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Angels Appear Set to Go on Strike : Baseball: Maybe they already have, as they lose for 10th time in 12 games, falling to Mariners, 8-4.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Angels secretly voted Wednesday to authorize an early strike, and according to several players, they might be playing their final game tonight.

Mark Langston, Angel player representative, is scheduled to be on a conference call this morning with the executive board and inform Don Fehr, director of the Major League Players Assn., of their decision.

“We might be walking after (tonight),” one player said, “unless this gets cleared up real quick. It’s gonna happen in the next couple of days, there’s no doubt about it.

“They’re just lucky we didn’t walk tonight.”

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Then again, considering the way the Angels performed Wednesday, losing, 8-4, to the Seattle Mariners, who can blame the crowd of 15,549 at Anaheim Stadium for wondering if the Angels jumped the gun?

Langston, who arrived early to the ballpark to inform his teammates of the urgency to strike earlier than Aug. 12, was racked for a season-high 11 hits and eight runs in 5 2/3 innings. It was the most runs he has yielded since Aug. 12, 1990, and only one fewer than his career high.

It left the Angels (44-64) with their 10th defeat in the last 12 games, and mathematically eliminated them from the American League West race if a strike ends the season by Aug. 12. The Angels are 7 1/2 games behind the Texas Rangers with only seven games remaining before the original strike date.

“I don’t think anybody wants to strike,” Angel designated hitter Chili Davis said, “although I think this ballclub would welcome it right now the way we’re playing.”

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The reason for the possible early strike is that the Players Assn. became furious when they discovered that baseball owners did not make a $7.8-million payment to the players’ pension plan that was due Aug. 1. Richard Ravitch, president of the Player Relations Committee, said the owners felt they have no contractual obligation to make the pension payment because the Basic Agreement has expired.

“If we had known that,” Davis said, “there wouldn’t have been an All-Star game.”

Said Langston: “This puts more fuel on the fire to step it up and let them know we’re very disappointed. It’s very unfortunate the owners decided to make such an aggressive move. If everybody’s united about it, we could be walking out (tonight).”

The Angels knew that something was wrong about three hours before game time when Langston walked onto the field in his street clothes and called them together. It was Langston’s day to pitch, and he usually doesn’t even step onto the field until he takes the mound.

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“When I saw him walking toward us,” Angel shortstop Gary DiSarcina said, “I thought, ‘This is it. We’re walking. We’re walking right now.’ ”

Instead, Langston briefed the Angels on the latest news, and later took an informal poll. The vote was unanimous, according to one player, to strike early.

The Angels now are on verge of being left with the bitter taste of yet another rotten season.

Still cursing the antics Tuesday of Mariner starter Randy Johnson, the Angels had vowed to take their revenge on Dave Fleming (7-11). Instead, they were limited to two hits through the first five innings, and trailed 8-0 when they batted in the sixth.

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“Randy Johnson tried to show up some of our hitters by walking up to home plate and staring them down,” Davis said. “That’s not the way the game is played.”

Soon, it may not be matter.


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