Reading Eagle - May 24, 1980
Compensation Issue Not Settled
NEW YORK (AP) – The threatened baseball strike was averted after lengthy negotiations produced what Commissioner Bowie Kuhn called “a good deal all around,” but the key issue that could have led to a walkout remains unsettled.
That’s the question of compensation for free agents who switch teams, and it’s a sticky question, indeed.
Under the agreement hammered out early Friday morning, the current system that provides for compensation in the form of an amateur draft choice for a team that loses a free agent will remain in effect for the remainder of this year, and a four-man committee will be appointed to work out a new system.
The clubowners had been seeking a player as compensation instead of a draft choice. This has been steadfastly opposed by the union.
The four-man committee – two representatives of the owners and two players – will begin meeting Aug. 1 and will present its findings to both sides by Jan. 1, 1981. If there is no agreement, the issue will be put to a 30-day bargaining session.
And if this does not produce an agreement, Ray Grebey, director of the Major League Baseball Player Relations Committee, said the clubs may put into effect their current proposal for compensation known as the 15-18 system that sets up a sliding scale of compensation based on the caliber of the free agent.
However, the players may also choose at that time to call a strike. They would have to give the owners notice of a strike date by March 1 or else lose the right to strike during the remainder of the four-year agreement.
Since negotiations this spring failed to produce agreement on the compensation question, Marvin Miller, executive director of the Players Association, was asked whether there was any reason to believe things would be different next time.
“All I can do is answer with hope that given this experience, we’re going to get more sober reflection of what is the real nature of the problem. Don’t come with a cannon, is what that implies,” said Miller at a Friday afternoon news conference.
“The players will no more accept a unilateral turnback of their rights then than they would now. A strike might still very well be called if this issue is not settled.
“There is a fundamental difference between the players’ view and the owners’ view,” Miller explained. “The owners say that compensation is just and equitable and ipso facto they must have it. But the players see no need for compensation.
“By that they mean they don’t see what the equity of it is after they give all that service to a particular club, nad they also mean that there’s been no demonstrated injury or damage to those clubs losing free agents, or to the game of baseball as a whole. Not seeing evidence of damage, they don’t accept the need for compensation in the first place.
“And so this business of arguing details – who’s a premium free agent, how many should be frozen – is putting the cart before the horse. First there’s no fundamental agreement on the concept.
How are they going to achieve that fundamental agreement?
“If I knew the answer to that question, we wouldn’t need a study commission,” responded Miller.
Under the present free-agent system, a player who had been in the major leagues for six years and whose contract has expired can declare himself a free agent and go through the reentry draft, where he may be selected by as many as 12 teams. The club he signs with gives up an amateur draft pick as compensation.
Under the 15-18 system proposed by the owners, a team signing a free agent would be able to protect 15 to 18 players on its roster. A team losing a “premium” free agent – one ranking in the top half of his team’s players in a number of statistical categories – would select a player from among the rest as compensation.
The four-year agreement that was announced at 5 a.m., E.D.T. Friday must now be ratified by the 26 clubs as well as the players.
‘No Strike’ Spells Relief
By The Associated Press
“I’m a happy man,” said Kansas City Royals outfielder Clint Hurdle, when told there would be no baseball strike. “I get to play baseball and my wife doesn’t have to go to work.”
Players and management personnel alike were unanimous in expressing their relief that last-minute talks had averted a threatened walkout Friday by major league baseball players.
“It wouldn’t have been a summer without baseball,” said Pittsburgh Pirate Manager Chuck Tanner.
“I’m tickled to death we’re playing,” said Philadelphia Phillies General Manager Paul Owens. “Both sides had to realize how important it was to the game. I never felt either side could afford to go out.”
“I was very relieved,” said second baseman Frank White of the Kansas City Royals. “I’m just glad no one has to lose a lot of money. A lot of us would have been hurt by a long strike.”
“A strike would have been horrible for the game,” said Buzzie Bavasi, executive vice president of the California Angels. “The last time we had a strike (in 1972), it took us four years to get everybody interested in baseball again. Now, as soon as we win one with a homer with two out in the ninth, the fans will forget all the business about a strike.”
His son, Peter Bavasi, president of the Toronto Blue Jays, also was relieved a strike was averted.
“I had a lot of things on my mind and compensation was not very high on my priority list,” said Bavasi, referring to the issue of compensation for free agents, the key to the negotiations. “I was more concerned about a lot of hot dogs and what would happen to them.”
The Blue Jays receive 26.2 percent of the gross take from concession sales, and they expected to draw around 100,000 fans for three weekend games against the New York Yankees. That translates to a gate of about $430,000 – and quite a few hot dogs.
Many players had decided to go home if a strike had been called and thus had to change their plans.
Atlanta Braves pitcher Phil Niekro had told his wife he would hold a cookout Friday night in the event of a strike. When news of the settlement was announced, Nancy Niekro said, “I’ll have to cook tonight, but I don’t mind.”
Outfielder Reggie Jackson of the New York Yankees was going to attend Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 auto race.
“It’s something I’ve never done, and I’m involved with cars,” said Jackson. “A lot of guys had never had a summer vacation, but I think we were all rationalizing.”
Phils Paced By Carlton And Schmidt
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – When Steve Carlton is throwing poison and Mike Schmidt and Greg Luzinski are pounding the ball, the Philadelphia Phillies look like the team their promotion department pictures them.
On Friday night Carlton pitched a four-hitter and his 44th career shutout. Schmidt lined a third-inning three-run homer and a 309 victory was in the bag for the Phillies over the Houston Astros.
Luzinski didn’t contribute to the scoring, but his double, which just missed leaving the park, was his eighth hit in the outfielder’s last 12 official at bats. Both he and Schmidt have 11 homers, tied for the major league lead with Milwaukee’s Ben Oglivie.
Carlton, who has lost but two, became the National League’s first eight-game winner, striking out eight to take over the strikeout lead with 69 from Houston’s J.R. Richard.
The 35-year-old Carlton walked only three and allowed just one man past second base. He had his fastball, slider and curve working well.
Schmidt and Houston starter Nolan Ryan (2-4) were in agreement on the third baseman’s home run. It was a high fastball on which Schmidt was waiting, since Ryan had absolutely no control of his breaking pitches.
“I wasn’t trying to hit it out… If I was I’d have swung and missed it,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt said of his daily contest with Luzinski for the home-run leadership, “It’s interesting, and I can’t think of anybody else I’d rather be tied with. For the sake of the team it would be nice if the same names were up there.”
As for Carlton, this is his best start since he joined the Phillies in 1972, a year in which he posted a 27-10 record and won the Cy Young Award as the league’s best pitcher. His other best starts were 8-3 in 1976 and 1977.
His 44 career shutouts are third best in the National League behind Tom Seaver with 52 and Don Sutton of the Los Angeles Dodgers with 51. He’s won six of his last seven and for the second time this season has a three-game winning streak.
Phillies’ manager Dallas Green said he thought it was one of Carlton’s best performances this season. Green also said Ryan wasn’t the same pitcher who blanked the Phillies Sunday in Houston.
“He (Ryan) was wild with his fastball and didn’t have a breaking ball. It was that simple. We can sit on his fastball and we have some decent fastball hitters,” Green noted.
“I wasn’t getting the breaking ball over at all, and my fastball was wild high. I gave Schmidt a fastball up over the plate. It wasn’t a good pitch and he was ready for it,” Ryan said.
Houston manager Bill Virdon said Ryan didn’t get two breaking balls over all night.
“He wasn’t himself tonight, behind every hitter,” Virdon said. “I went out and got him because I don’t figure to get many runs off Carlton… but it didn’t help us any.”
The Phillies announced they had brought up pitcher Dan Larson from their Oklahoma City farm team in the American Association and that he would start against Houston tonight.
“I want to give (pitchers) Dick Ruthven and Larry Christenson an extra day of rest,” Green explained.
Larson, who with Houston and the Phillies previously compiled a 6-17 record, was 4-1 at Oklahoma City with a 4.13 ERA.
Pete Rose walked three times for a lifetime total of 1,199 walks, moving him into 22nd place on the all-time list ahead of Richie Ashburn.