"Congress fired a couple of warning shots" at baseball owners and players yesterday, saying that if the season-ending strike was not ended by next spring, "lawmakers would step in and do it for them." Players "took comfort" from efforts in the House by the Judiciary Committee and a Labor subcommittee to "goad owners into reopening stalled talks." But the players were also cautioned about their own responsibility to "bargain in good faith and not continue to rely on Congress for help." The Judiciary panel approved Rep. Mike Synar's (D-OK) bill that would enable players to go to court to challenge baseball's antitrust exemption and try to stop the owners from declaring an impasse and unilaterally imposing a salary cap (David Hess, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 9/30). Synar: "The death toll is on for the antitrust exemption. The question is, do we do it this session or next?" (Whiteside & Zuckman, BOSTON GLOBE, 9/30). Still, the chances of Synar's bill moving through both House before adjournment on October 7 "are still doubtful" (Claire Smith, N.Y. TIMES, 9/30). Sen. Connie Mack (R-FL), who favors lifting the exemption: "I don't think we've got the votes to pass it" ("Sports Center," ESPN, 9/29). OTHER HILL ACTION: Rep. Pat Williams (D-MT) called on an Education and Labor subcommittee hearing to consider "compulsory arbitration for the sides." He used the forum to "chide both sides about their non-negotiations" (Mike Dodd, USA TODAY, 9/30).