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The MLBPA "left little doubt yesterday that it is willing to remain on strike until ownership retreats or the government imposes a settlement," writes Peter Schmuck in this morning's Baltimore SUN. The union's executive board voted yesterday to maintain the signing freeze for all free agents for an indefinite period. Writes Schmuck, "The embargo may eventually result in a talent glut if a settlement is reached -- and perhaps even work to ownership's advantage --but the players have chosen to keep it in effect on principle" (Baltimore SUN, 2/1). BACK TO THE TABLE: Collective bargaining negotiations resume today in downtown Washington. The owners met yesterday to finalize a new proposal that they will present today (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 2/1). Rockies Owner Jerry McMorris: "It'll be viewed as a significant move on our part." Red Sox CEO John Harrington: "We're not trying to turn the clock back in terms of player salaries, but to inhibit the growth of player salaries." But CNN's Mark Morgan reported, "Unless there is dramatic movement here this week, it appears the only players taking the field will be replacements" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 1/31). Union reps declined to discuss their position, but a source said they would not remove a December 22 offer of a limited luxury tax (Tracy Ringolsby, ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 2/1). In Philadelphia, Jayson Stark suggests that yesterday's moves show that the players "don't expect an end to this strike anytime soon" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 2/1). MORE FROM THE PLAYERS: The union will notify players not to report to spring training, and will ask players with minor-league contracts not to play in MLB exhibitions that start March 3, if the strike is still on (Michael Sznajderman, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 2/1). MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr also indicated the union will go ahead with a Monday meeting with managers and coaches to discuss the possibility of cutting them off from union benefits if they work with replacements (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 2/1). ... AND IN WASHINGTON: Senate Judiciary Chair Orrin Hatch indicated yesterday that any effort by President Clinton to end the strike will "have support in the Senate" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 2/1). NLRB General Counsel Fred Feinstein is expected to rule next week on the players' charges of unfair labor practices (USA TODAY, 2/1). NEWS & NOTES: Former player Bert Blyleven: "It's time that players look at their overall pool of the total revenue that's out there. If the owners are willing to give fifty-percent of that pool, than something has to be worked around that. As a fan now I look at it that both sides are really in the wrong" ("Press Box," PRIME, 1/31)....ESPN noted a WMVP-radio (Chicago) report on the format for the striking players all-star tour: Four teams of 32 players each playing a 60-game round-robin season with four games a weekend starting May 15 ("SportsCenter," 1/31)....The Mets announced that fans who purchase regular-priced tickets will be eligible for a 2/3 rebate should the season start with replacements (N.Y. TIMES, 2/1).
The IHL has announced that it will be forming a European division for the '96-97 season. The conference will include teams from Britain, Austria, Denmark, France, Italy, Sweden and Switzerland (N.Y. POST, 2/1). NHL ABROAD: CP's Alan Adams reports that Sweden wants the NHL to "help Canada and the United States to enter strong teams at the world hockey championships." Swedish Ice Hockey Federation President Rickard Fagerlund: "It will be bad for the world championships if Canada and the United States do not have strong teams." The tournament starts 10 days before the NHL season ends (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 2/1).
THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY conducted a survey of participants at the 17th International Sport Summit, held in New York from January 17-18. The results, gathered from approximately 100 responses, are not scientific, but meant to give "a sense of the industry." 1) QUESTION: Do you think the sports industry is generally on the right track, or is headed in the wrong direction? RIGHT TRACK 59% WRONG DIRECTION 39% 2) QUESTION: How do you rate the job performance of the following industry executives? FAV/UNFAV/NEUT FAV/UNFAV/NEUT PAUL TAGLIABUE 94%/ 5% / 1% GARY BETTMAN 36%/ 59% / 1% DAVID STERN 91 / 7 / 3 BOB GOODENOW 26 / 50 / 13 ALAN ROTHENBERG 73 / 19 / 6 TIM FINCHEM 24 / 4 / 48 GENE UPSHAW 49 / 23 / 22 DONALD FEHR 20 / 68 / 7 CHARLES GRANTHAM 41 / 19 / 31 BUD SELIG 7 / 88 / 3 FAVORABLE UNFAVORABLE VERY SOMEWHAT SOMEWHAT VERY NEUTRAL PAUL TAGLIABUE 58% 36% 4% 1% 1% DAVID STERN 78 13 6 1 3 ALAN ROTHENBERG 43 30 10 9 6 GENE UPSHAW 12 37 13 10 22 CHARLES GRANTHAM 13 28 15 4 31 GARY BETTMAN 6 30 37 22 1 BOB GOODENOW 1 25 25 25 13 TIM FINCHEM 3 21 4 0 48 DONALD FEHR 13 7 22 46 7 BUD SELIG 0 7 33 55 3 3) QUESTION: Over the next five years, will sports sponsorship dollars increase (significantly or somewhat), decrease (significantly or somewhat), or stay the same? INCREASE 88% DECREASE 11% (SIGNIFICANTLY 32%) (SIGNIFICANTLY 2%) (SOMEWHAT 56%) (SOMEWHAT 9%) STAY THE SAME 2% 4) QUESTION: Will the following leagues succeed? YES NO UNITED BASEBALL LEAGUE 10% 90% MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER 67% 33% WORLD GOLF TOUR 46% 54% 5) QUESTION: Which are the hottest sports? Please rank the following sports properties on a scale of 1-10 (1=Cold, 5=Warm, 10=Hot). "OVERALL" is the total number of points received. "HEAT INDEX" is the average on the 1-10 scale. HEAT HEAT OVERALL INDEX OVERALL INDEX NFL 534 8.90 Men's Tennis 267 4.85 NBA 496 8.13 MLS 276 4.52 NASCAR 414 7.39 MLB 238 4.33 PGA Tour 322 6.04 Women's Tennis 248 4.28 NHL 345 5.85 CFL 222 4.11 Minor Hockey 309 5.42 Roller Hockey 212 4.00 Minor Baseball 323 5.38 Indoor Soccer 196 3.35 Pro Volleyball 289 5.07 Arena Football 179 3.31 WRITE-INS: College football (2), figure skating (1), college basketball (1), '96 Olympics (1), lacrosse (1), amateur golf (1), track & field (1), IndyCar (1), IMSA Road Racing (1). 6) QUESTION: Which are the hottest endorsers? Please rank the following athletes on a scale of 1-10 (1=Cold, 5=Warm, 10=Hot). "OVERALL" is the total amount of points received. "HEAT INDEX" is the average on the 1-10 scale. HEAT HEAT OVERALL INDEX OVERALL INDEX Shaq. O'Neal 491 8.32 Ken Griffey Jr 337 6.74 Deion Sanders 443 8.05 Grant Hill 329 6.71 Michael Jordan 473 8.02 Andre Agassi 365 6.40 Emmitt Smith 439 7.98 Frank Thomas 309 6.29 George Foreman 444 7.93 Dale Earnhardt 303 6.18 Troy Aikman 415 7.41 Greg Norman 304 5.96 Chas. Barkley 415 7.15 Steffi Graf 250 5.00 Wayne Gretzky 406 7.12 Nancy Kerrigan 259 4.71 WRITE-INS: Steve Young (2), Fred Couples (1), Jackie Joyner-Kersee (1), Junior Seau (1), Glenn Robinson (1), Nolan Ryan (1), Jimmy Jackson (1).
The ABC NEWS/WASHINGTON POST poll surveyed 1,026 randomly selected adults (382 of which identified themselves as baseball fans) from January 26-29. The margin of error on the poll is +/- 3% for the full sample, and +/- 6% for the fans subsample (Richard Morin, WASHINGTON POST, 2/1). QUESTION: As you may know, professional baseball players have been on strike since August. Whose side would you say you're on -- the players' or the owners'?
OWNERS' SIDE48%55% PLAYERS' SIDE2728 OTHER2517
QUESTION: Do you think baseball players are paid too much, not enough or do you think they are paid about right?
TOO MUCH70%71% NOT ENOUGH21 ABOUT RIGHT2427
QUESTION: Do you think there should be a limit or "cap" on what major league baseball owners may pay their players, or don't you think there should be a limit?
SHOULD BE LIMIT71%73% NO LIMIT2626
QUESTION: Do you favor or oppose using replacement players in major league baseball games if the strike is not settled by the scheduled opening day of baseball season in April?
QUESTION: Do you think you, personally, will be as big a baseball fan as you were before the strike, more of a fan or less of a baseball fan?
AS BIG A FAN35%47% MORE OF A FAN67 LESS OF A FAN4244 NOT A FAN171
QUESTION: As you may know, President Clinton may ask Congress to step in to settle the baseball strike if the owners and players have not reached an agreement by Feb. 6. Suppose no agreement is reached by then: Do you think Clinton and Congress should force a settlement of the strike, or should the players and owners be left alone to work out an agreement for themselves?
CLINTON/CONGRESS SHOULD FORCE AGREEMENT21%32% LEFT ALONE TO WORKOUT AGREEMENT THEMSELVES7868
REACTIONS TO THE SURVEY: WASHINGTON POST pollster Richard Morin writes that the survey indicates that MLB owners -- and not the players -- "are winning the important battle for public support." But, Morin adds, "However quickly a settlement comes, the survey suggests that the strike has hurt professional baseball and particularly the image of professional baseball players." MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr "dismissed the findings and suggested that the language of many of the poll questions produced biased results that favored the owners." Fehr: "I would not pay serious attention to it." Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig: "These numbers are absolutely consistent with all the polling we've done. ... Having said that, it only points again to the fact that we have to get back to the table and make a deal" (Richard Morin, WASHINGTON POST, 2/1).