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Two MLB owners said late last week that management will continue to negotiate for a payroll tax system with the MLBPA and "won't return to a salary cap proposal," according to Mark Maske of the WASHINGTON POST. One owner said, "I wouldn't worry about it. The cap is not coming back." Reports from Wednesday's owners meeting in Itasca, IL, seemed to indicate that the payroll tax was off the table in favor of a return to an earlier salary cap provision. Another owner told the POST that the "mood was 'We really wish we could have a salary cap.' ... But most realized it is impossible now" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/15) DON'T INVITE THESE MEN TO THE SAME PARTY: At least three owners, including the Orioles' Peter Angelos, called on their fellow owners to hire a full-time commissioner at the Itasca meetings. But Braves President Stan Kasten said that as far as he is aware, owners "still plan to hold off hiring a commissioner until after there is a labor agreement." Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell and former Democratic National Committee Chair Paul Kirk were among those mentioned as possibilities (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 5/15). Acting Commissioner Bud Selig continued to take a hit in the weekend press. In Toronto, Richard Griffin writes that Selig "can't turn a profit with his own organization, but is the man designated by owners to organize baseball" (TORONTO STAR, 5/13). In Miami, Mike Phillips criticizes both MLPBA Exec Dir Donald Fehr and Selig, writing "if I wanted someone to get something done, I'd hire anyone but Selig." Phillips calls for new negotiators (MIAMI HERALD, 5/14). In Philadelphia, Frank Dolson reports on the owners return to court last week in an attempt to lift the injunction. Dolson: "The insensitivity and downright stupidity that seem to abound at the top levels of this wonderful game boggle the mind" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 5/15). In the current issue of NEW YORKER, Roger Angell writes on the game's return from the "ruinous labor wars" (NEW YORKER, 5/22 issue). David Cone on fan apathy: "We do not have an agreement. They don't trust us, and I don't blame them" (SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 5/14).
In Atlanta, Ailene Voisin reports that NBA officials met with new NBPA Exec Dir Simon Gourdine "twice this week in an attempt to obtain a collective bargaining agreement by the end of the postseason." Voisin writes that if there is not a new CBA by the June 28 draft, "the current contract most likely would dictate the number of rounds (two) and team salary caps, but exclude the rookie cap." Voisin notes that both sides do agree however, that a rookie cap should be part of a new CBA (ATLANTA CONSITITUTION, 5/14).
"A major league beef could be brewing over a revenue-sharing plan" that the NFL's owners will discuss during league meetings later this month in Jacksonville, according to Will McDonough in Sunday's BOSTON GLOBE. McDonough writes that the plan has upset many owners, including the Cowboys' Jerry Jones. Jones, on revenue sharing: "To me, I don't see how it can be done fairly. Every team has its own problems and its own way of doing business. ... Under the present plan, my team would pay money while Leon Hess, who owns the Jets and has more money than I will ever think of having, will be getting money from me. Some of the so-called low-gross teams are in markets like New York and Los Angeles, and they would be getting money while teams like the Cowboys and others at the top of the high end would be paying." McDonough reports that "no team would be asked to pay more than $3 million, and no team would receive more than $3 million." The plan would also take around $9M from the new premium seating deals in Carolina, St. Louis and Jacksonville and $13M from "the more successful financial teams" in the league (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/14).
The reaction to Michael Jordan's number change has turned generally negative for both the NBA and Jordan. OPINION SAMPLER: In New York, Harvey Araton writes, "Here, we are again seeing the self-righteous side of Jordan that few seemed to remember when people were lamenting the chaotic, greed driven state of a National Basketball Association without him." Araton writes that Jordan is "sending a message" to the NBA's younger players that he had criticized when he returned: "If Jordan is bigger than the rules, why aren't they?" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/15). In S.F., Bruce Jenkins writes, "Jordan isn't showing a shred of respect for the league, he's manipulating it like a yo- yo. He does it for a very simple reason: Because he can" (SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 5/15). In Chicago, Melissa Isaacson, on the Bulls' role: "Does it smack of extreme arrogance to buck the league you are a part of, to make yourself into martyrs over a rule, er, policy that everyone else has to abide by? Sure, it does" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/14). In Dallas, Cathy Harasta criticizes the league for fining the Bulls instead of Jordan: "His team got the big fine, which apparently reflected the NBA's reluctance to go for a direct hit on Jordan" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 5/13). But in Philadelphia, Diane Pucin writes that Jordan has "earned" the right to wear whatever he wants: "It was a ridiculous thing, the NBA stomping its collective feet in its office in New York" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 5/14). On ESPN's "Sports Reporters," Mike Lupica said, "David Stern is another talented member of Michael Jordan's supporting cast. He'll get used to it. Scottie Pippen did." Skip Bayless called Jordan "bigger than the game. ... Michael is the commissioner of this league" (ESPN, 5/14). NO MIKES FOR MIKE: Jordan's refusal to talk to the media has spread to several players on both teams in the Bulls-Magic series causing NBA Commissioner David Stern to address the situation, according to Mark Heisler in this morning's L.A. TIMES. Heisler reports that Stern, after being informed of the problem, declared: "No Steve Carlton's here." NBA VP of Public Relations Brian McIntyre has since met with officials of both teams and told reporters, "I'm sure you'll see more cooperation" (L.A. TIMES, 5/15). Bruce Jenkins writes of Jordan's media blackout, "The situation bears one conclusion above all else: Michael Jordan isn't just the best player in the league. He is the league. He dictates everything to his exact specifications" (SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 5/15). HE STILL SELLS: McDonald's Jordan-NBA ad campaign that started shortly after his return is featured in USA TODAY's "Ad Track," a poll conducted on the effectiveness of advertising campaigns: 47% called the campaign "very effective," while only 14% thought it was "not effective." 34% liked the campaign, while only 11% said they "hate it" (Dottie Enrico, USA TODAY, 5/15)....ABC's Armen Keteyian covered the "commercial war" is taking place with the Shaq-Michael match-up. Keteyian called Jordan's target audience as more mainstream, compared to Shaq's younger followers. O'Neal's agent Leonard Armato: "It is sort of like Jordan's was this incredible stereo that's best ever and all of a sudden Shaq comes along and he's in the digital age and he's multimedia" ("Good Morning America," ABC, 5/15).