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  • BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 110: TALKS TODAY COULD BE SHORT

         If there is going to be a negotiated settlement in time to
    save spring training, "the groundwork is going to have to be laid
    this week" (Jayson Stark, PHILA. INQUIRER, 11/29).     BACK AT IT
    TODAY:  The owners and players meet again today in Leesburg, VA,
    but the session "may be nothing more than the players officially
    rejecting the owners' tax proposal."  The owners had expected the
    players to use the tax plan as a "framework for a new agreement"
    (I.J. Rosenberg, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 11/29).  There had been
    speculation that the MLBPA would offer a counter-proposal to the
    owners' tax, but sources familiar with the "union's thinking said
    that the counter proposal will not be made until the executive
    board has reviewed it during a meeting in Atlanta next Monday"
    (Ross Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 11/29).
    MLBPA General Counsel Gene Orza was quoted last night on CNN
    responding to the owners' tax plan: "The more we analyze it, the
    less possible it seems to be the basis for an agreement" ("Sports
    Tonight," 11/28).  However in Boston, Larry Whiteside cites
    sources who say that MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr might resubmit
    the owners' proposal in an "amended form" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/29).
         FROM MANAGEMENT'S VIEW:  Braves President Stan Kasten said
    if the players return to the table "under a pretext of continued
    negotiation" and make no counterproposal -- "that would be
    distressing and really would pretty much dictate what the owners
    have to do.  Because we do need to go on with our business
    whether the union feels like participating in the future or not"
    ("Sports Tonight," 11/28).  "There is every indication that the
    players will choose to stall until [December 5], which would put
    the owners in the uncomfortable -- and perhaps untenable --
    position of declaring an impasse while there is a union
    counterproposal pending" (Peter Schmuck, Baltimore SUN, 11/29).
         POST-IMPASSE:  If the owners do implement their system, "the
    rift between owners and players will widen, making the start of
    spring training in mid-February with anything but replacement
    players unlikely."  The union would be expected to file an unfair
    labor practices charge with the NLRB (Hal Bodley, USA TODAY,
    11/29).  Phillies Owner Bill Giles said another option would be
    to try to persuade the union to agree to a "freeze" on all
    aspects of the current system -- including the December 7th free-
    agent deadline and the December 20th deadline for tendering
    contracts to all unsigned players.  But both sides would
    "probably wouldn't agree to that" (Jayson Stark, PHILADELPHIA
    INQUIRER, 11/29).   SIDEBAR:  Owners' chief negotiator Richard
    Ravitch's contract expires December 31 "and the owners apparently
    don't expect him to remain on the job beyond then."  Selig said
    that Ravitch has given no "indication of his intentions" (Mark
    Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 11/29).
    

    Print | Tags: Atlanta Braves, Leagues and Governing Bodies, Philadelphia Phillies, Time Warner
  • HOCKEY HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 60: TICK, TICK, TICK ...

         "The fact 'urgent' negotiations between the owners and
    players aren't expected to resume before Thursday -- the first
    day of December -- doesn't leave much room for optimism," writes
    Dave Fuller in this morning's TORONTO SUN.  NHLPA Exec Dir Bob
    Goodenow spent yesterday on the phone with as many as 50 player
    reps and their assistants, "formulating what one agent described
    as 'final positions' on three key issues that could make or break
    a contract agreement."  While some believe the season can still
    be saved, one source "close to the players" is not so sure:  "I
    think [the season's] done. ... My worry is that the owners are
    expecting certain things and they're going to be disappointed.
    The thing is, where do the players go from here?  There's no Plan
    B in place for them.  It's fine if they've got something set up,
    but they've got nothing.  This is going to change the NHL for
    good" (TORONTO SUN, 11/29).   No talks were scheduled, although
    it is believed both sides will meet again later this week.
         LOOKING FOR SIGNS:  Also in Toronto, David Shoalts sees
    "increasing signs" that the NHL could be back before Christmas:
    1) Contact between the league and its officials regarding their
    physical condition; and, 2) Reports of a message from Goodenow to
    Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hull and Marty McSorley that they had to be
    back from their planned European tour by December 15.  League
    officials would not  confirm the officials rumor.  But, Goodenow
    flatly denied any contact with Gretzky or other Team Gretzky
    members.  One source close to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, on
    the contact between NHL Dir of Officiating Bryan Lewis and the
    officials:  "That's only to make sure our ducks are all in a row
    in the sense that (the labor impasse) could be settled by a
    certain date."  NHL VP of Public Relations Arthur Pincus would
    only say, "We believe there's every reason to make a deal
    quickly, but right now that's not about to happen."  Goodenow
    said "there's no date" to start the season (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL,
    11/29).
         ASK THE FRANCHISE:  Mark Messier spoke out against the
    owners' proposed free agency plan, whereby free agency would be
    granted to all players over 28 years old or with eight years
    experience, with the exception of a team-designated "franchise"
    player.  Messier:  "That's just another way of controlling
    salaries.  And every team has a salary structure, whereby the
    franchise player is supposed to be the top-paid guy.  Everyone
    else would be told they have to accept less than him, and he
    can't go to the market to get what he should."  The NHLPA is said
    to be polling other top players on the idea (Mark Everson, N.Y.
    POST, 11/29).
         WINGS WON'T FLY THE COOP:  Red Wings Paul Coffey, Sergei
    Federov and Steve Yzerman, all members of Team Gretzky, will not
    play in the December 1 exhibition against the IHL Detroit Vipers
    at the Palace at Auburn Hills, MI.  Yzerman says it's "out of
    respect" for Red Wings Owner Mike Ilitch.  Coffey:  "You've got
    to draw the line somewhere."  The NHLPA reportedly "wasn't
    pleased" with the trio's decision (Keith Gave, DETROIT FREE
    PRESS, 11/26)....Several players from the Whalers, Rangers,
    Islanders and Devils, as well as players with New England roots,
    are planning a charity exhibition to benefit the Special Olympics
    for December 18 at New Haven Coliseum (HARTFORD COURANT, 11/29).
    

    Print | Tags: Detroit Red Wings, Leagues and Governing Bodies, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, NHL, Palace Sports & Entertainment, YankeeNets
  • NFL TO CONSIDER USE OF A HOCKEY- STYLE PENALTY BOX

         At least one NFL team has asked the league's competition
    committee to study the use of a penalty box -- similar to the one
    used by the NHL -- "for players who deliver dangerous hits to a
    quarterback."  NFL Communications Dir Greg Aiello confirmed that
    the proposal had been made, and noted that the idea has been
    discussed in the committee before.  "But it has never made it out
    ... for a discussion by the team owners."  Aiello, on the latest
    proposal: "It would be for flagrant hits on the quarterback, but
    not for other penalties.  It would have to be determined how long
    a player would spend in the penalty box.  Whether it's for a
    specific amount of time or a certain number of plays."  What is
    not known, is whether a team would be allowed to replace that
    player on the field, or play short-handed.  Several quarterbacks
    have missed all or part of games this season with concussions.
    But only one player has been fined for a flagrant hit on a
    quarterback (Timothy Smith, N.Y. TIMES, 11/29).
         THE IMPLEMENTER?  NFL Dir of Football Development Gene
    Washington is profiled in USA TODAY.  Part of Washington's job is
    setting the amount a player should be fined for certain rule
    violations (USA TODAY, 11/29).
    

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, NFL, NHL
  • THE UNITED LEAGUE SCOUTS FOR SOME NORTHERN EXPOSURE

         Dick Moss, one of the main organizers of the proposed United
    Baseball League, was in Vancouver Sunday for the CFL's Grey Cup.
    Moss: "Vancouver is very important to us.  There's the size of
    the city and a wonderful community for the players to live in.
    But the big thing is the domed stadium is here and ready for
    baseball."  B.C. Pavilion Corp. officials met with Moss and
    partner Robert Mrazek on Monday about the possible use of the
    facility for a UBL franchise.  The facility has also been in
    negotiations with the Mariners to lure the Seattle franchise
    across the border for 8-10 games a year.  Mrazek: "We think this
    is a great business opportunity.  But the real key is each team
    will be a true three-way partnership between the city, the owner
    and the players" (Lyndon Little, VANCOUVER SUN, 11/29).
    

    Print | Tags: CFL, Leagues and Governing Bodies, Seattle Mariners
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