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Greg Murphy was officially named President & CEO of the newly created entity, Major League Baseball Enterprises. Murphy has worked in consumer marketing for over 20 years and most recently led Kraft Foods Bakery companies. MLB Enterprises is a new division that incorporates MLB Properties and will oversee TV, advertising, PR, licensing, sponsorships and international development (MLB). Acting Commissioner Bud Selig called the structure of MLB Enterprises "radically different than anything baseball has ever had" (Paul Schwartz, N.Y. POST, 6/12). Murphy, on his challenges: "Fans are angry. I think disgusted. In many ways that's great because they really care." Murphy, who experience includes marketing Kool-Aid in '78 after the mass suicides in Jonestown, Guyana, added, "Everyone feels passionately about baseball. Even Marge Schott. The core equity of Kool-Aid and the core equity of baseball are strong" (Richard Sandomir, N.Y. TIMES, 6/12). Murphy: "We need to restore baseball to its proper place in American life" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 6/11). MEDIA REACTION: The announcement was noted covered widely outside the Eastern media. The N.Y. TIMES' Richard Sandomir notes Murphy "lacks sports experience, which did not scare off baseball." He also notes Murphy was "reluctant to reveal his possible strategies" to increase revenue, attendance, TV ratings, and franchise values -- "his four goals" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/12). In Philadelphia, Michael Sokolove writes Murphy's hiring could change the type of candidate MLB will seek as new commissioner. Previously, owners had talked of hiring a person with a marketing background "in the mold" of a Peter Ueberroth. But with Murphy on board, Phillies President Bill Giles said a new commissioner would "more likely" be someone like the late Bart Giamatti (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 6/12). NEWSDAY's Steve Jacobson notes the challenges facing Murphy, who was "glowing" with the appointment. Jacobson: "Let's see his face after he's had a couple of years on the job." But Jacobsen added "it was interesting to see" immediately after his introduction, Murphy was shaking hands and planning a get-together with a Nike official (NEWSDAY, 6/12).
MLB owners are threatening to return to court on a second attempt to impose a new economic system should negotiations with the MLBPA not accelerate by the All-Star break, according to Mark Maske of the WASHINGTON POST. One management source told Maske, "We're either going to have a deal or something close to a deal at the all-star break, or we're going to court soon after that." The owners attempted such an implementation in December '94 during the strike, but "under pressure" from the NLRB, they withdrew a salary cap system soon after imposing it. MLB chief negotiator Randy Levine declined to comment on a possible return to court, but MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr said, "It doesn't surprise me. It's easy to rattle sabers." The union is expected to deliver a new proposal to management this week (WASHINGTON POST, 6/12).
ESPN reports that MLB's Executive Council will announce today the suspension of Reds Owner Marge Schott as President of the club and overseer of day-to-day operations through at least the '97 season. Some MLB officials are "still pushing" to have Schott suspended through '99, when her partnership agreement to run the team ends. To ensure that Schott won't be in control through hand-picked replacement (most likely Reds Controller John Allen), the Council is expected to name an interim president. Top candidates: Pirates President Mark Sauer and former Angels President Richard Brown. Schott will not relinquish any ownership stake in the Reds and will still be able to attend games. However, she will not be permitted to participate in any decisions involving the club, nor represent the Reds at any NL and MLB functions. ESPN reported Schott is not expected to fight the decision ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 6/11). In Dayton, Hal McCoy reports Council sources say they are removing Schott "under the catch-all phrase, 'the best interest of baseball.'" One high ranking source said Schott told the Council, "I don't see that I said anything wrong." A second Council source said, "If you're looking into how we can do this, just check what Schott signed in February 1993." In '93, Schott signed a document saying she would accept indefinite suspension if she made any further insensitive comments (DAYTON DAILY NEWS, 6/12). In Atlanta, I.J. Rosenberg notes Schott will not be able to apply for reinstatement for at least two years (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 6/12). In New York, Murray Chass notes it "was unclear" whether Schott would voluntarily relinquish control as of late yesterday (N.Y. TIMES, 6/12). In DC, Mark Maske notes that Schott and her representatives "have indicated to baseball officials that she will fight any sanctions." MLB leaders are seeking a deal where she would "be removed from the club's day-to-day operations for one year and would pledge not to sue over the matter" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/12). SCHOTT SPEAKS: As Schott left Riverfront Stadium last night, she told Cincinnati's WLWT-TV: "I'm going to do what's best for baseball. ... I just love the team." Through her attorney, Robert Martin, Schott suggested to MLB that Allen be put in a more "significant -- but still secondary -- role." This point reportedly was still being negotiated. On reports he might be brought in to run the club, Sauer told the CINCINNATI ENQUIRER it was "the first time I've heard anything about it" (Hal Bodley, USA TODAY, 6/12). One Pirate official said Sauer "had not been contacted about such duties and remains committed to building a new ballpark in Pittsburgh" (Ken Daley, DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 6/12). The PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE notes that Sauer is still President of the Pirates, although "he was stripped of much of his power" under new ownership (Bob Smizik, PITTSBURGH POST- GAZETTE, 6/12). Sauer is reportedly a close friend of Reds GM Jim Bowden, who took over the team during Schott's first suspension in '93 (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 6/12). The N.Y. TIMES' Murray Chass notes the Executive Council "apparently would approve" Bowden to run the team if Schott nominated him, but Schott reportedly will not since the two are not getting along (N.Y. TIMES, 6/12). ONE VOICE: Columnist Ira Berkow writes Schott should not be removed. Berkow notes it is the right of fans "not to patronize such a fool ... they should be the ultimate judges, not her pious fellow owners" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/12). MORE FUN: Indians OF Albert Belle's hearing on his five-game appeal will be heard tomorrow in New York by AL President Gene Budig (Akron BEACON-JOURNAL, 6/12).