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BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 190: CHIN MUSIC FOR DYKSTRA
Published February 17, 1995
Lenny Dykstra went before 260 of his fellow union members to address the comments he made last week disapproving of the union's stance and hinting that he might cross a picket line. According to Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore SUN, "He expressed his doubts and asked his questions and then generally submitted to the will" of the MLBPA membership in attendance (Baltimore SUN, 2/17). Some MLBPA members "hammered him during the meeting, they said, not for the views he had expressed but because he spoke without being informed on the issues he spoke about" (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 2/17). On ESPN's "Up Close," Dykstra claimed he had been contacted by 20 other "premier" players who wanted to meet with union leaders to force a settlement. Frank Fitzpatrick writes, "There is now widespread belief, among players and agents, that no such conversations ever took place" (PHILA. INQUIRER, 2/17). OTHER REAX: "One agent said the union hierarchy was less interested in changing Dykstra's mind than it was in having Dykstra's arguments picked apart in front of the other players" (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 2/17). "By the time Lenny Dykstra stood before his peers, he had been chastised and ridiculed into submission" (Bob Nightengale, L.A. TIMES, 2/17). "If there were dissenters in Thursday's group, they apparently kept quiet" (John Lowe, DETROIT FREE PRESS, 2/17). One player accused Dykstra of having the "backbone of a nerfball" for leaving later through a rear exit (Bob Elliott, TORONTO SUN, 2/17). Andy Van Slyke: "It was like a Christian going into the lion's den and 400 lions with fangs sticking out who haven't eaten in five hours" (Mult., 2/17). In New York, Tom Keegan writes the union was "so confident" of its members' unity that "they roped off the area within hearing range of the ballroom and posted a palace sentry out front" (N.Y. POST, 2/17). Brett Butler, on what he said to Dykstra: "Lenny, you set us back two or three weeks. It irritates me, if you want to be involved, if you want to know the issues, then you get your butt on a plane" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 2/16). FEHR SAYS NLRB DECISION WOULD END STRIKE: MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr said for the first time that if the NLRB rules that it will seek an injunction to restore the old system, the players would end their strike. But Jayson Stark notes that the owners "are likely to respond to such a ruling by locking players out" (PHILA. INQUIRER, 2/17). CNN's Jim Huber reported the players' other list of conditions necessary for their return: a new CBA; owners accept arbitration; one year of fact-finding followed by bargaining; passage of Hatch-Moynihan bill; or a return to the previous economic system ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 2/16). POLITICS, POLITICS: The White House announced that President Clinton will not throw out the first pitch of any game played by replacement players (Mult., 2/17)....The American Federation of Teachers called on its membership to boycott all replacement baseball games (AFT). ON THE TUBE: CNBC's "Sports View" profiled the situation on the first day of spring training for the first team to report -- the Yankees. Sports finance attorney Lawrence Swift: "The pessimist scenario is that replacement players will be hired and baseball, at least for the time being will go on being played in that fashion" (CNBC, 2/16). The "CBS Evening News" profiled the Dodgers' return to Vero Beach with replacement players, including the economic impact on people in the area (CBS, 2/16). ABC's "World News Tonight" gave an overview of the baseball situation as the seventh story of its newscast (ABC, 2/16). The "NBC Nightly News" ran a photo of replacement Yankees trotting onto the practice field as their "Picture of the Day," but did not have a complete story (NBC, 2/16).