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BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 203: WHAT BLOOMS IN THE DESERT?
Published March 2, 1995
"The optimism that surfaced at the beginning of the renewed effort to resolve the baseball strike was put on hold Wednesday," writes Tracy Ringolsby in this morning's ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS. Rockies Owner Jerry McMorris, who expressed optimism Tuesday that a deal could be done this week, "sounded frustrated a deal wasn't closer than it had been 24 hours earlier, but didn't seem discouraged." Both sides will continue talks today, focusing on the "stalemate" over the proposed luxury tax. "So far, the players have been unwilling to discuss a tax plan other than a flat tax that would be used as an alteration of the owners' revenue-sharing plan" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 3/2). Until the tax is discussed, "any optimism about a settlement being imminent probably is unfounded" (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 3/2). SOMETHING'S GONNA HAPPEN: In Philadelphia, Jayson Stark outlines the factors that make this round of talks "different from previous sessions": 1) THE SELIG EFFECT -- Selig "seems to have distanced himself from the hard-liners [namely, White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf]. ... And that could have a huge impact on the ability of the owners' bargaining team to sell a compromise." 2) NICE GUYS MAKE DEALS -- The change in mood "has everything to do with an abrupt change in the union's negotiating philosophy. ... The union hierarchy has decided -- perhaps at the suggestion of some of the more influential agents and players -- to stop dwelling on the bad blood between the parties and start concentrating on building a better relationship for the future." 3) THE NO-PROPOSAL PROPOSALS -- Deals get done "in informal settings and in small groups." 4) THE NLRB BLUES -- One agent said a favorable ruling from the NLRB will only lead to a protracted court battle, for which there is little time. 5) THE REPLACE-MESS -- "Both sides already seem to recognize that these games are a farce" (PHILA. INQUIRER, 3/2). In L.A., Ross Newhan notes the Reinsdorf factor, citing sources who say he wants a "fight to the death." One source: "Jerry wants a winner and a loser. Selig, Fehr and others recognize the need for an honorable deal" (L.A. TIMES, 3/2). In Washington, Tom Boswell writes "sensible reasons exist for anticipating The End": The union's recent P.R. gaffes and potential May 1 defections; the negative reaction to replacements; and, the owners' 3/4 voting rule, which could prevent a lockout if the players return after a favorable NLRB ruling (WASHINGTON POST, 3/2). NOT SO OPTIMISTIC: In Chicago, Jerome Holtzman predicts there won't be a deal "until early or mid-May -- after the regular players miss two or three paydays" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/2). In New York, Jay Greenberg writes, "The conscienceless owners who blew off a World Series didn't test the players' resolve all the way to early March to suddenly forge a new spirit of cooperation. And the players, having missed only three checks to this point, are not yet desperate enough to tell the ideological zealots who run their union to get off their high horse and better represent their entire constituency" (N.Y. POST, 3/2). REPLACEMENT SHAM: In Cincinnati, Tim Sullivan writes that in signing 48-year-old, 238-pound Pedro Borbon, the Reds "have simultaneously conceded replacement ball to be a circus and revealed the depths of ownership's desperation." Pirates Manager Jim Leyland, on Borbon: "I worry about what's happening to baseball" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 3/2). TIMETABLE: Blue Jay Paul Molitor said "the next two or three days, maybe through the weekend, before the owners leave for their meetings, is going to be the most opportune time [to cut a deal]" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 3/1). ESPN's Bob Sirkin noted that the owners say they will hold their March 7-9 meetings in Palm Beach on schedule -- "regardless of what happens here" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 3/1). OTHER NEWS: On PBS' "Nightly Business Report," Jeff Yastine looked at the economic effect the strike is having on FL and AZ, especially host communities that are concerned about "being able to meet the bond obligations that financed new stadium construction for many municipalities." Yastine reports the strike isn't having much of an impact on hotel and motel bookings, which are "at or above normal," and most communities have not seen a decrease in tourism taxes, which usually go toward stadium bonds (PBS, 3/1).