SBD/12/Leagues Governing Bodies

BASEBALL BACK TO THE TABLE? SOME THOUGHTS ON SHORTER GAMES

     MLB owners are reportedly ready to resume negotiations with
the players for a new collective bargaining agreement, according
to Murray Chass in this morning's N.Y. TIMES.  Two owners,
speaking anonymously, told Chass they expect talks to begin
shortly.  One owner said reaching an agreement was stressed last
week at the owners meetings in Minneapolis: "The pressure's on
and it's coming from all directions.  [Marlins Owner Wayne]
Huizenga, [Orioles Owner Peter] Angleos and others spoke, people
from different positions.  The consensus clearly is let's get it
done."  Lawyers from both sides have been meeting to reach a
settlement on the charges levied by the NLRB against the owners,
and if some progress is made, "they are expected to ask for a
postponement of the trial" on the NLRB's points scheduled to
begin in New York on Monday (N.Y. TIMES, 6/12).
     OPINION ON SPEED-UP RULE CHANGES:  In New York, Phil
Mushnick writes that "if the owners think teams' affiliated TV
and radio networks ... will comply with a rule designed to hit
their bottom line by a minimum of 17 30-second commercial spots
per game, the owners are pushing a fantasy."  MSG Network Exec
Producer Mike McCarthy, said the rule change "will create a huge
problem ... These ads are already sold" (N.Y. POST, 6/12).  The
N.Y. DAILY NEWS' Bob Raissman writes the changes will produce
"some major fallout" as TV and radio rights holder will look for
rights fee reductions (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/11).  But Red Sox
Broadcast VP Jim Healey said the rules will speed the game
without hurting rights holders: "This will still allow three 30-
second commercials, as at present" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/9).  In
Dallas, Randy Galloway writes the time change will also mean less
trips to the concession stand, "unless of course, the concessions
stands are better staffed" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 6/10).  In
Milwaukee, Kevin Seitzer said:  "If people think that the games
are too long, tell them to go to the movies or something"
(MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 6/10). In Boston, Jack Craig writes
the rule will have a "direct impact on television replays."
Craig notes that four 30-second spots would be reduced to three
on The Baseball Network's telecasts -- a 25% loss of revenue of
which 87.5% is split between the teams.  Craig writes, "It will
be surprising if the shortened half-innings, back by new
discipline, are ever imposed on national telecasts" (BOSTON
GLOBE, 6/11).  ESPN's Peter Gammons called for a 20-second clock:
"The pace of the game is slowed down so much by pitchers
wandering around" (ESPN, 6/11).
     DESTRUCTIVE CRITICISM:  David Letterman: "Mets and Yankees
fans have been shortening games all season -- they leave after
the third inning."  His "Top Ten Proposed New Baseball Rules:"
10) Clothing optional in dugouts; 9) Infield chatter must be in
the form of a question; 8) Knock out beer vendor with ball and
you automatically win the game; 7) Extra outs for every person on
your team named "Mookie," "Scooter," or "Pee Wee"; 6) Games will
not start until the players' drugs have kicked in; 5) No more
keeping your eye on the ball; 4) Goodbye Gatorade, hello
Riunite!; 3) If catcher snags your pop foul, he gets to make out
with your wife in the stands for awhile; 2) No team roster may
include more than two dismissed Simpson jurors; 1) Reach a base,
do a shot ("Late Show," CBS, 6/9)....ESPN's Keith Olbermann on
Sunday's Pirates-Marlins game -- without Gary Sheffield: "This
could have been the least interesting game of the Twentieth
Century" ("SportsCenter," 6/11).  "Fans Taking Themselves Out of
the Ballgame" was the headline of a front-page piece in Sunday's
WASHINGTON POST.  Orioles Owner Peter Angelos: "The continual
hammering of baseball by the media is a signification factor.
... Maybe the media should let up a bit" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/11).
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