SBD/2/Leagues Governing Bodies

BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 203: WHAT BLOOMS IN THE DESERT?

     "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).
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