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MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr sent a letter yesterday to Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig "scolding the owners for allegedly blaming the union for the inactivity in talks." The letter "alleges that the owners took this tack" during their lobbying efforts in Washington, DC. Selig declined to comment. He and other owners are scheduled to meet with Special Mediator William Usery tomorrow to discuss renewing joint talks. According to Mark Maske, "Negotiations perhaps could resume Monday." Selig, when asked about the resumption of talks: "I think Bill Usery will make that determination later this week" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/18). OWNER HITTING BACK: At a news confernce at Veterans Stadium, Phillies President Bill Giles "had his harshest words yet" for the union: "I do not believe in my heart that union leaders care about the game. ... The union has spent most of their energy in Washington trying to do away with our antitrust exemption instead of negotiating and trying to grow the game" (Frank Fitzpatrick, PHILA. INQUIRER, 1/18). THE ANGELOS POLL: The polling firm hired by the Orioles to survey the team's fans on the use of replacements has finished their survey, and indications were that the survey was "strongly supportive of Angelos' views" (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 1/18). EXPANSION: Giles, a member of the expansion committee said he expects owners to meet soon to decide on expanding, possibly by the end of the month, or early February. But Red Sox CEO John Harrington, the committee's chair, said no timetable for expansion has been set (Thom Loverro, WASHINGTON TIMES, 1/18). Suns Owner Jerry Colangelo, who is leading the Phoenix expansion effort, said he was promised a franchise by at least one owner if he put together financing for the group and stadium (USA TODAY, 1/18).
"In hockey, we now have an in vitro case study: how to market a sport that nearly self-obliterated a season. Obviously, the best marketing is to open -- or re-open -- the doors with major league players," writes Richard Sandomir. "Game On!" is the theme of an upcoming TV spot that will feature street hockey scenes from "Wayne's World." A print ad campaign by the league will feature the tagline: "Tape the sticks. Lace 'em up. Drop the puck." Fox Sports' Exec VP/Marketing Tracy Dolgin hopes to round up 10 to 15 players for a variety of personality and "oddball informational" spots (N.Y. TIMES, 1/18).