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  • BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 118: USERY SPEAKS OUT

         "After several weeks of one 'no comment' after another and
    not wanting to ruffle any feathers," special mediator William
    Usery "stressed how detrimental it would be if the owners decide
    to implement their salary cap."  Usery: "Implementation would be
    very, very unfortunate.  I've told owners that and everyone
    concerned.  Certainly, that's not in the best interests of
    collective bargaining, the best interests of my trying to
    mediate" (I.J. Rosenberg, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 12/7).  In L.A.,
    Ross Newhan writes that Usery "came down on the side" of the
    players (L.A. TIMES, 12/7).  Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig:
    "Even though our negotiations with the MLBPA have long been
    deadlocked, the 28 major league clubs do not want to implement.
    ... There is still time to reach an agreement if the union is
    serious about negotiating" (MLB).  Asked if he would try to
    persuade the owners to postpone implementation again, Usery: "I'm
    sure that I would, but the circumstances haven't come up yet.
    I'll have to see how it comes up at that given time" (N.Y. TIMES,
    12/7).  Usery did say he was optimistic the two were "inching
    toward a settlement" (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 12/7).  Otis
    Nixon on Usery:  "A wise man, honest man stood in front of us
    today. I think he got our attention from a good standpoint"
    (SportsCenter," ESPN, 12/6).
         THE COUNTERPROPOSAL:  The players spent the afternoon
    talking about their expected counterproposal, "which has yet to
    be put in concrete form."  Royals Player Rep David Cone: "There
    won't be a deal this weekend, but hopefully we can give [the
    owners] something to think about" (I.J. Rosenberg, ATLANTA
    CONSTITUTION, 12/7).  Cone said the plan probably would retain
    forms of taxation on team revenues and payrolls similar to what
    they proposed on September 8 (Chris Haft, CINCINNATI ENQUIRER,
    12/7).  Braves' Jeff Blauser: "Whatever we come up with I don't
    think it matters.  I think they've already shown that they've had
    in mind to impose the salary cap" (Joe Giuliotti, BOSTON HERALD,
    12/7).
         PITCH FROM THE WASHINGTON SENATORS:  MLBPA Exec Dir released
    copies of a letter from Senators Connie Mack (R-FL), John McCain
    (R-AZ) and Senator-elect Jon Kyl (R-AZ). The lawmakers write: "If
    this dispute is not resolved in a timely manner, we will have no
    choice but to move forward with the consideration of an
    appropriate legislative remedy, in addition to reserving our
    right to address the [sport's] antitrust exemption" (L.A. TIMES,
    12/7).
         THE NEW LEAGUE:  The players were also briefed in Atlanta by
    agent Dick Moss on his proposed United Baseball League, which he
    hopes to launch in '96.  Though Moss insisted plans for the UBL
    were "spawned long before the current labor dispute," he did
    admit: "The (public) disenchantment creates an opportunity for us
    in terms of acceptance" (Chris Haft, CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 12/7).
    Besides Moss, former major leaguer/UBL founder Curt Flood spoke,
    but not before he received a standing ovation.  Fehr on Flood:
    "He remains an extraordinarily powerful symbol, even to players
    of this generation."  White Sox pitcher Jack McDowell on the UBL:
    "Everybody's interested in situations that present possibilities
    for jobs" (Chuck Johnson, USA TODAY, 12/7).  Former U.S. Rep./UBL
    founder Bob Mrazek said that former colleague Tom McMillen is
    close to "applying the finishing touches to a Washington
    ownership group" for a UBL franchise (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON
    POST, 12/7).
    

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  • HOCKEY HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 68: "DOOM LOOMS"

         "The warring sides in the NHL labor dispute have finally
    lurched to the precipice," write Damien Cox & Bob McKenzie in
    this morning's TORONTO STAR.  Yesterday's "fruitless" session
    included the reintroduction of the payroll tax plan by the
    owners.  But it appears the talks "might have stalled even before
    the thorny payroll tax issue returned to the equation" (TORONTO
    STAR, 12/7).  NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman:  "We were simply too
    far apart to close the gaps, and the players told us that they
    had gone as far as they could.  With or without the contribution
    plan, there was no basis for a deal" (USA TODAY, 12/7).
         THE 25-PERCENT GORILLA:  The owners' tax proposal reportedly
    includes a 3% gate receipts tax levied against the top 16 revenue
    teams.  The payroll tax (which would kick in during Year 2 of the
    CBA) would tax teams with payrolls over $18M at 0.45% for each
    $250,000 increment.  The maximum rate of 25% would only be
    applied to teams at $30M or more (Cox & McKenzie, TORONTO STAR,
    12/7).  The players note the tax "is not on the excess amount,
    but on the entire payroll, which means the 25% could go as high
    as 60%" (Dave Fuller, TORONTO SUN, 12/7).  One NHLPA source:
    "The effective rate is 60 percent, not 25 percent.  Why don't
    they just say it?" (Alan Adams, CP/VANCOUVER SUN, 12/7).  NHLPA
    President Mike Gartner "said that if owners had come in at 25
    percent, negotiations might have been possible.  But he said the
    owners presented it only after the NHLPA made 'significant
    concessions'" (Nancy Marrapese, BOSTON GLOBE, 12/7).  In
    Washington, Len Hochberg notes the union had previously offered a
    7% payroll tax.  One union source:  "That was under a different
    set of circumstances.  We gave concessions all along [on
    arbitration, free agency and a rookie cap], then they brought
    back the tax" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/7).
         PLAYERS REAX:  NHLPA VP Kelly Miller:  "The way I look at
    it, I've already given them my keys, I've given them my wallet.
    I've given them my car.  At some point, you've got to say, 'Hey,
    no, you can't have my kids and you can't have my wife'" (Mult.,
    12/7).  Bruin Steve Leach:  "I just hope the news out of Chicago
    is nothing more than (posturing)" (Joe Gordon, BOSTON HERALD,
    12/7).  Flyer Rod Brind'Amour:  "It's going to get very ugly now,
    more than ever before.  If we don't have a season, I don't know
    if we'll ever get back" (Gary Miles, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER,
    12/7).
         MANAGEMENT REAX:  Maple Leafs President & GM Cliff Fletcher:
    "It's probably the most disappointing day of my career.  If it
    ends up that I was part of the process that results in hockey not
    being played for an entire season, it would be a tremendous black
    mark" (Mult., 12/7).  Flyers Owner Ed Snider:  "At this point, I
    do not care if we play this season or next season" (Joe Gordon,
    BOSTON HERALD, 12/7).  Oilers Owner Peter Pocklington, on
    Monday's meeting:  "We'll be seeing who is willing to let the
    season go.  I am, and I think the majority are" (Mike Heika, FT.
    WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 12/7).  Jets Owner Barry Shenkarow told the
    WINNIPEG FREE PRESS that the NHL should impose its system should
    the impasse continue:  "Baseball can do it because of their U.S.
    antitrust exemption.  But football has already done it.  They
    imposed their system, and the jury in Minneapolis upheld their
    position and said the NFL could impose the cap.  The players then
    came back and said maybe we should talk.  If we have to do it, I
    believe we're in a position to do it" (Lisa Dillman, L.A. TIMES,
    12/7).
         MONDAY'S MEETING:  The NHL Board of Governors meet in New
    York on Monday, and no talks are scheduled until then.  They
    could decide to cancel the entire season, or simply instruct
    Bettman to "make his best deal with what's currently on the
    table.  Or they could set a 'drop dead' date and see how the
    players respond" (Mike Nadel, AP/ Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 12/7).
    Some sources on both sides expressed hope that there is still
    time to get a deal, "saying that one final blowup was almost
    expected before a resolution" (Lisa Dillman, L.A. TIMES, 12/7).
    

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  • NFL NEWS & NOTES: PLAN B FREE AGENCY HELD UP IN COURT

         A federal appeals court in St. Louis upheld the approval of
    a legal settlement that created the NFL's current free-agency
    system.  Last year, U.S. District Court Judge David Doty in
    Minneapolis "gave final approval" to the settlement between the
    NFL and its players.  Doty said that the labor agreement
    announced in January 1993 was "fair, reasonable and adequate" to
    the players who filed a class-action lawsuit challenging the
    league's old, Plan B, free agency system.  Yesterday, the 3-judge
    panel agreed with Doty and rejected arguments from 26 players who
    had appealed the decision.  The players argued, "among other
    things, that the court had erred in certifying them as a class
    and that they were inadequately represented" (AP/N.Y. TIMES,
    12/7).  NFLPA Exec Dir Gene Upshaw was "overjoyed":  "It was a
    slam dunk for us" (Will McDonough, BOSTON GLOBE, 12/7).
         OWNERS MEETING:  Some NFL owners will meet in Denver today
    to talk about ownership policy and revenue sharing.  There will
    be another meeting in New York next week for the owners who could
    not make it to Denver.  Revenue sharing "will be the next big
    topic as the owners try to balance the revenues between the big-
    and small-market teams" (Will McDonough, BOSTON GLOBE, 12/7).
    

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  • THE PRICE IS NOT RIGHT WITH BUCKING THE PGA TOUR

         Nick Price, the world's top ranked golfer, said that his
    friendship with World Golf Tour organizer Greg Norman is a "non-
    factor" in his thought process on whether to join Norman's
    proposed new tour:  "My allegiance is to the PGA Tour and I am
    not going to jeopardize that one bit.  It they can work together
    and get this going somehow, no problem.  I'll do it.  But if the
    PGA Tour doesn't give its blessing, then I'm not going to be able
    to play. ... Everybody thinks I'm right alongside there with
    Greg. ... He never asked me for my commitment.  He asked me for
    my support, but there's big differences between commitment and
    support" (Glenn Sheeley, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 12/7).
         WOMEN'S SENIOR TOUR:  The Volvo Legends Series for women 45-
    and-over will be announced Thursday in Phoenix.  Jane Blalock,
    who is organizing the new tour, said she is among 24 players who
    accepted invitations to join the venture.  Others include Sandra
    Haynie, JoAnne Carner, Kathy Whitworth, Sandra Palmer, Judy
    Rankin, Carol Mann and Donna Caponi.  Two $150,000 tournaments
    are scheduled for '95 in Phoenix and Atlanta.  A third is in the
    works for Orange County, Chicago or Dallas.  Blalock envisions
    six events in '96 and as many as 12 soon after.  Blalock said the
    LPGA is not affiliated with the Volvo Series, but "neither is it
    opposed to the project" (Thomas Bonk, L.A. TIMES, 12/6).
    

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  • WILL NBA AND ITS PLAYERS UNION HAVE A DEAL BY FEBRUARY?

         On this week's "NBA Today," ESPN's David Moore reports that
    NBA owners and players have been talking behind the scenes in an
    effort to get a collective bargaining agreement in place "by the
    February All-Star Break."  After meetings in New York last
    Thursday, the two sides have "scheduled another meeting for this
    week" ("NBA Today," ESPN, 12/6)
    

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