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BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 209: CROQUET, ANYONE?
Published March 8, 1995
"While expansion will be a big issue this week, it will still rank behind strike talk on the ownership hit parade," writes Jayson Stark from the owners' meeting at The Breakers in Palm Beach, FL. The negotiating committee will report to the full ownership on the talks, with a possible lockout strategy on the agenda with the NLRB due to make its ruling "any day now" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/8). Rockies Owner Jerry McMorris said he believes talks will resume at the beginning of next week, and there were "some indications that a bargaining session could take place on Monday in Chicago." MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr said he had heard nothing from owners (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 3/8). McMorris: "I want to be part of getting this over with and I want a deal that's meaningful" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 3/7). REPLACEMENT NEGOTIATORS? ESPN's Peter Gammons reported that big market teams, such as the Mets, Blue Jays and Yankees, are going to "get together to try to map their strategy to get this thing finished" ("SportsCenter," 3/7). Unless the union can change his mind, Special Mediator William Usery is expected to ask the owners to put their "best offer" on the table. That raises the issue of "how hard-line that final proposal should be." Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner and Mets Owner Fred Wilpon, both recent additions to the Executive Council, are willing to "preach" a pro-settlement stance (Tom Keegan, N.Y. POST, 3/8). Don Mattingly expressed disbelief that Steinbrenner and other big-market owners would let Bud Selig "run the show" (Jeff Bradley, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/8). The Phils' Dave Hollins called on his boss, Bill Giles, to get involved: "He's a guy who could get the hard-liners thinking about the fans" (Paul Hagen, PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 3/7). NOWHERE TO GO BUT DOWN? SI's Tim Kurkjian quotes Fehr from last Saturday: "Remember what Resindorf said -- May of '96, May of '96." Kurkjian reports that Fehr's "animosity" toward the owners, and White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf's "similar feelings" toward Fehr "are key points in the stalled talks." One owner says Reinsdorf "doesn't want to break the union, he wants the demise of Fehr" ("Scorecard," SI, 3/13 issue). In L.A., Ross Newhan cites one member of the owners' negotiating team who said that Fehr "actually interrupted one promising session to conduct a news briefing because he said he had a commitment to an Eastern writer on deadline." On the other side, Newhan doubts the union's claim Reinsdorf is pulling the strings. Noting that McMorris wouldn't go to dinner with fellow owners if Reinsdorf was present, Newhan writes "it is difficult to believe" he would act as Reinsdorf's "front man" (L.A. TIMES, 3/8). In Washington, Tom Boswell reports, "Many players are mad enough to pull everything off the table; let the owners have the pleasure of watching their replacement teams for a couple of months" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/8). WOLF IN BIRD'S CLOTHING: Orioles Owner Peter Angelos arrives in Palm Beach today. Sources said the Executive Council meeting last night "became, in part, an Angelos-bashing session." AL President Gene Budig meets with acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig today on the Orioles, "and it appears the league may be shying away from a legal battle with Angelos and simply may permit the Orioles to forfeit replacement games" (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 3/8).