SBD/16/Leagues Governing Bodies

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  • BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 189: 1-DAY SENATORS' HOMESTAND

         During Wednesday's hearings before the Senate Subcommittee
    on Antitrust, Business Rights and Competition, both sides had an
    opportunity to argue their case for keeping or amending MLB's
    antitrust exemption.  ESPN's Keith Olbermann: "The usual suspects
    spoke the usual platitudes" ("SportsCenter," 2/15).  In New York,
    Claire Smith notes that one theme of the hearings "was a
    groundswell of bipartisan anger toward all of baseball.  That
    much was evident as supporters and opponents of bills seeking to
    change the exemption constantly painted the sport as one no
    longer fan friendly" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/16).  "The congressional
    message to both sides about settling the strike was clear:
    You're on your own" (Brad Snyder, Baltimore SUN, 2/16).
         DEFENDING THE EXEMPTION:  Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig
    "painted a bleak financial picture of major league baseball,
    suggesting that three or four teams were on the verge of
    financial collapse."  Selig: "We have a significant number of
    teams that are, quite frankly, hanging on for dear life."  Selig
    defended the use of replacements, saying that some of the clubs
    cannot afford to keep their stadiums idle (Bill McAllister,
    WASHINGTON POST, 2/16).  MLBPA's Don Fehr on why the exemption
    needs to be lifted: "If you're going to help to end this dispute
    and prevent this thing from happening every three or four years
    from now until forever, you've got to do something about it."
    Fehr, asked if he has the votes to get some change in the
    exemption: "Eventually we will if we don't now" (THE DAILY).
    Sen. Bob Graham: "How can you justify a continuation of an
    exemption to a basic law that applies to all other professional
    sports and most commercial enterprises?" ("McNeil/Lehrer," PBS,
    2/15).
         BINDING ARBITRATION:  The players and owners stood firm on
    their feelings toward binding arbitration.  Selig, on the
    owners;' opposition: "Everybody, even arbitrators think that's a
    short term solution."  Fehr, on the players' consent:  "They
    refuse arbitration because they do not believe the force of their
    own arguments is sufficient to sustain their position" (THE
    DAILY).
         WHAT ABOUT A LOCKOUT:  Sen. Orrin Hatch, sponsor of the
    bipartisan bill that would lift the exemption in regards to labor
    disputes, pressed Selig on whether MLB would lock out the
    players:  "That's a decision we would have to make."  The players
    have agreed to end their strike if Hatch's bill is passed (Aaron
    Epstein, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 2/16).  As USA TODAY's Mike Dodd
    put it, "Selig repeatedly refused to rule out a lockout" (USA
    TODAY, 2/16).
         FROM THE GRANDSTANDS:  Sen. Alan Simpson: "Please spare me
    that you have to have this or that in order for baseball to
    survive.  If one has to have millions to induce one to stay in
    this game -- to play it or own or operate it -- then baseball is
    better off without you" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/16).  Sen. Joe Biden:
    "Neither one of you are very popular.  You're getting into the
    category of those of us who hold public office" (Baltimore SUN,
    2/16).  Tommy Lasorda:   "I'm disappointed because the two words
    that I have never heard mentioned is 'compromise' and 'fans'"
    (CBS, 2/16).
         BACK TO THE TABLE?  Special Mediator William Usery hopes to
    resume negotiations as early as next week.  He added that all has
    been "smoothed over" and both sides want him to continue (Hal
    Bodley, USA TODAY, 2/16).  In this week's "Point After," SI's
    Michael Bevans suggests that Usery's proposal "might be the last
    chance to ensure labor peace in time for Opening Day" (SPORTS
    ILLUSTRATED, 2/20).
    

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  • BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- II: FACT- CHECKING OWNERSHIP

         Two statements made before the Senate by MLB officials were
    questioned after the hearing.  First, acting MLB Commissioner Bud
    Selig said that season ticket holders could receive refunds for
    games with replacement players and would not lose their seats.
    Reds Owner Marge Schott's response: "If he said that, this lady
    will be on the phone tomorrow."  The Reds have not offered a
    refund to season-ticket holders.  They are the only club that has
    not either lowered ticket prices or offered refunds for
    replacements games (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 2/16).  Two other clubs
    are following different plans -- the Giants, who are being sued
    by a season ticket holder over the issue, and the Rockies, who
    are not allowing season ticket holders to retain their seat
    locations if they fail to buy for replacement games (THE DAILY).
         HAZY REPORTS FROM CANADA:  The second disputed statement
    came from MLB General Counsel Chuck O'Connor, who announced to
    the media that the Canadian government will allow the Expos to
    hire replacement players.  But neither Pam Cullum, a spokesperson
    for the Canadian Department of Immigration, and Paul Cavalluzzo,
    a Toronto-based lawyer who is acting as Canadian counsel to the
    MLBPA, would confirm the report.  In addition, Expos President
    Claude Brochu was unaware of O'Connor's statement. Cavalluzzo:
    "It appears Mr. O'Connor believes we're some sort of banana
    republic up here, but we're not."  Brochu: "All I can say is that
    we're optimistic, we're moving ahead on it and these things take
    a bit of time" (Mike Rutsey, TORONTO SUN, 2/16).  According to
    the TORONTO STAR, O'Connor based his statement on a memo from
    Brochu stating that the Expos were advised by Peter Harder,
    Deputy Minister Citizenship and Immigration Canada, that
    temporary replacement from outside Canada will be allowed entry
    into Canada.  But Judy Morrison, press secretary to Immigration
    Minister Sergio Marchi, questioned the "accuracy" of Brochu's
    memo (TORONTO STAR, 2/16).
    

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  • BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- III: WHO WILL REPORT THIS WEEKEND?

         It was widely reported that the Mariners would kick off
    spring training today, but that was a "false alarm."  The
    Mariners will open camp Monday.  The Yankees are reportedly the
    only team that officially opens camp today in the Grapefruit
    League.  Tomorrow, the Giants, Rockies and Angels will be the
    first to open camps in AZ.  In this morning's ARIZONA REPUBLIC,
    Bob Eger writes, "Not so fast.  It's going to be another day
    before they're even playing catch in the Cactus League" (ARIZONA
    REPUBLIC, 2/16).
         NATIONAL ATTENTION:  On "Good Morning America," ABC's Tyler
    Mathisen examined the effect the strike will have on AZ and FL
    cities.  One sports merchandise store in Fort Myers is cutting
    its prices on baseball apparel up to 50%, and "it is still not
    selling."  Fort Myers Mayor Wilbur Smith: "The Sheraton Hotel,
    our largest hotel, has lost 3,000 room nights, that translates
    out to about $275,000."   Mathisen said each city that hosts a
    spring training team will lose between $3M-$5M (ABC, 2/16).
         THE ORIOLES:  The Orioles are the only team that does not
    plan to field a replacement team during both spring training and
    the regular season.  The team will play "B" games with minor
    leaguers if no admission is charged and the opposition does not
    use replacement players (Ross Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 2/16).  O's
    manager Phil Regan: "My worst case scenario is that I have a two-
    year contract and go 0-and-0 for two years" (TAMPA TRIBUNE,
    2/16).  Selig dodged the question of whether he would revoke the
    Orioles franchise --either permanently or temporarily -- if they
    refused to participate in replacement baseball (THE DAILY).
         PLAYER SQUABBLES?  According to Nick Cafardo in Boston, Red
    Sox 1B Mo Vaughn "apparently spoke the conscience of middle-
    salaried and younger players around baseball.  His idea of a
    secret-ballot to end the strike and his urging of the union to
    better represent all sides of the membership have been met with
    approval in some quarters."  Red Sox 2B Terry Shumpert: "A lot of
    players feel things that they can't come out and say" (BOSTON
    GLOBE, 2/15).  Meanwhile, the Red Sox released hitting coach Mike
    Easler after turning down Easler's request for a raise.  Easler
    claimed that he should have been paid at least as much as
    replacement players, who will make at least the league minimum of
    $115,000.  Easler, who made $80,000 last year:  "My contract
    stipulates that I'm a 'major league hitting coach.'  I'm not a
    'replacement player hitting coach.'  What a joke" (BOSTON GLOBE,
    2/15).  ESPN reports that Wally Whitehurst may be the first major
    leaguer to cross the picket line.  He is expected to be in the
    Giants camp, but neither he or the team would comment (ESPN,
    2/15).
    

    Print | Tags: ABC, LA Angels, Anaheim Sports, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Colorado Rockies, ESPN, Leagues and Governing Bodies, New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners, Walt Disney, YankeeNets
  • BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- PART IV: REPLACEMENT SPONSORS?

         With the prospect that the strike will continue at least
    through Spring Training '95, baseball's leadership could be faced
    with defections among its long-time sponsors and broadcast
    partners.  In separate interviews with THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY,
    William Marlow, an advertising attorney with Loeb and Loeb of New
    York, and Dantia Gould, a media analyst with GOULD MEDIA,
    addressed the high stakes facing MLB in terms of possible loss of
    advertisers and TV outlets from the ever-expanding labor dispute.
         SPONSORS:  Marlow noted that baseball had problems with its
    advertisers before the strike: "Baseball audiences have been, to
    some degree, on the decline before the strike the started. ...
    There's good reason to believe that it will continue.  The
    question really is, will that trend be increased by the
    occurrence of the strike?  Will it get worse than it would have
    had there been no strike? ... The strike is exacerbating what was
    an uncomfortable situation to begin with."  Gould, noted that
    Coca-Cola, a longtime baseball sponsor, will stick with the
    sport:  "That's significant because Coca-Cola has been involved
    with baseball for so long.  In terms of some of the other
    sponsors, I think it's going to be touch and go."
         THE BASEBALL NETWORK:  Marlow believes baseball will have to
    give up on TBN and look to a "deep pocket" like Rupert Murdoch
    for national broadcast rights.  Gould: "The unfortunate thing is
    The Baseball Network did a good job in terms of getting
    commitments for advertising sales last year.  They had Anheuser-
    Busch, Avis, Country Time Lemonade, GM, MCI, Russell Athletic,
    Texaco, among others. ... Because of the whole uncertainty in
    baseball right now, I think you have to wonder who is going to
    televise baseball in 1995."
         LOCAL TV:  Gould:  "When it comes right down to it, [cable
    and broadcast outlets] will televise baseball with replacement
    players.  They would rather have baseball under less than ideal
    conditions than have no baseball at all."
         ESPN:  One point made by both was that ESPN saved money by
    not carrying baseball after August 12.  Gould speculates that
    ESPN was able to use as much as 2/3 of their baseball investment
    toward other broadcast rights, including the recent long-term
    NCAA basketball deal.  But, Gould adds: "ESPN is very anxious to
    have baseball in the right form, because ... it enhances the
    network's value" (THE DAILY).
    

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  • CFL FOLDING -- AND THEN REOPENING?

         The CFL could be folding "within a month to six weeks,"
    according to "confidential information" obtained yesterday by the
    Toronto GLOBE & MAIL.  League owners and lawyers have reportedly
    been secretly examining the idea of "folding the league and then
    reopening a few days later under a new name, in time for the 1995
    season."  The move would "eliminate the mandatory Canadian
    content" on team rosters -- something that has been a "major
    stumbling block" in negotiating a new CBA.  If a new league is
    formed, it would contain the same teams and style as the current
    CFL, but the teams would be allowed to use "whatever players they
    wish, regardless of nationality."  Under current rules, Canadian-
    based teams must "employ" at least 20 Canadian players, while
    U.S.-based teams do not.  Players union President Dan Ferrone:
    "If the CFL folds up and then becomes another U.S. Football
    League or World Football League, it would do irreparable damage
    to its reputation.  It would be taking a major step backwards, in
    my opinion" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 2/16).
    

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  • COLUMNIST GIVES PGA TOUR A PLUG IN ITS FIGHT WITH THE FTC

         The FTC's investigation into PGA Tour rules restricting
    competition from potential golf-promoting rivals, is examined by
    Tom Boswell of the WASHINGTON POST, who writes that an FTC
    complaint against the Tour "would disrupt American golf for
    years."  PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said the legal fight
    would "probably last until the end of the century. ... We
    shouldn't spend five years fighting our own government."  The PGA
    Tour says it needs the rules to prevent its members from
    participating in conflicting tournaments that undercut the tour's
    major sponsors and network TV partners.  Boswell argues that PGA
    players "were the ones that created the regulations," and without
    the rules, TV networks will not pay millions for broadcast rights
    if players can make more "at some schlock Challenge of the
    Superstars," and sponsors would not sign up if tournaments don't
    have a "representative field."  One of the "little mysteries is
    who got the FTC all excited about the tour's" rules in the first
    place.  Boswell mentions Greg Norman's World Tour idea and the
    "TV arm of Jack Nicklaus's empire."  Finchem believes if the tour
    loses the rules,  fans will see "promoter-driven, short-field,
    low-cost-for-profit, made-for -TV-events, that never make it on
    the network level."  Boswell concludes:  "Golf is perhaps our
    last game that is not dominated by greed or lawsuits or ill-
    mannered prima donna stars. ... By all means, let's see if
    somebody can mess it up" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/15).
    

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  • WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL THAT NHLPA MERCHANDISE?

         During the hockey work stoppage, players routinely wore hats
    and apparel with the logo of the NHLPA.  But now that the season
    has begun, they "seem to be wearing less NHLPA garb," according
    to Dave Lueking of the ST. LOUIS POST DISPATCH.  The Blues' Craig
    Janney: "We gave them up in the agreement."  Blues Player Rep Guy
    Carbonneau said before players were "paid by the NHLPA.  Now,
    we're paid by the St. Louis Blues" (ST. LOUIS POST DISPATCH,
    2/12).
    

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