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BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 202: PEACE IN OUR TIME?
Published March 1, 1995
Comments by Rockies Owner Jerry McMorris that a settlement could be possible this week set off a number of optimistic news reports, despite the fact that the two sides have yet to discuss specifics of a possible luxury tax. EVER THE OPTIMIST: McMorris: "If we make good progress (Wednesday), there possibly could be a settlement (Wednesday). We're on the threshold, but I don't want to infer that we're close. Is it likely? Probably not." Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig: "There is a different feeling. The posturing is all gone. We're down to issues and we're down to them in a civilized manner" (Tracy Ringolsby, ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 3/1). In Baltimore, Peter Schmuck does note that McMorris "is known to be the most upbeat and optimistic member of either bargaining unit. He has foreseen the end of this dispute before, only to be disappointed" (Baltimore SUN, 3/1). OTHER VIEWS: In L.A., Ross Newhan cites another management negotiator: "It could happen this week or it could carry into the weekend or early next week." But MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr was not as quick to predict a settlement: "I think people should be encouraged to the point the process is ongoing and people are paying attention to the calendar. I would be hesitant to go beyond that" (L.A. TIMES, 3/1). Another management source, who believes a settlement will come by early next week, added: "Don [Fehr] is getting some advice from senior players he hasn't gotten before" (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 3/1). More from Fehr: "I don't want to suggest that everybody is lovey-dovey, far from it" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 2/28). WHERE ARE THEY? CNN's Mark Morgan: "The talks will reconvene Wednesday morning at 11:30 EST. The equation, once again, will include small groups, with the hope that more progress can be made" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 2/28). Ringolsby's take on Tuesday's talks: "There were no discussions of actual numbers but owners did show a willingness to refine the distribution of money raised from a salary tax. ... There were also indications that the union is willing to drop its opposition to the revenue-sharing plan adopted 13 months ago" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 3/1). "The sides will discuss specific numbers today" (Ross Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 3/1). While Special Mediator William Usery proposed a system earlier that would tax teams at a rate of 50% on all spending above a $40M threshold, several sources close to the talks "insist" that the tax will end up at about 25% (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 3/1). WATCHING, AND WAITING: Jim McDowell, brother and agent of Yankee pitcher Jack McDowell: "After the fallout over what Len Dykstra said, some players are a little hesitant to talk. That might change if there's no progress this week" (Jeff Bradley, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/1). MAJOR-LEAGUE PRESSURE: ESPN's Gary Miller reported that union members "did hint" at a meeting with minor-leaguers that they would help them -- "not only with their transporation back and forth to camp if they leave, but also with meal money and expenses." Marlins minor-leaguer John Massarelli, after meeting with MLBPA members last night: "For Cecil Fielder to tell me he knows where I come from, you know, it doesn't hold a lot of water to me. Because to me, $700 a week is a lot of money." Expos GM Kevin Malone: "We don't hear the union promising to take care of these guys if they do lose their job" ("SportsCenter," 2/28). Expos minor-leaguer Tom Thobe, on the meeting: "There was no pressure. It is each person's decision what they want to do" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 2/28).