Allentown Morning Call - March 19, 1980

LeFlore’s ‘plenty fast’ Expos don’t need to beat Phils, 2-0


Jack McCallum, Call Sports Writer


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – There might not be a Summer Olympics for the United States in July, but there is going to be one well-publicized track meet. 


It will take place in the Eastern Division of the National League where the Montreal Expos will be passing the baton in pursuit of the title in what promises to be the most exciting race in the majors.


"I don't think there's much to choose between Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and us," said Montreal newcomer Ron LeFlore, "except speed. That's the only area where I feel we have a clear advantage and it's going to make a difference. That's why I like our chances.”


The Expos didn't need speed yesterday afternoon to blank the Phillies 2-0 behind strong pitching efforts from Scott Sanderson, Jamie Easterly and Hal Dues, but it is the single most noticeable facet of the Expos with the addition of LeFlore. 


"This is a team with a lot of green lights," said LeFlore who was not talking about the traffic situation. "We are going to be running and running and we can back that up with some power, too." 


LeFlore speaketh confidently but not with forked tongue. Remember that our neighbors to the north finished with a 95-65 record in 1979, just two games behind the East champion Pirates. And the addition of LeFlore, whom the Expos stole from Detroit by surrendering the contract of Dan Schatzeder, has to make them stronger. 


LeFlore will lead off and play left field. In back of him will be the other two members of the relay team – second baseman Rodney Scott and Andre Dawson in center. LeFlore stole 78 bases with Detroit last season, while Scott swiped 39 bases and Dawson 35.


"I think Ron gives us a whole new concept in our top three," said manager Dick Williams, "and then, we have our power coming on in four through six. See, with those guys on the bases, our power guys are going to be seeing a lot more fastballs. It's really going to make a fundamental difference in our offense.”


And it is an awesome offense. Rightfielder Ellis Valentine, third baseman Larry Parrish and either Warren Cromartie or the ancient Rusty Staub playing first base and hitting sixth, the Expos are obviously more than a track team.


And LeFlore is largely responsible for that. Besides what he can do on the field (he hit .297 in his six seasons with the Tigers), he is one of those special players who give the Expos a personality like Willie Stargell does for the Pirates. He is, for example, the only alumnus of Southern Michigan Prison currently playing in the majors. 


But LeFlore's days as a hoodlum in Detroit are far behind him. At age 27, he is a friendly and articulate person who will certainly be one of the team leaders for the young Expos. 


"I do feel I've got to take a leadership role for this team," said LeFlore. "I think they're counting on me for it. I enjoy playing in the pressure situations. I've been through it before in Detroit. 


"I'm not saying this team faded down the stretch last season because they didn't. They played excellent ball in September. But the Pirates, with a guy like Stargell, played just that much better. He was an influence. He was what they needed. I think I can do that here.


"When I came over here I heard some things about this team. Like Ellis Valentine was ridiculed for not hustling and putting out all the time. I don't know whether that's true or not, but I do know that this season everybody is putting out because they know what's expected of them to win a pennant. After going through last season, they -see how tough it is and how that extra little bit can make the difference. That's the difference between this year's team and last year's." 


Well, that and about 70 steals from the leadoff man. 


LeFlore said he had no adjustment problems coming over to the National League. 


"Sure, the East is tough over here but look where I'm coming from," said LeFlore. "We had to play with the Yankees, Baltimore and Boston every day and I'd say that's pretty similar to what we have now.”


GAME NOTES: Steve Carlton made his second start for the Phils and was practically untouchable in the four innings he worked. He allowed only one hit, an opposite field bloop double by Valentine, and only one ball beside that was hit to the outfield. 


First base ump Dave Pallone called Carlton for an obvious balk in the second inning and Lefty took the time to explain to Pallone why it wasn't a balk when the inning was over. His spring training theory has always been to try and get away with obvious balks so his more subtle balk move during the regular season appears legal. 


Scott Munninghoff and Doug Bird were also effective but the Expos got to Ron Reed for their runs in the eighth inning. 


The Phils, now 3-2, are scheduled to face Detroit's Mark Fidyrich tomorrow afternoon in Lakeland.

A major breakthrough in baseball talks?


NEW YORK (AP) – In the first significant breakthrough after weeks of fruitless talks, major league baseball owners withdrew their controversial salary scale proposal in negotiations with the players association yesterday. 


Ray Grebey, chief negotiator for the owners, met for 3½ hours with Marvin Miller, executive director of the players association, in Fort Lauderdale, and announced the move that couid open the way to a settlement of the conflict. 


The pay scale proposal, setting limits on salaries for the first sin years of a player's major league career, was a major stumbling block in negotiations. 


When Miller outlined that proposal and another calling for compensation for free-agent signings to the executive board of the players association earlier this month, that group voted to authorize a strike on or after April 1. Subsequent votes by individual teams have supported that position with only one player of the 1 2 teams polled opposing strike action. The executive board is scheduled to meet again in Dallas April 1 to decide on its next step. 


In removing the scale proposal, the owners said players with less than five years experience would be limited to one-year contracts. 


Grebey called the action a plan for settling the conflict and said that the players association had responded by modifying some of its proposals and withdrawing some others during yesterday's session. Grebey called the new position "the basis for settlement," of the negotiations which have been going on for some 1 6 weeks without much visible progress.