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  • BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 201: THE SCOTTSDALE TALKS

         Negotiations resumed at the home of acting MLB Commissioner
    Bud Selig in Scottsdale, AZ.  The "civility" seen during two days
    of talks in Milwaukee continued, but neither side wished to
    characterize any progress in the dispute.  The MLBPA delegation
    includes MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr, MLBPA attorney Lauren Rich,
    and players Paul Molitor, Terry Steinbach and Jay Bell.  The
    owners are represented by Selig, Red Sox CEO John Harrington,
    Rockies Owner Jerry McMorris, Braves President Stan Kasten and
    management attorneys Chuck O'Connor and Rob Manfred.  In L.A.,
    Ross Newhan reports that Fehr left his hotel with Rich and
    McMorris "for what was suspected to be a clandestine session out
    of the media spotlight" (L.A. TIMES, 2/28).  ESPN's Bob Sirkin
    reported the union believes "that before management is really
    ready to make a deal, they will first have to witness the failure
    of exhibition and regular season games using replacement players"
    ("SportsCenter," 2/27).
         THE SHADOW:  White Sox Owner Jerry Reinsdorf was at the
    hotel on the grounds, but did not participate.  Reinsdorf:  "I
    live here.  They brought the talks down here and it would be rude
    if I didn't come over and say hello."  Murray Chass writes that
    people on both sides believe the timing of Reinsdorf's comments
    last week, in which he said Fehr had a "pathological hatred" of
    ownership, "was more than coincidental" and that Reinsdorf might
    have been sending a message to owners "that they shouldn't get
    soft now."  One management source says that Reinsdorf claims to
    have nine owners pledged to block a settlement they don't like
    (N.Y. TIMES, 2/28).  In Washington, Mark Maske reports
    speculation that the comments were a "plot by Selig and Reinsdorf
    to irritate Fehr and ruin any chance of a settlement.  Others
    guessed that Selig had split with Reinsdorf and now desperately
    wants to reach a compromise" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/28).  One
    "union-friendly agent":  "I think Jerry's throwing grenades at
    the end trying to save his coalition" (Dave van Dyck, CHICAGO
    SUN-TIMES, 2/27).
         MEANWHILE, BACK IN WASHINGTON:  Murray Chass examines the
    likely fallout when NLRB General Counsel Fred Feinstein issues
    his decision on the unfair labor charge against the owners.
    People on both sides expect Feinstein to issue a complaint
    against the owners and to seek an injunction forcing the clubs to
    restore the rule that existed before they implemented their
    salary cap.  A complaint would lead the NLRB and the owners to
    court, with a judge's ruling possible by March 15.  A court-
    approved injunction would bring the players back, and face the
    owners with the decision whether to lock the players out and risk
    being liable for back pay plus interest (N.Y. TIMES, 2/28).
         MEAN GENE:  MLBPA General Counsel Gene Orza, who called
    Special Mediator William Usery "senile" during the last round of
    talks, was not in Scottsdale.  Rather, Orza was running meetings
    with minor-leaguers in FL and AZ (I.J. Rosenberg, ATLANTA
    CONSTITUTION, 2/28).  Orza, on criticism of the union position:
    "Oh, come now, minor-leaguers are being asked to do something
    terribly different than in the past.  Minor-leaguers would not be
    in camp under normal circumstances" (Paul Sullivan, CHICAGO
    TRIBUNE, 2/28).
    

    Print | Tags: Anheuser Busch, Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, Colorado Rockies, ESPN, Leagues and Governing Bodies, MLB, Time Warner, Walt Disney
  • BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- PART II: NEWS FROM 11 MARKETS

         BOSTON:  The Red Sox told their minor leaguers Monday they
    can "go home" if they don't play in the team's exhibition games.
    The Sox will offer those who decide to play in the games major
    league pay -- $53.50 per day, plus $188/week in meal money (Nick
    Cafardo, BOSTON GLOBE, 2/27).      BALTIMORE:  MLB's operations
    committee recommended to teams that they "refuse to play" the
    Orioles this spring.  Orioles officials hope to know today which
    opponents they will actually play this spring (WASHINGTON POST,
    2/28).
         CHICAGO:  Cubs GM Ed Lynch made his pitch yesterday to
    minor-leaguers, urging them to play in spring games "for the good
    of their careers," throwing in an extra $75 a day if they do.  Of
    the 107 players in camp, 32 to 34 are "committed as temporary
    replacements" -- enough to open the regular season (Joseph
    Reaves, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/28).
         CINCINNATI: The Reds announced yesterday that 48-year- old
    Pedro Borbon will be a replacement player, if he passes the team
    physical.  Borbon last pitched in 1980.  Reds GM Jim Bowden:
    "Maybe we'll have a little fun with it for a few weeks" (Chris
    Haft, CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 2/28).  In New York, Bill Madden
    writes, "Until now, no one in baseball's officialdom wanted to
    come out and declare replacement players a joke" (N.Y. DAILY
    NEWS, 2/28).
         CLEVELAND:  The Indians praised a court ruling denying a
    request for a temporary restraining order by three season ticket
    holders who claimed that they should be able retain their season
    ticket priority even if they don't purchase season tickets for
    replacement games (Indians).
         HOUSTON: The Astros are in a budget-cutting mode as the
    strike wears on.  Scouting and development and minor league
    operations will lose manpower, with the elimination of two full-
    time scouts and four minor-league instructors.  In addition, the
    team will cut the budgets of its academy in Venezuela and
    Dominican and Australian scouts.  The Astros have also cut their
    PR department from five full-time employees and an intern to two,
    and reduced their marketing and sales staffs (Neil Hohlfeld,
    HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 2/27).
         LOS ANGELES:  Dodgers' Dir of Minor-League Ops Charlie
    Blaney "confirmed" that he and Exec VP Fred Claire have talked to
    players about renegotiating contracts for those minor-leaguers
    who choose to stay in camp, but he added "no decisions have been
    made" (L.A. TIMES, 2/28).
         MILWAUKEE:  One-hundred and eight of the Brewers' 131 minor-
    leaguers agreed on a survey yesterday to play in exhibition games
    if asked (MILWAUKEE SENTINEL, 2/28).
         NEW YORK:  The Mets announced yesterday that they will offer
    refunds to season ticket holders "on a homestand to homestand
    basis" for games played with replacement players (Anthony
    Gargano, N.Y. POST, 2/28).
         PHILADELPHIA:  Frank Fitzpatrick of the PHILADELPHIA
    INQUIRER described yesterday's six-inning intrasquad scrimmage as
    doing "little but lift the spirits of the striking players
    association" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 2/28).
         ST. LOUIS:  The Cardinals' front office learned yesterday
    that the team "has enough players" to start the exhibition
    season.  The team reportedly has 55 players that have agreed to
    be either replacement players or play in exhibitions (Rick
    Hummel, ST. LOUIS POST DISPATCH, 2/28).
    

    Print | Tags: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros, Leagues and Governing Bodies, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, MLB, New York Mets, News Corp./Fox
  • CFL NOTES: RIDERS, POSSE SET FOR A MIDNIGHT SHOWDOWN

         CFL Commissioner Larry Smith is reportedly in negotiations
    with prospective owners for both the Las Vegas Posse and Ottawa
    Rough Riders in an effort to avert a midnight deadline to "pull
    the plug on both teams."  In Ottawa, Don Campbell reports that
    Smith flew to Jackson, MS, on Monday for a "make or break"
    meeting with Elliot Maisel, a prospective owner of the Rough
    Riders.  Maisel has pledged to keep the team in Ottawa.
    According to league sources, the Rough Riders owe nearly $1M to
    160 creditors.  A new owner would have to agree to take on the
    debt (Don Campbell, OTTAWA CITIZEN, 2/28).  The Posse face a $3M
    debt, and league officials are trying to "convince the creditors
    to take pennies for dollars" so that the team can be moved to
    Milwaukee, Jackson or L.A (Vancouver PROVINCE, 2/28).
         TIGER-CATS TO MEOW AGAIN:  Creditors for the Hamilton
    franchise have agreed to a proposal that will eventually give
    them 20 cents on every dollar owed. The removal of the debt
    "paves the way" for new owner David MacDonald and his partners to
    take control (Mike Ganter, TORONTO SUN, 2/28).
    

    Print | Tags: CFL, Leagues and Governing Bodies
  • MLB EXPANSION: TAMPA, PHOENIX MAY WAIT A LITTLE LONGER

         Baseball's owners may delay a decision to expand until the
    sport's labor problems are settled, according to this morning's
    TAMPA TRIBUNE.  "Increasing opposition" among some owners could
    "kill or delay" expansion.  Reds Owner Marge Schott: "Expansion
    should be taken off the board at the meeting.  We've got other
    things to worry about."  Eight negative votes among the 28 owners
    are needed to delay the process.  Most owners will not comment on
    expansion "because it is a negotiable item before the players
    association." But one unnamed owner said "expansion remains
    likely and that Tampa Bay is certain to get one of the teams."
    MLB's expansion committee recommends adding two teams "quickly"
    and two more "a few years later" (Henderson & Carlson, TAMPA
    TRIBUNE, 2/28).  Columnist Tom McEwen reports in addition to
    Orioles Owner Peter Angelos, the Dodgers, Braves, Reds and
    Mariners oppose expansion.  McEwen writes, "The awarding of
    franchises to St. Petersburg will get done, not necessarily at
    Palm Beach, but before April 1, the date financing for a Phoenix
    stadium disappears" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 2/28).
    

    Print | Tags: Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Cincinnati Reds, Leagues and Governing Bodies, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB, News Corp./Fox, Seattle Mariners, Time Warner
  • SULLIVAN TO GET ANOTHER TRIAL ON NFL ANTITRUST MATTER

         The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday refused to hear an appeal
    by the NFL on a federal appeals court ruling that William
    Sullivan, former owner of the Patriots, may bring his antitrust
    case again before a federal court jury.  In the case, Sullivan
    was awarded $17M by a jury in damages after challenging the
    legality of the league's ban on the sale of any team's stock to
    the public.  The jury found that the NFL's ban on public
    ownership -- exclusive to the league -- violated antitrust law
    "because it restricted competition for investment money by those
    who might want to buy or sell shares of team ownership."  As
    antitrust law dictates, the damages were tripled to $51M.  In
    September, the federal appeals court in Boston threw out the
    ruling because of faulty trial instructions, but declined to end
    the case as the league "had urged it to do."  The NFL contended
    that owners do not act in competition, but "as a single economic
    unit."  Sullivan's case will now go before a jury trial in Boston
    federal court (Lyle Denniston, Baltimore SUN, 2/28).
    

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, New England Patriots, NFL
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