Cincinnati players feel management has been playing footsie with them over the years by forcing them to wear black spiked shoes. The Reds say this deprives them of lucrative endorsement contracts from shoe manufacturers while causing some to shell out hundreds of dollars each season for spikes. And besides, black shoes are boring.
Recently, management offered a compromise: The players could replace their black shoes with a red-with-white-stripe Pony model and pocket a $600 fee. The Reds unanimously rejected that, feeling they could earn a lot more money by making their own deals.
"The Reds have been consistent over the years in wanting to have the players' uniforms all look the same," says Woody Woodward, the assistant general manager. Pitcher Frank Pastore, the Cincy player representative, says the players will take their grievance to arbitration on June 6.
Pittsburgh's 6'5", 230-pound Dave Parker, hitting .208 at the end of last week, is hoping that a difference of three ounces will help him hit a ton. "In the past, I could overcome things because I was younger and stronger," said Parker, 31, as he explained why he has switched to a bat that's three ounces lighter. "But you get older. Your reflexes are not as quick as they used to be."
TAKE THAT: "He's a lousy umpire," Baltimore Manager Joe Altobelli says of 288-pound Ken Kaiser, a former pro wrestler. "I wish he'd stayed with wrestling and kept that sport messed up instead of baseball."...AND THAT: "He has no idea where the strike zone is," says California's Rod Carew of Umpire Greg Kosc.... AND THAT: St. Louis Manager Whitey Herzog has these kind words for umpires Ed Montague and Lanny Harris: "Montague is very incompetent and the other guy is, too."...BUT ON THE OTHER HAND: American League Ump Dave Phillips well remembers the run-ins he had when San Diego's Dick Williams managed Boston and Oakland. "One of the highlights of my career," says Phillips, "was when Williams signed a long-term contract in the National League."
Milwaukee Catcher Ted Simmons arose early last Wednesday to take his sister to the airport for a 7 a.m. flight. When he returned to his apartment, he read the paper and snuggled back under the covers, unaware that the Brewers were to play Toronto at 1:30 p.m. rather than at 7:30, as they had the last two days.
With game time approaching and Simmons missing, Equipment Manager Bob Sullivan tried to call him. But Simmons hasn't had time to get a phone. Desperate, Sullivan phoned the apartment manager, who wrote out a note for Simmons to call Sully, slipped it under the catcher's door and knocked.
Simmons got up, saw the note and went to a pay phone in the lobby to call Sullivan. After getting the message, he splashed water on his face, dressed and sped to the park, where he went 4 for 4 and drove in six runs in a 7-6 win.
For Met Relief Pitcher Neil Allen, the first six weeks of the season were a nightmare. Instead of saving games, he blew them. The more boos he heard, the more booze he drank. He became involved in a barroom scrap, was fined for missing curfew and even made up an excuse so he wouldn't have to show up for one game. He finally admitted to his drinking problem and sought help.
But what to do about his problems on the mound? When starters go awry, they often are sent to the bullpen to seek a cure. Where, though, does a struggling reliever go? Into the starting rotation, reasoned Manager George Bamberger.
Allen had saved 69 games in 208 consecutive relief appearances since 1979 and was 0-4 in his five previous starts. But he went five innings in his first start two weeks ago, allowing two runs, and won 6-2 in Pittsburgh. Last Friday night, in his second start, Allen pitched his first complete game ever as he throttled the Dodgers 4-0 on six singles.
"I started him because he had to get a feel for pitching again," Bamberger explained. "He was missing so much with his curve that hitters sat back for his fastball. There's no answer for why he's pitching so well as a starter. I'll start him again, but I want Allen in the bullpen because I want a strong bullpen."
His name is Matt Young, but his Seattle teammates call him Cy. For good reason, apparently. The 24-year-old rookie southpaw stopped the Angels 1-0 last week on four hits, the first time in 134 games they had been shut out. That improved his record to 5-3 and his ERA to 2.26. Young has held lefthanders to .119 hitting (5 for 42).
It's unusual for a manager to publicly criticize players by name, but that's what Cleveland Manager Mike Ferraro did recently when assessing catchers Chris Bando, Ron Hassey and Jim Essian:
"Bando could be the regular, but he has six passed balls in  games. I know he had only two last season, but I can only go on what I see. He has some talent, and I like his release on throws. Chris has to be more aggressive behind the plate. Hassey has a lot of ability, but he's complacent. It's his makeup. He doesn't look like he is eager to do anything. When he isn't in the lineup for three or four days, he doesn't come to the ball park for early hitting. With all the money there is in this game, you would think he would want to go after it. If we were a team that scored a lot of runs, Essian would be my everyday catcher. He calls the best game and is the best handler of pitchers. But right now I have to go with the hottest bat. Right now, that's between Hassey and Bando."
After going 0 for 9 and striking out seven times, San Diego Catcher Terry Kennedy took extra BP and made this rather remarkable discovery: "I hadn't been looking at the ball."...Remember Mike Caldwell's lucky cap, the one he wore in two World Series triumphs last season? When the hat lost for the second straight time recently, Caldwell tossed it to the fans behind the Milwaukee dugout.... Through Sunday, Detroit batters had hit 25 home runs this season, good for 31 runs. Detroit pitchers had allowed 44 homers, good for 87 runs.
His 5-2 record and 2.62 ERA don't reflect it, but Padre Pitcher Eric Show is in pain. The muscles behind his right rib cage "hurt if I try to throw my best fastball or slider," Show says. "I've tried to look at it positively, because it has made me concentrate on spotting the ball and changing speeds." Nonetheless, Show fears that he may have to go on the disabled list.
By rights (or wrongs), the Milwaukee bullpen should be a disaster area. Just when Rollie Fingers seemed ready to return, the tendinitis in his right elbow flared during an exhibition game last week against Vancouver. Also, Pete Ladd, who pitched well late last season, was farmed out. But with Tom Tellmann around, who needs 'em? Through last Sunday, the 29-year-old rookie right-hander was 3-0 with two saves and a 1.52 ERA for 23‚Öî innings.
This is the same Tom Tellmann who would have accepted a job on Guam as a sales rep if the Brewers had not picked him up last October in a trade with San Diego. "I would have been paid between $30,000 and $40,000, which is more than I'd ever made in baseball," says Tellmann. Now he's getting the major league minimum of $35,000—and he's worth every penny.
"Time to get ready for surgery," said an orderly at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago as he awakened Cub Reliever Lee Smith at 6 a.m. Not about to undergo the unkindest cut of all, Smith exclaimed, "I'm just here because of back Spasms." It seems that the not-too-orderly orderly had singled out the wrong Smith, three of whom were staying on the same floor.
California's Reggie Jackson may be hitting' .207 these days, but his ego is still 1.000. In Boston recently he got into an argument with Red Sox Catcher Jeff Newman and Pitcher Bruce Hurst over some ball and strike calls. "Jeff Newman ought to be paying three dollars just to watch me hit," said Jackson later. Of Hurst, Jackson said, "He should be glad he'll be able to tell his grandchildren he once pitched to Reggie Jackson."
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
DAN FORD: In 1982, the Baltimore right-fielder hit .235 and was accused of drug abuse, an allegation he denies. The 1983 model Ford had a .342 average through Sunday, and last week he homered in three straight contests and had three game-winning hits.
Ford's four-bagger to right with one out in the eighth was Baltimore's lone hit off Chicago's Rich Dot son, who lost 1-0. On Thursday Ford slammed a two-run homer to left in the eighth to beat Toronto 2-1.
To forget his problems last year. Ford spent many nights on Chesapeake Bay aboard his 21-foot cruiser Callie Mae. "I'd drop anchor, turn on the music and try to find peace with myself," Ford says. "I'd never been booed. Tears came because it hurt so bad."
His recent success may be the result of a new stance. "I'm not turned as much," says Ford, a righthanded batter whose left shoulder used to be pointed almost at first base. "I'm squared off more and I'm seeing the ball better. I'm also trying to lift myself for games, psyching myself."
BALL PARK FIGURES
1. Joe Morgan, Phils
2. Bert Campaneris, Yanks
3. Cesar Cede…Åo, Reds
4. Davey Lopes, A's
5. Omar Moreno, Astros
6. Rod Carew, Angels
7. Amos Otis, Royals
8. Rickey Henderson, A's
9. Willie Wilson, Royals