Debate continued yesterday on the state of baseball's
antitrust exemption. In Manhattan, attorney Carl Person filed a
lawsuit in federal court challenging the exemption. Person is
willing to press the case to the Supreme Court if it will force
the players and owners back to the bargaining table (Ireland &
Kleinknecht, N.Y. POST, 9/16).
LIFT THE BAN: Two papers called on Congress to lift the
ban. The Baltimore SUN: "The first cancellation of a World
Series in 90 years emphasizes the urgency of the problem. We say
to Congress, don't wait till next year. In fact, given the
history of the past two decades, you shouldn't have waited till
this year" (SUN, 9/16). WASHINGTON POST editorial: "It really is
time for Congress to consider doing away with baseball's
antitrust exemption. ... The game's executives are given to dire
warnings about doing this; they warn that it would be the end of
baseball as we have known it. Gee, does that mean we wouldn't
have a World Series?" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/16).
MORE TALK: Richard Sandomir writes, "Baseball has survived
past attempts [to repeal the exemption], but the strike and lost
season have drawn renewed attention to the exemption and, to
many, painted it as the villain behind the labor impasse" (N.Y.
TIMES, 9/16). Peter Passel writes: "Wanna see the baseball club
owners really squirm? Repeal their exemption from antitrust
laws" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/16).
American Enterprise Institute economist Irwin Stelzer says a
repeal is a "no brainer": "It wouldn't do any harm, and it might
do a lot of good" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/16).
"Baseball's nuclear winter has arrived and no one associated
with either the players or the owners can predict what the next
few months will bring," report Richard Justice and Mark Maske in
today's WASHINGTON POST. "The end game is hard to predict, but
the likely result is that baseball's worst labor crisis will
spill into next spring and perhaps the 1995 regular season"
(WASHINGTON POST, 9/16). Mariners Player Rep Dan Wilson:
"Anyway you look at it, this is going to be the strangest
offseason the game has ever experienced" (Jim Street, SEATTLE
THE NEXT MOVES? The owners "must decide whether to settle
with the players or enforce the key dates [for free agency and
arbitration filing] by unilaterally imposing a basic agreement
that would dictate when off-season business will be conducted."
MLBPA General Counsel Gene Orza said the union's executive board
plans to discuss "a series of responses" if the owners
unilaterally impose a new system on the players. Union officials
and players are set to hold a series of regional meetings in
Atlanta, Tampa, New York, Los Angeles and Dallas from September
20-29 (Claire Smith, N.Y. TIMES, 9/16). Yankee Player Rep Paul
Gibson sets six weeks as goal for action: "If both sides decide
to take a couple of months off, it would be a huge mistake"
(Anthony Gargano, N.Y. POST, 9/16). Peter Gammons sees two
choices: "Come to a complex payroll/luxury/incentives tax
agreement in a partnership with players that allows Milwaukee to
survive, and do it by the end of October. Or see what's left at
the end of the remake of 'On the Beach'" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/16).
LOOKING TO SPRING: MLBPA special assistant Mark Belanger
said striking players "would accept an invitation to spring
training from owners even without a collective bargaining
agreement in place." Belanger: "We don't get paid for spring
training anyway, so there'd be nothing to stop us from going down
there, getting in shape, but not necessarily starting the
season." The MLBPA "figures it might be better to have their
members there paying their own expenses -- likely reimbursed by
the union -- than give the spring camps over to the minor
leaguers" (Tim Harper, TORONTO STAR, 9/16). In St. Louis, Mike
Eisenbath writes, "Even if owners tried to make big-leaguers out
of minor-leaguers ... chances of this working aren't good" (ST.
LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 9/16). With no agreement, "it appears the
chances of minor-leaguers' being given an opportunity to take the
jobs of their major-league brethren is better than 50-50" (Paul
Sullivan, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/16).
ILL WILL: Agent Tom Reich: "The animosity is tremendous, it
is one of the biggest problems. The history of this relationship
is at an all-time low" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 9/15). Management
sources say many owners, "regardless of their inclination to
agree to less than favorable terms, were turned off by the
behavior of union officials. They recount meetings when they
believe union leaders were showing off for their party instead of
negotiating" (Justice & Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 9/16).
STAFF LAYOFFS: ESPN's Chris Myers: "The Pirates fired four
staff members, laid off about a dozen others, and cut the hours
of the other front office employees" ("SportsCenter," 9/15).
Phillies President Bill Giles, who thus far has resisted any
front-office layoffs: "We're going to have to sit down in the
next week or so and see how things look. We've got some good and
loyal people working for us, and, hopefully, layoffs won't be
necessary" (Frank Fitzpatrick, PHILA. INQUIRER, 9/16).
SUN-BELT SQUIRMING: In Tampa, Chris Marti reports that if
spring training is cancelled it could cost the state of FL more
than $300M in lost revenue and make it more difficult for host
cities to pay the mortgage on their stadiums (TAMPA TRIBUNE,
9/16). In Chicago, Toni Ginnetti notes the impact on AZ.
Maricopa County Stadium District head Roger Brendecke: "The total
economic expenditure in our county (during spring training) is
$235 million. ... Spring is our biggest tourist time of the year
and baseball is an important factor" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 9/15).
RIPPLE EFFECT: BRANDWEEK reports that with no playoffs,
General Motors is likely "scrap plans" for a $40-50M corporate
image campaign that was to break during baseball's post-season
(BRANDWEEK, 9/12 issue).
BIRDS WATCHING: Orioles VP Joe Foss said he believed owner
Peter Angelos' resistance to signing the owners' resolution might
help ticket sales during this uncertain off-season (Mark Masek,
WASHINGTON POST, 9/16). MD Comptroller Louis Goldstein said that
the MD Stadium Authority has a substantial "cash cushion" to meet
the $14M required annual payment on the $150M bond issue that
finances Camden Yards (WASHINGTON TIMES, 9/16).
AD CAMPAIGNS: Reebok said it still plans to launch a new
campaign featuring Frank Thomas next spring. Nintendo
spokesperson on their Ken Griffey Jr. game that is a top-five
seller: "We are losing something by not having a nightly feature
on Griffey and his run for the record" (Jesus Sanchez, L.A.
TSN BEEFING UP SPORTS MENU: In Toronto, Ken McKee notes
that Canada's TSN is trying to fill in its schedule from the lack
of baseball games. "Face it, there isn't much available." ESPN
is running a boxing card from Biloxi, MS and ESPN2 is adding more
CFL games. TSN is blocked from adding CFL games on days the CBC
has a game. TSN programming VP Rick Brace said he expects to add
a few more Maple Leaf pre-season games (TORONTO STAR, 9/16).
FOX LURKING OUTSIDE TBN'S HENHOUSE? One rival network exec,
on Fox after signing on with the NHL for $155M: "They're just
crazy." But should The Baseball Network not survive the
shutdown, MLB could stage a "TV auction" and find out if Fox is
really "just crazy" (Jack Craig, BOSTON GLOBE, 9/16). Fox TV
Chair/CEO Chase Carey: "The Baseball Network's arrangement was a
very good deal from the networks' perspective because they have
very little invested. I'm not sure it is such a good bargain for
baseball." To which media writer Barry Horn responds, "Sounds
like a man who has spotted a bargain he can't wait to make his
network's own" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/14).
COMISKEY'S RENT: Curious IL taxpayers "wondered whether the
cancellation means they will have to subsidize the Sox for their
rent payments in new Comiskey Park." State officials said last
month the owners of the Sox will pay only half as much rent on
Comiskey Park as the $3M they paid in '93 (Paul Sullivan, CHICAGO
TRACKING THE TRIB: Speculation differs on the role of the
Tribune Co., owner of the Cubs, in the negotiations. Tribune Co.
not only owns WGN, the superstation that broadcasts Cubs and
White Sox games, but also stations with the broadcasting rights
of five other clubs. Still, agent Randy Hendricks admits
surprise that the Tribune Co.'s was quiet during the recent
talks: "The silence of the Tribune Co. has been almost deafening
in this dispute." Cubs Chair Stanton Cook insists the Tribune's
broadcasting revenues are a "side issue" (Steve Marantz, SPORTING
Even after the death of the National Basketball League last
summer and the World Basketball League in '92, former NBL
franchise and NBA Cavaliers owner Ted Stepien "is actively
pursuing parties to form a winter version of the defunct NBL" to
begin play in December '95. Stepien said they are looking for
commitments from at least eight cities to start the North
American Basketball League. Cities would include Regina,
Winnipeg, Saksatoon, Calgary, Montreal and Edmonton, and possibly
others closer to the U.S. border. The NABL would run from
December to March, have a 40-game schedule and each team would
have an operating budget of "no more than" $500,000. It would be
run after the CBA starts allowing for players cut from the CBA to
join (Steven Forbes, WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 9/15).
"After years of haggling," the NHL and the Int'l Ice Hockey
Federation (IIHF) will announce a 3-year agreement today that
covers everything from Olympic participation to expanded int'l
competitions to the "joint formation of a European Super League."
Word of the deal was first reported in THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY
on Monday. IIHF President Rene Fasel: "It is a historic
agreement. We will work together. To fight each other brings
nothing." Fasel feels the highlight of the pact is the
commitment to have NHL players at the '98 Winter Olympics. In
the agreement, signed in Helsinki last week, the two groups agree
that "in order to ensure the participation of NHL players, that
portion of the Olympic tournament involving NHL players may not
exceed eight days." The NHL-IIHF pact also commits NHL teams to
release players for the world championships unless there is a
conflict with Stanley Cup playoffs. Also, each NHL team will pay
$400,000 during the next three years to the IIHF for access to
European players without having to negotiate with the national
federations or individual clubs. The IIHF will then allocate
monies to teams losing players to the NHL (Alan Adams, CANADIAN
PRESS/Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 9/16).
The NHLPA negotiating team, in an effort to avoid an owners'
lockout, will be pressing "new concepts" today in meetings with
the league "that should be a bellweather for the rest of the
talks leading up" to the October 1 season opener. NHLPA
President Mike Gartner: "What we'll come away with is just how
serious the league is. Is there an air of compromise or is there
another agenda?" Gartner and NHLPA Exec Dir Bob Goodenow
"refused to get into specifics of today's talks," though Gartner
"implored" NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and his lawyers to
"carefully study what the players are putting forward." There
has been talk of "reworking" the owners' idea of a salary cap and
creating a "luxury tax," to be paid by clubs which exceed a pre-
set spending limit to those who don't (Lance Hornby, TORONTO SUN,
9/16). However, the players "dismiss" many of the proposals by
the league as "salary caps in disguise." Although this is the
first meeting between Bettman and Goodenow in more than a week,
"it is unlikely anything earth shattering will immediately come
out" today. "A more likely scenario would see the NHL study any
new proposal through the weekend" (Paul Hunter, TORONTO STAR,
WHY LOCK EM' OUT? Whalers co-owner Jim Rutherford: "What
everyone's looking at is the window of opportunity for hockey
with them not having to compete with the World Series. If you
look at that on a short term, you say, 'Geez, yeah, that is an
opportunity.' But I don't believe that any sport, especially
hockey, can look at it on the short term. They have to fix what
the problems are related to the economics of the game" (Viv
Bernstein, HARTFORD COURANT, 9/16). In Detroit, Keith Gave
notes, "In a battle over public sentiment -- which frequently
influences how labor disagreements are settled -- the players
already are overwhelming winners" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 9/15).
ADVANCED EXPOSURE Header over Joe LaPointe's column: "This
October, Hockey has The Stage." LaPointe notes that the only
athlete spotted at the MTV awards last week was the Rangers Mark
Messier (N.Y. TIMES, 9/16).
STEEL EYES: Penguin players are refusing to make TV
appearances to promote ticket and merchandise sales until the
league and union negotiated a new deal (mult., 9/16).
"THE GREAT LAKES GANG": In the latest issue of THE SPORTING
NEWS, Steve Marantz profiles the Acting Commissioner Bud Selig,
White Sox Owner Jerry Reinsdorf, Cubs President Stanton Cook,
Braves Chair Bill Bartholamay and Twins Owner Carl Pohlad -- "the
Great Lakes Gang" -- who engineered the "coup" to dump Fay
Vincent in '92 and now stand as "the most powerful coalition of
owners." Some believe that if a new coalition rises up to
challenge them, it could be "The Merchandisers" -- the Astros'
Drayton McLane, the Rockies' Jerry McMorris, the Royals' David
Glass, the Giants' Peter Magowan, the Tigers' Mike Ilitch the
Marlins' Wayne Huizenga, and possibly the Mariners' John Ellis.
Of that group, Glass, the CEO of Wal-Mart, "may be the most
influential" (THE SPORTING NEWS, 9/19 issue).
BULLPEN CALL: Agent Tom Reich said replacing Richard
Ravitch with Red Sox CEO John Harrington would move baseball's
shutdown "a giant step closer to settlement." Reich: "If this
is going to get resolved, [Harrington] and a couple of others
like him are going to have to get even more prominently involved
in negotiations. ... John Harrington is one of the best minds in
the business, and if there's hope for a resolution -- and it
looks very hopeless right now -- it rests in the minds of people
like Harrington." Reich called relations between Ravitch and Don
Fehr "downright hostile" and "unacceptable": "This is not the
Middle East" (Joe Giuliotti, BOSTON HERALD, 9/16).
LAST-MINUTE MOVES: San Diego-based agent Tony Attanasio
said he was encouraged by three unnamed owners to call Selig
Tuesday night to offer a concept that Attanasio said, "seemed to
draw some interest from Selig." The plan was based on the
payroll and revenue tax plan, with an increase in the tax.
Attanasio suggested a 5-year trial, "during which either side
could reopen after two or three years." He also proposed joint
ventures and that the MLBPA be involved in choosing the next
commissioner. Attanasio was told by Brewers General Counsel
Wendy Selig-Prieb that they would weigh the proposal. The next
day, her father, Bud Selig, cancelled the season. Attanasio:
"It made me realize that the whole thing was predetermined, as
the union had tried to tell me. The owners never had a Plan B,
never made a counterproposal" (Ross Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 9/16).