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Talks in the baseball labor dispute resumed in Milwaukee yesterday "with no promises but some mention of progress." For the owners: Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, Red Sox CEO John Harrington and Rockies Owner Jerry McMorris. For the players: MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr and MLBPA attorney Lauren Rich (Dale Hoffman, MILWAUKEE SENTINEL, 2/22). Selig reported that much of the meeting was spent "venting" on baseball's rancorous labor history: "Today was a catharsis for both sides" (Mike Kiley, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/22). CNN's Nick Charles: "As predicted, nothing dramatic happened" ("Sports Tonight," 2/21). ESPN's Bob Sirkin: "Tuesday's so-called 'therapy session' lasted over four hours and ended with both sides going out to dinner -- together" ("Sports Center," ESPN, 2/21). LOOK FOR THE UNION LABEL: While Teamsters officials said they would not cross picket lines to make deliveries to MLB stadiums this season, they expressed unhappiness with the MLBPA's decision not to have players on the picket lines (GANNETT/USA TODAY, 2/22). Braves President Stan Kasten said if MLBPA General Counsel Gene Orza does arrange for replacement picketers, "it'd be the first person he'd gotten a job for since August" (Henry Unger, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 2/22). In Washington, Michael Wilbon notes the players' history of non-support for other strikes: "They want other unions to support them, but they'll have the team bus drive them right through somebody else's picket line at a stadium and not even step off to look their 'brothers' in the eye" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/22). In St. Louis, Bernie Miklasz writes of replacement pickets: "Let's just say that Donald Fehr is no Cesar Chavez" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 2/22). CANADIAN AD MARKET DRIES UP: Media buyers estimate that Canadian broadcasters could be out as much as C$100M in ad revenue if the season starts with replacements. For example, Bell Canada will put baseball advertising "on hold" until the regular players return. Labatt, which has ownership in the SkyDome and Blue Jays, will also refrain from advertising on replacement games. As for broadcasters, Baton Broadcasting, which carries about 60 of 145 Blue Jays and Expos TV games, will probably not carry replacement games. TSN is also expected to pass on replacement baseball (Marina Strauss, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 2/22). CONGRESSIONAL STATS: USA TODAY surveyed the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on their positions on the Hatch- Moynihan bill, which would lift baseball's antitrust exemption in labor matters. SUPPORTERS: Hatch (R-UT), Thurmond (R-SC), Leahy (D-VT). OPPOSED: Specter (R-PA), Simon (D-IL), Feinstein (D- CA), Heflin (D-AL). UNDECIDED: Brown (R-CO), Grassley (R-IA), DeWine (R-OH), Kyl (R-AZ), Thompson (R-TN), Abraham (R-MI), Feingold (D-WI). OTHERS: Simpson (R-WY) supports repeal, but not during the strike. Biden (D-DE) wants to examine all sports, not just baseball. Kennedy (D-MA) voted against the bill last June but supports mandatory binding arbitration. Kohl (D-WI) has recused himself because of his relationship with Bud Selig and his position as owner of the NBA Bucks (USA TODAY, 2/22).
ATLANTA -- CLUBHOUSE STEAM: Braves GM John Schuerholz reacted angrily to the MLBPA's position that any minor-leaguer that plays in a spring training game will be considered a "strikebreaker": "I'll be damned if I'm going to have a mean- spirited union use young players in our organization as a tool in a derailment of baseball, and at the same time have it be ruinous to a young man's career" (I.J. Rosenberg, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 2/22). BALTIMORE -- NO PRESSURE: The Orioles said they will permit their minor-leaguers to sit out exhibition games if they so choose. But, owner Peter Angelos said all players "will be strongly encouraged by the Orioles to play" (Peter Schmuck, Baltimore SUN, 2/22). CHICAGO -- NO PRESSURE, II: White Sox GM Ron Schueler "said there would be no repercussions against those who decline to play" in spring games. Schueler: "Our policy is to keep everything intact" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 2/22). CLEVELAND -- TRIBE TIX SALES DOWN: Indians spring training ticket sales are down about 40% from last spring, according to Indians Spring Training Manager Jerry Crabb (Paul Hoynes, Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 2/21). FLORIDA -- CROSS THAT LINE: The Marlins are expecting some of their major league players to cross the line in mid-March. Marlins GM Dave Dombrowski: "Sometimes you have to ask yourself, even though you're being represented (by the union), are they representing you in your best interest? I think there is more than one player out there who has asked himself that question." Marlins Player Rep Bryan Harvey said the team was just trying to "get somebody to cross and break the union" (Amy Niedkielka, MIAMI HERALD, 2/22). NEW YORK -- OFFER THEY CAN'T REFUSE: While Mets GM Joe McIlvane said there would be no fines or punishment for minor- leaguers who don't play in exhibition games, to which Mets Asst GM Gerry Hunsicker agreed. But Hunsicker added: "The players have to understand not playing may not be in their best interest" (John Giannone, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/22). SAN DIEGO -- SEEN IT, DONE IT: Columnist Nick Canepa writes, "I might be willing to give the replacement player idea a try -- if I hadn't already seen it. The Padres (unofficially) tried it here last year and the year before and it didn't work" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 2/22). SAN FRANCISCO -- SOLIDARITY WATCH: Giants pitcher Dave Burba, asked if the players can hold on until licensing checks arrive in mid-April: "Personally, I wouldn't cross the line, but there are some guys thinking about it" (Mark Gonzales, SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 2/22). SEATTLE -- BEAN-BILLS: Two bills are before the WA Legislature aimed at pressuring owners: one to prevent teams of non-MLB players from playing in the Kingdome or other publicly funded facilities; the other to prohibit Mariner management from advertising a replacement team as "Major League" (Jonathan Martin, Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 2/21). TORONTO -- DUNEDIN CHECKS OUT: AL consultant Dick Wagner, AL umpiring chief Marty Springstead and AL Dir of Finance Derek Irwin toured 6,200-seat Dunedin Stadium and said they found it adequate for MLB games. Writes Larry Millson, "All at once it was pathetic, stupid, sad and funny" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 2/22).
Red Sox CEO John Harrington, who heads MLB's expansion committee, reportedly told VA Senator John Warner that Northern VA will "definitely" get a MLB expansion franchise, according to this morning's WASHINGTON TIMES. Warner Staff Director Grayson Winterling said that during a recent meeting on Capitol Hill, Harrington told Warner that baseball would be back in the DC area. Winterling: "The worst-case scenario would be that [Northern VA] would be the third one selected. ... We're taking the man at his word." MLB owners are expected to award two of four expansion teams by the end of March. According to Winterling, support of legislation that would weaken or do away with baseball's antitrust exemption would "not help efforts" to land a franchise: "They made it clear you're going to get an expansion franchise. But don't rock the boat." A team would play at RFK Stadium until a ballpark in Northern VA could be completed (Thom Loverro, WASHINGTON TIMES, 2/22) OTHER EXPANSION NOTES: Peter Gammons reports that a yes vote for Quebec secession in June could push the Expos out of Canada: "Don't be surprised if the Expos end up in St. Petersburg, with Northern Virginia the National League expansion team" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/19)....Jayson Stark notes that the owners' expected yes vote on expansion will not deal with the question of whether to add two teams to the same league or one to each league. Stark: "If they go to 15 teams in each league, they have to go to interleague play. And that means another DH fight. Plus, the Royals and Astros both are fighting a potential switch from Central to West divisions, depending on where the new teams wind up. So look out" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 2/19).
"A high level delegation" of the proposed UBL will be in Vancouver either late this week or next week to discuss ownership and stadium lease issues with B.C. Place officials. Although it is unclear whether the UBL "will present any solid ownership possibilities" with the group, UBL VP of Franchise Development Greg Smith said that "certain numbers of the UBL investor group remain interested" in the Vancouver franchise (Lyndon Little, VANCOUVER SUN, 2/22). In Boston, Michael Gee predicts that the UBL "will not play in 1996, or any other year." The league proposed profit-sharing between players and owners as an "economic incentive" for players joining the league. However, Gee disagrees, writing that "profit sharing works only when there is a profit. And the stars a new league needs to survive, let alone prosper, are unlikely to work on commission" (BOSTON HERALD, 2/19).