SBD/31/Leagues Governing Bodies

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         With a players' counter-proposal on the table and one report
    indicating that the start of the season could be delayed until
    April 24, most media observers this morning are reserving
    judgment on the possibility of a negotiated settlement until
    after U.S. District Judge Sonia Sotomayor rules on the NLRB's
    request for an injunction.
         INJUNCTION JUNCTION:  Judge Sotomayor ruled that she would
    allow no witnesses at this morning's proceedings.  Although she
    has not said when she would rule, "sources said she gave the
    principals the distinct impression she would decide before Sunday
    night's season opener -- probably tomorrow" (Jayson Stark,
    PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/31).   "Both sides see Sotomayor's
    decision as the point of critical mass that could shake loose the
    impasse" (Larry Whiteside, BOSTON GLOBE, 3/31).  ESPN's Peter
    Gammons: "Whether or not [the players] get the injunction really
    shifts the leverage in this thing.  If the players get it and
    they can threaten to come back, the owners are up against a real
    gun" ("SportsCenter," 3/30).
         REPLACEMENT VOTE:  The owners voted 26-2 by phone to
    authorize the use of replacement players, with only the  Orioles
    and Blue Jays dissenting.  The Yankees' George Steinbrenner was
    an original no vote, but changed in "a show of solidarity" (Mark
    Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 3/31).
         HARRINGTON'S TAKE:  Red Sox CEO John Harrington put chances
    for avoiding replacements at "50-50," but quickly added:  "I'm
    not talking about a settlement.  I'm talking about the
    possibility that there might be some agreement with regard to
    playing the championship season with regular players."
    Harrington also "hinted for the first time" that the owners might
    abide by an injunction, even without further conditions.
    Harrington:  "If [Fehr] puts conditions on [ending the strike],
    all we have to do is say no -- or we could negotiate on those
    conditions."  Harrington noted that beyond the injunction,
    Sotomayor's options are limited.  She could rule on arbitration
    and central bargaining, and, according to Harrington, "under
    those conditions, Donald would have to make an unconditional
    offer. ... I just hope he's ready" (George Kimball, BOSTON
    HERALD, 3/31).  Also in Boston, Will McDonough & Nick Cafardo
    report an injunction could lead to an April 24 start date.  If
    the owners don't lock out and the players pledge not to strike
    and to continue good faith negotiations, the season could be
    shortened to 150 games.  The Red Sox replacement team will not
    fly to Minneapolis until Monday (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/31).
         I'LL SEE THAT 25%, AND RAISE YOU ... MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr
    announced last night that the players had verbally agreed to
    accept the owners' offer to retain the old system of arbitration
    and free agency, and that other "secondary issues were all but
    settled."  That left the luxury tax and the term of the proposed
    system as the "only major issues blocking an agreement."  The
    players offered a 25% tax on payrolls above $50M.  The owners'
    remain at 50% at $44M (Peter Schmuck, Baltimore SUN, 3/31).  USA
    TODAY's Hal Bodley writes that management "was crushed" by the
    union's offer.  They were expecting a tax rate of at least 30% on
    payrolls above $50M (USA TODAY, 3/31).  "Sources on both sides
    believe the negotiations will resume at an intense level
    Saturday.  Fehr said the union is ready to return to the table
    and stay there" (Ross Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 3/31).  Gammons: "The
    question is, when and if the owners come back and start
    negotiating, are they going to really negotiate, or are they just
    going to sit there and hold the line while the players do all the
    movement? ... The players really do want to get something done"
    ("Baseball Tonight," 3/30).
         PLAYERS GETTING ANTSY?  In Denver, Tracy Ringolsby reports
    that union leadership "is feeling a backlash from its members,
    who expressed concern this week about the failure to make a quick
    response to the owners' Monday offer.  The pressure apparently
    forced Fehr to speed up his counterproposal" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN
    NEWS, 3/31).

    Print | Tags: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, ESPN, Leagues and Governing Bodies, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Walt Disney

         Maryland Stadium Authority Chair John Moag said yesterday
    that they may file an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL for
    "illegally interferring" with Baltimore's attempt to get a team.
    Moag noted that the suit would be part of a "two-track strategy"
    to get an NFL team, with plans to "keep trying to persuade" a
    current NFL team to move to Baltimore (Vito Stellino, Baltimore
    SUN, 3/31).

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, NFL

         Reports that NHL players are sure to play in the '98 Winter
    Games in Nagano appear to be a bit "premature," according to
    today's TORONTO SUN.  Recently, IOC President Juan Antonio
    Samaranch, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, NHLPA Exec Dir Bob
    Goodenow and IIHF President Rene Fasel met in Switzerland to
    discuss the possibility of a hockey "Dream Team."  The latest
    reports from Europe, however, "indicate there's no unanimity
    among the group" and that several major issues have to be settled
    before the plan is given the "go-ahead."  Goodenow:  "We have
    some hockey issues to solve.  That includes the impact on the
    players who might play and those who might not.  Moreover, we
    have to go over some business issues" (George Gross, TORONTO SUN,
         NHL IN ZURICH?  There is speculation overseas that the NHL
    will open its European headquarters in Zurich "in the near future
    to take merchandising and licensing programs in-house."  Former
    FIFA press chief Guido Tognoni would be the Managing Dir of the
    office (TORONTO SUN, 3/31).

    Print | Tags: IOC, Leagues and Governing Bodies, NHL
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