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WHAT A LONG, STRANGE, TRIP IT'S BEEN: MLB FINDS LABOR PEACE
Published December 2, 1996
"After four tumultuous years, presidential intervention, the dismissal of a commissioner, cancellation of the 1994 World Series and two strike-shortened seasons, baseball finally reached a peace agreement," according to Bob Nightengale of the L.A. TIMES. Owners voted 26-4 to approve the CBA they had rejected three weeks earlier, with the White Sox, Royals, A's and Indians voting against the measure. The deal, which consists of revenue sharing, interleague play, a luxury tax on payrolls, a flat tax on salaries and service time, among other factors, is expected to receive final approval this week when the MLPBA votes on the agreement. In the two-hour owners meeting, Padres President Larry Lucchino and Mets President Fred Wilpon "openly criticized" White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf for his five-year, $55M deal, with Albert Belle (L.A. TIMES, 11/27). In New York, Bill Madden noted "it's clear the owners are through following Reinsdorf's lead." After Reinsdorf made his pitch to kill the deal, Lucchino reportedly stood and said, "Jerry, we've listened to you for four years. You've been on every committee and you've been wrong every time you've told us we had to do something. It's time for you to stop talking and get out of the way" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/29). Acting Commissioner Bud Selig told the group: "I strongly recommend it [the deal]" (Stefan Fatsis, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/27). The deal also means withdrawal of all litigation by the union in labor matters, which ESPN's Peter Gammons notes could hit $100M ("SportsCenter," 11/27). FEHR-LESS LEADER: Selig said that owners "will soon" begin the search for a new commissioner, but did not comment on his candidacy, according to LaVelle Neal of the K.C. STAR. Royals President Mike Herman, on a new commissioner: "Not a college professor or a politician" (K.C. STAR, 11/27). Phillies President Bill Giles: "Bud said he'll step down soon. And I believe him" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 11/27). In Milwaukee, Tom Haudricourt notes even if Selig wanted the job on a permanent basis, "some believe his support among owners eroded ... to the point where he wouldn't be elected" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 11/27). TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN: AD AGE notes MLB is "forging ahead with its quest to sign" $500M in marketing deals. Anheuser-Busch, True Value and Visa are "on board," and talks with Nike and Reebok "should resume next week" (AD AGE, 12/2). Coca-Cola spokesperson Ben Deutsch: "This deal was critically important to us in order to maximize our sponsorships. Our planning cycles usually run six to nine months in advance, and when you look at the calendar today, you see a deal couldn't have happened much later" (David Markiewicz, Ft. Worth STAR-TELEGRAM, 11/27). MLB marketing consultant Mike Trager: "This doesn't necessarily open the floodgates, but it allows us to market baseball in a long- term way" (Richard Sandomir, N.Y. TIMES, 11/27). OWNERS REAX: A's President Sandy Alderson, who voted against the deal: "The deal is assisted suicide. We have invited Dr. Kevorkian into our chamber" (Jerome Holtzman, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/27). D'Backs Managing General Partner Jerry Colangelo: "The players were not going to change much" (Don Ketchum, ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 11/27). Tigers President John McHale: "It's not perfect. It's not what everybody had on their wish list" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 11/27). Giants Managing Partner Peter Magowan: "I would characterize it as a C-minus or D-plus. But we've had an F" (Glenn Dickey, S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/27). Rangers President Tom Schieffer: "This whole, sorry episode did a lot of damage ... it also introduced a level of cynicism to the game that it did not deserve" (Ken Daley, DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 11/27). JUST WHEN HE THOUGHT HE WAS OUT, THEY PULL HIM BACK IN: Selig was named in a lawsuit field by the Greater Miami Baseball Club in which he is being asked to produce documents relating to his involvement in the departure of ex-commissioner Fay Vincent, according to Murray Chass of the N.Y. TIMES. The suit involves the "makeup of an arbitration board that is to determine" the compensation the Marlins must pay a minor league team they displaced in '92 when they joined the league. The plaintiffs are suing Selig as Acting Commissioner, claiming he allowed members of the board to be "appointed improperly" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/29).