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MLB returns tonight with the Marlins-Dodgers, to be carried nationally on ESPN. Capacity at Joe Robbie Stadium is 46,238, "but how many show up to welcome the major leaguers may be an issue that overshadows the game," according to Larry Whiteside in this morning's BOSTON GLOBE. Marlins Manager Rene Lachemann: "We have to go after the young fans. And with a lot more than signing autographs. The fans we lost we may never get back. So we have to go out after some new ones" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/25). WHAT IT TAKES: In San Francisco, Tim Keown quotes an unnamed baseball exec saying that MLB won't realize its market potential "until they understand they are an industry and not 28 separate, warring city-states. ... How can Dave Stewart not be a major spokesman for the game of baseball? It's amazing how simple it is, but there's such a major rift between labor and management that it may never happen" (SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 4/25). TIME TO THROW OUT THE FIRST POLL: The CNN/USA TODAY/ Gallup Poll surveyed 427 baseball fans from April 17-19; margin of error +/- 5% (USA TODAY, 4/25). "Moneyline's" Lou Dobbs on the results: "Many fans have had it" (CNN, 4/24). ARE YOU A FAN OF (OF THOSE WHO ATTENDED AT LEAST ONE PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL? GAME LAST YEAR): DO YOU PLAN TO NOW FEB 26 ATTEND ANY MLB GAMES THIS YEAR? Yes 41% 49% No 59 51 Yes 61% No 34% Don't know 5% WILL YOU WATCH MORE MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL ON TELEVISION THIS SEASON, AS MUCH OR LESS? Less 48% As much 43% More 7% No opinion 2% SIGNS, SIGNS ... EVERYWHERE SIGNS: The Cardinals drew 26,033 for an exhibition game against the Mariners with the team's promotion "built around" Ken Griffey Jr. The team's season-ticket holders were admitted free with everyone else paying $2.50 (SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 4/25)....In Atlanta, the Braves drew less than 8,000 for a game against the Yankees. Temps were in the 40s. Paid attendance was announced at 25,309 due to the game's inclusion in season-ticket packages (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 4/25)....An "unheard-of" 7,500 tickets remain for the Blue Jays' home opener. Thus far, the Jays do not have one sell-out for any of their first 15 games (TORONTO SUN, 4/25)....David Letterman: "In an effort to bring a lot of people out to Shea Stadium this year, earlier today the Mets held a press conference and announced that all Mets 1995 games would be played on the road" ("Late Night," CBS, 4/24).
The Indy Racing League announced dates for four of its races during its inaugural '96 season: The Indy 200 at Walt Disney World's planned 1.1 mile oval on January 27; Phoenix 200 at Phoenix Int'l Raceway on March 24; Indianapolis 500 on its traditional Memorial Day date, May 26; and the Las Vegas 200 September 15. Two more IRL dates may come at a later date. ABC will broadcast each race (IRL). WARRING LEAGUES? In Boston, Michael Vega examines the problems that may develop between IndyCar and the IRL. Many IndyCar drivers are concerned that non-sanctioning by the IRL could keep them out of the Indy 500. IndyCar CEO Andrew Craig said the issue is power: "We've come down to one issue, and that's that the [Indianapolis Motor] Speedway wants to either have the power to run the series or at least to have most of the power in running the series." Car owner Derrick Walker is afraid the conflict could be "divisive to the sport": "I think we'll all lose. ... My sponsors want to go to the Indy 500 and I'm sure the Indy 500 wants our team and wants our sponsors. So I think if the IRL is going to evolve, it has to recognize there are other interests for these teams and the rules should be open enough to allow a team to go to the Indy 500 even if it doesn't go to the whole series" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/23).
The American and National Leagues released the details of their latest offer to locked-out umpires, which the umps rejected. The SALARY range would increase from $60,000-175,000 to $70,000-215,000. POST-SEASON PAY: Umpires who work the division series would receive $7,500, LCS $10,000, and World Series $12,500. In addition, all umpires would receive $20,000 from the post-season pool. SEVERANCE PAY would increase to $335,000; DISABILITY PAY would increase from a max of $5,000/month to $6,500; and PER DIEM ALLOWANCE would go from $206.50 to $215. NL President Leonard Coleman: "Every umpire has had between a $16,000 and $20,000 raise, incrementally, over the last four years. No one expects them to go without one for the next four years." AL President Gene Budig: "Our offer exceeds the percentage increases that the country's top management consultants have projected for senior executive compensation" (AL/NL). NO DEAL: The umpires rejected the offer, "making it likely replacements will be working the delayed season opener" in Florida tonight. MLBUA General Counsel Richie Phillips claims the owners' proposal doesn't address the fact that only one umpire would be eligible to make $215,000, that the number of post-season games has been doubled, and the rising costs of living on the road (Ronald Blum, AP/FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 4/25). SEE YOU IN TORONTO: The Ontario Labor Relations Board has scheduled a hearing for tomorrow morning on the MLBUA's claim that replacements are barred under provincial labor law. The leagues argue that cancelling Jays games during the lock-out "could trigger wild protests, injury and property damage" (Tony van Alphen, TORONTO STAR, 4/25).