Reading Eagle - May 27, 1980
Baseball Has Uneasy Truce
By Will Grimsley, AP Special Correspondent
The signal is “go” again on the major league diamonds, and that is good news and bad news.
The good news is that they are playing baseball. The bad news is that the threatened players’ strike has been merely placed on hold. Somebody is still going to have to bite the bullet.
If the players and owners were not able to settle their differences in months of haggling, which continued to the dawn of last Friday morning, what makes anybody think that a peace can be hammered out by next spring, when the issue must be faced again?
It’s an uneasy truce.
Baseball’s problems run deeper than the free agent compensation issue, which from the very start has been the guts of the management-labor dispute, with all else merely windown dressing.
They involve a deep division in the ranks of the owners – a schism that puts moderates on one side of the fence and hardliners on the other. It’s a continuing hassle between the ambitious, free-spending “haves” and the struggling, close-to-the-vest “have-nots.”
Can they ever see eye-to-eye? It’s doubtful. So, as long as the owners cannot reach some basis for concerted action, what reason is there to believe they can ever succeed in achieving their aims?
Unlike the players, who from million-dollar super stars such as Reggie Jackson and Nolan Ryan to the lowliest rookies have rallied behind their executive director, Marvin Miller, the owners were still feuding right through the 11th hour.
According to reports that leaked from behind those closed doors at New York’s Doral Hotel, the strike was prevented through the desperate last minute efforts of a small coterie of owners with the belated aid of commissioner Bowie Kuhn.
Kuhn is the commissioner of baseball but he would be the last to say that “in the best interests of baseball” he possessed the power to dictate to the players. They all dance to the tune of their own union, the Players Association, astutely managed by Miller.
The commissioner can work only through the owners, as he did in this case. With a quartet of owners applying the pressure, he helped break the obstinacy of the militants and temporarily avoided a midseason shutdown of the national pastime.
Unfortunately, he was slow in acting. Thus everybody – owners, players, fans and all others associated with the game – were put through an agonizing wringer before the ax stayed in its descent.
Edward Bennett Williams, owner of the Baltimore Orioles, disclosed over the weekend that he was one of the owners who didn’t mind swallowing humble pie in order to avoid a strike.
“I felt the strike would be devastating,” he said.
The other owners who backed him up were George Steinbrenner of the Yankees, Peter O’Malley of the Dodgers and John McMullen of the Houston Astros.
It’s well known that a large segment of the owners believed that they had to make a stand and make it now or follow a course of financial ruin. They heard Kuhn’s “time bomb ticking overhead.”
The most headstrong of these appeared to be Bob Howsam, former president of the Cincinnati Reds, Calvin Griffith of the Minnesota Twins and John McHale of the Montreal Expos.
They were the most strident voices in the early negotiations and forced an inflexible stand by their negotiator, Ray Grebey.
“The owners can never get together,” Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg was saying in New York last week. “There’s Ray Kroc of San Diego with his hamburger empire, Steinbrenner with his ship yards and Gene Autry with his movie millions. They are in a different world than Bill Veeck (Chicago White Sox), who had a $3 million debt’ Griffith, who doesn’t want to spend anything, not to mention Seattle and Oakland.
“Baseball has a lot of problems. There should be a realignment of the teams, standardization of the two leagues, interleague play and umpires put under the control of the commissioner. Also they’ve got to give the commissioner more clout.”
Green’s Phillies Win Brawl Game
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Dallas Green loved it. Why not, his team won.
Chuck Tanner found it distasteful. Naturally, his team lost.
It was a brawl game Monday night won by Green’s Philadelphia Phillies, 7-6, with two runs in the bottom of the ninth.
There were two incidents during the game in which every member of both teams poured out of the dugouts and bullpens.
There was a lot of milling around, verbal abuse, and one player and one coach were ejected.
The biggest hurt from the Pittsburgh standpoint was losing not only the game, but first place in the National League East to the Phillies.
The Phillies now have won 10 of their last 13. It was their fifth straight triumph.
The Pirates lost their third in a row and seventh of the last 10.
It all added up to placing the Phillies in first by four percentage points with three games to go in this first series of the season with the Pirates.
The pair of bench eruptions were caused by pitchers Bert Blyleven of the Pirates and Kevin Saucier of the Phillies. Blyleven in the early innings tried to back Philadelphia’s Mike Schmidt off the plate with inside pitches.
The second time Blyleven did it, in the third inning, Schmidt started for the pitcher, and the dugouts emptied.
The umpires, however, contained the situation and the game continued.
In the sixth, however, Saucier hit Blyleven with a pitch and Blyleven went after the Phillies’ reliever.
The dugouts emptied again. The pitchers were kept apart, although Blyleven did heave his helmet at Saucier.
The players milled around. There was some pushing, some fists swung, a few minor bruises. The game was delayed 10 minutes.
When umpire Doug Harvey’s crew got things under control, the game resumed minus Pittsburgh utility player Lee Lacy and Phillies’ pitching coach Herm Starrette, both ejected for what Harvey said was instigating.
Saucier refused to comment on the incident. He looked stonily ahead, his back to questioners. All he would say was that it was a great game to win.
Most of the Phillies’ players dressed quickly and left with their families to watch a postgame fireworks display.
Those still around tried to low key the incidents. Larry Bowa, the Phillies’ shortstop who got bruised slightly, said, “hopefully it’s all over.”
Most players on both sides dismissed it as one of those things that happen. Blyleven also had nothing to say.
“We’re not going to be intimidated,” said Green.
“We won’t start every fight… but we won’t back off.”
Tanner said Saucier hit Blyleven on purpose.
“I can’t read his mind but I’d say yes he hit him on purpose.”
Obviously controlling the rage he felt, Tanner commented, “Saucier has to bat some day.”
Tanner said he asked Harvey why Saucier wasn’t ejected.
“He told me that a pitcher can’t be ejected until he has been issued a warning (for throwing at a batter). He read me something from the rule book.”
The game itself really was more interesting than the controversy.
Pittsburgh took a 5-3 lead after three innings and had only two hits. They were helped by rookie pitcher Bob Walk who didn’t belie his name. Walk walked five batters.
In the first inning with two out and Dave Parker on base with a walk, Willie Stargell hit his fifth home run of the season for a 2-0 lead.
The Phillies got one back in the second on consecutive doubles by Garry Maddodx and Bowa.
But Walk walked three in the third, and two scored on Ed Ott’s single to make it 5-2.
Back came the Phillies in the bottom of the third for two runs, on a home run by Maddox with Schmidt on base via a walk.
In the seventh, Tim Foli and Parker singled, and Foli scored on a long sacrifice fly to center on which Maddox made a spectacular catch.
The Phillies made it 6-4 in the seventh on Pete Rose’s single, a ground out and Greg Luzinski’s double. In the eighth, Philadelphia sliced it to 6-5 on a single by Maddox, who stole second, advanced to third on an infield out and scored on Manny Trillo’s single.
The Phillies won it in the ninth without an out.
Schmidt doubled, took third on an infield single by Luzinski and scored the tying run on Bob Boone’s double.
Maddox walked to load the bases and Bowa singled across the winning run. All of this was against the Pirates’ ace reliever, Kent Tekulve.
Stargell, who has the knack of getting to the nub of most situations, said of the game and its histrionics, “100 years from now you’ll look in the scorebook and it will be the same. We lost 7-6.”