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BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 228: HERE COMES THE JUDGE
Published March 27, 1995
One week before Opening Day, the NLRB "authorized its general counsel to seek an injunction in Federal court that could send striking players back to work as early as this week." Daniel Silverman, director of the NLRB's New York office, said he would initiate the effort in U.S. District Court in Manhattan today "and would ask the judge, once one is assigned, to handle the case expeditiously." While the players have made it clear they would return if such an injunction is obtained, it is "not clear" whether the owners would subsequently vote to lock them out. "And in a related development, the two sides in the dispute agreed to meet tonight in Manhattan to resume negotiations for the first time since March 4" (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 3/27). The story led ABC's Sunday "World News Tonight" (ABC, 3/26). REAX: MLBPA General Counsel Gene Orza: "I'm never surprised when something we say is upheld by a third party" (Ross Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 3/27). Braves President Stan Kasten: "I have utter confidence in our case, unfortunately that would take a long time to get to" (I.J. Rosenberg, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 3/27). Rangers President Tom Schieffer: "What we have here is something that just prolongs the process. The NLRB is not a body that resolves things" (Simon Gonzalez, FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 3/27). "The best case scenario for the union is that there could be a hearing on the matter by Wednesday, and a ruling by Friday" (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 3/27). ESPN's Peter Gammons, on a pre-Opening day injunction: "There's no guarantee, because of the unusual nature of this case, that [the players] are actually going to get the injunction. If they do, the players will offer to come back, the owners will then vote 23-5 or 22-6 to lockout. Unless there's a settlement this week, we're going on into replacement ball next weekend." Gammons said the owners don't view the NLRB ruling as "important," adding, "If the players really do, then these negotiations are just going to be distracted and not go anywhere" ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN, 3/26). TO LOCKOUT, OR NOT TO LOCKOUT: Several reports note that the owners might not be able to get the 21 votes necessary for a lockout. One AL owner predicts six teams would vote "No" -- Dodgers, Yankees, Mets, Blue Jays, Orioles and Padres -- with the Indians, Tigers and Rangers leaning that way (Ross Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 3/27). In Philadelphia, Jayson Stark noted "major doubt among baseball people" that the owners would vote pro-lockout. But the nature of the ruling, the timing and whether the players return with a no-strike pledge are all factors (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/27). The latest BUSINESS WEEK outlines the owners' risk: "If the NLRB finds the lockout illegal, the league could be on the hook for players' salaries totaling some $1 billion for the season. That amount could be tripled if the lockout was also found to have violated the old contract's anticollusion clause" (Aaron Bernstein, BUSINESS WEEK, 4/3 issue). In Washington, Mark Maske notes that "ownership moderates will try to convince hard- liners they're in a precarious position" by risking that much (WASHINGTON POST, 3/27). In New York, Murray Chass adds, if the players stay out, "they may prefer a lockout to a strike at this juncture, partly for public relations purposes and partly to keep any players from being tempted to break ranks and return to work" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/27).