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BASEBALL AT THE BREAK: GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS
Published July 11, 1995
Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr are scheduled to meet in Texas today, "but neither man would predict today whether they'll emerge from their meeting with a negotiating session scheduled between the team owners and major league players," according to Mark Maske in today's WASHINGTON POST. The owners' negotiating committee met on Monday. Some owners are lobbying for a return to the salary cap, but Maske reports that sources say that is unlikely. Selig reportedly also will suggest that talks take place "in a lower-profile manner than they did the last time around" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/11). Red Sox CEO John Harrington said the owners have a "strong consensus" on the proposal they intend to make (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 7/11). A LOOK BACK: Also in today's POST, Mark Maske retraces the recent labor talks. The owners "can't agree on whom to blame for their humbling failure," but, "for all their mistakes, the owners still may claim a victory" -- in the form of a luxury tax (WASHINGTON POST, 7/11). RATINGS WATCH: Richard Sandomir notes that the MLB All-Star Game outdraws all other sports' all-star games, but asks, "Will the game's Nielsen rating approach last year's pre-strike 15.7? Will it drop by as much as baseball's 20 percent attendance decline?" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/11). ABC's Mark Mandel: "At this point, our only worry is putting a great production on air. Whether people watch is not our concern anymore" (Mike Bruton, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 7/11). COMMISH NEEDED: TX Gov. George W. Bush, a co-owner of the Rangers: "What is needed is a truly independent commissioner who can stand up and restore the confidence of the game." Bush, who said he likes Selig: "We need a commissioner with strategic vision, and you can't own a team and run the game" (Bill Madden, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/11). In Fort Worth, Simon Gonzalez writes, "Instead of a tough, independent commissioner guiding the game through these troubled waters, the seat of power resides in Milwaukee, a city that symbolizes everything that is wrong with baseball." Selig: "I happen to believe that we need a commissioner. But more importantly, we need a system that a commissioner can survive under" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 7/11). Selig told USA TODAY that there has been no change in the owners' philosophy that there has to be a labor agreement before there is a new commissioner (Hal Bodley, USA TODAY, 7/11). Nolan Ryan proposed a commissioner paid equally by owners and the MLBPA, but he added that he had no interest in holding such a position (Mike Dodd, USA TODAY, 7/11). During ESPN's "Baseball Roundtable," Ryan reiterated his call for "a commissioner that does what's best for the interest of the game." Tony Gwynn, on the drop in attendance: "I think the fans need to see that both sides are trying to get something done. You know, having a commissioner would help immensely" (ESPN, 7/10). JUST DO IT: ESPN's Peter Gammons argued that MLB's problems were "to the point where the players need to step forward and say 'OK, the owners can't run this game and we've got some ideas.'" Commenting on the worldwide growth of baseball and the need to strengthen domestic marketing, Gammons said if the owners don't want to invest in the game, "then the players association may go out and do it. ... It's always been my belief that players care much more about this sport than the average fan realizes" ("Baseball Roundtable," ESPN, 7/10). Earlier, Gammons said some players were saying, "Look, we've got to convince ourselves no more money for promotions. Let's try to get the game back on track, we're tired of being bashed by the media, tired of being bashed by fans. Look around this room ... we have a lot to sell" ("Sports Center," ESPN, 7/10).