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"Left with no other recourse," President Clinton proposed legislation Wednesday to create an independent panel of three neutral arbitrators to settle the dispute. But House Speaker Newt Gingrich "and his Republican cohorts have made it clear they don't want to get" involved in the baseball mess (Tom Haudricourt, MILWAUKEE SENTINEL, 2/9). PROBLEMS IN CONGRESS, FOR NOW: ABC's Brit Hume: "The president ... was careful today not to criticize Republicans leaders for their hesitance." Clinton: "They should be reluctant. I was reluctant, we're all reluctant. If we had a baseball commissioner, none of us would have been in here." ABC's John Cochran: "Republicans know that, come warm weather, the country may demand that they 'Play Ball' with the president" (2/8). Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL): "Congress has played a role by allowing this anti-trust exemption to continue, we should now play an affirmative role in resolving this dispute" ("Business Insiders," CNBC, 2/8). CNN's Mark Morgan: "It seems highly unlikely, if not impossible, that an arbitration bill would pass through Congress. The men and women on the Hill disagree just as much as baseball's owners and players" (CNN, 2/8). USERY'S FATE: Special Mediator William Usery "so incensed" the union with what it saw as a "pro-ownership proposal that the union is expected to remove him from further participation." Braves Player Rep Tom Glavine: "I don't see how we can take him seriously now" (Thomas Stinson, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 2/9). Dick Conn, spokesperson for Usery, said Usery did consider withdrawing from the process, but Congressional and Clinton officials have urged him to stay on (Ross Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 2/9). WHAT ABOUT SPRING TRAINING? According to Ron Pies, President of the Cactus League Association in AZ, advance ticket sales are only 20% behind last year: "These numbers are encouraging. This shows that there is more of an interest in baseball than in some of the top name players." Brad Smidt, an economic development specialist in AZ: "I still think a lot of people come out here for the weather. They're going to go to the games no matter what." AZ hotels say bookings for the six weeks of spring training "remain strong" (Lawrence Rocca, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 2/9).
ANGELS OWNER JACKIE AUTRY reacting to Labor Secretary Robert Reich's statement that using replacement players would be "anathema and unacceptable": "I'm not a crystal ball gazer or a tea leaf reader, but everything I've read has indicated the fans would be receptive to replacement players" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 2/9). BREWER PITCHER BOB SCANLAN: "When the President of the United States puts his fist down and doesn't get anywhere with the owners, the only solution left is Congress removing the antitrust exemption" (MILWAUKEE SENTINEL, 2/9). CHICAGO TRIBUNE'S BOB VERDI: "So where does baseball go now to save itself? The Vatican?" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/9). CUBS PRESIDENT ANDY MACPHAIL: "Our commander-in-chief told [Usery] to get the parties back together and gave him a big stick to offer a recommendation if he felt there was no progress. After a month, he makes that recommendation, and then the president leaves him" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/9). JIM PALMER, former Oriole, at the opening of the Ted Williams Museum: "The players want what they want, they're very selfish. The owners want what they want, they're very selfish" ("CBS This Morning," 2/9). MIAMI HERALD'S DAN LA BATARD: "Some Rutgers students are strong enough to stop a game but our country's president isn't strong enough to start one" (MIAMI HERALD, 2/9). PETER GAMMONS: "With today's attention spans, people can learn in a hurry to move over and watch 'Beavis and Butthead' and forget all about baseball" (CBS, 2/9). RED SOX CEO JOHN HARRINGTON: "The President found out ... that he should not have gotten involved. ... He had no authority to act" (CBS, 2/8). ROCKIES OWNER JERRY MCMORRIS: "As much as I hate to think about it, (the players) are validating the use of replacement players. They don't bargain. They refuse to compromise. They trash one of the more respected mediators in the country because they don't like his recommendation on an agreement. We just have to do ahead with alternate plans" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 2/9). SENATE JUDICIARY CHAIR ORRIN HATCH: "I really believe that there is a small click of owners who want to stick it to the players so they can dominate this game without having the players have virtually any say in the game" (ABC, 2/8).
The San Antonio City Council is expected to approve a deal today that will allow the CFL's Sacramento Gold Miners to relocate to the Alamodome. The only "glitch" that could kill the deal is the team's proposed share of concession revenues at the dome. Currently, the Spurs receive 60%, the city receives 40%. A new name is expected to be announced for the team (Frank Zicarelli, TORONTO SUN, 2/9). POSSE UPDATE: The investment group that controls the Las Vegas Posse is expected to meet today and vote on offers received from Jackson, MS and L.A. groups interested in moving the club. CFL Relocation Director Steve Arnold favors Jackson, saying the Mississippi city could be "a little Green Bay" (Gary Kingston, VANCOUVER SUN, 2/9).