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BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 172: TALKS TO RESUME THIS WEEK
Published January 30, 1995
Baseball owners are expected to make the "first move when talks resume" Wednesday in Washington, possibly by making a new proposal. "But don't expect major movement." Braves President Stan Kasten: "Thus far, the union has been resolutely unwilling to address the economic problems of our game. ... If that doesn't change, nothing is likely to happen" (Ronald Blum, AP/CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/29). According to Peter Gammons, the moderate owners have convinced the hawks to offer up a new proposal, "one without the salary cap and with an offer based on what the owners walked away from in Rye Brook and Washington." It may be "something akin" to a 25% secondary tax triggered at a particular payroll figure. The players' starting point was $64M, but, more logically, the number rests between $35-40M, with fifth year unrestricted and fourth year restricted free agency. Gammons concludes by asking if MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr is "too preoccupied" with the NLRB and the antitrust exemption to listen to this offer (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/29). In New York, Tom Keegan also notes the likelihood that the owners will offer a proposal without the cap (N.Y. POST, 1/30). Rockies Owner Jerry McMorris: "There's a sense of urgency now that if we don't get something done, somebody else is going to do it for us" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/28). FROM THE PLAYERS' POINT OF VIEW: The union will hold a meeting of its executive council in Washington tomorrow. The agenda includes whether to lift the player signing freeze, the question of who among minor league players should report to spring training, a possible schedule of games under Reebok's sponsorship, and the status of managers, coaches and trainers as recipients of union benefits (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 1/29). MORE ON FALLOUT FROM THE NBA CASE: In Denver, Tracy Ringolsby reports that MLBPA staff had helped prepare the NBPA's case before the 2nd Circuit, in which Judge Winter ruled that antitrust laws do not prevent teams from imposing work rules, such as salary cap. "And Fehr told players and agents he was confident of victory the NBA players, which he said would strengthen the challenge of baseball's exemption" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 1/29). Harvard Law Professor Paul Weiler notes that an NFL case in the DC Circuit will soon produce the opposite decision, and sees the issue heading to the Supreme Court (Peter Gammons, BOSTON GLOBE, 1/29). NIGHTLINE FOCUS: ABC's "Nightline" examined the possible use of replacements by MLB. ABC's Jeff Greenfield traveled to two camps to talk with players trying out for replacement teams. Braves 3B Terry Pendleton: "This time it seems like they're just playing hard ball and saying 'This is the way it's going to be. I don't care how many compromises the union makes, this is the way it's going to be.'" NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Columnist John Harper, who tried out at a replacement camp, on when a possible settlement: "They won't go long with these replacement players. ... If a couple of big names cross, it's easier for the little guys to justify coming in, so that's the key" (ABC, 1/27). NEWS & NOTES: Looking ahead, Peter Gammons notes some of the new owners such as Red Sox CEO John Harrington, Rockies Owner Jerry McMorris, Giants Owner Peter Magowan, Astros Owner Drayton McLane and Padres Owner John Moores will step into positions of leadership in MLB when the strike is over (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/29)....Baltimore city councilman Joseph DiBlasi has introduced an ordinance to would make it illegal for replacement players to play games at Camden Yards. MLB would be fined $1,000 for every game that violated the ordinance (Mult., 1/28).