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In this morning's ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, David Dahl examines a report likely to "increase baseball's woes on Capitol Hill." The non-partisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) said the antitrust exemption "isn't justified and may have led" to the players' strike. From the report, written by CRS economists Dennis Zimmerman and William Cox: "It is not clear what economic benefits are provided by the antitrust exemption." Among other things, CRS says the exemption allows team owners to impose labor restrictions such as a salary cap "without fear of an expensive damage award in court. Consequently, CRS speculates, team owners may have decided it was cheaper to let players strike than to meet their demands." CRS also questions whether "market failure exists," noting that MLB seems to be "doing fine" even after free agency helped salaries to rise because the value of franchises has also continued to rise. CRS' recommendations include making it easier for teams to relocate and further expansion (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 1/19). HE'S A USERY FAN: In a letter to MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr, Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig responds to Fehr's comments accusing owners of "lying" to members of Congress (WASHINGTON TIMES, 1/19). From Selig's letter: "I and other club owners told members of Congress that the strike will be resolved only when both parties return to the bargaining table and address the fundamental issue of labor costs." Selig goes on to remind Fehr of the owners' meeting with Special Mediator William Usery, which will be held today: "When Mr. Usery asks us to return to the table, we will do so. ... Every other union in professional sports has found a way to address the changed economics of the 1990s at the collective bargaining table. There is no reason why we should not be able to do so in baseball" (MLB). Fehr does not expect negotiations to resume any time soon, "probably not until after the owners look at their teams of replacement players" (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 1/19). In Boston, Larry Whiteside notes that Selig will not be present at the Usery meeting. Red Sox CEO John Harrington will lead the owners' contingent (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/19). ANGELOS UPDATE: Orioles Owner Peter Angelos and AL Counsel William Schweitzer will meet today to discuss Angelos' "determination" not to field a replacement team. Schweitzer will not say how the league might try to "force" Angelos to use replacements, but according to the league's constitution, it can fine the team as much as $250,000 a game, or take over the team (Hal Bodley, USA TODAY, 1/19). PHIL-LING THE VOID: Former pitcher/Silver Bullets Manager Phil Niekro, who turns 56 on April 1, said he has been approached about playing on a replacement team: "I don't really have any reason to struggle with this because I haven't heard what they're offering yet. Once I find out more about the deal, then I'll start running it through my mind." Braves GM John Schuerholz on signing Niekro: "What more natural development could there be?" (Thomas Stinson, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 1/19).
"In a conciliatory move designed to help put the ugliness of the last three months behind him," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman let Blackhawk Chris Chelios "off with a slap on the wrist" for threats Chelios directed at Bettman on the eve of the lockout. Chelios and Blackhawks GM Bob Pulford met with Bettman for 45 minutes yesterday in New York, at which time Chelios apologized again. Bettman, in a statement, "chastised" Chelios for his comments but noted that it was time move on: "We have a lot of healing to do in the National Hockey League, and it is important that we get started on that process right now." Bettman said he would have been "forced to discipline" Chelios had the comments been directed at a player, a team, or an executive or other league official." Chelios issued a written apology: "My comments were inexcusable, and I can't express how sorry I am" (Gary Miles, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 1/19).
In Baltimore, word that the Buccaneers will be staying in Tampa Bay was good news for CFL franchise owner Jim Speros. Speros told the Baltimore SUN: "It's good for the organization." Orioles owner Peter Angelos, who would have brought the team to Baltimore, was one of the finalists in the bidding for the Bucs (Rick Matsumoto, TORONTO STAR, 1/18)....Minto Development President Roger Greenberg announced Tuesday that his company has "turned down a chance to purchase the Ottawa Rough Riders." Minto will, however, buy 500 season tickets for the upcoming season, helping the team get closer to the CFL-imposed target of 15,000 by Jan. 31 (Don Campbell, OTTAWA CITIZEN, 1/18)....Greenwich, CT, businessman William Berkley is seeking a commitment from the CFL to build a stadium and "lure" a team to Connecticut. Berkley is also considering San Antonio and two other cities as possible sites for a team (Toronto GLOBE AND MAIL, 1/18)....The Edmonton Eskimos announced that they need an additional 7,000 season ticket holders by March 1 to reach a critical 22,000, or the team may have to be sold, which in turn could lead to the team relocating to another city. In '83, the Eskimos had 52,000 season ticket holders. Last year, they had 15,000 (Jim Taylor, Vancouver PROVINCE, 1/19).
IHL expansion was examined in yesterday's HOUSTON CHRONICLE. With the league planning to add three teams for '95-96 and two teams a year until 2000, there should be nine more North American teams five years from now. IHL commissioner Bob Ufer: "People ask the question: Are we risking unsuccessful teams? Are we risking diluting our product? Those are risks, but with those risks are tremendous opportunities. I'm not advocating recklessness, but I think we have to pursue them." The league is also expected to announce within the next two weeks completed plans for a European division to debut next year. A six-to-eight team division in Europe would host one North American division, rotating each year (Jody Goldstein, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 1/18).
Over the past two days, USA TODAY has listed every NFL player's salary, team-by-team. Today, they run the NFC (USA TODAY, 1/18-19). The NFL's salary cap is $34.6M per team.
TEAM AVG/PLAYER TOTAL SALARIES ROOM UNDER CAP Cowboys$586,521$34,018,200$581,800 Seahawks521,95533,927,100672,900 Lions573,08033,811,700788,300 Packers522,54233,442,7001,157,300 Redskins521,22033,358,1001,241,900 Eagles546,13933,314,5001,285,500 Jets602,31133,127,1001,472,900 Bills559,11032,993,1001,606,900 49ers578,69832,985,8001,614,200 Giants577,48832,916,8001,683,200 Patriots538,43832,844,7001,755,300 Steelers555,31532,763,6001,836,400 Raiders564,45732,738,5001,861,500 Broncos518,77032,682,5001,917,500 Oilers563,31632,672,3001,927,700 Falcons549,11032,397,5002,202,500 Chiefs530,11832,337,2002,262,800 Colts587,42532,308,4002,291,600 Dolphins519,73132,223,3002,376,700 Saints511,40332,218,4002,381,600 Chargers511,23832,208,0002,392,000 Browns502,94432,188,4002,411,600 Cardinals535,63532,138,1002,461,900 Bears488,29831,251,1003,348,900 Rams511,16731,181,2003,418,800 Buccaneers517,17129,995,9004,604,100 Vikings498,79829,927,9004,672,100 Bengals489,61129,866,3004,733,700