CONGRESS TO OWNERS: CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED
Yesterday's hearing on baseball's antitrust exemption before
the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Economic and
Commercial Law "represented the unofficial start of what's widely
expected to be an off-season of bickering." While House
Judiciary Chair Jack Brooks (D-TX) doubted that any action could
be taken this year, baseball "may not be off the hook, especially
if the labor dispute lingers" (Rick Alm, DALLAS MORNING NEWS,
9/23). Brooks prefaced the hearing by releasing a statement
indicating his support for repealing the exemption. He had
previously reserved judgment on this issue (THE DAILY).
OWNER-BASHING: "If major league baseball owners have
friends in Congress, they weren't in room 2141 of the Rayburn
Building yesterday" (Thom Lovero, WASHINGTON TIMES, 9/23).
Brooks "wanted the owners in attendance to know he means
business" (Brad Snyder, Baltimore SUN, 9/23). "The players'
fervor paled in comparison to what they found to already exist on
Capitol Hill: a blanket indictment of the exemption by many
legislators angered by baseball's incessant labor wars" (Claire
Smith, N.Y. TIMES, 9/23). "The owners couldn't give a single
reason why they deserve this break" (George Vecsey, N.Y. TIMES,
9/23). NBC's Bob Costas: "The mood of lawmakers has changed to
one of general disgust with the state of the game and an apparent
willingness to take away at least part of the curious anti-trust
exemption" ("Nightly News," 9/22).
FROM CONGRESS: Rep. Mike Synar (D-OK): "The owners really
did not make a strong case, I believe, in why they deserve this
special status. ... I am convinced that if there is a chance to
vote on the floors of the Senate or the House that this
legislation would pass overwhelmingly on the simple basis of
fairness" ("Business Insiders," CNBC, 9/22). More from Synar:
"The Senate really holds the key. If [Sen. Howard] Metzenbaum is
able to push something through, we can get something done this
year" (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 9/23). Metzenbaum, whose
Senate bill was blocked by a procedural motion last week, will
try to attach it to another bill as an amendment. Metzenbaum:
"If I get a chance, you can bet your sweet life I'll try it"
(Helyar & Calmes, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/23). Brooks said if a
Senate bill were to pass, "I would be very open to allowing it to
proceed directly to the President" (THE DAILY).
FROM THE OWNERS: Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig
"downplayed the significance" of Brook's opposition: "I really
believe this will not be settled in the halls of Congress. I
truly believe the only way to settle this is at the bargaining
table" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/23). Rockies Owner Jerry McMorris:
"I hate to see the old system tampered with while we're in the
middle of labor negotiations" ("Business Insiders," CNBC, 9/22).
Red Sox Owner John Harrington: "The solution is at the
bargaining table" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 9/22). Selig, on the
choice between a strike and litigation: "That's like asking
whether you want to have a problem with your pancreas or a
problem with your liver" (Colin Miner, N.Y. POST, 9/23).
FROM THE PLAYERS: The Dodgers' Orel Hershiser: "If this
bill is passed, it will bring baseball back. It is a promise, we
will return to the field. Right now, without this bill, we only
have two options: We can surrender or we can strike. This bill
will give us a third option. It will allow us to play baseball,
and let our attorneys fight it out in court" (mult., 9/23).
Agent Tom Reich: "We had salary caps once before from the owners
in '85. It was called collusion. ... [The owners] were found
guilty of the biggest conspiracy in the history of sports three
times. They don't deserve to have an exemption A -- and, B, it
isn't fair" ("Business Insiders," CNBC, 9/22).