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Langston Has Harsh Words for Fill-Ins : Baseball: Angel pitcher says replacement players are embarrassing the game. He also blasts Selig for leaving the negotiations early.

March 07, 1995|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

TEMPE, Ariz. — Angel pitcher Mark Langston blasted acting Commissioner Bud Selig and had some harsh words for Angel replacement players Monday in the wake of yet another breakdown in baseball's labor negotiations.

"It's time for (Selig) to hand the reins over to someone else who's more concerned about baseball," Langston, the team's union representative, said by phone from his home in Anaheim Hills.

"He asked to be acting commissioner and he's supposed to oversee negotiations. It ticked me off to see him fly home to Milwaukee in the middle of important negotiations (in Arizona last week), because he wasn't happy with the way things were going."

As for the players occupying the Angel clubhouse in Tempe Diablo Stadium, Langston said they are "totally living in a dream world" if they think what they're doing is right.

"I don't know when they're going to wake up and realize that none of them are considered prospects," Langston said. "They've only been hired to undermine something we believe in."

Langston, the Angels' highest-paid player at $5 million a year, conducted a 3 1/2-hour conference call Sunday night with most of the players on the team's 40-man roster after the Scottsdale strike talks ended in futility.

"The goal of the owners is to break the union, but after talking with the players, they're not going to be able to do it," Langston said. "We're as strong, top to bottom, as we've ever been. I thought I'd hear concerns, especially from the younger players, but they surprised me. They don't want us to give in. They're united and ready to fight."

That fight won't include picket lines at spring training games or harassment of replacement players for now, Langston said. But those issues were discussed Sunday night, and Langston didn't rule out possible actions against the replacement players.

"These guys should be as far away from the game as possible when this strike is settled," Langston said. "They may think they're helping us by keeping the game alive, but all they're doing is embarrassing the game.

"We've dragged baseball through the mud enough. Many fans already can't stand us. But I hate to see the game dragged down to the point where it's a joke. Go see minor-league baseball. Go see college baseball. But to see these scabs receive support would be disappointing."

Langston, who has been working out at several local high schools, said any replacements retained by the Angel organization after the strike will have a difficult time in the minor leagues.

"We have guys on the 40-man roster who will play on the double-A and triple-A teams, and they'll make sure everyone else on those teams understands what these guys did," Langston said. "Hopefully, when this is over, they'll get rid of these guys as soon as possible."

Few Angel replacements have illusions about what will happen when the strike ends. Though many younger players are hoping to catch on with a minor-league team, most Angel replacements are career minor leaguers who are doing this for the money and the chance to play again.

But that still doesn't justify their actions, Langston said.

"Do they want to live the rest of their lives saying they undercut others to make money?" he asked. "If they can look in the mirror and say they're proud of what they're doing, then obviously their intestinal fortitude is not as strong as it should be."

Dion Beck, a former Cal State Fullerton pitcher who is an Angel replacement, said he has no problems looking in the mirror.

"Even if I play in the big leagues, I'm not going to brag that I made it to the big leagues," he said. "I'm a fill-in. I didn't make it like those other guys did. We're not taking anyone's job or food from someone's mouth. We're just filling in for them. It's no big deal. It's all fun."

Langston said there isn't an Angel who wouldn't love to be in spring training now, but that doesn't mean players are itching to cross the union's symbolic picket line.

"The Angels are solid as a rock," he said. "We believe in the stance we're taking. We feel we've made concessions to the owners, more than I ever thought we'd make, but to have them go backward . . . we're unfortunately headed to a very dark area."

Angel Notes

The Angels' exhibition game against the Oakland Athletics in Phoenix Monday was rained out. The team is scheduled to play the Milwaukee Brewers today and the San Francisco Giants Wednesday in Tempe Diablo Stadium. . . . Angel General Manager Bill Bavasi said minor leaguers reporting to camp this week will be offered the opportunity to be replacement players. Angel minor leaguers, including former Dodger Pedro Guerrero and former Chicago Cub Leon Durham, will have their first full-squad workouts this weekend.

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