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BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 124: LATE NIGHT CRAM SESSION
Published December 13, 1994
"The final hours of the attempt to reach a negotiated settlement in baseball's four-month-old bargaining dispute turned out to be long and contentious ones Monday night," writes Ross Newhan in this morning's L.A. TIMES. In what management officials said was an "often venomous meeting" in Rye Brook, NY, that ended at 1:15am (ET) this morning, the owners gave the MLBPA an extension until 10:30am (ET) this morning to "accept or reject their Sunday night tax proposal that the union continued to characterize as a salary cap" (L.A. TIMES, 12/13). Red Sox CEO John Harrington said the players had not "formally rejected the offer and anticipated more discussion" this morning. MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr "declined to characterize the developments as cause for optimism" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 12/13). CNN's Mark Morgan cites one management official who said that "the players have not rejected the owner's proposal outright and the discussions are continuing within the framework of the owner's proposal right now" ("Sports Tonight," 12/12). CHICAGO HOPE? Several members of the owner's negotiating committee stressed earlier in the day that they couldn't see postponing their meeting Thursday in Chicago, where they are expected to vote for implementing the salary cap. The owners already invited GMs to Chicago to discuss how to run their clubs under a cap. "There is word they will immediately look into who will serve as replacement players" (I.J. Rosenberg, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 12/13). "There apparently are plenty of teams willing to risk months or even years of litigation for the potential rewards that would spring from the successful imposition" of a cap (Peter Schmuck, Baltimore SUN, 12/13). Rockies owner Jerry McMorris on delaying implementation: "We're literally out of time. With the holidays staring at us, it would be very difficult to move that date again" (PHILA. INQUIRER, 12/13). THE DISPUTES: In their latest offer, the owners called for a tax similar to the flat 5% payroll tax cited in the last player plan. "The sides do not have a problem there." It is in what the owners describe as their "secondary" tax plan that the "troubles arise." That system would kick in should the flat tax fail to create a "drag" on salaries that management says it needs. There would be a threshold payroll limit. If a team exceeded that threshold, it would be charged an additional tax that would start at 1% in the first year and double every season thereafter that the club stayed about the threshold (Joel Sherman, N.Y. POST, 12/13). One player called the owners' new plan a "Rube Goldberg contraption" (Joe Giuliotti, BOSTON HERALD, 12/13). A PLAYERS' MANAGER: A's Manager Tony La Russa says he does not know if he would manage a team of replacement players: "If they have minor league players playing, what do you lose by have the (minor league) staff handling them? Any decision has to be based on what you think is best for the game. You have a relationship with (veteran) players. At some point they will be back, and you've got to be able to explain why you did what you did." La Russa has talked about his concerns with A's CEO Wally Haas. Haas: "I can see where Tony's coming from. I hope things never get to that point" (John Hickey, OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 12/11).