome, 3-0, giving up only four hits and striking out 10. When he pitches like that, ahead of the hitters, Ryan is nearly unbeatable.
BUT WHEN HE GETS behind the hitters, like last night, it's a different story.
"There are," he said, "no excuses.
"I wasn't getting the ball over and I was behind constantly."
But surely, with all those months of labor negotiations that were crammed into last night, surely that must have affected him.
"No," he said. "I have no excuses. I just pitched a poor game, stayed behind on the hitters, constantly stayed in trouble and had to come in on them in situations where I really would rather not."
The top of the third inning was the classic case in point. The Phillies sent seven men to the plate and six of them got ahead on the count against Ryan. The only one who didn't - Bake McBride - got a hit after one pitch.
With Pete Rose on second and McBride on first, Ryan got behind in the count on Mike Schmidt 3-0, then 3-1.
"When I have two men on," Ryan said, "and 3-1, and I'm hanging my curve ball, not getting it over at all, so I have to go with my fastball, and I get the ball up over the plate. He's a good fastball hitter. You give him that pitch and he's gonna hit it."
Long, hard, over the left-field fence. Phils up, 3-0. Ryan on the way out.
"NOT GREAT CONTROL of his curve ball," was Schmidt's explanation. "You're only talking about one inning... and one swing. Who's to say if he didn't get me out he'd stay in there and still be pumping 95 MPH fast balls in the eighth inning? You never know. Sometimes you have to give the hitters credit.
"Put a gun on his fastball and it probably wasn't any different tonight than it was before. He was a little wild high with his fastball, like he always is with his fastball, but he wasn't able to get ahead of the hitters so much with his breaking ball.
"All I can say is that I've faced a lot of hard throwers - Tom Seaver in his heyday, J.R. Richard now - with those guys, for a power hitter like myself, you have to do your best to get ahead of them, get them in situations where you can guess 100 percent fastball. They're going to eat you alive if you stay all the time in positions where you have no idea what they're going to throw because their breaking balls are that good."
But when they're not that good, when they're repeatedly either in the dirt or hanging like Christmas-tree ornaments, these flamethrowers, their fastballs notwithstanding, become mere mortals, with records like 2-4.
"I think you're always concerned," said Houston Manager Bill Virdon, "and I'm sure he's concerned. He's physically all right, he's throwing all right. His nature is he always finishes strong, gets his share of wins."
BUT THE PRESSURE on Ryan to perform, $1 million contract and all, has to be enormous.
"There's always pressure in any kind of situation in the major leagues when a pitcher is expected to win," Virdon said. "I think he supplies some of it himself because he's near home (Alvin, Tex.), he wants to be successful and wants to show everybody he's still a good pitcher. That's part of the program. But I don't think that's going to hurt him."
Then it's not the pressure of the contract?
"No," Ryan said, "contract's got nothing to do with it.”
Trouble getting readjusted to the National League?
"No," Ryan said, "there's no difference. I just haven't pitched well."
Trouble with the... the... the climate?
"No," Ryan said, "there's no excuses for why I'm pitching so poorly. I have nothing to blame it on.
"I have no excuses. I'm just pitching poorly, getting behind on the hitters. I don't care who you are - you can't pitch from behind and expect to win and be consistent."
And that's what Nolan Ryan, the million-dollar man, hasn't been this year - consistent. If you can find anybody who plans to bet on the outcome of his next start, either for or against Ryan, try to put the bite on him. He obviously has money to burn.
Phils Strike Astros
By Bill Conlin
Mike Schmidt spent the countdown to Superstrike wheezing and sneezing. It has been a tough week for people with respiratory allergies, thanks to air filled with everything from pollen to volcanic ash.
Nolan Ryan, the freight train that ran over the Phillies in Houston last Sunday, looked more like the Tooner-ville Trolley last night. Even a third baseman with watery eyes and postnasal drip could see the 33-year-old righthander was missing with the diving curve ball which is the foundation of his power-pitching.
RYAN WAS RUNNING too many 3-2 counts, throwing too many pitches and it caught up with him with two outs in the third.
Pete Rose singled to left and Bake McBride, buried by Ryan in the Astrodome, lined a fastball to right for a single. Ryan promptly fell behind to Schmidt, 3-0. Mike swung and missed with the green light and then dialed himself up for a 3-1 fastball.
Ryan obliged him and Schmidt pounded a three-run homer to left for all the runs Steve Carlton would need to run his best start ever to 8-2. Schmidt is tied with Greg Luzinski and Ben Oglivie for the major-league home-run lead with 11.
"Obviously, Ryan didn't have great control of his breaking ball," Schmidt said after the 3-0 victory over Houston moved the second-place Phillies three games over.500. "The key to his pitching is getting the breaking ball over the plate. I was lucky enough to get him 3-0, get him in a fastball-throwing situation.
"SOMEBODY SAID I looked like I was dug in up there for a fastball. Actually, I wasn't coiled or anything. I just wanted to take a nice, easy, swing at the ball, not try to hit it out of the balfpark, let him supply the power. If he had thrown a curve I would have stood there and watched it. It would have either been strike two or I would have walked to first base.
Carlton allowed four singles and struck out eight to pass J.R. Richard for the big-league strikeout lead with 69. It was another powerful effort for a man who has credit for eight of the club's 18 victories.
"Believe it or not, this was not one of Lefty's better performances," Dallas Green said afterward. "He started out with all three of his pitches in very good shape, but in the fifth, sixth and seventh he did not have real good stuff by his standards."
Green also offered Schmidt a critique on Ryan's stuff after his homer. "I told Schmitty I didn't think he was throwing as good tonight," Dallas said. "Mike kind of jumped on me. He said, 'I hit that 95 MPH fastball pretty good.' Ryan's breaking ball wasn't there and we've got some pretty good fastball hitters on this club.
CARLTON'S BEST previous starts with the Phillies were in 1976 and '77 when he got off to 8-3 starts. He finished 20-7 in 76 and won the Cy Young Award in 77 with a 23-10 record. He didn't even come out of the gate this powerfully in 1972 when he was 27-10 with a 1.98 ERA and 310 strikeouts.
Carlton's second shutout of the season and 44th of his career drove his ERA down to 2.08.
Lefty looked like he was going to ring up another double-figure strikeout game when he blew away six of the first nine Astros he faced. After the third inning, though, his stuff was just good enough to do the job. His infield took him out of potential trouble in the fifth and sixth with double plays and he appeared to be throwing the ball as hard in the ninth as in the first.
"You hate to see a guy throwing like Lefty get hit with a strike," Rose said. "Me, I was gonna be OK because I can always find a kid to throw hard to me. I had a kid I helped recruit for the University of Cincinnati all lined up to pitch BP to me. But once a pitcher goes two weeks without facing hitters he's back on square one."
With a strike threat now part of the game's history - at least until next June - the Phillies appear ready to tackle square two and beyond.
PHILUPS: Dallas Green announced after the game that righthander Dan Larson has been recalled from Oklahoma City to replace Luis Aguayo on the roster. The 27-year-old former Astro will start against Joaquin Andujar tonight. "I need a pitcher right now and Dan has been pitching real good," the manager said. "Marty Bystrom's not physically ready yet and I think Larson is better fitted for what I want at this time. He'll start tonight because I want to move Dick Ruthven and Larry Christenson back a day." Larson was 4-1 with Okie City with a 4.13 ERA... Green also indicated that Randy Lerch may emerge from limbo to start a game against the Pirates. "He's had some time to think things over and he's thrown a couple of times," Green said... Bob Boone responded to the post-strike easing of tension with a pair of singles... Larry Bowa is on a day-to-day basis with a lower-back sprain... Pete Rose walked three times. move past Rich Ashburn on the all-time walks list with 1.199... Greg Luzinski just missed his 12th homer with a double off the fence in right-center after Mike Schmidt's homer. "You'll see them go back-to-baek again before it's over," Green said... Ken Forsch vs. Ruthven tomorrow with Christenson kicking off the big Pirates series Monday night at 6:05.
5 Winners In Payoff
There were five winners in the Daily News Home Run Payoff during last night's Phillies-Astros game.
In the sixth inning, John Connelly of Yeadon won $10 and four tickets to a Phillies game on a Ramon Aviles single. Flo Chrzanowski, Cathaline Miller and Anne T. Hunt of Philadelphia and Dennis Welsh of Upper Darby, each won four tickets.
So far the Daily News has paid out $4,570. To enter, send in the coupon that appears on this page.