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Indians OF Albert Belle's appeal hearing in New York will not be completed until today because after 5 1/2 hours of testimony and presenting evidence, the defense had not rested its case, according to Sheldon Ocker of the Akron BEACON JOURNAL. Belle is appealing a five-game suspension for his role in a May 31 incident against the Brewers. Participants and/or spectators at the hearing: MLPBA Exec Dir Don Fehr; Assistant General Counsel Gene Orza and his assistants Mark Belanger and Tony Bernazard; Indians Owner Dick Jacobs; GM John Hart; Manager Mike Hargrove; and Belle's agent, Arn Tellem. Ocker writes that attending an appeals hearing was a first for Fehr, "who usually allows Orza to handle such assignments on his own" (Akron BEACON JOURNAL, 6/14). MLB is not expected to hand down a ruling until next week. Belle refused comment but did speak with filmaker Spike Lee who was at Yankee Stadium to film a piece on Belle for HBO's "Real Sports" (Jim Salisbury, N.Y. POST, 6/14). Akron BEACON JOURNAL columnist Terry Pluto writes MLB should reduce the suspension and insist Belle stick with his counseling: "If they really want to help Belle, that is what must be done" (Akron BEACON JOURNAL, 6/14).
NL President Leonard Coleman said he plans to meet with Reds Owner Marge Schott early next week to begin selecting a managing executive to run the team, according to Hal Bodley of USA TODAY. Coleman and Schott are to find an agreed upon successor within 60 days as part of the deal in which Schott gave up control of the team through the '98 season. Pirates President Mark Sauer, former Angels President Richard Brown and Dick Wagner, former President and GM of the Reds and Astros, are all mentioned as candidates (USA TODAY, 6/13). Interim CEO John Allen said yesterday, "One thing I will make clear and it's been made very clear to me, I'm not a puppet here. I will be making some decisions and there will be some changes made" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 6/13). Allen said he will run more promotions and try to increase attendance at Riverfront Stadium. He wants to "liven up the music played during games, possibly reduce ticket prices" and put up banners acknowledging the Reds World Championships. Allen: "We have no recognition that we won a World Series" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 6/14). SPIN WHEEL: More media reaction on the deal between MLB and Schott. In Cleveland, Bud Shaw writes Schott should have only given up control of the Reds "if the fake commissioner can say (without his nose growing) that she has hurt the game worse the canceling the World Series did" (Cleveland PLAIN-DEALER, 6/13). In Hartford, Dennis Horgan writes MLB owners "have managed to beat up this pathetic women, a dolt by common acclaim. After making a terrible mess of the best sport ... they can now swagger around in hollow bravado" (HARTFORD COURANT, 6/14). In St. Louis, Bernie Miklasz notes that "everyone involved" in the Schott matter "behaved poorly," from Schott, owners, media, and Acting Commissioner Bud Selig. Miklasz writes Selig "shows no strength in confronting baseball's major problems" (ST. LOUIS POST- DISPATCH, 6/14). But in DC, Thomas Boswell notes Selig "finally did something right." Boswell: "The game's owners, through their Executive Council, were not attacking Schott's free speech. They were defending their own legitimate self-interests" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/14).
Sonics Player Rep Frank Brickowski took a shot at agents David Falk and Jeffrey Kessler when he called the possibility of an NBA lockout on July 1 "discouraging." Brickowski: "Falk and Kessler have their own agenda, and I'm not entirely sure that agenda is for the players as a whole. The biggest hurdle for the players is the lack of concern. We have the undivided attention of those who are going to be free agents and that's it" (USA TODAY, 6/14)....Bill Wallen, a Philadelphia labor attorney, has been retained by the newly formed Professional Football Coaches Association as an adviser and counsel for the group (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 6/13)...Last weekend's Oscar De La Hoya-Julio Cesar Chavez fight at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas was the largest grossing non-heavyweight fight in state history with a gross gate of $7,579,100 on ticket sales of 14,738 (USA TODAY, 6/14)....More than 55,000 tickets have been sold for Sunday's World Cup soccer doubleheader at the Rose Bowl and a sellout of more than 90,000 is expected. The U.S. plays Mexico at 12:30 followed by MLS' L.A. Galaxy against the Tampa Bay Mutiny (L.A. TIMES, 6/14).