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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejected baseball owners' request for a stay of the injunction handed down Friday by U.S. District Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor, and in doing so "added weight to the contention of union officials that they are eager to resume negotiations and the owners are not." Judge Jon Newman to management attorney Frank Casey: "When you're telling us that the injunction is stopping you from negotiating a collective bargaining agreement, you're telling us something that isn't so" (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 4/5). "The owners didn't expect to get the stay," but they also "didn't expect their lawyers to be treated as harshly as they were by the three-judge panel" (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 4/5). Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, after talking to their lawyers: "I understand the hearing didn't get into the heart of the issues" (Peter Schmuck, Baltimore SUN, 4/5). When the union's lawyer rose to make his presentation, Judge Ralph Winter asked: "Do you like the way the argument is going so far?" (Bill Madden, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/5). LEGAL TEAM WAIVER WIRE: According to the WASHINGTON POST, two management sources said that Chuck O'Connor "is about to be removed" as general counsel for the Player Relations Committee. Selig denied that: "We haven't even considered it" (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 4/5). GEORGE BACKS BUD: Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner: "I think Bud Selig has done a great job. I am tired of seeing him get slammed. ... Bud Selig has exhibited the best leadership that I have seen in the time that I have been in the game" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 4/4). FALLOUT: CNN's Mark Morgan examined the plight of small market teams forced to live under the old CBA. Morgan: "Small market clubs were looking for financial help from the big market clubs in the form of revenue sharing. They didn't get it." Morgan cited Montreal, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Seattle as teams in the most need ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 4/4). FANS LASH OUT: The CNN/USA TODAY/Gallup Poll surveyed 347 baseball fans on April 4 (margin of error +/- 6%): -- ARE YOU LESS INTERESTED IN BASEBALL THAN LAST SEASON? Less interested 69%, Just as interested 28%. -- WHO WON STRIKE? Players 11%, Owners 5%, Neither 77%. -- FEELINGS TOWARD BASEBALL NOW? Relieved 59%, Disgusted 58%, Angry 38%, Enthusiastic 30%. -- WHOSE SIDE DID YOU FAVOR DURING THE STRIKE? Players 27%, Owners 27%, Neither 35% (the owners led the players on this question by 38-25% on February 26). -- BASEBALL FANS? The percentage who say they are fans has dropped to 40%, from 55% on 8/9/94 (USA TODAY, 4/5).
Michael Jordan's return makes both the league and NBPA "even more hesitant" to enact a work stoppage, according to Melissa Isaacson in this morning's CHICAGO TRIBUNE. "Like it or not," Jordan is "thrust into most discussions concerning the NBA's future labor negotiations." Bulls Player Rep Steve Kerr: "Once they see him play again, they're going to think nothing's wrong with the game. It certainly puts the owners under more pressure not to lock us out." Jordan: "It's not like baseball where one side is losing money. That's not the issue here. In basketball, everybody's profiting. So all we ask is an even distribution when the time comes" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/5). Pacers Guard Reggie Miller tells SPORT magazine that he doesn't believe the players will walk out because of the popularity of the league: "There won't be a strike. ... Right now, we are the highest-watched professional sport. And because of the struggles of baseball and hockey, we've got such a big audience right now. I don't think anyone would want to spoil that" (SPORT, 5/95 issue).
MLB umpires were "rebuffed" by owners in their contract demands leaving the real possibility that ownership's lockout will continue through exhibition games. MLBUA Exec Dir Richie Phillips: "I thought that now that they've resolved their differences with the players, baseball would want to put its best face on and try to reach an agreement, but I guess not" (AP/Baltimore SUN, 4/5). The umpires want a 53% increase over their present wages of $60,000-175,000, double post-season wages and $500,000 in retirement benefits. NL President Len Coleman: "I don't understand where Richie thinks the money is coming from. Their request in light of everything this year is unbelievable." AL Pres. Gene Budig: "[The union] refuses to acknowledge the financial state of baseball" (Hal Bodley, USA TODAY, 4/5). RECENT HISTORY: ESPN's Dave Campbell: "I talked to a couple of National League umpires tonight and they told me there have been 24 meetings since October, and only one time did the league presidents, Leonard Coleman or Gene Budig, show up, and that was three days before Christmas when they told them they weren't going to get paid anymore." The umpires say since Bart Giamatti died and Fay Vincent left baseball, "they have had no one to talk to." The also say that they would go to spring training without a contract if they were paid per-game ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN, 4/4). THE OTHER UNION'S POSITION: MLBPA General Counsel Gene Orza said the players' union opposes the use of replacement umpires, but he "stopped short of saying the union will consider refusing to play if replacement umpires are used" (Hal Bodley, USA TODAY, 4/5). In Toronto, Bill Lankhof notes Ontario's labor laws could forbid use of replacement umpires, although the case is not as clear-cut as the ban on Blue Jays replacements (TORONTO SUN, 4/5).