Reading Eagle - April 3, 1980
According to Doyle: Picking for Fun
By Doyle Dietz
Like lemmings being called to the sea to self-destrut, the lure to predict the major league baseball season is something that can’t be explained.
And I certainly can’t explain why I’d want to try and predict the races this season. After all, this is the same column that brought you four losers last season.
That’s not easy though. When you’re picking four divisional races, you’d think you’d get one team right just by accident. But the only accident I had was picking in the first place.
But, here I go again, just for fun.
Why pick against the World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates? Their starting pitching is as good as any in the division, and the Bucs have a strong bullpen. Not trading Bill Robinson is the best trade Pittsburgh didn’t make, and having Bill Madlock for the whole season will make the Bucs even stronger.
Following the Bucs should be St. Louis, Philadelphia, Montreal, Chicago and New York.
St. Louis is the most improved team in baseball, and if the Cardinals get Bruce Sutter from the Cubs – look out Pittsburgh. Bobby Bonds will add power and help make up for the speed lost by Lou Brock’s retirement.
Philadelphia has a good team – probably good enough to finish fourth in the American League East. But the Phillies just don’t have enough starting pitching to win a pennant, even if they would luck out and win the division. Montreal could finish second again, but the Expos have almost as many pitching problems among the starters as the Phillies.
Chicago won’t finish last because the Cubs are lucky enough to be in the save division as the New York Mets.
With a starting rotation of Nolan Ryan, Joaquin Andujar, Ken Forsch and Phil (sic) Niekro, the Houston Astros are our pick to win in the West.
After the Astros will come last year’s divisional winners, the Cincinnati Reds. The Dodgers will finish no worse than third because the Dodgers are just too strong for the rest of the division.
After the Dodger there isn’t much to pick from, but we think the San Francisco Giants will again be fourth, but look for the Atlanta Braves to move past the San Diego Padres into fifth place.
Guess what? Yankee haters. It’s time to start hating again because the Yankees are going to bring the World Championship back to New York.
Cliff Johnson won’t be around to break Goose Gossage’s thumb this year, and the Yankees could have the four best starters in baseball in Tommy John, Ron Guidry, Luis Tiant and Tom Underwood.
Oh, yes, this will be the summer that America discovers center fielder Ruppert Jones. He was outstanding in Seattle, but no one knew about him there. They’ll know about him in New York.
I’m almost tempted to pick the Milwaukee Brewers to finish second again, but somehow the league champion Orioles will manage to finish in front of them. And the reason Baltimore will do that is because Earl Weaver is the best manager in baseball, and his pitching isn’t too bad either.
Detroit will finish ahead of the Boston Red Sox because the Tigers are a good young team on the way up, and Boston is a good team that’s growing old at too many positions. The Cleveland Indians, the only sixth-place team in baseball with a winning record last season, will again finish ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Look for the California Angels to repeat in the West. The Angels lost Nolan Ryan in the free-agent market, but got Bruce Kison from Pittsburgh to replace him.
Rod Carew, Don Baylor, Joe Rudi and Bobby Grich give the Angels more than enough punch to hold off the Kansas City Royals.
Kansas City is tough playing at home on its artificial turf, but has problems on the road. Still, the Royals will win enough games to hold off the Texas Rangers, who would probably have to battle Cleveland for sixth in the East.
On paper the Minnesota Twins are no better than fourth, but the players love Manager Gene Mauch and could move past Texas. The Seattle Mariners got a good pitcher in Jim Beattie and a good hitter in Jerry Narron from the Yankees for Jones and could move past the Chicago White Sox.
That leaves the Oakland A’s for seventh, and even with Billy Martin managing them, the A’s will be hard pressed to move up.
Looking ahead to the World Series, we’ll take the Yankees over Pittsburgh.
Diversity Prevails In Phillies’ Camp
By John W. Smith, Asst. Sports Editor
CLEARWATER – Larry Bowa was argumentative, Bob Boone was articulate, George Vukovich was confused, Randy Lerch was fatalistic, Ruly Carpenter was restrained and Dallas Green was upset.
Most upset, though, were Floridians who profit from tourism. They’ve been dealt a double blow this week – by the rainiest March-April cusp in memory and now by the cancellation of the last week of spring games by the players’ strike. All they need now is a rumor about poisoned oranges.
First thoughts that practices would cease along with the games were altered when the executive council of the majors decreed that camps remain open for voluntary supervised workouts.
The Phillies, who didn’t arrive here from the East Coast till shortly after noon Wednesday, were to meet late this morning to decide their plans. Indications were that they would join the Reds and Cardinals in staying in the area to work out. (Of the two other area teams, some of the Blue Jays and most of the Mets left.)
“I know my players,” said owner Ruly Carpenter. “I’ll be very disappointed if all of them don’t join in the workouts. We have dedicated professionals.
“They’re going t be tough workouts. We’ll set up game situations, and play some intrasquad games.”
Bowa, the team’s player representative, emphasized that “we’re willing to work out,” but offered the opinion that “some will leave because they can’t afford to stay here.”
Week’s Expenses Paid
Presumably those in that category will be more solvent because of the $374.50 they received in their weekly expense check Monday, plus a timely payment for 1979 bubble-gum card appearance. The latter is $1,600 for veterans, much less for youngsters.
(The Phillies a fortunate in that they get paid expenses for the week every Monday. That payment will be deducted from the first paycheck after the season starts. Players draw no salary during spring training.)
Bowa at first argued with reporters that there wasn’t a strike. “There’s no games being lost on the schedule,” he insisted, before agreeing that “there is a strike per se, as far as exhibition games go.”
It is generally acknowledged that the players’ plan to strike, resume, and threaten strike again is a master stroke. They lose almost nothing, the owners lose a week’s receipts. Then they have six weeks of paychecks to tide them over if they go out again – at a time when attendance starts to pick up.
“If you’re getting punished and not getting paid, that’s one thing,” said Bowa. “If you’re getting paid and getting punished, that’s another.”
Bowa stressed that the walkout “knocks down the owners’ revenue,” specifically citing the six sold-out games the Dodgers have scheduled. “We don’t want to add to their revenue,” agreed Boone, the National League player rep.
“It’s a way to get the owners attention – to get them to move,” said Boone, measuring his words much more carefully than Bowa, as he always does.
Bob says he’s unhappy that the players have no proposal from the owners on which they could vote.
“We’ve pared our requests three times. All the owners have done was drop their request for a salary structure. And that was a charade to begin with. The ball is now in the owners’ court,” said the racquetball court owner.
“This is a show of maximum strength,” asserted Boone – “that we can start the strike and stop it again.”
Boone called the willingness to delay the strike till May 22 “an extra mile,” noting that there wouldn’t be time to arrive at an agreement before April 9, but there is plenty of time before May 22.
Both Bowa and Boone talked about starting the season so the fans wouldn’t be turned off or cheated, but it was hard to visualize that point as the main reason. Bowa is more optimistic than Boone that there won’t be a strike May 22.
Carpenter offered “no comment” to questions about whether he agreed with the owners’ council’s reactions. Presumably he’s not in full accord. Privately, he’s said to have expressed the wish that they club had left the players on the East Coast to find their own way back.
Opening Seen Plus
He does see the opening of the season on time as a plus, and is glad that if the players are working out, “you can have them under your own supervision.”
Ruly insists that any final agreement will have to include some sort of compensation to the owners for free-agent losses – the main point of contention. (The players don’t want to give up on this issue because they feel this would cut down on free-agent signings and therefore on salaries as well.)
Right now the only compensation is a June draft choice. The owners want to make it the 16th man on a roster.
George Vukovich, as a non-roster player still with the big team, finds himself right in the middle. “I guess I’m on strike,” he said. “I’m between the rock and the hard place. I’m going home to sleep till they tell me what to do.”
G.M. Paul Owens said that because of the plan for supervised workouts, the Phillies will delay their final cuts till next week, as planned.
If Vukovich is a symbol of the players who don’t know whether they’ve made the club (there’s about eight in that category), Lerch is a symbol of those who need the last 10 days to get really ready. Randy had another disappointing appearance Tuesday in what will now be the final exhibition.
Lerch Not Worried
“I ain’t got anybody out, but I’ll be ready,” said Randy with a shrug. “I’ll be throwin’ regularly. If you don’t do that and try and air it out in a game, you’ll hurt yourself.”
Was he worried about the lack of training? “I don’t worry about little things like that,” he replied.
The Phillies’ pitching could be hurt considerably by the strike. Lerch, Dick Ruthven, Dickie Noles and Larry Christenson could all use more action before the season starts. So could Nino Espinosa, but he’ll be disabled to start.
“We’re not physically where we should be,” said Green, whose opinion about the players striking can’t be quoted. He sees the degree to which the players continue working as “a test of character.”
How ironic that the manager who was supposed to get this club in better condition than Danny Ozark ever did, will start the season with a club in worse condition than any of Ozark’s.