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THE DAY BASEBALL DIED: NEWS FROM 22 BASEBALL MARKETS
Published September 15, 1994
ATLANTA: The Braves may have less trouble promoting themselves for '95 than some other teams: "They have a season- ticket base of 30,000 and typically get a 90 percent-plus renewal rate" (Rosenberg, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 9/15). BALTIMORE: Orioles Owner Peter Angelos refused to sign the resolution backed by 26 of the 28 owners (The Reds' Marge Schott also abstained). Instead, Angelos "called for a cease-fire to the name-calling and finger-pointing," in particular the sections that criticized the players for not bargaining in good faith. Angelos said the rehtoric "served no constructive purpose" and "were absolutely inappropriate in light of what the announcement was dealing with." Angelos, who is not on the PRC or Executive Council, intends to get more involved in negotiations (Tom Keegan, Baltimore SUN, 9/15). Whether Angelos "is on board probably doesn't matter. The owners are expected to declare an impasse in November and try to weather a legal onslaught by the union" (Peter Schmuck, Baltimore SUN, 9/15). Angelos, on his call with Schott: "She said, 'If you're not going to sign it, I'm not going to sign it.' I said, 'Hallelujah, I've got one soldier. All we need is 19 more'" (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 9/15). Ken Rosenthal called it a "badge of honor" that Angelos refused to sign (Baltimore SUN, 9/15). BOSTON: Michael Gee writes, "In the short-term, the owners have sabotaged their primary profit source of the past 20 years - - the explosive growth in the value of a big league franchise. ... If the capital of the average franchise goes down 25 percent, the owners will lose $700 million. It'd take more than a decade's worth of the owner's salary cap plan to save them that much dough" (BOSTON HERALD, 9/15). Dan Shaughnessy: "Major League Baseball, for the moment, is dead" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/15). CHICAGO: The Cubs and White Sox will lose an estimated $48.7M combined. John Skorburg, chief economist for the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, calculated that the final tab for the city will be $387.5M (Dan Bickley, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 9/15). Bob Verdi writes, "What exactly will be the 'cost certainty' of this exercise in petulance if fans decided they've had it right up to here with baseball?" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/15). White Sox Owner Jerry Reinsdorf made no public comments, releasing this statement: "It is difficult to find words to express my regret that the remainder of the 1994 season had to be canceled due to the players' strike. It's really a shame" (Paul Sullivan, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/15). In Washington, Reinsdorf critic Tom Boswell writes, "Here lies the man who sacrificed baseball to settle a schoolyard grudge" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/15). CINCINNATI: Reds Owner Marge Schott said the owners' decision to cancel the rest of the season "was so unappealing, in the end she couldn't be part of it." Schott: "I'm behind the owners in wanting to do something with (the salary structure of) baseball, but this is a tradition we're breaking. It (signing the resolution) wouldn't make any difference" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 9/15). Reds GM Jim Bowden called the potential $10M loss to the club "financially devastating" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 9/15). CLEVELAND: Bill Livingston of the CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER, on Indians fans: "These people have lived and mostly died with this team for a very long time and now there is not going to be any reward" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 9/14). DENVER: Rockies Owner Jerry McMorris noted the "possibility" that a "couple of teams" might not survive (Jerry Crasnick, DENVER POST, 9/15). McMorris said there would be no "wholesale" front-office layoffs, with the construction of the new Coors Field a "major part of the equation" (Crasnick, DENVER POST, 9/15). Tomorrow, the Rockies will announce their refund policy -- and also that they are raising ticket prices. McMorris: "We're going to try to be square with everybody" (DENVER POST, 9/15). DETROIT: Mitch Albom: "Do they know what they've done?" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 9/15). HOUSTON: Alan Truex writes, "How do they sell season tickets, advertising, television and radio rights for a sport that is in total disarray?" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/15). LOS ANGELES: Dodgers Owner Peter O'Malley was "unhappy" that he was excluded from negotiations, according to sources. O'Malley, from Ireland where he is promoting little league and amateur baseball: "I said, and was quoted several times as saying, now is the time to show that flexibility. But [both sides] never did" (Maryann Hudson, L.A. TIMES, 9/15). Mike Downey: "The World Series is just like the World Cup, a scoreless tie" (L.A. TIMES, 9/15). MIAMI: Ed Pope writes, "Listen! Those are champagne glasses clinking now at 410 Park Ave., the National Football League Headquarters in New York" (MIAMI HERALD, 9/15). MILWAUKEE: Brewers manager Phil Garner, who was throwing batting practice to his son when he heard the news: "It made me so mad I tried to bean my own son" (Tom Haudricourt, MILWAUKEE SENTINEL, 9/15). MINNESOTA: Twins Owner Carl Pohlad "said the loss of television revenues will cause some small-market teams to take out loans to keep them afloat during the winter. Also, despite word from several sources that he has tried in earnest to sell the Twins lately, Pohlad said he isn't interested in selling. That's not surprising, since it would be nearly impossible to sell a small-market team that is losing money during a player's strike" (Jim Souhan, Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 9/15). The Twins plan to lay off about 30 of their 51 full-time front office employees, perhaps by October 12. The layoffs are expected to save the club about $75,000 a month (STAR TRIBUNE, 9/15). MONTREAL: "Already operating on a line of credit he secured in July," Expos Owner Claude Brochu said that the cancellation of the season has left the team looking at a $20M loss. Brochu: "We have no intention of simply absorbing these losses. We'll make them back through our payroll and we may have to look at other things as well -- things of a capital nature." Brochu wouldn't say if that meant additions to the ownership group or asking the present owners to pay more (Jeff Blair, MONTREAL GAZETTE, 9/15). NEW YORK: Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner: "I'm worried about us playing by opening day in 1995" (Jack Curry, N.Y. TIMES, 9/15). Murray Chass: "The prevailing view is that the dispute will become nastier before it ends, whenever that may be" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/15). Mets Secretary/General Counsel David Howard said the team has laid off or terminated about 40 employees "and more cutbacks could be on the way" (Anthony Gargano, N.Y. POST, 9/15). Mets GM Joe McIlvaine spoke on behalf of GMs expressed frustration about being "in the dark": "I have no idea what I'm supposed to do" (Bill Madden, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/15). OAKLAND: A's Owner Walter Haas released a short statement: "Our hope is that the loss of the season will now provide the catalyst for Major League Baseball to put an end to the acrimony, and to restructure itself in a way that secures the game's rightful place as the National Pastime" (THE DAILY, 9/14). For more on how the cancellation of the season affects the A's impending sale, see story num. 99. PHILADELPHIA: Phillies Pres. Bill Giles: "I don't look at it as who's going to crack first. ... We were willing to (adjust) the maximum salary limit -- and we're still willing to" (Sam Carchidi, PHILA. INQUIRER, 9/15). Giles, on what it would take to end the deadlock: "Well, I would hope that enough players would say that 'Beisbol has been berry, berry good to me'" (John Smallwood, PHILA. DAILY NEWS, 9/15). Frank Dolson: "No, they haven't killed baseball, only big-league baseball" (PHILA. INQUIRER, 9/15). Bill Conlin compares owners to Benedict Arnold and John Wilkes Booth "and all the villains who robbed Americans of something precious": "If clothes make a statement, major league baseball now wears a black salary cap to go with the Black Sox of 1919" (PHILA. DAILY NEWS, 9/15). ST. LOUIS: Cardinals labor consultant Stuart Meyer: "We don't care if it's a salary cap or not. But it has to be something ... to bring the $15 million payroll closer to the $50 million payroll." Cards GM Del Maxvill called for some signs from management: "Right now, nobody knows how much big-league time a player has. ... Let's try to have a little bit of order" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 9/15). SAN FRANCISCO: Giants Owner Peter Magowan acknowledged that replacement players were a "possibility" if the strike continues into spring training. Magowan will cut the player payroll by $5M to $35M -- with several free agents not returning (Mark Gonzales, SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 9/15). Magowan described himself as "not a hard-liner in this exercise," but Ann Killion notes that his comments were "full with anti-player rhetoric." In addition, the Giants, who want a new downtown stadium, "will be forced to take [their] plan to the public, a public left with a sour taste that may linger into the next century" (MERCURY NEWS, 9/15). SEATTLE: Mariners CEO John Ellis "agreed with the decision to end the season, though he will be forced to lay off several full- time employees and the franchise stand to lose nearly $6 million in postseason revenue. But Ellis said the short-term loss would be a long-term gain if the owners can gain control over player salaries." Ellis: "If that happens, then this is certainly worth it for the Mariners" (Jim Street, SEATTLE POST- INTELLIGENCER, 9/15). TEXAS: The city of Arlington will forfeit $42M from games lost at The Ballpark and tax revenues will be short $150,000 (Richard Alm, DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/15). TORONTO: Blue Jays Owner Paul Beeston: "Maybe there should have been (other proposals) and maybe there should not have been. But they [the MLBPA] didn't come back with anything meaningful. ... I don't think it necessarily has to be a salary cap. I believe there could be another mechanism" (Bill Lankhof, TORONTO SUN, 9/15). Tim Harper writes Beeston "might have been a reluctant participant in the burial, but he was a partner nonetheless." Labatt President George Taylor strongly favored finding a settlement, but Beeston stuck with the owners. Beeston said the Blue Jays were responsible for the "majority" of the brewery's $16M loss (TORONTO STAR, 9/15).