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BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 118: USERY SPEAKS OUT
Published December 7, 1994
"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).