Published reports and repeated rumors to the contrary, the Major League Umpires Association doesn't fine its members for fraternizing with baseball's five non-union umps, who crossed picket lines to go to work during the 1979 MLUA strike. Such talk arose when acrimony between the two groups, which had hit a peak during the strike and slowly abated thereafter, intensified this season. The cause: the firing in December of Bill Emslie, who, according to an evaluation of general managers, managers, coaches and players, had been the best umpire in the International League over the past four years.
MLUA members and their leader, lawyer Richie Phillips, are convinced that Emslie never made it to the bigs and lost his minor league job because he was so outspoken in support of his major league brethren during the strike. At a union meeting before spring training, Phillips rallied his umpires. "Fines for fraternizing with non-union umpires were discussed," says Phillips. "I don't deny that. But such fines would be against our constitution and bylaws. We decided that our members would have nothing to do with the other umpires until Emslie's case was settled to our satisfaction. We also decided to take a cold and distant posture toward both league offices and not to work interleague games [in-season exhibitions]."
As a result, MLUA umpires don't travel with non-union umpires and rarely speak to them. Nowhere has the enmity been more obvious than on one four-man American League crew. During the national anthem, MLUA members Drew Coble and Don Denkinger stand along the leftfield line, while non-union umps John Shulock and Derryl Cousins remain behind home plate.
Recently, the union filed a grievance with the National Labor Relations Board on Emslie's behalf. Part of Phillips' ammunition was a letter written by Yankee owner George Steinbrenner to American League President Lee MacPhail and all league owners. "I'm writing to beseech you to give Bill Emslie a chance," wrote Steinbrenner. "If you don't, you'll be letting yourself open to an unfair-labor charge."
Last week came the first break in the dispute: Major league officials agreed to reinstate Emslie in the International League. "They also said they would discuss other things I feel must be done," said Phillips. "It's an extremely positive step, and it signals the start of a wind-down of hostilities."
Last week Bill Travers of the Angels made his first appearance since injuring his shoulder in May 1981. His first official pitch in 735 days was a strike to Boston's Jerry Remy. During Travers' five-plus innings, he gave up seven hits and three earned runs as California won 6-5. Travers, however, didn't get the decision. "My velocity was even better than in '78 and '79," said Travers, who during those years put together a 26-19 record for the Brewers.
O.K., how do you score this one? Bottom of the 13th, Texas and Baltimore tied 2-2, two down, Orioles on first and third. On a pitch to Aurelio Rodriguez, Rich Dauer scoots from first to second without drawing a throw from Catcher Jim Sundberg, who wanted to make sure the runner at third wouldn't come home. Is that a steal for Dauer? No, said official scorer Neal Eskridge, who ruled it a fielder's choice. Rule 10.08G says in part that there's "no stolen base when runner advances solely because of defensive team's indifference to his advance."
One day last winter, Detroit Outfielder Kirk Gibson walked his girl friend out to centerfield in Tiger Stadium and said, "Wouldn't it be great to stand here with 55,000 people around you every day? I love the crowd when I hit a home run to win the game."
Alas, as of Sunday the crowds had been sparse—the Tigers had drawn an average of 15,367 fans in 12 home dates—Gibson, 25, a heralded rookie in 1980, hadn't hit a homer this season, and a 3-for-36 slump had cut his average to .177. Disenchanted with his performance, Detroit fans boo each time Gibson swings and misses and cheer sarcastically when he catches fly balls.
"He's supposed to carry the barge," says California's Reggie Jackson. "He's got to do it in the next two years if his ball club is ever going to do it. This club is tailored for him. He's the lefthanded power to complement [Lance] Parrish."
San Diego's Ruppert Jones, who at week's end was hitting .264 against righthanders, was benched against lefthanders, who had held him to an .056 average (2 for 36).... Another lefty swinger suffering the same fate was Kansas City's Willie Aikens, who was batting .362 against righties and .071 against southpaws.... Shortstop U.L. Washington of Kansas City was having double trouble: He was hitting only .191 and had already made 11 errors.... Shortstop Johnnie LeMaster of the Giants, though, has found new life since becoming the San Francisco leadoff man this season. LeMaster, who had a .225 average for his first eight seasons, last week was batting .281, with a .404 on-base percentage and 10 steals.... Tommy Herr of St. Louis hit his first major league home run in his 1,161st at bat.... Pitchers who have tried to curb the power of Atlanta's Dale Murphy with outside deliveries have found the tactic doesn't work. The righthanded Murphy, who as of Sunday led the majors in home runs with II, had gotten eight of them by going with the pitch and hitting the ball to right or right-center.
Milwaukee fans who had done too much tailgating before last Friday night's game against Boston must have thought they were seeing double. Both Shortstop Robin Yount and Second Baseman Jim Gantner were wearing No. 19. Gantner's locker is next to Yount's, and he had grabbed the wrong jersey. After Gantner got dressed, he couldn't understand why his teammates were calling him "MVP." Just before the playing of the national anthem, Rightfielder Charlie Moore said to Gantner, who normally wears No. 17, "I wouldn't be wearing that shirt if I were you."
"Why, what's wrong with it?" asked Gantner.
"Take a look."
Gantner did, gasped and, at the completion of the anthem, raced back to the dugout, where Equipment Manager Bob Sullivan was waiting with his real jersey. "I felt like hiding under second base," said Gantner later. "I can't believe they let me go out there."
Nothing has been more vital to Los Angeles, which at week's end was in first place in the National League West, than its improved relief corps. At the same point last year, the Dodger bullpen had a 3-7 record, four saves and a whopping 5.24 ERA. This season the relievers were 10-1 with 14 saves and a 1.85 ERA. Southpaw Steve Howe has been the most effective of the lot; he had not allowed an earned run in 21 innings while picking up seven saves and two victories. So many members of the Los Angeles bullpen throw hard fastballs that Howe has dubbed the crew Canned Heat.
Instead of giving heat, the Padre bullpen has been taking it for an 0-9 record. When Reliever Gary Lucas, who had lost three times in 11 days, came on in the 14th inning against the Pirates, Manager Dick Williams tried to encourage him by saying, "Let's stop those cards and letters from coming." Three pitches later, more mail was presumably on the way, as Jason Thompson tagged Lucas for a game-deciding two-run double.
Since losing its first nine games, Houston had gone 16-12, primarily because of its pen, which had won or saved 10 of the Astros' last 13 victories. Houston's top stopper has been rookie Frank DiPino, who had retired 34 of the last 38 batters he had faced.
Milwaukee Reliever Rollie Fingers, out of action since last September, was encouraged after hurling two 10-minute b.p. stints without pain.... Although he admits his fastball, curve arid change are not what they used to be, Frank Tanana of Texas has found that his pinpoint control still makes him effective. In 16‚Öî innings of relief through Sunday, Tanana had given up only one earned run, had fanned 16 batters and had yielded 10 hits.... Baltimore Pitching Coach Ray Miller believes it's the fault of his pitchers that opponents had stolen 26 bases in 35 tries against the Orioles this season. "Ten of those were uncontested," said Miller. "That's ridiculous."
It's no coincidence that on Aug. 1, the day after former Oriole Brooks Robinson will be inducted into the Hall of Fame, Baltimore will be playing in the annual ceremonial game at Cooperstown. "Five years ago," explains Robinson, "[General Manager] Hank Peters figured out that I'd be up for election this year. So he called [American League President] Lee MacPhail and asked if the Orioles could be the league's representative this year. Lee said O.K."
Three times in five days the Astro fielders lost track of the number of outs. Twice they all stayed put after the third out, and once three of them headed for the dugout following the second out.
HOLD THE FOAM
Concerned about the quantity of post-game beer players on their Pacific Coast League farm team in Edmonton were guzzling, the Angels circulated a memo in the Trappers' locker room reminding them of "a two-beer minimum in the clubhouse after games." That inspired Edmonton Manager Moose Stubing to file this report on his good young shortstop, Dick Schofield Jr.: "He's doing a great job overall, but am having a little trouble getting him to finish that second can of beer."
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
DARRELL EVANS: The San Francisco first baseman hit three home runs and three doubles, scored seven runs and had seven RBIs. During a .440 week (11 for 25), he raised his batting average to .327.
"He's at least half as good already," said Milwaukee Pitcher Pete Vuckovich when asked if new teammate Bob Gibson, a right-hand pitcher, can become as good as his Hall of Fame namesake. "He's already throwing the ball more than 47 miles an hour."