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The owners' Player Relations Committee announced that it will begin offering contracts to unsigned players beginning Friday, but only through negotiation with the MLBPA. Individual teams and individual players will not be allowed to participate in negotiations. In Baltimore, Peter Schmuck writes, "What does this mean? Only that there will be no such collective negotiations, because the union is too busy challenging the whole mess" through the NLRB (Baltimore SUN, 2/14). The owners also will not allow players to submit to salary arbitration. Owners say they do not have to go forward with arbitration because it is not a "mandatory subject of bargaining" under the National Labor Relations Act. AP's Ronald Blum notes, "Some on the players' side think owners may try to re-implement using their proposal that called for a luxury tax on the amount of payrolls" above $35M. MLBPA General Counsel Gene Orza: "I have no doubt they want to, that they're looking for the right opportunity" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 2/14). LONELY LENNY: Red Sox pitcher Roger Clemens on Lenny Dykstra's comments of last week: "It just disappoints me when some guy, especially when he's a veteran, sits back and pops off when he doesn't have any idea what's going on" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 2/13). Braves pitcher Greg Maddux, on Dykstra: "He's going to have to play with the team. We all feel like we're on the same team and in this together. When someone has a different opinion, it's a little upsetting" (AP/VANCOUVER SUN, 2/14). Rockies Player Rep Joe Giraldi: "Lenny has some pressures that none of us will ever understand, and I think they are financial pressures, and I think that is what's driving Lenny." In Denver, Norm Clarke writes, "Giraldi did not elaborate, but he might have been pointing at Dykstra's past problems with gambling" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 2/13). Red Sox OF Mike Greenwell was asked about both Dykstra's comments and those of teammate Mo Vaughn, who called for a secret ballot to validate the strike: "I've never seen Lenny Dykstra at a meeting and I've never seen Mo Vaughn at a meeting. ... The union invites guys to call and complain, but it doesn't do any good to complain in the media" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/13). MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr said Dykstra will attend the players meeting in Orlando this week (WASHINGTON POST, 2/14). TODAY'S HAPPENINGS: Senate Judiciary Chair Orrin Hatch and Sen. Pat Moynihan introduce a bill today that would repeal baseball's antitrust exemption as it applies to labor matters. The bill excludes the minor leagues and would not affect MLB's ability to control franchise relocation. Hatch is expected to be able get the bill to the Senate floor for a vote. But, "prospects in the House are weaker" (Mike Dodd, USA TODAY, 2/14). MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr meets with Special Mediator William Usery today in Washington.
The United Baseball League, which hopes to begin play in '96, will announce six charter franchises today -- Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, San Juan, Vancouver and Washington. The league has scheduled a telephone news conference to make the announcement. The New Orleans team will reportedly play at the Superdome, the Washington team at RFK Stadium, the Vancouver team at B.C. Place and the San Juan team will play at Hiram Bithorn Stadium (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 2/14). As for L.A., two sites under consideration are the L.A. Coliseum and a stadium in the Riverside-San Bernadino area. Three sites are under consideration in New York: Brooklyn, Northern NJ and the Nassau- Suffolk County border on Long Island (VANCOUVER SUN, 2/14). ARE ALL THE I'S DOTTED? In Vancouver, B.C. Place officials indicated "that any rumored deal is far from being done." B.C. Place GM Neil Campbell, after being told about the AP report that has the UBL announcing its franchise cities: "We have not made any arrangements with the United League. ... Officials from the United League have talked to us and looked at our stadium. But so far we have not heard from any specific owner and there's been no work done on a lease arrangement or on other terms." The UBL is organized by former MLBPA official Dick Moss and former U.S. Rep. Bob Mrazek. The league hopes to begin the '96 season with 8-12 franchises (Terry Bell, Vancouver PROVINCE, 2/14).