AUTUMN CANCELED; NUCLEAR WINTER ARRIVES EARLY
"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).