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  • BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 183: DYKSTRA WANTS TO PLAY

         Appearing on ESPN's "Up Close," Phillies CF Lenny Dykstra
    said that he and 20 other stars would meet some time in the next
    week to discuss how to end the strike.  "It was as close as any
    baseball player has come to open mutiny with the players union,"
    according to Frank Fitzpatrick and Jayson Stark in this morning's
    PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER.  The INQUIRER piece was front-page, above
    the fold.  Dykstra, who characterized Special Mediator William
    Usery's recommendations for a settlement as "fair":  "The players
    have to rethink our position, what's best for us. ... We're
    running out of time.  We tried to let them get it worked out and
    it hasn't happened.  It's time to really break it down and call a
    spade a spade."  Dykstra said that the next step would be to go
    to New York and meet with the union's executive committee
    (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 2/10).
         REAX: MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr "shrugged off" Dykstra's
    comments: "I'm sure there's a lot of confusion from players out
    there over what happened in Washington because of the way clubs
    circulated Bill Usery's recommendations. ... I'm confident that
    when players like Lenny have a chance to find out precisely what
    happened, this is not going to be a big problem" (Fitzpatrick &
    Stark, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 2/10).  Dykstra committed "the
    union equivalent of heresy when he said that the owners deserved
    a few breaks" (Peter Schmuck, Baltimore SUN, 2/10).  I.J.
    Rosenberg in Atlanta:  "The solid armor of the baseball players'
    union developed a crack Thursday."  Braves Player Rep Tom Glavine
    described Dykstra as "someone who hasn't been at any of our
    meetings and really doesn't understand the proposal" (ATLANTA
    CONSTITUTION, 2/10).  Giants GM Bob Quinn:  "If you took a secret
    vote among the rank and file, I'm willing to bet the majority
    would vote to come back and play right now" (SAN JOSE MERCURY
    NEWS, 2/10).
    

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  • BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- II: IS USERY USELESS NOW?

         At the urging of the MLBPA, Usery issued a statement saying
    that his recommendation for a settlement was not a "formal
    proposal."  The owners had released the terms of Usery's
    recommendations to the media, "no doubt hoping to take full
    public relations advantage of their willingness to end the
    dispute."  Braves President Stan Kasten: "That's something a
    mediator has to say.  We know what he proposed" (Peter Schmuck,
    Baltimore SUN, 2/10).  In a memo to agents, Fehr wrote that
    Usery's recommendations were terrible, "to put it mildly" (Ross
    Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 2/10).  Headline over Murray Chass' piece in
    the N.Y. TIMES: "Usery's status in Baseball talks up in air."
    But in the piece, Chass writes that Usery "showed no signs of
    leaving or being eased out" when he made his statement (N.Y.
    TIMES, 2/10).
         BLOWN OPPORTUNITY?  The union "clearly" does not want Usery
    to remain involved, reports Mark Maske and Helen Dewar in the
    WASHINGTON POST.  "But they may not have any choice, given his
    political clout and virtually spotless reputation as a mediator."
    In fact, ownership sources claim that the union "may have ruined
    any chance it had of getting Congress to repeal" MLB's anti-trust
    exemption when the union "publicly attacked Usery."  Union
    officials said yesterday they will not address Usery's status in
    the near future.  Fehr:  "If we have a position that we don't
    believe he should be involved in the process any more, everyone
    will know it" (Maske & Dewar, WASHINGTON POST, 2/10).
         OWNER COMMENTARY:  Acting Commissioner Bud Selig was
    interviewed in yesterday afternoon's MILWAUKEE JOURNAL.  On the
    solidarity of the owners: "I'm very happy with the current state
    of solidarity. ... They've just been remarkably good.  I will say
    that I really take great pride in that because it's the first
    time in baseball history" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL, 2/9).  Mariners CEO
    John Ellis thinks Clinton's plan to intercede "might have
    torpedoed hopes of ending the walkout": " The president was
    taking a very large risk and he shouldn't have gotten into this
    unless he knew for sure what the result would be."  Ellis also
    thinks that Clinton's involvement "cut the ground from under"
    Usery (Angelo Bruscas, SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 2/10).
         PLAYER COMMENTARY:  Ex-MLBPA Exec Dir Marvin Miller: "Both
    he (Bill Clinton) and mediator Bill Usery really embarrassed
    themselves. ... You cannot press two parties to agreement when
    the element of pressure is not there" (NEWSPORT, 2/9).  Blue Jay
    Dave Stewart: "I know what's on the table and we don't have
    anything else we can give them.  We got rid of salary arbitration
    and we've given up other things that younger players wouldn't
    feel were appropriate" (TORONTO STAR, 2/10).  In New York, Tom
    Keegan recommends that Fehr step aside and let someone else take
    over the negotiations for the players (N.Y. POST, 2/10).
    

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  • BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- III: WHAT LOCAL PAPERS ARE SAYING

         The following are excerpts from editorials compiled from 25
    newspapers in 18 MLB markets:
         ANAHEIM:  ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: "The President and
    Congress should keep their mitts out of the baseball industry"
    (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 2/7).
         ATLANTA:  ATLANTA JOURNAL: "The President has no authority,
    and Congress has no business, in this dispute" (ATLANTA JOURNAL,
    2/9).
         BALTIMORE:  Baltimore SUN: "Perhaps a presidential gun held
    to their heads would induce a voluntary settlement.  But the gun
    Mr. Clinton is brandishing has no bullets and both sides know it"
    (Baltimore SUN, 2/9).  WASHINGTON TIMES: "Let W.J. Usery ...
    continue to argle-bargle with the major-league gang.  There's no
    legitimate federal role involved" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 2/10).
    WASHINGTON POST: "This a labor dispute in a non-essential
    business, and it's up to the contending parties, not the federal
    government, to work it out" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/10).
         BAY AREA, CA:  SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS: "We won't propose a
    solution to the baseball strike.  We do have an opinion on who
    else has no business playing umpire:  the President and Congress"
    (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 2/9).
         BOSTON:  BOSTON GLOBE: "Enough!  Let no more energy be
    wasted on these egos, especially not in the halls of Congress"
    (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/9).  BOSTON HERALD:  "Though Congress shouldn't
    force a solution ... it should revoke the owners' anti-trust
    exemption" (BOSTON HERALD, 2/9).
         CHICAGO:  CHICAGO TRIBUNE: "The first bad idea was for the
    President to involve himself in this affair in the first place"
    (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/9).  CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: "The President ought
    not ask the fans -- as citizens -- put up with even more by
    shoving their government into an intrusive, no-win situation"
    (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 2/9).
         CINCINNATI:  CINCINNATI POST: "Americans do not have a
    constitutional right to entertainment, and that's reason enough
    for Congress to stay out of the baseball strike -- as the White
    House should have" (CINCINNATI POST, 2/9).
         CLEVELAND:  Cleveland PLAIN DEALER: "Congress should have
    much more important things on its mind than the future of a game.
    Americans, meanwhile, will find a way to survive without major
    league baseball" (PLAIN DEALER, 2/9).
         DETROIT:  The DETROIT FREE PRESS is against Congress passing
    binding arbitration legislation: "If lawmakers want to nudge the
    parties toward an agreement, a more appropriate action would be
    the repeal of the major leagues' antiquated exemption" (DETROIT
    FREE PRESS, 2/9).
         HOUSTON:  HOUSTON CHRONICLE: "Baseball's fracture has to be
    healed by baseball interests themselves.  That may be sad and
    painful.  But don't make a federal case out of baseball's
    rhubarb" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 2/9).
         LOS ANGELES:  L.A. TIMES: "Congress should get off the bench
    and make a play" (L.A. TIMES, 2/9).
         MIAMI: Ft. Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL: "Save congressional
    involvement for real crises -- like a steel strike or lock-out
    during a time of war or severe economic depression -- not for a
    labor dispute that puts one set of millionaires against another"
    (Ft. Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL, 2/9).
         MILWAUKEE:  MILWAUKEE SENTINEL: "The spectacle of a
    president intervening in a sports dispute about which fewer
    Americans seem to care is just that:  a spectacle" (MILWAUKEE
    SENTINEL, 2/10).  MILWAUKEE JOURNAL: "Clinton's decision to seek
    congressional action ... is a useful initiative that could help
    break the stubborn impasse" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL, 2/8).
         MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL: ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS: "Baseball is
    show business, not an essential industry.  Ultimately, owners and
    player should resolve their own differences, while the nation's
    leaders shoulder more critical duties" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS,
    2/8).  Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE: "It isn't Congress' job to
    settle the baseball strike. ... It is time, however, for Congress
    to take indirect action by doing what it probably should have
    done decades ago:  remove the antitrust exemption" (STAR TRIBUNE,
    2/9).
         NEW YORK:  N.Y. TIMES argues Congress is not the place to
    solve the dispute: "There may be some merit in a broad
    Congressional redefinition of the rules under which baseball
    operates": eliminating the exemption (N.Y. TIMES, 2/9).  NEWSDAY
    is against the Clinton legislation: "We've advocated removing the
    antitrust exemption  -- there's no justification for it and it
    would put more pressure on the owners to negotiate in good faith"
    (NEWSDAY, 2/9).
         PHILADELPHIA:  PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: "Trust us esteemed
    leaders of Congress, few voters in America will blame you for
    bending the sacred principles of free enterprise just a bit to
    give them their game back.  Get it done" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER,
    2/8).
         SAN DIEGO:  SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE commends Clinton for his
    efforts but notes there is "no compelling national interest in
    lawmakers' forcing these spoiled millionaires to stop their
    bickering" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 2/9).
         SEATTLE:  SEATTLE TIMES: "Congress does not need to force a
    solution to the Major League Baseball strike. ... Nothing says
    negotiators have to listen to a president, but to do so
    courteously and seriously is the American custom, just like
    paying attention to that song they play before every game"
    (SEATTLE TIMES, 2/9).
    

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  • BILLS CHEERLEADERS WIN NLRB RULING TO FORM UNION

         The Bills cheerleaders, the Jills, won a ruling with the
    NLRB to form the first union representing a professional
    cheerleading squad over protests from sponsor, the Mighty Taco
    chain (WASHINGTON POST, 2/10).
    

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  • NBA AT MID-SEASON: A LOOK AHEAD AT INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION

         As the NBA prepares for its All-Star weekend in Phoenix,
    papers from around the country this morning are offering
    perspective on the league.  The NBA bills the "three days in
    Phoenix as a celebration of American's hippest sport," writes
    Roger Thurow in this morning's WALL STREET JOURNAL.  The weekend
    is "a mighty sell-abration," the best vehicle for peddling the
    games most-marketable personalities to the NBA's foreign
    markets."  Commissioner David Stern calls it "a real-brand
    builder."  Thurow looks at the NBA's international expansion
    efforts. As the league gains on soccer as "the world's most
    popular sport, the NBA brand, manifested by their merchandise of
    its 29 teams is getting to be as ubiquitous as cans of Coke,
    especially in Europe and Asia."  International sales of NBA
    products is expected to hit $350M for the year, and the league
    has "jumped heavily into cable, satellite and direct broadcasting
    and now claims to be the largest provider of sports programming
    in the world."  NBA Entertainment is the hub of the international
    effort, where league highlights and shows are sent around the
    world.  Stephen Hellmuth, VP/Operations at NBA Entertainment:
    "Most everything we do, we're thinking globally" (WALL STREET
    JOURNAL, 2/10).
         LABOR UPDATE: On the labor front, there is "growing unease
    about the lack of progress" toward a new CBA to replace the one
    that expired in June, according to Gary Kingston of the VANCOUVER
    SUN.  The NBA and NBPA had hoped to "have a framework of an
    agreement" by the All-Star break, but the two sides are "still
    far apart."  NBPA President Charles Grantham:  "Definitely, we
    are on a collision course."  Grantham says the "biggest thorn" in
    negotiations is the owners' reluctance to identify, and share,
    some of the revenues generated by the league, "particularly the
    take from licensing and merchandise."  Currently the NBPA
    receives $500,000 annually from licensing and merchandising,
    which goes into an annuity.  Grantham: "It's embarrassing.  The
    league will do about $3 billion in retail sales this season.  We
    assume their take is somewhere around 5%.  That's $125 million
    plus" (VANCOUVER SUN, 2/10).
    

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