SBD/6/Leagues Governing Bodies

BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 207: RAZING ARIZONA

     Talks between owners and players broke down with no
resumption in negotiations expected until after the owners'
meeting in Palm Beach, FL, this week.  Both MLBPA Exec Dir Don
Fehr and Rockies owner Jerry McMorris, the owners' chief
negotiator, left Scottsdale, AZ, on Sunday.  McMorris said,
barring a "miracle," the season will open with replacements
players.  Fehr:  "We're back to square one" (Mult., 3/6).
     THE NUMBERS:  The two sides left with the following tax
proposals on the table:  The players propose a 25% luxury tax on
payrolls above 133% of the average ($54M).  The owners propose a
50% tax above the average ($40.6M).  Management attorney Chuck
O'Connor indicated one of the reasons owners were disappointed
with the union's Saturday proposal was because of an ESPN report
that it would place the threshold at $47M.  O'Connor:  "That
would have not been a level of settlement for us, but it might
have promoted negotiation" (Peter Schmuck, Baltimore SUN, 3/6).
     ENTER THE HARD-LINERS?  A union source said the owners' last
offer was a "clear sign" that the hard-liners had taken over:
"All I can say is, there weren't many centrists in Scottsdale"
(Jayson Stark, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/6).  Those on the
players' side believe that White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf and
Tribune Co. attorney Robert Ballow "have already assumed command
of the owners' bargaining strategy" (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES,
3/6).  The future of McMorris and O'Connor as head and lead
counsel of the owners' negotiating team will be discussed at Palm
Beach, "with some owners believed to favor a change" to Reinsdorf
and Ballow (Ross Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 3/6).  Reinsdorf continues
to claim he has no interest in taking over (L.A. TIMES, 3/5).
O'Connor addressed a possible switch, saying that if the owners
went with Reinsdorf, he and Ballow "probably would be the right
combination."  While O'Connor said his approach is to focus on
negotiation, Ballow's strength is "keeping employers running with
replacement workers."  Reinsdorf said he wished he had the
influence attributed to him by the union, but that acting
Commissioner Bud Selig is "the only one who has power" (Murray
Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 3/5).  One management source, on Reinsdorf and
Ballow taking the lead role:  "That's not going to happen" (Tom
Keegan, N.Y. POST, 3/5).
     WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?  Agent Tom Reich:  "Huge pressure
is building on both sides:  for the players, starting to miss
more big paydays, for the owners, the replacement-player scam
failing miserably and the huge potential legal damages to be paid
becoming clearer."  Reich predicted an "arduous journey" to a
negotiated settlement (John Helyar, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/6).
In Philadelphia, Jayson Stark outlines the NLRB scenario for
ending the strike:  The NLRB rules against the owners on Tuesday
or Wednesday; the court upholds the ruling on Friday or the
following Monday; the players end the strike; the owners meet to
vote on whether to lock the players out.  The owners would need
21 votes to impose a lockout, and Stark cites "many baseball
people" who don't believe that they have the votes (PHILADELPHIA
INQUIRER, 3/5).  But USA TODAY's Hal Bodley lists six owners --
Reinsdorf, Florida's Huizenga, Seattle's Ellis, Minnesota's
Pohlad, Houston's McLane and Kansas City's Glass -- "who want the
players to stay out forever" (USA TODAY, 3/6).  Reinsdorf,
claiming the union is prepared to wait for the NLRB's ruling:
"We'll deal with it if and when it happens" (Bob Verdi, CHICAGO
TRIBUNE, 3/6).  In New York, Bill Madden reports owners don't
expect Fehr to "start negotiating seriously until the real
pressure point   -- April 15 -- draws near."  That is when
players miss their first paychecks, and is also tax day (N.Y.
DAILY NEWS, 3/5).   ANY SIGNS OF HOPE?  ESPN's Peter Gammons:
"The two sides are still 10,000 light years from home, but it's a
start" ("SportsCenter," 3/4).  Peter Schmuck:  "The luxury tax
remains the overriding issue in the negotiations, and despite the
reservations of the union -- both sides finally are on the same
wavelength" (Baltimore SUN, 3/5).  O'Connor:  "These breaks can
be viewed as a cause for great alarm or a cause for reflection
and opportunity" (L.A. TIMES, 3/6).
     OTHER NEWS & NOTES:  A nationwide poll conducted by Michigan
pollster EPIC/MRA (1,000 people surveyed from February 20-24;
margin of error +/- 3%) found that of the 59% who said they
attended a baseball game last year, 43% said they won't go to
replacement games (EPIC/MRA)....The union is considering filing
another unfair labor practices charge with the NLRB over the
issue of inducements to minor-leaguers to play in spring games
(WASHINGTON POST, 3/5).
Return to top
Video Powered By - Castfire CMS Powered By - Sitecore

Report a Bug