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BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- PART II: TALKS TO RESUME
Published March 27, 1995
The owners could submit a formal proposal to the players when meetings resume tonight, according to the L.A. TIMES. The key points, according to a top management official: Arbitration for players with three years of experience, restricted free agency for four and five-year players, unrestricted after six, a 40% tax on payrolls over $40M (Bob Nightengale, L.A. TIMES, 3/25). But ESPN's Peter Gammons cited Red Sox CEO John Harrington, who said the owners "will not present a new proposal. They will present some new ideas, and maybe some things that will bring the players closer." But Gammons added: "I really don't think that there's any way that they're going to come any closer" ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN, 3/26). FOR GOD'S SAKE, DON'T DRINK THE KOOL-AID! White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf compared Fehr to cult leader Jim Jones. Reinsdorf, who recommended the players hire an "independent third person" to evaluate offers from both sides: "Don't believe the owners, but for God's sake, this isn't Guyana. Don't believe the guy that's misleading you" (Paul Sullivan, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/26). ESPN's Keith Olbermann: "No truth to the rumors that Fehr will reply by comparing Jerry Reinsdorf to the worst person he could think of -- Jerry Reinsdorf" ("SportsCenter," 3/26). WASHINGTON WEEK IN REVIEW: President Clinton was interviewed over the weekend by ESPN Radio. Clinton on the baseball strike: "If it becomes so painfully clear that it is no longer a sport and it's just a business, then the customers may decide to take their business elsewhere. ... It could become a community sport again -- almost the way soccer is, if they don't fix it" (ESPN Radio, 3/25). Citing what he claims are conflicting statements from acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy plans to reintroduce legislation today with Republicans Orrin Hatch and Strom Thurmond to partially repeal MLB's antitrust exemption (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 3/25). Speaker Newt Gingrich predicted hearings on the issue, "once we're past the labor-management fight" ("Larry King Live," CNN, 3/24). THE WINNER, AND NEW CHAMPION? Two baseball writers give the owners the nod thus far in negotiations. In Denver, Tracy Ringolsby writes, "The owners have finally stayed together, and the union has failed to adapt" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 3/26). In L.A., Ross Newhan writes, "No matter how a negotiated settlement plays out, the owners would finally win one" -- but, that is if they can: 1) "disentangle" from the Reinsdorf-led effort to break the union; 2) convince Selig "to act like the commissioner many are convinced he wants to become"; 3) compromise on the tax -- 35% at $47M is suggested; and, 4) include a three-year reopener on the tax, unrestricted free agency for 4+ players and right-of-first refusal for three (L.A. TIMES, 3/26). OTHER STRIKING THOUGHTS: An AP poll (403 self-identified baseball fans surveyed March 15-19) found 34% saying they would attend fewer games if replacement players are used, and 38% saying they would watch fewer games on TV (Mult, 3/25)....MLBPA counsel Lauren Rich: "If there's not a settlement in the next seven to 10 days, it will reopen an era of litigation that will make collusion seems like child's play. ... This will degenerate into a legal war that will take a very long time to play out and (in) which the only winners will be football, basketball and hockey (Ross Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 3/27)....ESPN's Karl Ravech reported that spring training attendance per team is down from 89,000 last year to 20,200 this year. Averages per game: 5,933 in '94, 2,020 in '95 ("Baseball Tonight," 3/26).