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BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 204: BACK TO SQUARE ZERO?
Published March 3, 1995
"Anger at the baseball peace talks. Owners say union boss Don Fehr demanded to go back and look anew at the owners revenue sharing decision of January 1994, instead of the current economic issues. Rockies Owner Jerry McMorris said he thinks it's time he and other moderates turn it over to the hardline owners," according to ESPN's Keith Olbermann in last night's "SportsCenter." Said McMorris: "I think I was used by Don Fehr and his staff'" (ESPN, 3/2). BUD'S OUT: In addition, acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig emerged from a one-on-one meeting with MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr to announce that he was leaving Scottsdale. One person familiar with the talks said that Selig told Fehr "he was frustrated and didn't like what was happening" (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 3/3). Selig convinced McMorris to stay and head a reconfigured management team: McMorris, Cubs President Andy MacPhail, Phillies President Dave Montgomery, Brewers VP Wendy Selig-Prieb (Selig's daughter) and lawyers Chuck O'Connor and Rob Manfred. Selig: "I didn't give him any choice" (Tracy Ringolsby, ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 3/3). BAD COP/BAD COP: McMorris, asked if by hard-liners, he meant White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf: "That would be the likely alternative. ... If we are going to war, going to spend considerable time in the courthouse and every day is going to be a confrontation, we have owners who have a longer history dealing in that than I do" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 3/3). Several reports note that Nashville attorney Robert Ballow also would step forward if negotiating duties are handed over. Ballow, who counsels the Tribune Co., has a "union-busting reputation" (Ross Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 3/3). In Baltimore, Peter Schmuck writes, "The message was clear -- and perhaps even orchestrated. The union's window of opportunity is closing, and the time to cut a deal may never be better" (Baltimore SUN, 3/3). In Washington, Mark Maske writes with Reinsdorf and Ballow, "the chances of the strike extending into the summer would increase dramatically" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/3). In Philadelphia, Jayson Stark writes Selig's exit "was a sign that the hard-liners on the owners' side were showing their muscle again" (PHILA. INQUIRER, 3/3). Hal Bodley writes, "Selig's action was seen as a ploy to jar the union" (USA TODAY, 3/3). WHAT DID THEY SAY? McMorris cited "the union's refusal to delineate where it stood on a tax level and continued opposition to the owners' revenue-sharing plan" as reasons for his displeasure (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 3/3). But Murray Chass cites a union source who claims they were "prepared to accept" the owners' revenue-sharing plan and that there had been "misunderstandings" due to reports given by Mediator William Usery (N.Y. TIMES, 3/3). Fehr "hinted" a proposal would be forthcoming today based on Wednesday's late-night meeting of McMorris and Manfred and union officials Lauren Rich and Michael Weiner (Mark Maske, WAHSINGTON POST, 3/3). USA TODAY reports that at that Wednesday meeting, MLBPA attorney Lauren Rich suggested a luxury tax of 25% over $59M, or 145% of the average payroll. McMorris claimed no teams' payroll approached $59M (Hal Bodley, USA TODAY, 3/3). LAST NIGHT'S TV: On ABC's "World News Tonight," Mark Potter reported on replacement games from the Dodgers/ Yankees in Ft. Lauderdale: "So far, fans aren't flocking to see them" (ABC, 3/2). CBS "Eye on America" covered the start of spring training. CBS's Dan Rather's lead-in: "The regular players have been eplaced by a collection of has-beens, never-weres, and wanna-be's. What the union calls scabs" (CBS, 3/2). Reds GM Jim Bowden said some of his minor-leaguers reported "physical threats" if they played this spring. Asked if they came from major leaguers, Bowden said, "It is all hearsay until more facts are brought forward, but yes that is what we were told" (CNN, 3/2).