Camden Courier-Post - March 19, 1980
Ozark firing debate should be dropped
By Ray W. Kelly of the Courier-Post
DAYTONA, Fla. – The Shah of I Ran A Good Program, formerly known as Danny Ozark, has not exactly been hiding in exile since his ouster from the country of Club.
Since taking refuge in Dodgerland and once again embracing the "blue cult" faith of the Ayatollayouso (Tommy Lasorda), Ozark has spent much of his time refuting charges that his regime was baseball's answer to the Bay of Pigs.
He insists that it was the doctors and surgeons who stormed the gates of palatial Veterans Stadium and took most of his players hostage, keeping the team's pennant hopes in isolation during the 1979 uprisings in the National League East.
Other than that, he cannot give a reason for his undoing, noting, "They just told me they wanted to make a change."
It is, of course, a slight over-simplification. Something on the order of former Attorney General John Mitchell calling Watergate, "a third-rate burglary."
Ozark is being put on trial in absentia on a regular basis in Philliesland. At the current rate of guilty verdicts, it's conceivable that he will still be serving time (in absentia) when it snows on the sun.
So far, the only thing Ozark hasn't received blame for is higher interest rates. That's still under investigation.
It is a time-honored tradition in baseball for a dearly-departed manager to be labeled "the Scrap Goat," as former skipper Frank Luchessi once described it. When you get the gate, it usually turns out to be electrified.
But, as Ozark's baseball card goes up on post office walls throughout Clearwater, you get the distinct impression that both sides are using the situation to advantage.
On one hand, a number of players are subtly dumping their own guilt in Danny's vacant locker. For instance, when pitcher Dick Ruthven told a national magazine recently, "Danny let the players get away with murder. Last spring, the players did what they wanted and then took a hike," he was telling the truth.
Yet, somewhere along the line, it behooved those same professionals to police their own careers and expectations. Danny deserves to take the fall for lack of leadership. But, some members of the gang beat a dereliction of duty rap.
There is, of course, the other side of the coin, which Ozark would have people around the country believe is as unblemished as a newly-minted nickel.
"I can't understand their reasoning (for the timing of his firing) at all," says Ozark. "I guess their reason was that Dallas (Green) was coming down to find out what the hell was going on.
"But, all they had to do was ask me and I would have told them. After all, that's what they were paying me for."
It is, of course, that kind of logic that got Richard Nixon in the record books. Ozark wasn't hired to draw up a list of problems. He was there to solve them. Or, better yet, avert them.
The buck was supposed to stop at his desk. Unfortunately, his door was closed during a crisis that he is currently retelling like a story from the Bible. Naturally, be gets the martyr role.
In it, the subject matter of a team meeting is leaked to the villainous press. Danny becomes the number one suspect of both players and management. To prove his innocence, he shuts himself away and takes the vow of public silence.
"I just wanted to prove to the players that it wasn't me. I wanted to show the players that I was on their side."
It would be better for all concerned if Ozark simply let the whole thing die. Otherwise, people might start to look into the heart of the matter.
They might ask why Greg Luzinski wasn't placed on the disabled list where he belonged? They might ask why the ' lack of running in practice was a joke compared to the lack of running during games? They might discover that beneath his "good guy" image, Ozark had a habit of forgetting that young players and reserve players deserved as much consideration as the bread-and-butter athletes.
What it all boils down to is that times and teams change. Ozark and his programs were good enough to get the Phillies to three divisional championships. And, they were bad enough to make a mess of it in 1979.
Come on guys, turn the page.
Carlton stars but Phils bow
By Ray W. Kelly of the Courier-Post
DAYTONA, Fla. – Phillies' southpaw ace Steve Carlton hurled four innings of one-hit baseball yesterday, but wildness on the part of reliever Ron Reed resulted in a 2-0 loss to the Montreal EXPOS.
"It looks like Lefty has it going," said Phils Manager Dallas Green, who watched the big lefthander strike out two and walk one during an impressive stint on the mound that was marred by a bloop double down the right field line by Ellis Vallentine.
Young Scott Munninghoff checked the Expos for two innings and reliever Doug Bird was perfect for the Phils as he worked the seventh.
But, the scoreless stalemate ended in the eighth. And, it wasn't pretty.
Montreal's Roberto Ramos opened the game-winning rally with a grounder that took a nasty hop over the head of Phils' shortstop Bud Harrelson. The runner was bunted to second base by Roland Office.
When Randy Bass was intentionally walked and Tony Bernazard cuffed a single into right field, the Expos found themselves with the bases loaded.
Ken Macha lashed a single past Harrelson to score Ramos, but when Bass tried to score, he was thrown out at the plate by center fielder Garry Maddox.
Righthander Reed then walked Dan Briggs to load the bases again, and forced in the second Expos run by walking Tommy Hutton.
The Phillies, who outhit the Expos on the day, 6-5, were kept off the scoreboard by Montreal hurlers Dan Shatzeder, Jamie Easterly and Hal Dues.
They teamed up to get the Phils to hit into three double plays. The most impressive pitcher of the afternoon was Carlton, who got 11 of his 12 outs without the ball leaving the infield.
Montreal, which seems to be leaning toward a slimmed-down Rusty Staub as its choice for the first base job over Warren Cromartie, will be hosted by the Phils today at Jack Russell Stadium.
Owners pull back on pay
NEW YORK (AP) – With dramatic suddeness, negotiators for major league baseball have dropped one of their key proposals in an attempt to reach contract peace with the players.
But there is some question how much effect yesterday's withdrawal of the proposed salary scales will really have on the so-far stalled talks.
"It's a little like you've been beating your, wife and children for years," noted Marvin Miller, executive director of the Players Association. "Then you stop and now you want a medal because you stopped."
A medal isn't necessary, but Ray Grebey, chief negotiator for the owners, would like a contract agreement and he believes the movement in talks yesterday set the stage for that.
Asked if he considered the proposal's withdrawal a breakthrough, Grebey said, "I never use descriptive adjectives."
But it was clear that Grebey felt progress had been made in the 3½-hour meeting in Fort Lauderdale, the final negotiating session in Florida. The two sides will meet again next Wednesday in Scottsdale, Ariz.
"We feel it's enough of a development to provide a settlement," Grebey said.
But that may not be the view of the players. From the start they have considered the free agent compensation proposal a more dangerous part of the owners' package than the salary scales.
After the scales proposal was withdrawn, the players indicated willingness to amend or withdraw some of their proposals. But that movement is predicated on the owners dropping their proposal on free agent compensation.
The owners' plan contains a formula setting compensation based on the number of teams selecting a free agent. A team signing a player selected in the re-entry draft by more than eight teams would protect 15 players and then allow the club losing the free agent to receive an amateur draft pick, plus a major or minor league player unprotected.
Earlier yesterday, management went public with its case for the first time, detailing the proposals made to the players.
Included were increases in pensions that would pay a five-year player at age 45 benefits of $5,580 per year to $21,408 for 10-year players at age 55, and finally $50,000 annually to a 20-year man at age 65.
Other proposals which the owners said added to a total of $26 million more than in the expired contract were life insurance benefits boosted from $50,000 to $250,000 and major medical payments from $100,000 to $250,000.
Phillies’ home game to be aired in Spanish
PHILADELPHIA – The Phillies, in association with KSP and Vene International Productions, will broadcast all Phillies home games, except Sundays, in Spanish over radio station WHAT, 1340 AM, in Philadelphia.
The first Spanish broadcast on WHAT will be the Phillies home opener Friday, April 11, at 8:05 p.m.