With no immediate prospect for settlement of the baseball strike—although a breakthrough couldn't be ruled out—Milwaukee Brewer Centerfielder Paul Molitor last week expressed the view that unless the dispute is resolved by the July 13 All-Star break, it will be too late to save the rest of the schedule. "We'll need at least 10 days to reach playing condition, and that would leave only two months of the season," said Molitor. Although 120-odd games could be worked in for each team under such a timetable, Molitor fears that so abbreviated a schedule would make a mockery of the divisional races.
Few other observers set so early a date for scrapping the season. One widely held view is that play could resume if the baseball strike were over by the first week in August. Allowing time for the players to get back into shape, most teams could then complete a 100-game season. Oakland A's President Roy Eisenhardt would be willing to go further. "We have to get the taste of the strike expunged, to think of selling season tickets for next year," he argued. "So even if it were only one month, September, we would want to play ball. The playoffs and World Series generate tremendous interest. Even in this 'asterisk year,' it would be unwise to cancel those events."
Despite the difficulty in fixing an exact date, general agreement exists that there is a point at which, in the absence of a settlement, it would be advisable to cancel the rest of the season. Seattle Mariner President Dan O'Brien notes that because non-contending teams generally fare poorly at the gate in September, they would have scant interest in starting anew so late in the season. There are also considerations of tradition and competitive fairness. The strike has already played havoc with divisional races, working a hardship on the second-place Texas Rangers, who might have been able to overtake the Oakland A's in the American League West during a four-game series that had been scheduled for last week, while benefiting the pitching-thin Cardinals, who would have been in the midst of a grueling 16-game, 14-day road trip. As the strike drags on, such inequities will be compounded and the value of league championships further debased. O'Brien again: "It would be difficult to recognize a legitimate champion if the teams played less than 100 games. Even a 100-game figure would be a little difficult to comprehend for those who've been around the game for a long time."
ARE YOU LISTENING, KEN MOFFETT?
Players on several teams in the Chino ( Calif.) Little League recently threatened to strike after the league board decided, for economy reasons, that only members of first-place teams would receive trophies, while other players would have to settle for pins. Under threat of a walkout, the board decided that trophies would be awarded to everybody. Would that the major league dispute be settled so easily; to buy the extra trophies, league officials simply tapped funds that had been earmarked for next season.
GOLDEN BEAR AND GOLDEN CUB
A number of photographs, one of them in this magazine (SI, June 29), showed 19-year-old Jack Nicklaus II caddying for his famous father during the U.S. Open at Merion. So where was Angelo Argea, who has caddied off and on for the elder Nicklaus for 18 years? "I'm trying to find something for Angelo to do besides caddie the rest of his life," says the Golden Bear, who has most recently found work for the 50-year-old Argea greeting patrons in the restaurant at the Nicklaus-owned Frenchman's Creek course in North Palm Beach, Fla.
Nicklaus also explains that he wants to spend more time with his five children. Thus, 18-year-old Steve, a wide receiver and defensive end who will enter Florida State on a football scholarship in the fall, caddied for his father in last year's Canadian Open. And Jack II, who had toted Dad's bags in the 1976 British Open, did the same in the Memorial tournament in May at Muirfield, the Nicklaus home course in Dublin. Ohio. In so doing, Jack II was repaying a debt. A member of the "B" golf team last season at the University of North Carolina, the younger Nicklaus played in a U.S. Open qualifying tournament at Frenchman's Creek in June and enlisted Jack I as his caddie, a ploy that enabled the father to legally give the son on-course advice. Jack I used a golf cart—"What else would you expect?" he asked—and afterward crowed, "I had all the yardages for him perfectly." Though Jack II shot 82-76 and missed qualifying by eight strokes, he said in a relieved tone, "At least my dad and I are still speaking."
They remained on speaking terms at the Open, where Jack I finished in a five-way tie for sixth. After a second-round double bogey on the 16th hole, the result of a shanked ball into the woods, Nicklaus was asked whether his son had counseled him on the shot. "My caddie talked to me after the shot," he said. "He told me I didn't keep my head down."
FAULTING THE RULES