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BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 102: TIME TO TALK TURKEY?
Published November 21, 1994
After three days of meetings in Herdon, VA, MLB and MLBPA negotiators recessed until November 28th "to give the players' union additional time to study the clubs' revised proposal" (Noble & Heyman, N.Y. NEWSDAY, 11/20). It was "too soon for the players' union to pass final judgement" on the owners' plan, which includes a "so-called luxury tax as a cornerstone of cost savings for the 28 teams" (Larry Whiteside, BOSTON GLOBE, 11/20). "But both sides did their best to put a respectable spin on what was accomplished" during the "get-together" (Jayson Stark, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 11/20). "Was anything accomplished here these last three days? It is hard to judge. But perhaps one good sign is the two sides are not going for the throat" (I.J. Rosenberg, ATLANTA CONTSITUTION, 11/20). THE NEXT STEP: The question remains whether the "players will accept any part of the payroll tax proposal presented" to them (Claire Smith, N.Y. TIMES, 11/20). The tax rate has two "thresholds": the average of all 28 payrolls -- $35.6M, derived by taking 56% of industry revenue -- and a second level, $5M higher at $40.6M. A tax rate would apply to each team's payroll and any amount over each "threshold" (Hal Bodley, USA TODAY, 11/21). Red Sox CEO John Harrington, who heads the owners' negotiating team, remained optimistic. Harrington: "I'm pleased that [MLBPA Exec Dir] Don [Fehr] and the players are continuing to look at our proposal for the redeeming effects on their side. ... Our side will go to the next meetings intending to conduct very intensive and prolonged negotiations. Our goal will be to conclude them that week" (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 11/20). Fehr, who has taken an "uncharacteristically conciliatory tone during the past couple of weeks," was "careful not to give the impression that a settlement" was near (Peter Schmuck, Baltimore SUN, 11/20). Fehr: "We cannot predict when we come back together whether we'll be at the state to make a more full response or counterproposal or what" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/20). MLBPA General Counsel Gene Orza: "It is obvious that the numbers that they are plugging into their system so to speak will not fly. The question is whether the system itself provides a basis for further discussions" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 11/18). Orza added, "I am confident that at some point, we'll make a counterproposal" (Ross Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 11/19). ACROSS THE RUBICON? Owners face a crucial deadline in the next two weeks, as major business decisions must be made by early December. If there is no agreement soon, it ie the owners will unilaterally implement their salary cap. One owner: "I don't know what more we can do. Time is running out. (The union) rejected the idea of a 45-day freeze. They don't want a salary cap. And if they don't accept this proposal, or come back with one of their own, it won't leave us with much choice" (Whiteside, BOSTON GLOBE, 11/20).