BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 102: TIME TO TALK TURKEY?
After three days of meetings in Herdon, VA, MLB and MLBPA
negotiators recessed until November 28th "to give the players'
union additional time to study the clubs' revised proposal"
(Noble & Heyman, N.Y. NEWSDAY, 11/20). It was "too soon for the
players' union to pass final judgement" on the owners' plan,
which includes a "so-called luxury tax as a cornerstone of cost
savings for the 28 teams" (Larry Whiteside, BOSTON GLOBE, 11/20).
"But both sides did their best to put a respectable spin on what
was accomplished" during the "get-together" (Jayson Stark,
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 11/20). "Was anything accomplished here
these last three days? It is hard to judge. But perhaps one
good sign is the two sides are not going for the throat" (I.J.
Rosenberg, ATLANTA CONTSITUTION, 11/20).
THE NEXT STEP: The question remains whether the "players
will accept any part of the payroll tax proposal presented" to
them (Claire Smith, N.Y. TIMES, 11/20). The tax rate has two
"thresholds": the average of all 28 payrolls -- $35.6M, derived
by taking 56% of industry revenue -- and a second level, $5M
higher at $40.6M. A tax rate would apply to each team's payroll
and any amount over each "threshold" (Hal Bodley, USA TODAY,
11/21). Red Sox CEO John Harrington, who heads the owners'
negotiating team, remained optimistic. Harrington: "I'm pleased
that [MLBPA Exec Dir] Don [Fehr] and the players are continuing
to look at our proposal for the redeeming effects on their side.
... Our side will go to the next meetings intending to conduct
very intensive and prolonged negotiations. Our goal will be to
conclude them that week" (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 11/20).
Fehr, who has taken an "uncharacteristically conciliatory tone
during the past couple of weeks," was "careful not to give the
impression that a settlement" was near (Peter Schmuck, Baltimore
SUN, 11/20). Fehr: "We cannot predict when we come back together
whether we'll be at the state to make a more full response or
counterproposal or what" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/20). MLBPA General
Counsel Gene Orza: "It is obvious that the numbers that they are
plugging into their system so to speak will not fly. The
question is whether the system itself provides a basis for
further discussions" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 11/18). Orza added,
"I am confident that at some point, we'll make a counterproposal"
(Ross Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 11/19).
ACROSS THE RUBICON? Owners face a crucial deadline in the
next two weeks, as major business decisions must be made by early
December. If there is no agreement soon, it ie the owners will
unilaterally implement their salary cap. One owner: "I don't
know what more we can do. Time is running out. (The union)
rejected the idea of a 45-day freeze. They don't want a salary
cap. And if they don't accept this proposal, or come back with
one of their own, it won't leave us with much choice" (Whiteside,
BOSTON GLOBE, 11/20).