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BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 123: THAT OL' CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM
Published December 12, 1994
The labor dispute "seemed no closer to resolution Sunday, when the owners made a counter proposal they claimed was within the framework of the proposal" made by the MLBPA on Saturday. They gave the players until tonight to respond, "which prompted" MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr to say that if the "owners want to rush off to their meeting, they will. We can't stop them." Fehr was referring to the owners' scheduled meeting on Thursday in Chicago where they are expected to implement a salary cap. Sources indicate owners are willing to accept the union's 5% payroll tax, but with a "trigger that would create an escalating tax similar to their high rate proposal of Nov. 17 if payrolls reached a certain threshold." Rockies Owner Jerry McMorris: "There's a fail-safe mechanism if revenues fail to grow at the level at which we would hope" (Ross Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 12/12). In Washington, Mark Maske calls these negotiations "the last-gasp effort" before the owners vote for implementation on Thursday. McMorris called this "the closest the two sides have been to an agreement during this dispute" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/12). One union official urged not to believe positive talk from the owners: "We're still as far apart as ever" (Jerome Holtzman, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 12/12). Fehr: "At first blush, it appears that the counter-proposal contains virtually all of the elements of the cap. We don't know that yet, we're going to look at it" (Mult., 12/12). ESPN's Peter Gammons: "I'm afraid that unless something miraculous happens in the next 48 hours, we're headed to Chicago for Thursday implementation in a war where the best lawyer wins" ("SportsCenter," 12/11). IT'S OFFICIAL: The strike has been certified. MLBPA General Counsel Eugene Orza said Sunday that the Department of Labor has now certified the strike, meaning that all foreign players will be prevented from receiving visas and entering the U.S. next spring to serve as replacement players (Ross Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 12/12). IN THE MONEY? According to documents obtained by the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, the union ended FY '93 with assets of $174.8M. The union began '94 with a reserve fund of $199.9M from licensing revenues saved up in anticipation of a work stoppage. The licensing program netted another $46.7M during the first 10 months of the year after expenses (I.J. Rosenberg, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 12/11).