SBD/1/Leagues Governing Bodies

BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 202: PEACE IN OUR TIME?

     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).
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