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BASEBALL GETS BACK TO BUSINESS
Published April 4, 1995
Baseball's owners and players agreed to a set of back-to- work rules, with "one possible hitch" -- the owners are seeking a stay of the injunction issued Friday. Both sides were reluctant to comment on the possibility of the stay being issued (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 4/4). BACK TO THE TABLE, ANYTIME SOON? In Chicago, Jerome Holtzman writes "it will be six months, possibly longer" before the owners return to the table. Holtzman predicts no talks until Christmas, at which point the owners will "take another stab at an impasse and attempt to implement their original proposals." The owners will also replace their bargaining team with "professional negotiators, along with a sprinkling of hard-line attorneys" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/4). In Houston, Alex Truex reports chief management attorney Chuck O'Connor "apparently [has] fallen out of favor" with acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 4/2). MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr, on CNBC's "Business Insiders" last night: "If it were entirely up to me, I would try to get it done before the regular season starts, but we will just have to see what type of schedule the clubs will want to go on." Fehr on whether the strike was worth it: "I don't think the players had any choice" (CNBC, 4/3). Braves President Stan Kasten: "No one wants to hear this, but I really feel we're no more than midway toward solving the problem" (Tim Tucker, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 4/4). Harvard Law Professor Paul Weiler: "The reality is that both sides are an awful lot closer together than they were in August. ... The owners did not appreciate the fact that it took them 20 months to work out their positions and they gave the players two months to cut a deal" (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 4/4). STOP THE INSANITY: While Orioles Owner Peter Angelos said there is sentiment on both sides for a no-strike, no- implementation agreement, he added it may not be necessary. Angelos: "I don't think the players will go out, and I don't think the owners will provoke them to go out. But if something more formal can be worked out, that can't hurt" (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 4/4). Phillies President Bill Giles: "The odds of another work stoppage are slim to none" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 4/3). ESPN's Peter Gammons: "I don't believe the players will strike again, unless the owners implement some sort of system during the season" ("Baseball Tonight," 4/3). CNN's Mark Morgan: "Baseball fans must temper their enthusiasm with this reality. The owners and players have been at odds since the mid-70's, and there is no guarantee that the '95 season will be played without another work stoppage" ("Sports Tonight," 4/3). BRAVE NEW WORLD: In Boston, Steve Fainaru writes, "Baseball woke up to a dark new era yesterday ... The easy money that began to flow in the 1980s, causing salaries to soar, has been shut off by angry broadcasters, sponsors and fans who once enriched baseball because of its place in America" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/4). Agent Tony Attanasio complained that GM's had a "party line" on free agents. Attanasio: "I hadn't even asked for a nickel, hadn't even put a proposal on the table, and I was being told I'm asking too much. The clubs have their script and some of it may be realistic, but I also think it's punishment time for the players" (Ross Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 4/4). ESPN's "Cover Story" -- "Damaged Goods" -- examined the future of baseball in the American consciousness. ESPN's Charley Steiner: "The 'Lords of the Realm' cannot be too happy about the harm done to the game and the product by the 234-day strike." Steiner noted the revenue losses: MLB Properties saw a decrease of $400M or 16%; TV revenues took "a major hit in '94, as MLB was the only league that had TV revenues go down -- and the prospects for this year are at best, uncertain." NEW CONTRACT CHANGE FROM '94 NHL $44M +88% NBA $275M +20% NFL $1.10B +18% MLB $77.5M -79% due to strike, fewer games and ad dollars Steiner concluded by noting what is more difficult to gauge is the long-range damage done to the game, as baseball "irretrievably lost its appeal to the kids of America, who are now more inclined to kick soccer balls, or shoot basketballs, than they are to try and hit home runs. After all, an average eighth grader has lived through five work stoppages in his life" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 4/3). QUOTES OF NOTE: Angelos, profiled on PBS' "Here and Now": "There is room for new people to come in and try to bring this disharmonious situation to an end. It is bordering on the ludicrous for grown men and women to be fighting like this" (PBS, 4/3)....David Letterman: "I don't understand this. They stop the strike over the weekend. The regular season doesn't start until April 26 and yet somehow the Mets are already 15 games out of first place" ("Late Show," CBS, 4/3).... ESPN's Karl Ravech, noting Lou Whitaker's comment that the fans will forgive ("It is just like a man and a women. Maybe we will send a few flowers"): "Other players seem to have a better grasp of the bitterness that now exists toward the game" ("Baseball Tonight," 4/3). ....Former Blue Jays President Peter Bavasi: "The one clear winner is the big market teams, the high revenue teams" ("Business Insiders," CNBC, 4/3)....CBS' Richard Threlkeld: "As for the Fans, they weren't exactly knocking down doors today to buy season tickets" ("Evening News," 4/3).