Wilmington News Journal - May 25, 1980

Phils do it Bowa’s way in defeat of Astros


By Kevin Noonan, Staff Correspondent


PHILADELPHIA - Last night, the Phillies played Larry Bowa's kind of game.


The Phils held off the Houston Astros 5-4 before a crowd of 28,539 at Veterans Stadium, and the way they did it had Bowa smiling.


"Just about everybody contributed," said Bowa, the talented and temper-mental shortstop. "That's what we need more of. Last year we sort of waited for someone to yank one out of the park. Now we're trying to score in more ways, take advantage of situations more. It's winning baseball."


The Phils scored what proved to be the winning run in the seventh inning, when right fielder Bake McBride dashed home from third base on Bob Boone's bouncing ball to Enos Cabell, the Astros' third baseman. At the time it gave the Phils a 5-2 lead and appeared to just add another insurance run. But when the Astros struck for two runs in the eight off of relief pitcher Tug McGraw, it was the difference in the game.


McGraw finished the game Dan Larson began. Larson, who just joined the team today after leaving the Phils' Triple-A team in Oklahoma City, did the job Manager Dallas Green was looking for.


“He did a good job. I got just what I wanted from him," said Green. "He didn't scare."


Larson, who lost his last start as a Phillie in a 4-1 setback to St. Louis on September 9, 1979, was happy with his performance, but understandably was even happier about being back in the big leagues.


“All I can do is go out there, do the best I can, and hope it's enough," said Larson. "We didn't talk about my future, but I have to assume that as long as I pitch well, I'll stay here. They need pitching here, and as long as I give good results, I'm confident about my chances of staying. I know I can pitch here."


For all of the praise thrown his way, Larson wasn't around to get the decision. The victory went to lefty Kevin Saucier, who came on for Larson in the sixth inning. McGraw got his third save of the year, despite being hit hard. McGraw, after setting down the Astros easily in the seventh, was rocked in the eighth. Houston second baseman Rafael Landestoy led off the inning with a ground single between first and second, then went to third when shortstop Craig Reynolds followed with a double, a bullet just inside the first-base line. McGraw got the next two batters to ground out, but a run scored on each fielder's choice.


McGraw had no trouble in the ninth, breezing through the inning on a groundout, routine fly ball and a strikeout


"You have faith in someone like Tug," said Phils leftfielder Greg Luzinski, who did his share in the triumph by knocking in a run with a third-inning single, and added a line-drive double and walk for a 2-for-3 night. "You know Tug has been there before, and you know he's gotten out of situations like that before."


Luzinski was just one of the Phils who proved Bowa's points – a team that scores together, wins together.


"When we get people like the Bull and Schmitty hitting singles and doubles, not just homers, well, we can be very hard to beat," said Bowa, who was credited with the game-winning hit when his sixth-inning single to right scored Luzinski from third and put the Phils ahead to stay. "We got the pitching we needed and patched together the runs we needed."


After the Astros took a 1-0 lead in the second inning, on first baseman Denny Walling's first homer of the year, the Phils started piecing together their attack.


After Larson struck out to open the third, Pete Rose waited out a walk from Astro starter and loser Joaquin Andujar (0-2), and took second on a bounce-out by McBride. Rose scored easily when Schmidt ripped a 2-1 pitch to the gap in left-center for a triple, and Schmidt walked home on Luzinski's single through the right side of the infield, which gave the Phils a 2-1 lead.


Houston tied the game in the sixth, when Landestoy led off the inning with a bloop single to shallow left field, then stole second. Landestoy took third on a ground out, and scored on Terry Puhl's towering sacrifice fly to right off of Saucier. But the Phils answered in the bottom of the inning, on Luzinski's double and Bowa's RBI single.


Green, naturally, was pleased with the Phils' balanced attack.


"You might say the Bull's on a streak right now," said Green. "He's got good concentration and he's seeing the ball real well. But there are a couple of others doing the job, too. McBride is swinging the bat real well, and Schmitty's seeing the ball well.


"A lot of people are doing their jobs."


PHIL-UPS - The Astros' Cesar Cedeno stole his 14th consecutive base in the second inning... He didn't get much time to enjoy his feat, because catcher Bob Boone picked him off third... Phils went into last night's game with a team batting average of.248 against the Astro pitching staff... Astros were hitting an even more anemic.206 against the Phillies... The Phils' Larry Bowa will play in his 1,520 game today in the wrap-up of the Houston series, which will tie him with Willie Jones for 5th place on the Phillies' all-time list. That will leave Bowa 24 games short of Ed Delahanty and 4th place... There will be a fireworks display following tomorrow's game with the world-champion Pittsburgh Pirates, which will have an early, 6:05 p.m. start.

The dust settles, air clears after baseball strike averted


Allies argued truce


By Thomas Boswell, The Washington Post 1980


WASHINGTON - In the last days and hours before baseball reached its last-minute labor settlement, four worried and disgruntled owners were perhaps the ' strongest voices arguing for what baseball now has: a temporary truce until the end of this season.


Edward Bennett Williams of Baltimore, Peter O'Malley of Los Angeles, John McMullen of Houston and, at the end, George Steinbrenner of the New York Yankees finally mollified their fellow owners and forced Commissioner Bowie Kuhn to get off his duff and enter the negotiating fray.


Perhaps two incidents best symbolize the behind-the-scenes turmoil and mounting sense of imminent crisis as these baseball "liberals" and their few allies tried to convince baseball's ownership to abandon its tactic of precipitating a players strike.


First, we recreate a confrontation between two owners – one very old and very angry, the other much younger and determined to be dispassionate.


"We're being absolutely inflexible. Our negotiating position is locked in concrete," protests the younger owner. "We must show some movement.


"The worst thing we can do is try to win a strike by breaking the players' union and destroying (union leader) Marvin Miller. That's an awful, poisonous idea. Nobody wins a strike. We're destroying our own product and doing ourselves irreparable institutional damage."


"Let's take it (a strike) now, instead of next spring. I'm ready to take it now and tough it out," says the old owner.


"Good God, what do you mean 'Take it now?'" says the incredulous younger owner. "Do you know what you're saying?


"If somebody's going to nuke you (unlease a nuclear attack), do you say, 'Okay, nuke me now, I'm ready. It's better than nuking me next spring?'" asks the younger owner.


"What we're facing is devastation for several franchises. Hell, if we do it your way, maybe we'll get lucky and we can get nuked now and keep on getting nuked right through next spring."


One problem in reaching the partial meeting of minds was the absence of leadership from Kuhn.


Again, we recreate a scene between a deeply worried and financially strapped owner and Kuhn just days ago.


"Bowie, we're getting no leadership in this," says the owner. "Lead, Bowie. Take charge, Bowie. We (the owners) are desperate for it. It's going to be on your tombstone: Bowie Kuhn, the Commissioner When Baseball Died."


During the last three negotiating sessions, Thursday and early Friday morning, Bowie was in the middle.


At 3 a.m., he called Williams at his Potomac, Md., home, awakening one of Williams' children.


"Dad's asleep," said the youngster.


"Well, he'll want to wake up,” said Kuhn.


"I got terrific news," the ecstatic Kuhn blurted to the groggy Williams. "It's settled. Let me tell you the terms."


"Great, great," said Williams. "I don't care about the terms right now. I've got people to call.


"I have made my views known throughout baseball," Williams said Friday. "I wasn't bashful. Perhaps some people would say that I was obnoxious.


"I was insistent. I kept hearing other owners say, 'I hear what you're saying,' It made me furious. I told them, 'I don't question your hearing. I question your comprehending.'


"I felt that a strike would be devastating to the game and would have a crushing economic impact on me," said Williams, 100-percent owner of the Orioles and 100-percent bearer of a multimillion-dollar loan at an interest rate two points above prime at the time of purchase.


"I refused to believe that false pride and intransigence could prevent people from reaching out and shaking hands on an economic issue. "Both sides should win Oscars because, as of last night, I saw no reason for hope – not the slightest hint of movement on either side."


The group of four, of which Williams was one – "My staunch allies" he calls the others – helped bring about one key gesture on the part of management.


"When we finally said, last week, that the status quo could be maintained for the remainder of this year and that we would ensure that we would not declare an impasse in negotiations, I thought that was a dramatic breakthrough, a real change of mood," Williams said. "When the players rejected that quickly and flatly, I became seriously worried. If we had had a stoppage, it would have been the worst professional day of my life."


Perhaps the largest single contribution of those owners – particularly the rich and powerful O'Malley and the eloquent Williams – who argued for temperance was their perception that this crisis had emotional roots, rather than purely economic ones.


The Orioles also sent ripples through baseball last week when they signed Doug DeCinces, the American League player representative and the most visible union man in his league, to a three-year, million-dollar contract.


"That was a signal to the rest of baseball that we would not be punitive and recriminative," Williams said. "It sent out tremors. Others owners regard Doug as perhaps the most articulate of the player-spokesmen.


For whatever it is worth, the Orioles, a strong union team, are probably now as foursquare behind the management of their franchise as any team has ever been.


The importance of intervention from Kuhn and concerned owners became increasingly so in the final breakthrough stages because, as one party close to the negotiations on the players' side put it, "Ray Grebey is a good, tough negotiator, but he was getting himself painted into a corner.


"He wouldn't really talk or discuss issues. He just hid behind that hard front of immovability. It became increasingly clear that if the owners had been at the table, not their representatives, that progress would have been made much faster."


Those final hours before the players' strike deadline brought into focus the true stakes that were on the table.


"If you stop football with a strike, you stop the whole payroll," said Williams, also president of the Washington Redskins. "It's easier to weather a strike.


"In baseball, you have to continue to meet a huge minor league payroll – $2.5 million in our case – with no income rolling in.


"Much more important, though, is the long-range damage to the game. People never fully return to their previous entertainment habits after a long strike," he said.


"We came very close to a very bleak day in the history of baseball," Williams said. "Instead, we have seen one of the happiest and most important single days in our sports history.”

The dust settles, air clears after baseball strike averted


He took no chance


By John Schulian, Field News Service 1980


CHICAGO – To see Chance the Commissioner with dawn breaking and baseball stowing its picket signs was to see a man who obviously had climbed the mountain and come down with a piece of it as proof. Chance's Brooks Brothers shirt was wrinkled and unbuttoned at the collar, his Brooks Brothers tie hung limp and his eyes... Lord, his eyes were the color of prime Brooks Brothers madras.


He squeezed in between Marvin Miller and Ray Grebey and posed for the wire-service photographers, waving with weary valor and leaving an unsuspecting nation with the impression that it was he who had convinced the players not to strike. He hadn't.


As a matter of fact, his valet had barely gotten him out of bed, dressed in yesterday's clothes and down to the hotel in time for the 5 a.m. press conference. By then the negotiators – the real stars of a show that had run for the previous 17 hours – were numb with fatigue, and Chance, for once, was on even footing with them. As all the team owners who had propped him up as their figurehead would tell you, he was born numb. That's why he was the commissioner.


"Uh, sir. Sir."


It was a radio reporter who had planted his elbow on the shoulder of a sportswriter and was wielding his microphone the way Burt Lancaster wielded his sword in "The Crimson Pirate."


Chance blinked twice, then stared at the rear wall of the conference room.


"Yes," he said.


"Uh, sir, how do you feel?"


"I'm a little hungry. I wish someone would bring me my breakfast. Do you think I could have a cheese omelet and some tea? Oh, yes, and I'd like to watch television while I eat. At home I have a television in every room."


"I was really wondering how you felt about being able to keep the baseball season going," the reporter said.


"Baseball?” Chance asked.






"In the winter, there is no baseball. But then the spring comes, and if you water the grass and rake the dirt, the workers will be happy. They will stay with you until the crops have been harvested, and they will drink to your health. Yes, I like baseball."


"Are you saying the owners should treat the players as more than serfs?" the reporter asked.


“In the winter, there is no baseball. But then the spring comes, and if you water the grass and rake the dirt, the workers will be happy. They will stay with you until the crops have been harvested, and they will drink to your health. Yes, I like baseball."


Now it was the reporter's turn to blink.


"I think I see what you're driving at," he said at last. "I really do."


Nobody else in the room seemed to have any doubts. There must have been 100 of them in all – negotiators, media types, player reps, owner reps, factory reps – and suddenly they were on their feet applauding Chance the Commissioner.


The owners had thought all along that Chance was perfect for the job of presiding over the major leagues. "You're everything every other commissioner has ever been," Charlie Finley once told him. Chance just smiled and nodded eagerly. "I understand," he said.


He didn't, of course. If he did, he would have sued Finley for slander, because from the beginning, baseball's commissioners haven't been much better than what the cat drags in. Even Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the first one, an irascible nitpicker who washed away the crud of the Black Sox scandal, never did much besides provide comic relief in his days as a U.S. district judge. When he whacked Standard Oil of Indiana with a $29-million fine, for instance, the Supreme Court overturned it. From there, a pattern established itself, and cynics said it was a good thing Landis found work in baseball or he might have been 0-for-life.


Compared to his successors, however, Landis looks like the greatest thing since lead in pencils. A.B. "Happy" Chandler was a women's basketball coach, a U.S. senator who courted Kentucky's vote by imitating Al Jolson and George Wallace's vice-presidential candidate. Ford Frick moved, and thought, so slowly that his 14 years on the job seemed like 28. William D. Eckert, the unknown soldier, got forced out just as he was learning that the spitball was unsanitary. Then came along Chance.


"I want to help," he told the owners who found him wandering along Wall Street with everything he owned stuffed in two dilapidated suitcases.


Chance hoped the problems would disappear the way bad television programs do when he presses his remote control button.


The people who were closest to him reported that Chance's troubles began when he got on an elevator with all those snoopy reporters and said, "This is a very small room, isn't it?"


The reporters laughed nervously, then grew silent. For a while, it looked as if Chance was going to get away again. But finally a throat was cleared and a question was asked. "Mr. Commissioner," said a voice from a rear corner, "would you mind telling us exactly what your role was in the negotiations?"


"I like to watch," Chance said brightly.