SBD/13/Leagues Governing Bodies

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  • BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 214: M-I-C, SEE YOU IN COURT

         Baseball's owners and players are set to resume talks this
    week at The Swan Hotel in Disney World, near Orlando.  There was
    confusion, however, over whether the two sides would meet
    tomorrow or Wednesday.  The owners' committee meets today with
    Special Mediator William Usery to begin discussions on their
    "best offer," which Usery requested be presented to the players
    this week.  The schedule "may be further complicated" by the
    expected ruling from the NLRB on the players' charge of unfair
    labor practices against the owners.  NLRB General Counsel Fred
    Feinstein is expected to issue a complaint against the owners,
    followed immediately by a request to the Board that it seek an
    injunction in U.S. District Court (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES,
    3/13).  Management sources indicate if owners do present their
    "best offer" to players, "it will be just that -- an offer with
    little or no room to be diluted" (Bill Madden, N.Y. DAILY NEWS,
    3/12).
         NOT AFRAID OF THE NLRB?  One owner:  "We know the NLRB will
    always rule in favor of a union.  Our lawyers let us know that
    the chances of management winning in front of this board are
    slim.  But rulings don't mean beans.  It's what happens in court
    that counts."  Murray Chass notes that the NLRB's success rate in
    getting injunctions during FY '95 has been 83% (N.Y. TIMES,
    3/12).  Tribune Co. attorney Robert Ballow reportedly told the
    owners in Palm Beach:  "You've only had three NLRB complaints; we
    never even take notice until we get to three figures" (BOSTON
    GLOBE, 3/12).
         FEHR STRIKES OUT?  In Baltimore, Buster Olney writes, "The
    union is in trouble, and unless an agreement is reached in the
    very near future, its members could start jumping ship to save
    themselves."  One agent, on MLBPA Exec Don Fehr:  "The best thing
    that could happen now is for Don to walk away.  I don't know how
    that can be done gracefully, but a change needs to be made"
    (Baltimore SUN, 3/12).  Fehr:  "If I believed I was the problem I
    would resign tomorrow.  But it's not that simple" (Peter Gammons,
    BOSTON GLOBE, 3/12). In Atlanta, I.J. Rosenberg writes, "The
    union's leverage has all but disappeared.  While the work
    stoppage may go on for some time, when it does end it appears the
    players will be the big losers" (ATL. CONSTITUTION, 3/12).
         OWNERSHIP STANDS FIRM:  ESPN's Peter Gammons:  "The message
    at [the Palm Beach] meetings was that the owners really believe
    they won no matter what the NLRB says and that they have gone too
    far not to hold out for what they want" ("Sports Weekly," 3/12).
    In his GLOBE column, Gammons quotes one moderate owner:  "The
    union has driven us to this point.  Look at McMorris and [Red Sox
    CEO John] Harrington.  They started out in the same camp as [the
    Mets'] Fred Wilpon and [the Orioles'] Peter Angelos, but after
    seven months of negotiating with these guys are hard-line in
    their resolve to get a meaningful deal."  Gammons notes, "While
    the owners don't know that the center of the union is indeed
    falling apart, they are proceeding on that theory" (BOSTON GLOBE,
    3/12).  One source close to the talks says the time for a deal
    was in Scottsdale:  "Fehr had his shot.  Now the window of
    opportunity is closed, and (the owners) want to break the union"
    (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 3/11).
    

    Print | Tags: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, ESPN, Leagues and Governing Bodies, New York Mets, Walt Disney
  • EXPANSION CITIES CELEBRATE, BEGIN OPERATIONS

         Both the Devil (Manta?) Rays and Diamondbacks entered their
    first weekend of existence with celebrations planned and the
    drive for season tickets at a peak.  A look at other happenings
    on the expansion scene:
         WELCOME WAGON:   After MLB owners threatened to raise the
    franchise fee by $35M to $175M, Diamondbacks Owner Jerry
    Colangelo remarked to Rays Owner Vince Naimoli:  "This is not the
    way we treat our future partners in the NBA.  The new owners know
    months in advance they're getting a team.  There are no
    surprises.  We want them to feel good about joining us" (Joe
    Henderson, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/12).
         JUST IN CASE:  "Jilted seven times since 1984," Naimoli was
    ready with a response if MLB owners rejected Tampa for an eighth
    time.  Naimoli had a letter in his pocket signed by FL Attorney
    General Bob Butterworth informing the owners that "legal action
    was commencing immediately on behalf of Tampa Bay against Major
    League Baseball."  He didn't need to use it (Tracy Ringolsby,
    ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 3/12).
         GIVE AN INCH, TAKE A FOOT: Already the owner of a lease with
    the ThunderDome that one former MLB owner called the "best lease
    in baseball," Rays officials say they "'may' revisit the lease's
    financial terms."  But St. Pete city officials say the team may
    "find the well dry."  The team already will manage the dome, its
    employees and receive all profits from non-baseball events.  The
    Rays also have the rights to sell the Dome's name and keep the
    first $10M plus 40% of the remaining profits from that deal.
    Plus, the club will receive $1.4M from the city during each of
    the first three years of the lease.  The city receives $.50 from
    each ticket sold (Noam Neusner, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/11).  State
    officials say improvements to the ThunderDome must help the Rays
    operate or make money to receive funding.  FL Sports Foundation
    Exec Dir Larry Pendleton said a waterfall did not merit state
    fuding (Noam Neusner, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/12).
         EASY FINANCING:  In Phoenix, Former Maricopa County
    Supervisor Jim Bruner, the man who cast the deciding vote for
    county funding for the Diamondbacks' new retractable dome
    stadium, says the $253M debt generated to build the park will be
    serviced by the time the team takes the field.  Bruner:
    "Basically, by the time the first (baseball) season comes around
    the debt will be gone."  County taxpayers will pay for the park
    with a quarter-cent sales tax increase (Mary Joe Pitzl, ARIZONA
    REPUBLIC, 3/12).
         NONE FOR YOU!  If MLB decides to expand and bring the number
    of teams to 32, the Rays and Diamondbacks will not see any of the
    fees.  As part of the expansion agreement, they were told they
    would be excluded from the next round of expansion revenues (Joe
    Henderson, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/12).
         THE NAME GAME: By 6pm Friday, more than 15,000 people had
    called the hotline to choose between Devil Rays and Manta Rays
    for Tampa's team name.  Four telephone lines were added to the
    eight originally set up to take calls because of the massive
    response (Bob Chick TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/11).  TAMPA TRIBUNE
    columnist Steve Otto on some of the reaction he's received from
    fans disturbed by the Devil Rays name: One "guy wanted me to know
    that Devil Ray spelled backward is 'yar lived' and that the word
    'yar' is a satanic dog" (Steve Clark, RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH,
    3/11).
         GET 'EM WHILE THEY'RE HOT:  Another 100 $50 season ticket
    deposits were received Friday, giving the Rays a total of 32,179.
    The team also received another $5,000 luxury suite deposit (Bob
    Chick, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/11).
         VIRGINIANS UNITE!  Northern VA leaders were told to "settle
    on one investor group" if they want to have a chance at MLB's
    next expansion.  Both Virginia Baseball, led by William Collins,
    and Capital Baseball, led by Bart Fisher, represented the region
    in vying for the latest round of expansion (Eric Lipton,
    WASHINGTON POST, 3/11).  Fisher will "push for stadium plans to
    continue, even without a team" (Thom Loverro, WASHINGTON TIMES,
    3/11).  For news on a possible Expos move to Northern VA, See
    #14.
    

    Print | Tags: Arizona Diamondbacks, Leagues and Governing Bodies, MLB, NBA, Tampa Bay Rays
  • TEXAS SET FOR SUMMER (CLASSIC?); GUND TO HOST NBA IN '97?

         NL President Len Coleman sent a memo to clubs assuring them
    there will be an All-Star Game, whether it is made up of
    replacements or regulars.  The game will be held at The Ballpark
    in Arlington, TX, the first time the Rangers will host the Game
    (Gerry Fraley, DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 3/9).
         HELLO, CLEVELAND: Cleveland is "very close" to being named
    the site of the NBA's 1997 All-Star Game, according to Burt
    Graeff of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER.  Portland, Boston, and
    Sacramento are the other cites which have expressed interest.
    One NBA source tells Graeff: "It's virtually a done deal.  I
    expect an announcement to be made soon."  The Indians will host
    the '97 MLB All-Star Game at Jacobs Field (Cleveland PLAIN-
    DEALER, 3/9).
    

    Print | Tags: Cleveland Indians, Leagues and Governing Bodies, MLB, NBA
  • THE ISSUE NO ONE WANTS TO TALK ABOUT, WHAT TO DO ABOUT CAL?

         As the possibility of replacement baseball approaches,
    debate about how Cal Ripken's consecutive games streak will and
    should be treated is heating up.  In Philadelphia, Jayson Stark
    writes, "The more we think about poor Cal Ripken, the more it
    gives us the shakes."  Although AL President Gene Budig has yet
    to rule on the situation, Elias Sports Bureau's Tom Hirdt says
    the issue is "fairly simple": "It seems to me that if they play
    games that count, the streak would end."  Hirdt points out that
    forfeits count as losses, "not mere non events" (PHILADELPHIA
    INQUIRER, 3/12).  Tom Carter, statistics editor of THE SPORTING
    NEWS, is responsible for determining criteria for records
    published in The Sporting News Complete Baseball Record Book.  He
    hasn't made a final decision on how to rule on the streak.
    However, Carter is "leaning" towards continuing the streak if the
    O's refuse to field replacement players and forfeit the games.
    Carter says if MLB fields a team for the O's, the streak will
    come to an end.  Carter also said he will "probably" abide by any
    decision made baseball officials (Buster Olney, Baltimore SUN,
    3/12).  Budig on the streak:  "It's under very, very active
    review.  Major league leaders past and present are being
    consulted on the issue" (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 3/12).  TIME's
    Steve Wulf said breaking the streak "would be the blackest mark
    in the history of baseball.  Blacker than anything that the 1919
    White Sox did and blacker than anything Pete Rose did" (ESPN,
    3/12).
         THE BOOK: The 1995 AL Red Book features pictures of Ripken
    and Gehrig on the cover, "the two seemingly gazing at each other
    from across time."  AL VP for Administration and Media Affairs
    Phyllis Merhige:  "I know I took a chance; I knew it was going to
    be controversial.  But I felt I had to acknowledge that it was
    going to be a big story this year.  Either way, it's the story of
    the year.  Either he breaks it or he doesn't" (Murray Chass, N.Y.
    TIMES, 3/12).
    

    Print | Tags: Chicago White Sox, ESPN, Leagues and Governing Bodies, MLB, Vulcan Ventures, Walt Disney
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