Allentown Morning Call - March 30, 1980

Phillies’ Noles seems to have escaped ‘Pitchers Purgatory’


By Jack McCallum, Call Sports Writer


CLEARWATER. Fla – Dickie Noles has spent most of spring training in that peculiar place known as "Pitchers Purgatory." 


The fact that he wasn't sure whether he was being considered a starter or reliever was minor; the major consideration was whether or not he'd be listening to the Star Spangled Banner in Veterans Stadium on April 11 or smelling the wavin' wheat back in Oklahoma City. 


But he apparently escaped purgatory with his six-inning performance yesterday afternoon in the Phillies' 3-1 loss to the New York Yankees at Jack Russell Stadium. If, indeed, anyone is in Veterans Stadium on April 11, Dickie Noles will be there, too. 


"He looked like Dickie Noles again out there today," said manager Dallas Green. "He always has had it here pointing to his heart and I think he showed today that he can be in our rotation. His breaking stuff was the best I've seen it." 


Except for Noles' performance, and a good inning of relief by Tug McGraw, there was a lot to be displeased with. Like the loss for one thing. The stadium was nearly sold out for the Yankees, an eternal drawing card, and the game had more of a regular-season feel than any to date. 


"Too many things happened today that shouldn't happen if we're going to compete in the National League East," said Green.


Two of those things happened in the bottom of the ninth inning with the Phillies now 10- trailing 3-0. With one out. Bake McBride doubled to deep center and was balked to third by reliever Ron Davis, who followed Luis Tiant and Rich Gossage to the mound for the Yanks. 


Mike Schmidt then hit a run-scoring single to left to make it 3-1. Lonnie Smith trotted out to run for Schmidt and Schmidt, looking confused, trotted out to the locker room in right field. As he passed a group of reporters he said, "Lonnie wasn't supposed to run for me. He was just supposed to loosen up to run for Bull (Greg Luzinsk)i if he got on." 


To make matters worse. Smith was then picked off first on a good snap throw by catcher Brad Gulden, not the best tactical move by a young player. Luzinski then doubled down the left-field line, a hit that would've scored Smith, but Greg Gross grounded out to end the game. 


"It was my fault," Green mea culpaed after the game. "It was bad communication with my coaches. I didn't make it clear what I wanted Lonnie to do. Yes, it was a very bad move by Lonnie to get caught like that, but I'd have to say he was a little shook by our screaming from the dugout, too." 


The Phillies got only one hit in five innings off Tiant and his bewildering Noles also threw well the first five innings and held the Yanks score-. less, helped by Gross' throwing out Bucky Dent at the plate on a single by Willie Randolph in the fifth. 


But in the sixth, Noles said he started to "overthrow." He walked Rupert Jones and Bobby Murcer and one run scored when Larry Bowa made a wild throw to first on Reggie Jackson's double-play grounder to Pete Rose at first. Then, Jim Spencer and Gulden both got bloop hits and Noles threw a wild pitch it was called a passed ball on Dave Rader but even Noles agreed it was a wild pitch) as the Yankees went ahead 3-0. Noles got the third out, then left the game for McGraw after giving up the three runs on five hits.


"My rhythm was off but all I need is one or two more times out to be ready to start the season," said the 23-year-old Noles. "My breaking ball was working very well." 


Noles is sensitive about the subject of his breaking ball. He started last season with Oklahoma City but was called to Philadelphia on July 4, the fateful day that Randy Lerch broke his wrist and Dick Ruthven and Larry Christenson went on the disabled list for other problems. After pitching not spectacularly but well, Noles was optioned to Reading because, according to then-manager Danny Ozark, he had become a "one-pitch pitcher." The one pitch was his fastball.


"I've always had a good breaking ball," said Noles when asked about the Ozark rap. "And I've always had a good slider. I don't know where those things got started." 


Noles was asked if he now assumed he'd be in the starting rotation rather than in relief. 


"I'm not making any assumptions about anything." he answered. "I have my sights set on sticking and I'll do anything I have to.  Yes, I feel it's possible to do either one (start and relieve) during the season." 


NOTES – The Phillies reduced their roster to 32 by cutting pitchers Burke Suter and Paul Thormodsgard, catcher Pat McCormack and first baseman- outfielder John Poff. Suter was offered back to Boston, from whence he came, for $12,500. If the Red Sox don't bite, Suter will be reassigned to a Phils' minor league team. Poff. McCormack and Thormodsgard will probably go to Oklahoma City…


If you can make it down to Fort Lauderdale tomorrow night, Ron Guidry will oppose Steve Carlton at 8 o'clock.

Strike decision is due Tuesday


By Jack McCallum, Call Sports Writer


CLEARWATER, Fla. Medieval dramatists had at their disposal a device known as the "deus ex machina." 

As the play ended, the machine god would be lowered onto the stage to resolve any dramatic conflicts that still remained. Contrived, yes, but everybody went home happy. 


Well, folks, if your happiness depends on the major league baseball season opening on schedule next week, you'd better send out for a reconditioned "deus ex machina.” 


"I don't know whether the owners think we're kidding or not." said National League player representative Bob Boone of the Phillies on Friday afternoon, "but if they don't deal with the compensation issue, there won't be baseball. Period." 


Final negotiations that now only a few believe can head off a strike of major league players are scheduled to resume today in Palm Springs, Calif. The negotiation teams are meeting with a representative from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service whom the owners called in several days ago. 


Perhaps the owners see the federal man as the "deus ex machina," but the players do not, according to Boone. 


"We'll listen at this point to what he has to say but, honestly, what good can it do?" asked Boone rhetorically. "It's not binding. I'll take binding arbitration right now but the owners won't go for it.”


In binding arbitration, a mediator listens to the demands of both sides; then decides in favor of one or the other without compromise. This type of arbitration has been used in the past when a player and management cannot decide on a contract. 


Boone claims Marvin Miller, president of the Players' Association, suggested binding arbitration at the beginning of the talks but the owners said no. 


This has not been widely publicized and Boone was asked why.


"Well, naturally the owners aren't going to want it known and the players feel they're not negotiating with the public. That's the game the owners are playing. We're negotiating with the owners and that's all. All we can do is explain our position. If we come out as the heavies, then we come out as the heavies.


Miller has already stated publicly, and Boone agrees, that the owners asked the federal mediator to intercede only to force the players to delay a decision on whether to strike, a decision that is due from the Players Association on Tuesday. 


"I guarantee you that the first thing they the owners) do on Sunday (today) is to say both sides need two more weeks or something like that," said Boone. "That means the season will start without a genuine proposal from the owners. That's what they want us to do now." 


That was the first time Boone has tipped his hand on whether he favors (a) an immediate strike, or (b) starting the season on time and continuing negotiations with the possibility of a strike coming later. It appears now the Players Association would favor an immediate strike on Tuesday and an end to spring training, the strategy used by the players in 1972 when a strike near the end of spring training forced the cancellation of 86 early-season games until an agreement was reached. 


"What bothers me about the owners and the fact that they seem to want to start the season is that it's a wrong reading of the players," said Boone. "It's dead wrong. They seem to have the feeling that, 'Hey, they'll forget about the whole thing if we get them going. The signals keep telling me that they don't believe us.”


Larry Bowa. the Phillies' assistant player representative, said he leans toward an immediate strike. 


"It's going to cause a lot of chaos if we begin the season and have to pull out after a couple months," said Bowa. "I think we'd rather settle the thing out front, before we get started." 


This is one of the few widely-publicized labor stroke of recent years in which the media has not been criticized too harshly by either side. The owners have circulated two "position papers," while the players have largely refused to negotiate through the media. 


"The only thing that bothers me about the media coverage) is that it's kind of gotten into a contest thing about Marvin Miller." said Boone. "Sure, he's had success in the past and sure he's done so much for us. But, in this case, I'm telling you that a monkey could be at the head of it the Players Association) and the results would be the same. It's the players who are united on this thing." 


Bill Giles, the Phillies' executive president and the man charged with putting fans in Veterans Stadium, was asked if he has seen any effects of the strike on season tickets.


"We've had, the last time I looked, maybe 10 cancellations," said Giles, the man who first brought Kiteman crashing down into the 600 level seats in 1972. "What these fans have told us is that either they're mad at the owners for paying that kind of money, or they're mad at the players for being greedy. It's the same problem at root. 


"What bothers us is that most of the resentment is toward the players and that's not good for us in the ticket-selling business. They re what we're trying to sell."


Giles was asked if, from a business standpoint, he'd rather see an immediate strike or have the season start with the possibility of a strike later. 


"Well, neither of them are very good." said Giles, "but I suppose it would be less disruptive for us to start the season late rather than disrupt it." 


If the Players Association does authorize a strike on Tuesday, many of the Phillies will remain in Florida to work out. 


"I think a lot of the guys would do the same thing because they have property down here." said Bowa. "but it won't be that simple for the younger guys who have money problems. I don't think it can really be a team thing. Guys are going to have to do what they can afford." 


The strike does put the younger players in. perhaps, a less secure position. Many of them need not only a paycheck, but also the opportunity to play.

Strike at a Glance


By Jack McCallum, Call Sports Writer


The Sides – The Major League Players Association, headed by Marvin Miller, and the Owners Negotiating Committee, headed by Ray Grebey. 


Last Meeting – Thursday in Scottsdale, Ariz. Talks broke off abruptly and without progress, according to Miller. 


Next Meeting – Today in Palm Springs with mediator from Federal Mediation and Conciliaton Service. 


Strike Vote – If sessions today and, possibly, tomorrow, prove fruitless, the Players Association will meet Tuesday to vote on a strike. 


Preliminary Strike Vote – Miller has collected over 800 votes in favor of a strike and only one against a member of the Kansas City Royals) in polling of 22 of the 26 major league teams.


Main Stumbling Block – The owners' proposal to adjust the amount of compensation a team receives after losing a free agent. 


Last Baseball Strike – In 1972 when 86 regular-season games were cancelled. 

Phillies Involved in Talks – Bob Boone, player representative and National League Player Representative, and Larry Bowa, assistant player representative.

Pro athletes demand:  Freedom and more pay


By Sara Fritz, Of U.S. News and World Report


Despite astronomical salaries, union militancy is on the rise among professional athletes. 


The threat of a strike by the nation's major-league baseball players Tuesday reflects the growing union fervor in most professional sports, including football, hockey and soccer. 


In each sport, discontent stems from the players' desire to move from team to team as free agents without any of the ties that historically have bound them to their employers. That is the chief issue in baseball negotiations, which could set a pattern for other unionized team sports.


"The players are angry," says Mike Marshall, the Minnesota Twins' player representative. "They want the same employee-employer relationship that is typical of any industry. They want the same rights as any other employee. The issue is an employee-integrity issue beyond compromise. 


Gone are the days when professional athletes viewed themselves as different from other workers. Only a decade ago, many players rejected the idea of unions. Even the late AFL-CIO President George Meany opposed unions for professional athletes. Meany said in 1974 that he could not imagine "a football player getting $25,000 a game respecting a picket line of a $4-an-hour ticket seller." 


Since then, professional athletes have joined the mainstream of organized labor. Unions now represent players in baseball, football, hockey, soccer, horse racing and even rodeos. Sports fans suffered through player strikes in baseball during 1972, in football during 1974 and in soccer during 1979.


The AFL-CIO recently established an umbrella group for sports unions, Professional Athletes International. The National Football League Players Association and North American Soccer League Players Association, the first such groups to affiliate with the AFL-CIO, are patterned after traditional trade unions. The Major League Baseball Players Association, National Basketball Players Association and National Hockey League Players Association rely instead on a few attorneys to represent them. 


The most well-known of these attorneys is the Baseball Players' leader, Marvin Miller, who learned his skills as an attorney for the United Steelworkers. The baseball and football unions are financed largely through fees paid by manufacturers of sports-related goods, such as bubble-gum cards.


Wages have risen sharply in sports since unions began representing the players in the late 1960s. Salaries now average $185,000 in basketball, $121,900 in baseball, $103,000 in hockey and $68,800 in football. The baseball players boast that their wages are up 462 percent since Miller took over. During 1979, some baseball and basketball superstars broke the 1-million-dollar-a-year barrier. 


The faster salaries rise, it seems, the bigger the demands. In San Diego, slugger Dave Winfield recently asked for a 20-million-dollar contract and three hamburger franchises from Padres' owner Ray Kroc, founder of the McDonald's fast-food chain. Fans were surprised recently when pitcher Nolan Ryan won a 1-million-dollar-a-year contract from the Houston Astros after a season with 16 wins and 14 losses. 


Benefits have improved as a result of union activity, too. In baseball, a retired player with 10 years' service can begin collecting a pension of $1,276 a month at age 55. The game schedules, travel accommodations and field conditions reflect bargaining victories. The NFL Players Association also provides financial-Investment counseling for high-paid players. 


Where credit's due. The unions are not entirely responsible for winning these high salaries. Although unions negotiate minimum salaries, most players receive more than the minimum by negotiating individually. 


In basketball, none of the league's players earns as little as the minimum annual salary of $37,500. Only a few rookie football players earn merely the $22,000 minimum in that sport. 


With individual members negotiating higher salaries for themselves, most other unions would have trouble holding the group together. But the sports unions continue to thrive, according to Lawrence Fleisher, who heads the NBA players' group, mainly "because our members recognize that they've got what they've got because of the union." 


One player who credits the union with his financial success is Paul Silas, a Seattle SuperSonics player who at age 36 is completing his 16th year in the National Basketball Association. He says older players still remember the days when basketball wages were low. "We steadily groom the younger player until he becomes conscious that he needs to have a union," says Silas.


The club owners credit their own generosity for the high wages in professional sports. "Players now enjoy a level of income, benefits and working conditions that puts them in the top 1 percent of working Americans," says Ray Grebey, who negotiates for the baseball owners. An NFL official adds: "I'd like to be a slave for $60,000." 


But wages are not the root of player discontent, says Minnesota's Marshall. He claims union activism is rising because a few players have won the right to be free agents and others would like the same status. 


"Those involved in baseball before the advent of free agency had a 'Stepin Fetchit' attitude," Marshall says. “The new guys coming into the league now say, 'Of course we should be free.


In bondage? Until recently, most professional leagues adhered to a rule developed in baseball that bound a player to one team until his employer traded or sold him to another team. In any other industry, this would constitute an illegal restraint of trade. But baseball is exempt from antitrust laws, and the courts have been liberal in allowing sports owners to cooperate. 


Although rules prohibiting free agents were abolished as a result of several union-financed lawsuits in the mid-1970s, none of the big professional sports now allow unrestricted movement of players. 


In baseball, a player cannot become a free agent until he has finished his sixth year in the league. Football and basketball owners have right of first refusal, that is they can match the highest offer made by a rival club, or let the player become a free agent. All of these leagues also restrict free agents by requiring new owners to compensate the old boss – either with money, another player or a future amateur-draft choice. 

Players oppose the compensation rule because it discourages teams from picking up free agents. Ed Garvey, executive director of the NFL Players Association, contends that owners conspire against free agents. He says that very few agents have ever been signed by another team under football's current system. "Guys play out their option and nobody talks to them," Garvey says. "NFL owners are sufficiently disciplined that they do not bid for free agents.”


Owners want to restrict free agents, according to union leaders, because they drive up salaries by creating competition. Union officials note that Nolan Ryan received his four-year, 4-million-dollar contract because he was a free agent. 


The case of Dale McCourt of the Detroit Red Wings points up another player complaint against the compensation system. In 1978, a National Hockey League arbitrator decided that McCourt should be sent to the Los Angeles club as compensation for another free agent although he still had two years to go on a three-year contract with Detroit. McCourt was happy in Detroit, and he fought successfully to stay there. 


Strike threat. In baseball, the only compensation now required for a free agent is a future amateur-draft choice. The baseball players threatened to strike at the opening of the 1980 season because the owners demanded a player as compensation in some cases. 


Miller said the owners' idea would "provoke a strike." 


Baseball negotiator Grebey defends the player-compensation proposal as a matter of "equity." He recalls that the Cincinnati Reds got nothing more than a future amateur-draft choice when they lost free agent Pete Rose to the Philadelphia Phillies last year. "That rookie has no better than a 10-to-1 chance of getting into the majors, and if he makes it, Pete Rose will be retired by then," says Grebey. 


The owners deny that they are trying to restrict free agents just to keep the salaries down. NHL Executive Vice President Brian O'Neill says some financially ailing hockey franchises would not survive an open system of free agents. 


NFL personnel chief Jan Van Duser adds that employment practices in sports should not be compared with other industries, because "General Electric and Westinghouse don 't play each other on Sundays.” 


Eventually, the owners are expected to shed many current restrictions on free agents. Even then, union leaders do not expect militancy among players to decline. 


Other employment issues still to be settled in professional sports include complaints about the amateur-draft system and the players' share of rising cable-television revenues.


Referring to the amateur-draft system, Minnesota's Marshall vows: "That's going to be our next breakthrough in a system of tyranny we've had since the 1900s."