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BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 200: HERE WE GO AGAIN
Published February 27, 1995
Representatives of the two sides in baseball's labor dispute resume high-level talks in Scottdale, AZ. While the two sides remain far apart, "several owners remain optimistic that this latest round of negotiations" will end the strike (Peter Schmuck, Baltimore SUN, 2/27). Rockies Owner Jerry McMorris: "If both sides are willing to do some hard, earnest bargaining, I think it can be over in a day or two" (Ross Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 2/27). MARGINALIZED MEDIATOR? MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr "doesn't foresee any bargaining taking place" within the framework outlined by Special Mediator William Usery. In Washington, Mark Maske reports the union "probably will not permit Usery to have much impact on the negotiations any longer." One source on the players' side: "He's a schedule-maker at this point, and no more" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/27). Labor Secretary Robert Reich was asked if the administration "blew it" by publicizing Usery's recommendations. Reich: "We did not publicize Mr. Usery's proposed resolution. In fact, Mr. Usery did not come up with a proposed resolution. Mr. Usery was bringing, as any mediator does, bringing the two sides closer and closer together." Reich placed the odds of a negotiated settlement at about 35-40%, and said he faviored binding arbitration ("Evans & Novak," CNN, 2/25). OUTLOOK: ESPN's Peter Gammons said that "both sides seem very pessimistic. But, maybe in pessimism comes desperation and the only way there is going to be a deal is if both sides are desperate." Gammons added if a deal doesn't happen in the ten days to two weeks, "dig in. This strike is going a long way" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 2/26). In his Sunday column, Gammons cites on "outside go-between" who says that Fehr "is ready to seriously negotiate a luxury tax," provided the owners modify their revenue-sharing agreement," and that acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig "is signed on." But others believe "nothing will happen, not with the hard-line owners" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/26). Red Sox CEO John Harrington, the owners' chief negotiator, said the dispute would have to be resolved by March 5 if the season is to start on time with regular players (Mult., 2/25). NLRB UPDATE: USA TODAY's Hal Bodley reports that NLRB General Counsel Fred Feinstein "is close to issuing a complaint and seeking an injunction" against the owners. An injunction could bring the players back, but also spur a lockout -- although Bodley writes that the necessary super-majority vote from owners could touch off a "nasty battle." An aide to Feinstein says expect a decision on the matter this week or early next week (USA TODAY, 2/27). TIDBITS: In Denver, Tracy Ringolsby reports that, depsite claims that a network deal is close for a MLBPA-run barnstorming tour, tour sponsor Reebok "has been in touch with independent producers to see if they can put a TV package together because of what Reebok officials say is a lack of network interest" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 2/26)....In New York, Jim Heyman cites Don Mattingly: "We're only as strong as Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey and Frank Thomas." If one were to corss, "Forget it." Since Griffey and Bonds have major league bloodlines, Thomas could be the "owners' best hope" (N.Y. NEWSDAY, 2/26)....Int'l Sport Summit Exec Dir Craig Tartasky, on the status of MLB's sponsors: "They are stepping aside. They're not walking away, but they're saying let's see which way the wind blows. They don't want to get their hands dirty, but they don't want to lose the opportunity of perhaps being there when the players return" ("Bloomberg Business News," 2/27).