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BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 130: SELIG'S OLIVE BRANCH
Published December 19, 1994
Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said yesterday that the Friday deadline for a deal between the players and owners "may be flexible if the talks show progress toward an agreement." Owners voted last Thursday to give MLB's Executive Council the authority to declare an impasse and impose their salary cap system if there is not a deal by midnight, December 22. Talks resume in Washington today (AP/Baltimore SUN, 12/19). Special Mediator William Usery said low-level technical meetings will be held today, with a joint session possibly held tomorrow (USA TODAY, 12/19). IS THERE A DEAL TO BE MADE? The players are expected to have a new proposal, "basing it on some of the things they heard from the owners' group last week" (AP/Baltimore SUN, 12/19). There is some talk that "perhaps the union is softening somewhat as far as wanting to sit down and negotiate seriously" (I.J. Rosenberg, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 12/18). The owners "expect the players to only slightly amend their last proposal" by increasing the flat payroll tax from 5% to 6% and to offer more money from their licensing fund (Bill Madden, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/18). ESPN's Peter Gammons said there "is a deal to be made," if: 1) The owners scale back the tax rates and make them less punitive. 2) Give money only to the needy teams; and 3) Employ the players' partnership concept (ESPN, 12/18). PLAY BALL! Many owners "apparently believe that the union will end the strike in February or March if a salary cap is implemented, and have players play" while matters are settled in court. One management source: "The players will play. It doesn't make any sense for them to stay on strike and lose more money while the legal fight takes place" (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 12/18). A RICH PROPOSAL: Credit was given to MLBPA counsel Lauren Rich for convincing owners to delay implementation for a week and return to the bargaining table. After talks broke down last Wednesday, "there was a flurry of midnight phone calls" from Rich to management attorneys. The union wanted more time (Jerome Holtzman, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 12/18). OWNERS MEETING FALLOUT: Expos Owner Claude Brochu "disagreed with a suggestion from some quarters" that the owners backed off from implementation "because they are concerned about possible legal action." Brochu: "I hope that is not what the players or the union think. They are misreading things badly if that's what they think" (Ian MacDonald, MONTREAL GAZETTE, 12/17). In Toronto, Stephen Brunt writes that what "ought to have rung out loud and clear were those three voices of sanity" that voted against implementation: the Orioles, Blue Jays and Mets. "By extension, the three clubs were saying that some slightly modified version of the status quo would suit them fine, and would suit baseball fine" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 12/17). FROM THE OWNERS' BOXES: According to one owner, former MLBPA Exec Dir Marvin Miller has been advising the players as of late. The owner: "Which means we can't expect anything in the way of a proposal that significantly addresses cost control" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/18). One NL owner on the Orioles' Peter Angelos: "He's a good speaker, but nobody listens to him. He's just out of step" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 12/18). In New York, Dave Anderson relates a conversation with two unnamed owners. The first called White Sox Owner Jerry Reinsdorf "the maestro of this labor problem. Reinsdorf hates Fehr" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/18).