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"The longest and costliest work stoppage in professional sports history is over," writes Ross Newhan in this morning's L.A. TIMES. Last night, acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig announced that the owners would accept the players' "unconditional offer" to return to work. But, there is still no agreement, "no hint of a settlement and no guarantee the players won't strike again in August. There is also no assurance the owners won't attempt to declare another impasse -- the injunction order requires court approval -- and implement a new economic system anchored to a high-rate payroll tax" (L.A. TIMES, 4/3). NO NO-STRIKE PLEDGE: In a Saturday meeting, the owners' lawyers "asked about the idea of a no-strike, no-lockout agreement but did not request a pledge." Management lawyers were concerned that placing "such a condition on an acceptance of an unconditional offer to return to work" (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 4/3). Selig "said it will be up to the owners' bargaining committee to speak to the union about a no-strike pledge," but Orioles Owner Peter Angelos believes there is "sentiment on both sides" for the union to do so in return for the owners agreeing not to implement their system (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 4/3). MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr appeared on NBC's "Today" and was asked about the lack of a no-strike pledge and what would prevent a repeat: "We've just lived through it. It's no longer imaginary. No one can say to themselves anymore that if we do this it will last two weeks, or the players will fold or everybody will cross. We know what it can mean and that ought to put a real breath of cold air on it" (NBC, 4/3). THE LOCKOUT NON-VOTE: ESPN's Peter Gammons said there were 15 or 16 owners who wanted a lockout, but they were "terrified" by the possibility of financial losses. Gammons: "I found it very interesting the way they never took a vote and they never said they wouldn't lock out. They are still holding that hammer" ("SportsCenter," 4/2). BACK TO THE TABLE: CNN's Bob Lorenz notes that Selig "would not say whether the owners would keep that (their latest) offer on the table" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 4/2). One NL owner: "When we resume negotiations, we're going to start all over again. No more of this luxury tax stuff. We're going to ask for a salary cap." The same owner, on Fehr's belief that negotiations will resume soon: "Who's he kidding? We just lost our shirt. Right now we've got nothing to gain" (Jerome Holtzman, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/2). TAKE A NUMBER: Forgotten throughout the recent players dispute is the fact that MLB's umpires are locked out. The MLBPA is seeking a 60% pay raise over a four-year proposal. They recently withdrew an unfair labor practices charge against MLB, but "it's possible the umpires may consider refiling those charges." In Baltimore, Peter Schmuck reports, "Barring hard and successful negotiations in the next three weeks, the already tainted 1995 season will start with replacement umpires" (Baltimore SUN, 4/3).
ABC'S ARMEN KETEYIAN: "While it may only take a few weeks to get the contracts signed and players back on the field, it may take much longer to repair the damage done to baseball's image" ("World News Tonight," ABC, 4/2). AGENT RON SHAPIRO: "While there is a lot of insanity in the game, all the parties realize that the worst thing that can happen is that there will be a strike during the season" (Ken Rosenthal, Baltimore SUN, 4/3). BALTIMORE SUN'S KEN ROSENTHAL: "Get an agreement -- a long, sensible, fair agreement -- then talk about reviving the national pastime" (Baltimore SUN, 4/3). BALTIMORE SUN'S PETER SCHMUCK picks Winners: Fehr, Angelos, Sotomayor, John Calhoun Wells (who "got out before the dispute got him), Ripken and civics teachers. Losers: Morgan, Lewis & Brockius ("When the client doesn't know what's good for him, do you take orders or take a hike?"), Selig, fans, umpires, Usery, Clinton (Balto. SUN, 4/3). BOSTON GLOBE'S BOB RYAN: "Until the owners rectify the big- market, small-market revenue situation and find an economic system they can live with ... we'll be right back here a year from now" ("CBS This Morning," 4/3). BOSTON GLOBE'S DAN SHAUGHNESSY: "Everything that happened in the last six weeks meant nothing. As Emily Latella would say, 'Never mind'" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/3). BOSTON HERALD'S GEORGE KIMBALL writes the owners' "final days were marked by bickering, panic-stricken moves and a complete and utter crumbling of resolve" (BOSTON HERALD, 4/3). BOSTON HERALD'S MICHAEL GEE: "The owners are on the verge of gaining their most substantial financial concessions since free agency, even if they accepted the union's latest proposal. But the moguls don't see that, because they're blind with rage. How dare Judge Sonia Sotomayor rule that United States laws apply to baseball" (BOSTON HERALD, 4/3). CARDINALS PRESIDENT MARK LAMPING: "The aspect of this regarding the players coming back without a settlement, from our point of view, solves absolutely nothing" ("Nightly News," NBC, 3/31). CHICAGO TRIBUNE'S ANDREW BAGNATO: "Don't expect a tickertape parade to mark the game's return" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/3). CNN'S BOB LORENZ: "This game, which has been in disarray for nearly eight months, appears to have been pieced back together again. Fans now can only hope that this time around it won't fall apart before the playoffs and World Series begins" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 4/2). ESPN'S PETER GAMMONS: "Let's face it, the game is much worse off today than it was on August 12 when they struck, and coming back doesn't do anything to help that. I am afraid if this thing drags on and they can't get a settlement during the year, they are going to diminish this industry dramatically" ("Sunday Sportsday," ESPN, 4/2). FORMER COMMISSIONER FAY VINCENT: "What a tremendous waste of time it all was. ... I feel very bad for an institution that I was involved with, that it is just so untidy and unsuccessful. It's embarrassingly inept. The tragedy is a lack of planning, a lack of care. ... They would be better off spending their time figuring out how to work together" (Claire Smith, N.Y. TIMES, 4/2). GREY ADVERTISING SENIOR VP JON MANDEL: "The players are back; the game is back; but will the business be back? The jury is out. And if the fans aren't going to be into baseball, do I, as a company, want to be the official whatever of Major League Baseball?" (John Helyar, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/3). LOS ANGELES TIMES' BILL DWYRE: "The fact that the game's major players, who own the game's major players, could not decide anything in eight months of finger-pointing, name-calling and hate-mongering ... cannot be forgotten" (L.A. TIMES, 4/3). METS OWNER FRED WILPON: "There are no winners here. There's a temporary perception of a win for the union and a loss for the owners, but there's no winner unless there's a collective bargaining agreement" (N.Y. POST, 4/1). NBC'S BOB COSTAS: "In the ebb and flow in this long dispute, this is a significant victory for the players. ... Keep this is mind, even though replacement baseball has probably been avoided and even though the real players will be back, the fans interest is not protected until there is a true collective bargaining agreement" ("Nightly News," NBC, 3/31). Costas, this morning: "As a practical matter, had she [Judge Sotomayor] not issued the injunction, we might have had a settlement quicker because there was pressure on both sides" ("Today," NBC, 4/3). NBC'S ODETTA ROGERS-CLARKE on the possibility of another strike: "Even union officials admit that if they let fans down again, they would be really dropping the ball. Perhaps for good" ("Nightly News," NBC, 4/2). NEW YORK DAILY NEWS' BILL MADDEN: "It is the owners' lawyers who have a lot of explaining to do. The Washington firm of Morgan, Lewis and Bockius, which represented the owners through all the collusion cases, is looking like the Anthony Young of law firms" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/1). NEW YORK NEWSDAY'S MIKE LUPICA: "This needs to end now. The owners and players are close than they've ever been on the issue of a luxury tax on team payrolls. ... They all should have been in a room [Saturday] night and into [Sunday] morning and through this day hammering all that out. But the posturing continues" (NEWSDAY, 4/2). NEW YORK POST'S TOM KEEGAN, to the owners: "Maybe your Nightmare Team of crack litigators will win one in 2020 on the 50-year anniversary [of the Flood decision]. Try again then, not now" (N.Y. POST, 4/1). NEW YORK TIMES' CLAIRE SMITH: "If and when the players return, old fissures, jealousies and fears cannot help resurfacing on the management team" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/3). NEW YORK TIMES' DAVE ANDERSON: "There is no winner. There will never be a winner. There is only a loser: you [the fan]" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/3). NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL: "This is a reprieve, not a resolution" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/3). ORIOLES OWNER PETER ANGELOS: "We all have positions and sometimes we're right and sometimes we're wrong. Maybe this time I was right. Hopefully, the next time I won't be wrong" (Peter Schmuck, Baltimore SUN, 4/3). PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER's BILL LYON: "There is not the flimsiest tatter of evidence to suggest that either side is any smarter than it was 7 1/2 months ago" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 4/3). PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER's FRANK DOLSON: "Common sense says there's no way either side in this baseball mess would dare subject themselves and their game to a repeat of what we have just endured. ... But since when has common sense been a factor in all this? (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 4/3). PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER'S JAYSON STARK: "What is sad about the way this strike ended is that it hardly made anything in baseball better. It just increased the animosity and the sadness and the uncertainty. And you don't fight a 7 1/2-month war to make things worse" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 4/2). PRESIDENT CLINTON: "While I am heartened to know this season will start with major league players, there are a number of underlying issues which still need to be resolved" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 4/3). TAMPA TRIBUNE'S JOE HENDERSON: "Baseball owners -- the collective equivalent of the '62 Mets in Brooks Brothers suits -- never learn. Once again, the guardians of our national pastime overlooked such trivialities as the law, and once again a judge thumbed them" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 4/1). TULANE LAW'S GARY ROBERTS: "The owners are in a very awkward and difficult position and it will probably mean that they will be willing to make some compromises now that they were not willing to make at the bargaining table in the past" ("Nightly News," NBC, 3/31). USA TODAY'S HAL BODLEY: "The bottom line? There were no real winners. Only one big loser. Major league baseball" (USA TODAY, 4/3). WASHINGTON POST'S FRANK SWOBODA: "Score it 8-0, players over the owners ... the owners' decision not to lock out the players was a clear signal of surrender in the latest round of contract negotiations" (WASHINGTON POST, 4/3). WASHINGTON POST'S SHIRLEY POVICH: "After eight months of useless, expensive, boorish bargaining, they have progressed all the way back to square one. Humph" (WASHINGTON POST, 4/2). WASHINGTON POST'S THOMAS BOSWELL: "This is Bud Selig's legacy: He took control of the game when it had small, manageable financial problems. ... Now, in less than eight months, the game is at the brink of total financial comedy" (WASHINGTON POST, 4/3).
In Chicago, Sam Smith claims that the NBA's contract negotiations are "sounding familiar." "Now that baseball is fixing its problems, it's only appropriate that the NBA's negotiations on a new contract are dragging," writes Smith. Smith notes that the latest proposal from the union would give players the "equivalent of about 70 percent of the league's gross revenues under the previous formula for distributions." According to the NBPA, "that shows just how much the teams were hiding before" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/3).