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AUTUMN CANCELED; NUCLEAR WINTER ARRIVES EARLY
Published September 16, 1994
"Baseball's nuclear winter has arrived and no one associated with either the players or the owners can predict what the next few months will bring," report Richard Justice and Mark Maske in today's WASHINGTON POST. "The end game is hard to predict, but the likely result is that baseball's worst labor crisis will spill into next spring and perhaps the 1995 regular season" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/16). Mariners Player Rep Dan Wilson: "Anyway you look at it, this is going to be the strangest offseason the game has ever experienced" (Jim Street, SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 9/16). THE NEXT MOVES? The owners "must decide whether to settle with the players or enforce the key dates [for free agency and arbitration filing] by unilaterally imposing a basic agreement that would dictate when off-season business will be conducted." MLBPA General Counsel Gene Orza said the union's executive board plans to discuss "a series of responses" if the owners unilaterally impose a new system on the players. Union officials and players are set to hold a series of regional meetings in Atlanta, Tampa, New York, Los Angeles and Dallas from September 20-29 (Claire Smith, N.Y. TIMES, 9/16). Yankee Player Rep Paul Gibson sets six weeks as goal for action: "If both sides decide to take a couple of months off, it would be a huge mistake" (Anthony Gargano, N.Y. POST, 9/16). Peter Gammons sees two choices: "Come to a complex payroll/luxury/incentives tax agreement in a partnership with players that allows Milwaukee to survive, and do it by the end of October. Or see what's left at the end of the remake of 'On the Beach'" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/16). LOOKING TO SPRING: MLBPA special assistant Mark Belanger said striking players "would accept an invitation to spring training from owners even without a collective bargaining agreement in place." Belanger: "We don't get paid for spring training anyway, so there'd be nothing to stop us from going down there, getting in shape, but not necessarily starting the season." The MLBPA "figures it might be better to have their members there paying their own expenses -- likely reimbursed by the union -- than give the spring camps over to the minor leaguers" (Tim Harper, TORONTO STAR, 9/16). In St. Louis, Mike Eisenbath writes, "Even if owners tried to make big-leaguers out of minor-leaguers ... chances of this working aren't good" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 9/16). With no agreement, "it appears the chances of minor-leaguers' being given an opportunity to take the jobs of their major-league brethren is better than 50-50" (Paul Sullivan, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/16). ILL WILL: Agent Tom Reich: "The animosity is tremendous, it is one of the biggest problems. The history of this relationship is at an all-time low" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 9/15). Management sources say many owners, "regardless of their inclination to agree to less than favorable terms, were turned off by the behavior of union officials. They recount meetings when they believe union leaders were showing off for their party instead of negotiating" (Justice & Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 9/16). STAFF LAYOFFS: ESPN's Chris Myers: "The Pirates fired four staff members, laid off about a dozen others, and cut the hours of the other front office employees" ("SportsCenter," 9/15). Phillies President Bill Giles, who thus far has resisted any front-office layoffs: "We're going to have to sit down in the next week or so and see how things look. We've got some good and loyal people working for us, and, hopefully, layoffs won't be necessary" (Frank Fitzpatrick, PHILA. INQUIRER, 9/16).