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BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 125: CAN USERY STEP IN AGAIN?
Published December 14, 1994
For the second day in a row, talks between the owners and players went into the early morning hours. "That they were still at it seemed amazing considering that the union had responded to the owners' deadline and fundamentally rejected their escalating tax plan during a joint meeting Tuesday morning" (Ross Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 12/14). "There were no indications from either side that anyone had proposed a brilliant last-minute idea to end this endless strike. Yet still they talked" (Jayson Stark, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 12/14). "Neither side wanted to be the first to say goodbye" (TORONTO STAR, 12/14). USERY TO THE RESCUE: It had appeared yesterday afternoon that talks would break off, but Special Mediator William Usery convinced both sides to keep talking. A smaller group from each side continued to meet (I.J. Rosenberg, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 12/14). For the owners: Red Sox CEO John Harrington, Phillies Exec VP David Montgomery and management lawyers Chuck O'Connor and Rob Manfred. From the union: MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr, Fehr's brother Steve Fehr, MLBPA General Counsel Gene Orza and players Jay Bell, David Cone and Tom Glavine (Mult., 12/14). A CONCESSION BY ANY OTHER NAME: Many reports note that at one point during last night's talks, Fehr offered to "rid baseball of salary arbitration in exchange" for earlier or unrestricted free agency. But the owners rejected that offer. "For months, people in baseball and out speculated that if the players agreed to eliminate salary arbitration, the owners would drop their demand for a salary cap" (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 12/14). With the rejection of that concession, this dispute is clearly about the salary cap. "No more, no less" (Claire Smith, N.Y. TIMES, 12/14). THE VOTE TO IMPLEMENT: The owners' negotiating committee is expected to leave Rye Brook, NY for Chicago this afternoon. Tomorrow, the owners are expected to declare an impasse and vote to impose their salary cap system. Twenty-one of the 28 owners need to approve the plan. In Washington, Mark Maske writes, "It appears that the hard-line owners will have little or no problem getting the 21 votes" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/14). But ESPN's Peter Gammons hints that the vote may be close and predicts the meeting will be "very interesting day of discussion." In addition to the Blue Jays, who may not vote to implement because of the Ontario labor laws preventing the use of replacement workers, other teams oppose implementation ("SportsCenter," 12/13). Orioles Owner Peter Angelos is expected to vote against implementation (WASHINGTON POST, 12/14). Harrington again stated that the owners would not delay their vote (BOSTON HERALD, 12/14). EXPANSION: In Chicago tonight, the owners will discuss expansion. The Orlando group has yet to present its bid, but is expected to either tonight or tomorrow morning. For more on Orlando's expansion effort.