Philadelphia Daily News - November 14, 1980
Tug Gets That Left-Out Feeling
By Bill Conlin
NEW YORK The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Tugville Nine this day. The score stood 416-0 with but an inning left to play.
"Actually, when he wasn't selected by the middle of the third round I had a feeling we were watching the start of a trend," Paul Owens said, still in a state of relieved shock after no team selected the negotiating rights to the Phillies relief star in the 17 rounds of yesterday's re-entry draft. "I looked at (new director of minor league operations) Jim Baumer, he looked at me. We couldn't believe it. When Tug didn't get any action in the first two rounds we both figured they'd jump on him heavy in the middle rounds. But it never happened."
The conservative tidal wave which swept Ronald Reagan into the Presidency thundered through the Plaza Hotel ballroom. It left 20 of 48 players who were eager to test the waters of free agency high and dry. A lot of guys learned that in the Year of the Moral Majority, the waters had tested them instead.
IT WAS THE Day of the Journeyman.
Oh, Dave Winfield will emerge from a knockdown, drag-out bidding war between the Yankees, Mets, Braves and Astros with enough money to buy Bangladesh. Don Sutton, the aging but still gifted right-handed starter, a man with a shot to reach the 300 victory plateau, was selected by 10 potential high rollers. including the relentless Yankees and hungry Braves. If Ted Turner, who stalked out of the ballroom with a gleam in his eye after selecting Claudell Washington and elderly but still capable Gaylord Perry in the third and fourth rounds, can sign Winfield and Sutton, the Braves will be favored to win the Western Division next season.
Darrell Porter, one of baseball's four or five best catchers, will reap a lush harvest, no pun intended.
But that is about as deep in the draft as the big bucks will go. The fifth annual auction of the lame, halt and disgruntled homed on a collection of honest guys with grease under their fingernails. The winners here were Boston utility man Jim Dwyer, selected by 11 teams, including the Phillies, and Texas handyman Dave Roberts, who played seven positions last season and had his number called a draft-high 12 times.
While McGraw was spurned totally and National League stolen base king Ron LeFlore was drafted only by the lame-duck White Sox on the 11th round, guys named Jim Essian, Bill Travers, John D'Acquisto, Del Unser and Bill Castro were getting the play.
BUT EVEN A majority of the utility types who dominated the auction were selected by less than five teams. The whole procedure was over in a swift 58 minutes and lasted only 17 rounds.
"I felt like I was sitting at two different drafts," Owens said. "One group was there going after the Winfields and Suttons and the rest were like us, going for utility-type players who can help fill out your squad without breaking your treasury."
The message to the free agents began to sound loud and clear when the oft-stung Padres said on their first-round turn, "San Diego passes – twice." Two consecutive passes put a team out of the bidding. By the 10th round, all but 11 teams had dropped out. The Phillies folded up their scouting portfolios after selecting the Expos' wild, much-traveled righthander John D'Acquisto on the fifth round.
The message? Big guns will continue to command big money. But the suspects, the Rennie Stennetts and John Curtises, have had their day in the bank vault.
Unfortunately, Tug McGraw, whose great 1980 stats leaped off the page at you in the shabby company he was on the list with, was caught in the Big Buck Backlash. The assembled Lords of Baseball informed him that there is no market for a 36-year-old reliever seeking a four-year, $2 million contract.
McGraw and his business adviser, Boston's Phil McGlaughlin, made a grave, amateur mistake in negotiating last week with Ruly Carpenter and Owens. They put numbers on the table.
THE PHILLIES promptly leaked those numbers and they had no trouble circulating along baseball's sophisticated grapevine. McGraw should have told Carpenter that he preferred to wait until after the draft before discussing contract weight and length.
He compounded his mistake by confirming the figures which showed up in the newspapers, telling the media that he took the top salary in the starting lineup, the bottom salary in the starting lineup and put himself in the middle. It didn't take an IBM computer to come up with a $500,000 figure.
McGraw is officially an orphaned free agent, entitled to make a deal with any team of his choice. That liberty puts him in the same company as Jose Cardenal, Pete LaCock, Bud Harrelson, Julio Morales, Dave Rader and Luis Tiant. Hey, you can get that whole carload for what George Steinbrenner will spend courting Winfield.
The 26 teams already have answered the question Tug wanted answered with a deafening silence, a resounding series of abstentions.
Now it is incumbent on the Phillies to do the honorable thing, pay the man a salary in the same range they will pay Sparky Lyle through the 1982 season. Let them make amends for the $175,000 a year pre-inflation contract McGraw lived with like a gentleman even when it became obvious that he was grossly underpaid.
A two-year, $800,000 contract would be a nice gesture.
McGRAW IS NOT a crybaby. You won't hear any wailing or gnashing of teeth. Sure, he’ll hurt inside. But the message sent to Tug and the majority of the long-term seekers contained nothing personal. It marked the beginning of what, hopefully, will be a retreat from the kind of rampant spending that netted $3 million contracts for washed-up players.
"We've felt all along that we'll take him back. Now we'll just keep negotiating," Owens said. "That's all we can do now. But I just can't believe nobody took a shot at him. I'd certainly like to have both Tug and Lyle. People have to remember that Sparky made it possible for us to use Tug the way he was used down the stretch. We feel the investment we made for Lyle was very realistic in that we didn't feel we would have won the division without what he gave us down the last couple of weeks."
Tug McGraw has class. The Phillies know this. And if they're the same quality organization that finally chased away the ghosts of failure, they will swiftly reward the reliever who propelled them to the stars with a contract all parties can live with.
Phils Will Have to Fight to Get Dwyer
By Bill Conlin
NEW YORK – The Red Sox, Giants, Brewers and Pirates drafted Del Unser yesterday.
And if the Phillies' pinch-hitting hero doesn't wind up with big money, he's at least got a shot at a geographical wish.
When Unser filed for free agency last week he said he wouldn't mind playing for Oakland or the Giants if he fails to reach terms with the Phillies.
Unser lives in Moraga, a town a gap triple away from the Bay Area ballclubs. He operates a successful off-season real estate office there.
As a hedge against losing Unser, Paul Owens made Boston utility man Jim Dwyer the first of five Phillies choices in yesterday's reactionary-ruled re-entry draft.
“And everybody jumped right on my bandwagon," Owens said.
THE POPE WILL have to bid against nine teams plus the Red Sox to land the 30-year-old left-handed first baseman-outfielder. It's a lock he'll go harder after Unser than after a heavily drafted outsider.
As advertised, the Phils went heavily for utility types. They also picked catcher-infielder Dave Roberts (selected by 12 teams plus, the Rangers), Twins left-handed pitcher Geoff Zahn (selected by five teams), Expos reliever Stan Bahnsen (three teams plus Montreal) and the same team's John D'Acquisto (seven teams plus the Expos), an unfulfilled hard-thrower.
"Two years ago, Rollie Fingers got all the bullpen credit in San Diego," Owens said, "but my people thought D'Acquisto did a helluva job for them. If he could ever throw strikes consistently he could be a good short or middle reliever. He has the arm."
Of the five selections, the Phillies will probably pay the most attention to Roberts and Bahnsen. They see Roberts as a guy who could pick up the right-handed side of their bench. And they would like to project Bahnsen into the role almost sure to be vacated by Ron Reed, the club's only World Series parade no-show.
Zahn? "We figure he's the kind of lefthander who has a chance to win in our division," Qwens said. “You always like to have an experienced lefthander to back up Steve Carlton."
Zahn was 14-18 for the Twins. Dallas Green won't bust down any doors to add him to the staff now that Tug McGraw is all dressed up with only one place to go.
THE INTEREST in Dwyer could push his asking price past what the Phillies might be willing to pay for an Unser type.
Chances of the Phils signing more than one of their selections would seem to be minimal.
The Pope is gearing up to deal.
PHILUPS: Five minutes after Dodger Vice President Al Campanis told me the Fred Lynn deal with Boston is probably off now that Dusty Baker is under contract. Red Sox President Haywood Sullivan collared him and the two headed for a private conference... Other trade rumors swirling through the Plaza Hotel: Pirates dealing Bert Blyleven, Tim Foli and Bill Madlock to the Angels for hitter Don Baylor and relief pitcher Mark Clear; Cubs slugger Dave Kingman back to the Mets for reliever Jeff Riordan and a throw in (Joe Torre is confiding to intimates he thinks he can handle the moody outfielder); batting champion Bill Buckner to the Giants for Mike Ivie. A batting champ for a guy who retired twice last season suffering from combat fatigue? Give Spec Richardson GM of the Year if he pulls off that heist; Yankees are said to be negotiating a deal which would send left-handed ace Ron Guidry to the A's for two young pitchers; Cardinals' Keith Hernandez to the Padres for relief ace Rollie Fingers... Mets could have had Hernandez for reliever Neil Allen, minor league pitching phenom Tim Leary and a throw-in, but called it off because they think former UCLA All-American Leary has Tom Seaver potential... Cubs apparently are prepared to get rid of Kingman, Buckner, Bruce Sutter and Jerry Martin. If they finished sixth with that quartet they can certainly finish sixth without it... There was much more trade talk yesterday than at the re-entry draft a year ago. The winter meetings at Dallas the second week in December might be worthwhile after all.
It’s Series Business at Channel 17
By Gene Quinn
During the World Series, WPHL-TV and KYW radio were deluged with calls from Phillies fans. Their complaint was, "Where are Harry, Rich and Andy? NBC television and CBS radio had exclusive rights to the World Series broadcasts, and the local point of view on the Phils' victory over the Kansas City Royals was conspicuous by its absence.
Cheer up, disappointed viewers. Cheer up and break out the home video recorders because Channel 17 will relive the October madness all next week. From Monday through Saturday, Channel 17 will present the two victories in Montreal that clinched the Eastern Division, Games 4 and 5 of the National League playoffs at the Astrodome, the sixth and final game of the Series and the Phillies parade down Broad Street. What's more, Harry Kalas, Rich Ashburn and Andy Musser will do the play-by-play of the Series-clinching victory while watching an NBC tape.
“There are two reasons for doing this," said Joel Levitt, Channel IT'S production manager. "One is the tremendous viewer interest in seeing the games again. And the other is, a lot of people didn't see them the first time.
"I DON'T KNOW if my management would be delighted with my saying this, but I think a lot of people want to tape them for historical reference."
And then there's the most important reason of all – money. Local advertisers probably will jump at the chance to align their products with a World Series. "I don't know if it's sold out," said Levitt. "But I would think that by Monday, if it's not sold out, it'll be close.
"A lot of people are just dying to hear our announcers do play-by-play of the World Series games," added Levitt. "During the Series we were bombarded with calls by people who mistakenly thought WPHL was responsible for not allowing our announcers to do the games. But it was because of the network contracts.
"Our announcers had a box at the Series. We were going to tape the games – on audio tape – but we decided not to do it. The reason is because it takes a lot of preparation to do a ball-game. It was unfair for us to ask the guys do that kind of preparation and do the play-by-play when we weren't even sure that play-by-play would ever air again."
For studio director Fred Woskoff, it was life as usual during the Series as he and Channel 17 technicians worked the pre-game and post-game shows before the NBC telecasts. This time, they can watch just for the fun of it.
"AS A FAN, ITS going to be fun for me to do it and listen to our announcers," said Woskoff. "After all, we sat and watched over 100 games during the season. Then to hear someone else doing the Series... it was a big disappointment. Even if it's not live it'll be a lot of fun.
"There were people at the stadium who didn't get to see some of the games," added Woskoff. "Also, I've talked to people who said it was so exciting, so tense, they couldn't sit and watch it; they had to go into another room. Now they can watch it and enjoy it."
Woskoff challenges viewers to see what they missed the first time. "I've had the opportunity to see all the games a couple of times as we were getting them ready, editing them. I just got done watching the clinching game in Houston and it was more exciting the third time I saw it. I had to work during the first one and there were so many things going on that I didn't remember everything. I'm sure there's going to be things like that where people think they remember, but they don't really remember what happened."
Fans of Channel 17's coverage weren't the only frustrated Phillies watchers. The team's announcers were annoyed they couldn't participate in the World Series. The re-creation next Friday of Game 6 is some consolation, but, according to Harry Kalas, it's a far cry from the real thing.
"WE DID THE shootout in Chicago last year (22-21 victory over the Cubs) with a re-creation," said Kalas. "It's very difficult. It's hard to recapture the moment – especially several weeks later.
"One of the problems we had during the Chicago game was working with mikes on a stand, not headset mikes, and looking at a picture with no sound, no crowd noise. But the thing that's going to help the World Series game is that they have the actual sound from the crowd. That way, when we have the headsets on, when we're looking at the monitor, when we hear the crowd, hear their reaction, it'll be a whole lot easier."
It's an awkward situation for an adept baseball announcer like Kalas, who is an expert at relaying events as they happen. During the re-creation, he and his colleagues must fake the immediacy. Still, it's a worthwhile attempt to treat a subject of such local importance.
"We're going to have to treat it like it's happening right now," said Kalas. "There was some talk about the possibility of just treating it in retrospect. But if we did that, it would be such a downer after showing the four taped games (Monday through Thursday) that were live. Hopefully we can project the same type of enthusiasm."
I don't think too many will notice if they don't.