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BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 147: REPLACEMENT-LAND
Published January 5, 1995
"On a day of baseball-related maneuverings on Capitol Hill, the team owners put into motion their plan to open the 1995 season with replacement players" (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 1/5). Meeting by phone, the owners' operations committee began examining the details on the use of replacement players during spring training games, "grappling with roster size, eligibility and other puzzling questions." The committee will have another session soon and is contemplating a formal meeting of owners to give the replacement plan a approval "later this month" (Tim Harper, TORONTO STAR, 1/5). In Milwaukee, Tom Haudricourt reports that, according to several Brewers players, the owners' plan to use replacements "is primarily a ploy to tempt striking major-leaguers to cross picket lines." Brewer Kevin Seitzer: "They're just creating this imaginary sense of satisfaction that everything's going to be OK. I'm not biting, and I don't think many guys will" (MILWAUKEE SENTINEL, 1/5). In the current issue of SI, Tim Kurkjian reports that two club sources predict that half of the Pirates, a "very young team with relatively low salaries, will report." Kurkjian also notes quotes from Astros pitcher Greg Swindell saying he will cross the lines (Tim SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, 1/9 issue). Tigers GM Joe Klein said his is moving forward with building a team: "We have to provide a ballclub and we'll do so" (WJR-Radio, 1/4). FEHR AND LOATHING IN WASHINGTON: While the owners were contemplating the use of replacements, MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr was in Washington updating Labor Secretary Robert Reich on the current state of negotiations. The Clinton Administration "still is pressing the sides to return to the bargaining table." Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig called for a resumption of talks: "I've said all along and I'll say it again, this thing has to be settled at the bargaining table" (Peter Schmuck, Baltimore SUN, 1/5). ON THE HILL: Five baseball bills, ranging from complete repeal of the sport's antitrust exemption to binding arbitration to settle the strike, were introduced on Day 1 of the 104th Congress. Three of the bills, one from Sen. Pat Moynihan (D-NY) and two from Rep. Michael Bilirakis (R-FL), were expected, but two other House members also introduced bills. Rep. Pat Williams (D-MT) reintroduced his bill that would require the owners and players to submit to binding arbitration if they did not reach an agreement by February 1, although the date will most likely be pushed back a month. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) also reintrduced his bill, which had made it out of the House Judiciary Committee last term, proposing that any unilateral implementation of new work rules become subject to the antitrust laws. Conyers kept his bill narrow "rather than calling for complete repeal of the exemption" in the hope that the GOP would not see it as interfering with their "Contract with America" legislation. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, may introduce his own bill which would most "closely resemble" the Conyers bill. Paul Smith, a spokesperson for Sen. Hatch: "He did say he thought if his bill passed, the players would be back for spring training. That, to me, says he's going to do something fast" (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 1/5). EFFECT OF A REPEAL: Selig: "Take away the antitrust exemption and you create a system that nobody can live with" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/5). Fehr on the owners' contention that labor relations are not affected by the exemption: "If the owners really believed it made no difference, they would not oppose this change in the law. They understand that it fundamentally changes the dynamic. They understand that it would hold the owners accountable to the law the same way everybody else is." MLB General Counsel Chuck O'Connor: "If congress simply repeals the antitrust exemption, it will not have any effect on this labor dispute, and it will have ... a bad impact on Major League Baseball's relationship with its minor leagues" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 1/4). Pirate Andy Van Slyke: "We have replacement senators and congressmen now, right? Well, it's time for them to do the right thing" (SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, 1/9 issue). SIGNING FREEZE: Union officials said they would ask players to maintain a signing moratorium until Fehr and staff have completed a 7-city series of meetings with players and agents beginning tomorrow (See yesterday's DAILY for the list of cities) (Ross Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 1/5).