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BASEBALL HITS ITS FINAL HOURS
Published September 13, 1994
"There will come a day -- maybe today, maybe tommorrow -- when Bud Selig finally will pull the plug on the late, great baseball season of 1994," writes Jayson Stark in this morning's PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. "It is only a matter of time now. But even amid an atmosphere marked by no new talks, no new ideas, and no reason for hope, Selig refused to pull that plug yesterday" (9/13). JUST LIKE MOM USED TO MAKE: During a media conference call yesterday, Acting Commissioner Bud Selig said he still hopes that "something happens" in the next day or two: "It's sort of like chicken soup when you have a cold. We know it's a long shot, but nothing bad can come of it" (Jerome Holtzman, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/13). But he made clear during a halftime interview on "Monday Night Football" that the end is near: "We are going to try everything we possibly can to avoid calling the season off. So we will just take each day as it comes. There is no specific deadline, but it is true, we are very close to the end" (ABC, 9/12). CALL WHEN YOU'RE READY: On CNN's "Sports Tonight," MLBPA chief Donald Fehr said the union is available to talk, but he is not optimistic. Fehr: "Unless and until the owners show a willingness to negotiate, there is not really very much else left to do" (CNN, 9/12). NOW, TALK AMONGST YOURSELVES: Owners spoke to owners yesterday, and players spoke to players, but there were no coversations between the two groups, especially on the issue of ending the season. In fact, the N.Y. TIMES reports this morning that Selig and Fehr have not spoken about a formal cancellation in over a week. Fehr: "It doesn't matter what I say. He'll do what he wants to do. The notion that he cares the slightest about what we say is nonsense. It's all pretense" (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 9/13). STANDSTILL NOT A POSSIBILITY: Union officials said at their meeting yesterday with player reps in New York that they "briefly discussed the possibility of returning to work to play some of the remaining portion of the season if the owners would agree to a 'standstill' period," but are adament "that scenario wouldn't unfold." MLBPA general counsel Gene Orza: "I can see no scenario under which the players would return to work without an agreement." The players also discussed the possibility of forming a new league, but such speculation is "premature" according to Fehr (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 9/13). BRING ON THE LAWYERS: Fehr did indicate "the players are prepared to negotiate on the 'taxation' concept they proposed last week, and also "said the union is preparing possible bad- faith bargaining charges against the owners with the National Labor Relations Board." Fehr: "It will come as no surprise to anyone that if the season is lost, lawyers are going to fill an awful lot of hours this winter" (Mike Fish, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 9/13). TRUST-BUSTERS: Rep. Jack Brooks, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, will hold a hearing Sept. 22 on MLB's antitrust exemption. Brooks: "My general view is that exemptions are disfavored and that the burden is on those seeking to obtain or maintain such special treatments from our competition statutes" (Peter Schmuck, Baltimore SUN, 9/13). ALSO HEARD ON THE HILL: An editorial in today's WALL STREET JOURNAL takes a swing at George Mitchell for his latest efforts on health care reform. "We're beginning to understand why baseball owners are so eager to make Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell their next commissioner. They must figure that a man who has been so relentless on health care, and has so often gulled so many Republicans, is just the man to break the players' union next year. ... If the owners want Mr. Mitchell to destroy a free- market in baseball salaries, we might even say it's worth it if it takes him away from trying to destroy the world's greatest health care system" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/13).