SBD/9/Leagues Governing Bodies

BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 120: EARLY FREEZE THIS WINTER?

     In a gathering yesterday with union officials, a group of 40
player agents "said they may consider a freeze on signings of
their clients if the owners impose their salary cap next week.
That would throw the sport into even more turmoil."  Currently,
there are more than 150 free agents, and there will be another 80
restricted ones, if the owners go ahead with their plan.
Already, some players who would be free agents under the owners'
salary cap "have said they won't sign a contract under those
conditions" (I.J. Rosenberg, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 12/9).  The
agents left the final decision on a freeze up to the union, but
any freeze "would be mostly cosmetic since the players will
resume their strike next spring if the owners implement and
attempt to open the camps with replacement players" (Ross Newhan,
L.A. TIMES, 12/9).  In Washington, Mark Maske notes that many
agents have "put considerable pressure" on MLBPA Exec Dir Donald
Fehr to reach an agreement at various times during the strike.
"But there apparently was a show of solidarity today, much as
there was during the players' meetings" this week (WASHINGTON
POST, 12/9).  "There was no dissent" (Peter Schmuck, Baltimore
SUN, 12/9).
     THE PLAYERS' PLAN:  The union spent much of yesterday
working on details of the counterproposal they will present to
the owners Saturday morning in Rye Brook, NY.  There were
differing accounts on the contents of the players' plan.  While
ESPN and others reported that it includes a flat payroll tax,
there was uncertainty over the percentages.  The proposal also
calls for joint marketing and revenue-generating projects.  Agent
Craig Fenech: "It should provide a basis for satisfying them.
But I think they have an agenda.  A number of owners want to try
replacement players.  I expect they're going to implement"
(Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 12/9).  Royals Player Rep David Cone:
"The owners have been talking about a partnership, well here it
is.  Let's do it under these circumstances and make it a true
partnership."  ESPN's Bob Sirkin on prospects this weekend: "The
viability of the players' counter-proposal could be measured by
just how long the two sides keep talking" ("SportsCenter," 12/8).
Rockies owner Jerry McMorris "claimed management would be
receptive to players having a voice in running the game if the
numbers in their new proposal are acceptable" (Joel Sherman, N.Y.
POST, 12/9).
     AROUND THE LEAGUE:  An AP poll conducted November 30-
December 6 of 615 adult baseball fans found that 51% say they
would attend the same number of games next season even if
replacement players are used; 63% said they would watch just as
many games on TV.  The number of people identifying themselves as
baseball fans dropped to 26% now from 33% in July.  Asked
generally about the possible use of replacement players, 49% of
fans were in favor, 40% opposed (AP/ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH,
12/9)....MLB is sending former major leaguers and current coaches
Dave Duncan, Jim Lefebvre and Frank White to Europe to conduct a
series of baseball clinics next month.  Some 1,200 European
coaches and trainers are expected to participate (MLB).
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