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CONGRESS TO OWNERS: CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED
Published September 23, 1994
Yesterday's hearing on baseball's antitrust exemption before the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Economic and Commercial Law "represented the unofficial start of what's widely expected to be an off-season of bickering." While House Judiciary Chair Jack Brooks (D-TX) doubted that any action could be taken this year, baseball "may not be off the hook, especially if the labor dispute lingers" (Rick Alm, DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/23). Brooks prefaced the hearing by releasing a statement indicating his support for repealing the exemption. He had previously reserved judgment on this issue (THE DAILY). OWNER-BASHING: "If major league baseball owners have friends in Congress, they weren't in room 2141 of the Rayburn Building yesterday" (Thom Lovero, WASHINGTON TIMES, 9/23). Brooks "wanted the owners in attendance to know he means business" (Brad Snyder, Baltimore SUN, 9/23). "The players' fervor paled in comparison to what they found to already exist on Capitol Hill: a blanket indictment of the exemption by many legislators angered by baseball's incessant labor wars" (Claire Smith, N.Y. TIMES, 9/23). "The owners couldn't give a single reason why they deserve this break" (George Vecsey, N.Y. TIMES, 9/23). NBC's Bob Costas: "The mood of lawmakers has changed to one of general disgust with the state of the game and an apparent willingness to take away at least part of the curious anti-trust exemption" ("Nightly News," 9/22). FROM CONGRESS: Rep. Mike Synar (D-OK): "The owners really did not make a strong case, I believe, in why they deserve this special status. ... I am convinced that if there is a chance to vote on the floors of the Senate or the House that this legislation would pass overwhelmingly on the simple basis of fairness" ("Business Insiders," CNBC, 9/22). More from Synar: "The Senate really holds the key. If [Sen. Howard] Metzenbaum is able to push something through, we can get something done this year" (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 9/23). Metzenbaum, whose Senate bill was blocked by a procedural motion last week, will try to attach it to another bill as an amendment. Metzenbaum: "If I get a chance, you can bet your sweet life I'll try it" (Helyar & Calmes, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/23). Brooks said if a Senate bill were to pass, "I would be very open to allowing it to proceed directly to the President" (THE DAILY). FROM THE OWNERS: Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig "downplayed the significance" of Brook's opposition: "I really believe this will not be settled in the halls of Congress. I truly believe the only way to settle this is at the bargaining table" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/23). Rockies Owner Jerry McMorris: "I hate to see the old system tampered with while we're in the middle of labor negotiations" ("Business Insiders," CNBC, 9/22). Red Sox Owner John Harrington: "The solution is at the bargaining table" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 9/22). Selig, on the choice between a strike and litigation: "That's like asking whether you want to have a problem with your pancreas or a problem with your liver" (Colin Miner, N.Y. POST, 9/23). FROM THE PLAYERS: The Dodgers' Orel Hershiser: "If this bill is passed, it will bring baseball back. It is a promise, we will return to the field. Right now, without this bill, we only have two options: We can surrender or we can strike. This bill will give us a third option. It will allow us to play baseball, and let our attorneys fight it out in court" (mult., 9/23). Agent Tom Reich: "We had salary caps once before from the owners in '85. It was called collusion. ... [The owners] were found guilty of the biggest conspiracy in the history of sports three times. They don't deserve to have an exemption A -- and, B, it isn't fair" ("Business Insiders," CNBC, 9/22).