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BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- PART II: THE DYKSTRA FALLOUT
Published February 13, 1995
One day after Lenny Dykstra suggested that he might cross a picket line in April, Mets pitcher John Franco conceded that some players are "starting to get antsy": "Both sides need to give in a little." When asked if he would cross a picket line, he first said, "No way," but added: "I'm not going to be one of the first guys to cross. Who knows? Maybe two, three, four months down the road. Hopefully, I'm not crossed with that dilemma." Last October, Franco felt differently: "If someone crosses the picket line, once we get back in I'll be the first one to kick his [butt]." Franco said his October comments got "blown out of context": "At that time, they asked me about minor-leaguers coming in. I should have worded it a little better" (Jon Heyman, N.Y. NEWSDAY, 2/11). MLBPA'S ANGELOS? MLB General Counsel Chuck O'Connor downplayed Dykstra's comments: "It's obvious that there are individuals in each group, clubs or players, that are going to express dissatisfaction with the approach their side is taking. They have Lenny Dykstra. We have [Orioles Owner] Peter Angelos" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/12). Free agent Rob Dibble: "If 10 or 15 guys cross the line, that's 10 or 15 we don't need in the union. ... I might never pitch in the big leagues again. But I believe in the union" (ESPN, 2/11). PUBLIC OPINION WAR: Sunday's N.Y. TIMES ran opposing op-eds from MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr and Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. Both gave their explanations for why talks broke down at the White House. Selig: "We do know that the clubs played by the rules throughout the long process. Unfortunately, just as we were about to reach the end, the rules were changed on us." Fehr: "All the players have ever wanted from the government is equal protection under the laws, specifically the antitrust laws" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/12). Meanwhile, Fehr has scheduled two player meetings for late this week in Tampa and Phoenix. IN WASHINGTON: Senate Judiciary Chair Orrin Hatch and Sen. Pat Moynihan tomorrow will introduce a bipartisan bill dealing with MLB's antitrust exemption. In a letter to Hatch, Fehr said that he will recommend to the players that they end their strike if the legislation is enacted (Maske & Swoboda, WASHINGTON POST, 2/11). Fehr and Selig will be in Washington tomorrow to testify before the Judiciary Committee on the exemption. As Murray Chass notes, even if the players end their strike with the passage of this legislation, it is likely the owners would lock them out (N.Y. TIMES, 2/12). Peter Gammons notes that "the only thing the union and owners agreed on" is that Labor Secretary Robert Reich is "an amateur" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/12).