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National League : Reds’ Owner Prefers Being in the Black

The Reds are winning, Pete Rose is closing in on Ty Cobb’s hit record, and attendance is up 106,000, the first increase at the turnstiles in four seasons. So, you say, things couldn’t be any better in Cincinnati?

That’s not what you’ll hear from Marge Schott, the new owner of the Reds. Schott, who says she’s concerned about the impact of a possible players’ strike, is playing hardball in an effort to keep costs down. There are those who have another name for Schott’s budget measures: Pinching pennies.

So far, Schott has:

--Done away with fireworks at Riverfront Stadium, which used to be set off after every Red home run or victory. The fireworks returned when a grocery chain offered to pick up the tab.

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--Fired the press-room attendant, and closed the press-room snack bar.

--Raised soft-drink prices in the employees’ lounge a nickel.

--Put front-office employees on notice that she’s keeping track of every cent they spend.

Some of the moves may seem trivial, Schott told Greg Hoard of the Cincinnati Enquirer, adding, “But I don’t like waste.

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“We can’t continue to lose. We can’t continue to operate like it’s the World Series around here. The old days are gone.”

Even leftovers in the press dining room don’t escape Schott’s attention. She has taken home unused gravy for her St. Bernard, Schottzie.

“Why shouldn’t I?” she said. “They just pour it out.”

Schott said she runs all her businesses the same way.

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“I’m just trying to get the Reds financially stable in tough times. When I call Marge Schott’s Chevrolet and the phone rings 10 times before somebody answers it, I tell him. And I tell him I counted, too.

” . . . The days are gone when a person invests that much money and doesn’t know what is going on. If they don’t like hands-on management, that’s tough.”

Out of the mold: Don Leppert, fired as a coach by the Astros, took a shot at Houston management on his way out the door.

“The Astros want everyone to be a gentleman, to look nice on airplanes and to have no beer on the bus,” Leppert said.

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“Sometimes I feel they think that’s more important than winning games. All that Mickey Mouse stuff is OK if you’re at a prep school.

“They think being clean-shaven is more important than winning. They want to make this a Sunday-school church game. I want to win.”

Mind games: The Giants have hired a San Jose firm, Sports Enhancement, Inc., to help improve their league-low batting average. General Manager Tom Haller said he has hired the firm, which supposedly specializes in concentration, on a 30-day trial basis.

Early returns are not encouraging. The Giants managed eight hits in a 15-inning loss to the Expos, then were beaten in a one-hitter by Montreal’s Mickey Mahler.

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Add Giants: During Mahler’s one-hitter, Jeff Leonard had two certain home runs blown back to the warning track by the winds in Candlestick Park.

“Jack Clark must be laughing his butt off because he doesn’t have to play in this place anymore,” said Leonard, referring to the Giants’ departed slugger who is enjoying his finest season in St. Louis.

One-man relay: Cardinal rookie Vince Coleman has stolen 39 bases, more than six teams in the National League. San Diego has stolen 14, Atlanta 18, Houston and Pittsburgh 24 each, San Francisco 33, and Philadelphia 37.

Early concession speech: Paul Owen, Phillies’ assistant to the president: “Right now, the only thing I’m afraid of is getting buried. You can forget about us winning it.”

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The Phillies started the weekend 14 games under .500 and just percentage points ahead of last-place Pittsburgh.

Said Manager John Felske: “I’m rapidly approaching the mentality of an ax murderer.”

Starvation diet: Vin Scully noted during Wednesday’s Met-Dodger game that there were five players in the starting lineups who weren’t hitting their weight.

They were: Steve Yeager, 200 pounds, .156 average; Candy Maldonado, 195 and .165; Dave Anderson, 185 and .175; Howard Johnson, 175 and .165; and Ray Knight, 190 and .188.

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Alan Wiggins of the Padres will get his hearing Monday before baseball’s Joint Review Council, established to hear cases of possible drug violations.

“I feel fine. I’m anxious to play, I’m ready to play,” Wiggins told Barry Bloom of the San Diego Tribune last week, when Bloom visited him in his home in Rancho Penasquitos.

“I’m healthy, but I really can’t say more than that. Thank you for wanting to hear my side of the story. Maybe someday it will all come out.”

The Padres have said Wiggins will not play again for them this season. Trade rumors abound: One of the more exotic has Wiggins, Mark Thurmond and Jerry Davis going to Cleveland for pitcher Bert Blyleven and infielder Tony Bernazard.

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