SBD/20/Leagues Governing Bodies

BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 221: "THIS IS IT"

     As both sides make the necessary arrangements to meet this
week with the start of the season hanging in the balance, Peter
Gammons lays out the choice:  "This is it, defoliation or
compromise."  MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr and acting MLB Commissioner
Bud Selig are expected to meet before the resumption of formal
talks, which could be as early as tomorrow.  Gammons argues that
the owners "already have won" because of the revenue losses the
game has undergone already from the strike.  According to Red Sox
CEO John Harrington, the projections are that clubs will lose
around $400-500M if they play with replacements, $600-700M if
they stay closed.  Harrington adds:  "The radio and TV
advertising dollars are essentially gone through June" (BOSTON
GLOBE, 3/19).  As Gammons explained on ESPN:  "What you're
looking at is a market where general managers can say 'Hey, we
don't have any money.'  Once they do that and they force about
200 Jody Reed's out on the market, next year when they have very
limited arbitration, they'll have had a profound effect.  But for
some reason, the owners are scared of a free market" ("Sports
Weekly," ESPN, 3/19).
     INJUNCTION JUNCTION:  As expected, NLRB General Counsel Fred
Feinstein asked the five-member board for an injunction to
restore the old system.  NLRB Chair William Gould said the board
will meet Thursday on the issue.  Fehr has said the players will
end the strike if there is an injunction,  but the NLRB is no
"quick solution."  A hearing could not take place before next
week, "and no one can be certain when a ruling would come" (Mark
Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 3/18).  Selig:  "We're not going to worry
about the NLRB.  With the appeals process, this could take
months" (Larry Whiteside, BOSTON GLOBE, 3/18).  Noting Fehr's no-
strike promise, Tracy Ringolsby writes, "Fehr, however, has not
discussed whether the fact that the NLRB filed a complaint on
only a portion of the union's charges would impact his
recommendation" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 3/18).  In New York, Murray
Chass reviews the legal precedents which could come into play
should the owners lock out the players (N.Y. TIMES, 3/19).
     WHAT'S THE HOLD-UP?  Special Mediator William Usery, on
Sunday night:  "Not a thing is set at this point.  We should know
something Monday" (Hal Bodley, USA TODAY, 3/20).  The union, and
some on management's side, "believe Selig is stalling in the hope
that striking players will begin to break ranks and return to
their teams in the two weeks before the season starts" (Ross
Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 3/18).    COUNT 'EM:  Should replacement
games not count, Jayson Stark asks, "How long until the first
lawsuit is filed by the first disgruntled ticket-buyer?  The
early over-under is 11 seconds" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/19).
Phillies President Bill Giles:  "We'll be having people suing us,
or at least asking for their money back.  I think it's another
reason you never start with replacement players."  Adds columnist
Frank Dolson, "Keep the stubs" (PHILA. INQUIRER, 3/20).  ESPN's
Bob Ley reported that management has said there "will be a way
found to preserve the integrity of Cal Ripken's consecutive games
streak" ("SportsCenter, 3/17).
     THE BARN'S ON FIRE:  While MLBPA officials are claiming that
owners pressured Reebok to pull out of the proposed players'
"barnstorming" tour, sources close to Reebok "said it was a
myriad of problems:  a lack of an interested television outlet,
few commitments from star players whose individual contracts
require permission from their team to play in games; problems
finding suitable stadiums, and the prohibitive cost of insurance"
(Tracy Ringolsby, ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 3/19).  Gammons reports
Reebok pulled out a month ago when the union "didn't deliver
promised signed forms that players would actually play, and when
Reebok rep Frank Thomas was asked if he would play, he said he
would not, nor would Barry Bonds.  Some players have asked their
agents to get them out of their Reebok contracts because of what
they were told [by the union], so Reebok has asked agents to come
in and get the facts" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/19).
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