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BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- PART II: ONCE AROUND THE LEAGUES
Published February 17, 1995
BALTIMORE -- PLAYERS, MANAGEMENT UNITED: Orioles Pitcher Jim Poole and team VP of Business & Finance Joe Foss both testified before a state senate panel in support of a bill to prevent replacement players from being allowed to play at Camden Yards (Brad Snyder, Baltimore SUN, 2/17). CHICAGO -- ST. PADDY'S DAY PARADE? White Sox GM Ron Schueler predicted that some striking players will defect in early-to mid-March: "St. Paddy's Day (March 17), I think you're going to see some guys in camps." Schueler cited the Sox's 83% season-ticket renewal rate as proof the fans will accept replacement players: "South Side people can relate a lot more to 30 guys making $115,000 than the guys making $7 million. Hey, for two months, they might have some new heroes" (Paul Sullivan, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/17). But an early look at a TRIBUNE poll, which will be released in full on Sunday (400 people surveyed Feb. 10-13), reveals that "nearly half" say they will ignore replacement baseball, but more than half would be open to attending replacement games at cheaper prices; fans support the salary cap by a 2-to-1 margin; 52% think President Clinton erred by getting involved (Andrew Bagnato, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/17). CINCINNATI -- REDS RETORT: Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig "backed down" from a statement made before a Senate hearing that all season-ticket holders would be eligible for refunds for replacement games. The Reds, the only team that will not lower ticket prices for replacement games, took issue causing MLB spokesperson Rich Levin to state: "Teams have their own individual policies. There is no major league policy" (Erardi & Haft, CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 2/17). DETROIT -- SPARKY WON'T SHOW: Tigers Manager Sparky Anderson "has told the Tigers that he plans to boycott the opening of their spring training camp because he doesn't want to work with replacement players," according to this morning's DETROIT FREE PRESS. According to sources, the Tigers "are trying to change Anderson's mind," but chances are "less than 50-50" he will be on the field today (Gene Guidi, DETROIT FREE PRESS, 2/17). Today's DETROIT NEWS is reporting that Anderson was granted a "leave of absence" (DETROIT NEWS, 2/17). Tigers GM Joe Klein said he has talked to ten of his players who will cross the line. Klein did not identify the players (DETROIT NEWS, 2/16). LOS ANGELES -- ZERO BEACH: "The first litmus test of public acceptance of the replacement concept fizzled badly for the Dodgers on Thursday." The team's charter, usually greeted by 400-500 fans, was welcomed by a "scant 18" at Vero Beach airport (Ken Daley, L.A. DAILY NEWS, 2/17). NEW YORK -- ALL EYES ON THE BOSS: Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner was the center of attention as the Yankees opened camp yesterday. Steinbrenner: "To try and tell you it's going to be like an all-star team, I can't do that. And I won't do that" (ESPN, 2/16). Steinbrenner: "I think there are people who appreciate what we're trying to do. We're trying to give them a product" (Jeff Bradley, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/17). Steinbrenner presence was "intended to make him the story of the day. His strategy was shrewd and worked for over an hour" (Jack Curry, N.Y. TIMES, 2/17). ESPN's Peter Gammons said the Yankees players "look like extras from 'Fear Strikes Out'" (ESPN, 2/16). PHILADELPHIA -- FEHR STRIKES OUT? Frank Dolson writes, "By now, for all his brave talk, for all the good answers he gives to the most probing of questions, [MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr] must realize his mistake. He must know this is one time the players cannot, will not be able to claim total victory, or anything close to it" (PHILA. INQUIRER, 2/17). SAN FRANCISCO -- WHITEHURST DENIES REPORT: Wally Whitehurst denied an AP and ESPN report that he will be the first major leaguer to cross the picket line. Whitehurst agreed to a Triple- A contract with the Giants and will not play in exhibition games until the strike ends (Mark Gonzales, SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 2/17). ST. LOUIS -- CARDS EXTEND DEADLINE: The Cardinals sent a letter to season-ticket holders extending the renewal deadline from March 1 to March 10. Even at that date, only 75% payment will be due (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 2/17). Cards Manager Joe Torre, who was a league and team player rep, asked how he would have reacted if President Nixon had intervened in a strike when he was playing: "We weren't that important at the time. We were ballplayers; now they're celebrities" (Bill Chastain, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 2/17). TORONTO -- JAYS TIX STILL HOT: Jays Dir of Operations George Holm said the club will reach its "cutoff point" of 26,000 season tickets. Holm: "People don't want to give them up because they might lose their seats. In fact, the ratio has been about 15-1 of calls that say they want better or more seats" (Mike Zeisberger, TORONTO SUN, 2/17).