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Striking Blue Jays are considering the idea of holding spring training in Dunedin, FL, next month to coincide with the replacement camp. Player Rep Ed Sprague: "We'd like to take as much attention away from the replacement camp as we can" (Tim Harper, TORONTO STAR, 1/25). OTHER TEAM NOTES: In Kansas City, Dick Kaegel explains how the new free agency system will not help the Royals: "The Royals' priority now is reducing their payroll to between $30 million and $32 million, and making the franchise attractive enough for CEO David Glass or someone else to buy and keep [the team] in Kansas City" (K.C. STAR, 1/25).... The Mariners will play eight games in Vancouver's B.C. Place domed stadium this year -- if labor laws permit replacement players to cross the border. Warren Buckley, president of B.C. Pavilion Corporation, which operates B.C. Place, says bringing replacement baseball to Vancouver may be risky: "Is this the best way to start a relationship in a new city? Our fans want to see (Mariners Outfielder) Jay Buhner, not Clint Smith who played Double A in Oklahoma City." If the situation cannot be worked out for '95, both sides are discussing arrangements for '96 (Terry Bell, Vancouver PROVINCE, 1/25)....On ESPN last night, Peter Gammons examined the effects of the cap. Red Sox GM Dan Duquette predicts stars will take a "lion's share" of money leaving no room for a "middle class" ("SportsCenter," 1/24).
CBA Commissioner Tom Valdiserri told the HARTFORD COURANT he hopes the league can keep the "financially crippled" Hellcats in Hartford. Valdiserri made his comments to Owen Canfield of the COURANT, who writes the attendance of 10,039 for Tuesday's CBA All-Star Game shows that Hartford "is a basketball area." Valdiserri said the Hartford Sports & Entertainment Group and the Connecticut Development Authority are "entertaining offers for the purchase of the club." Valdiserri: "Will the team move if the league has to take it over? Not necessarily. We'll do everything we can to keep it here. What we have to do is put together an operating budget and see if the team can be run at a profit" (Owen Canfield, HARTFORD COURANT, 1/25).
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in New York that antitrust laws cannot be used to stop "NBA owners or other employers from imposing work rules while a collective bargaining relationship exists." The ruling was praised by MLB's leadership as a clear sign that the removal of the league's antitrust exemption would have no effect on their ability to impose a salary cap. The MLBPA has "insisted" that team owners were able to implement their salary cap because of the exemption. The 2nd circuit agreed with the findings of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Powell vs. NFL. While other circuit courts are not bound by the decision, "the ruling could set a precedent and could force the [MLBPA] to decertify if players want to mount an antitrust challenge" (I.J. Rosenberg, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 1/25). The court ruled that it never thought "anyone would argue that antitrust laws could be used 'to subvert fundamental principles of our federal labor policy'" (Parascandola & Kerber, N.Y. POST, 1/25). REACTIONS FROM MLB AND NBA: Braves/Hawks President Stan Kasten was "ecstatic": "It makes it clear how foolish it is for the [MLBPA] to continue to press the case in Congress and the courts. Even if we didn't have an exemption, it wouldn't matter" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 1/25). Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig: "The clubs are hopeful that the union will now abandon its activities in Congress and return to the bargaining table" (MLB). Officials from the NBPA said the decision might be appealed to the full 2nd Circuit. NBA Commissioner David Stern "hailed" the decision (N.Y. TIMES, 1/25). The decision means the NBA and the NBPA "must now resolve their differences in collective bargaining" (N.Y. POST, 1/25).
In the January 30 issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, which hits the stands today, NBA-beat writer Phil Taylor takes on the NBA's "Bad Actors" -- the "pouting prima donnas" whose actions are "threatening to infect every team in the league." Nets guard Rex Walters: "We've got one millionaire who won't tie a 10-cent pair of shoelaces when the coach tells him to, to an even richer millionaire who complains he doesn't want to wear a tie on a plane." In his piece, Taylor warns, "Don't look around the league, because you won't like what you see. The NBA has more whiny youngsters than a day-care center at nap time." Knicks coach Pat Riley says the "self-centered, greed-oriented, defiant attitude" is "so rampant it is going to bring down the league one day." NBA Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik, although less "troubled by the misbehavior," did say, "It would be foolish to say we don't have any concern about it." WHAT'S BEHIND IT? Taylor outlines examples and possible explanations for the current state of the game. For the players, the "lucrative" guaranteed contracts "can profoundly warp their view of life in the league," making them more important and less expendable than their head coach. The immediate pressures to preform and turn around sagging franchises. In this area, longtime veteran Danny Ainge blames expansion, arguing had it not been for the new teams, young stars would "be going to teams that are already established and you could give them more time to mature." Taylor writes "many believe that the league's discipline problems mirror those of society" while others "blame the league's marketing strategy for encouraging selfishness." Pacers coach Larry Brown: "The bottom line is that this is the greatest team game going, and we're doing everything in our power -- from the rules to the publicity to the image we're creating -- to make it an individual sport. There's very little talk about team. We don't sell that. We try to establish stars, and this (prima donna syndrome) is what you get." Bulls guard Steve Kerr: "It used to be, 'Wow, did you see that Lakers-Celtics game?' Now it's more like, 'Did you see the latest video game or commercial?' They've created a different image than what started this whole boom" (SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, 1/30 issue). STERN RESPONDS: Commissioner David Stern was not quoted in the piece, but responds this weekend on the SITV-produced "From the Pages of Sports Illustrated" on ABC's "Wide World of Sports." Stern says the media is a source of some of the problem: "There are always a half-dozen players out of 350 who have a particular thing going on. But those (players) also happen to be the lighting rod for the media." Stern noted Hakeem Olajuwon, Pat Ewing and John Stockton as positive examples (SPORTS ILLUSTRATED).