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BASEBALL BACK TO THE TABLE? SOME THOUGHTS ON SHORTER GAMES
Published June 12, 1995
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).