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BASEBALL'S BACK II: LABOR ISSUES ECLIPSED, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
Published April 26, 1995
GOOD MORNING, BASEBALL: Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig appeared on "Good Morning America." Selig: "I would hope before this year's over that we have a long-term labor agreement." Selig on what needs to be done in regards to the fans: "We are going to have to work at all levels, players and the clubs and the central offices, to bring fans back. ... There'll be places obviously, like Denver, Toronto or Baltimore next week and others that are going to be sold out, but there's no question we are going to have to work to bring people back. ... Maybe what we've gone through will heighten the awareness the sensitivity of both players and management towards the fans and make us, not only for the next day, month -- but for the years to come -- understand what we have to do. If it all works out that way, then this will have not been in vain" (ABC, 4/26). TELL THAT TO THE UMPS: MLB opened its season last night with replacement umpires. This morning, the MLBUA and the leagues will argue before the Ontario Labour Relations Board that the use of replacements is illegal under Ontario law. No ruling is expected today, thus ensuring that the Blue Jays' home opener will not be affected (James Christie, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 4/26). In an "unusual joint statement," MLBUA General Counsel Richie Phillips and MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr announced an understanding that players would not be asked to respect the umpires' picket lines. MLB negotiator Robert Kheel, before a meeting with Phillips last night: "There's nothing new" (AP/L.A. TIMES, 4/26). CHANGE IN COMMAND: The owners hired Univ. of Virginia law professor Douglas Leslie to argue their appeal of Judge Sonia Sotomayor's court order on May 11 which led to the end of the players' strike. Leslie replaces Frank Casey of Morgan, Lewis & Brockius, the owners' firm of record on labor matters for the past decade (N.Y. TIMES, 4/26). COLLUSION CHARGES COMING: MLBPA General Counsel Gene Orza claims it has proof the owners again colluded on player salaries. Orza, who says he will present a "massive number of violations" to the NLRB: "Strange as it may seem, one more time (the owners) have restrained the market rather than letting it flow." Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig again denied the charge (Rod Beaton, USA TODAY, 4/26). DOWN THE ROAD: ESPN's Peter Gammons, on the dim prospects for a quick settlement: "Both judges said that the owners could have implemented if they had just done it right, they could have put any system they wanted in if they hadn't double-crossed the NLRB. That time is going to come at the end of the season; eventually the players are going to have to deal with it" ("Baseball Tonight," 4/25). MORE POLL NUMBERS: The CNN/USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows that baseball is still in second place as America's favorite sport at 16% to football's 32%, although basketball is a close third at 15%. Of 427 self-identified "baseball fans," 52% have a favorable opinion of the players, with 44% unfavorable. But only 31% have a favorable opinion of the owners, with 63% unfavorable (CNN/USA TODAY/Gallup).