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BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 161: REPORT BLASTS EXEMPTION
Published January 19, 1995
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).