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Volume 24 No. 156

Leagues Governing Bodies

     "The final hours of the attempt to reach a negotiated
settlement in baseball's four-month-old bargaining dispute turned
out to be long and contentious ones Monday night," writes Ross
Newhan in this morning's L.A. TIMES.  In what  management
officials said was an "often venomous meeting" in Rye Brook, NY,
that ended at 1:15am (ET) this morning, the owners gave the MLBPA
an extension until 10:30am (ET) this morning to "accept or reject
their Sunday night tax proposal that the union continued to
characterize as a salary cap" (L.A. TIMES, 12/13).  Red Sox CEO
John Harrington said the players had not "formally rejected the
offer and anticipated more discussion" this morning.  MLBPA Exec
Dir Donald Fehr "declined to characterize the developments as
cause for optimism" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 12/13).  CNN's Mark
Morgan cites one management official who said that "the players
have not rejected the owner's proposal outright and the
discussions are continuing within the framework of the owner's
proposal right now" ("Sports Tonight," 12/12).    CHICAGO HOPE?
Several members of the owner's negotiating committee stressed
earlier in the day that they couldn't see postponing their
meeting Thursday in Chicago, where they are expected to vote for
implementing the salary cap.  The owners already invited GMs to
Chicago to discuss how to run their clubs under a cap.  "There is
word they will immediately look into who will serve as
replacement players" (I.J. Rosenberg, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION,
12/13).  "There apparently are plenty of teams willing to risk
months or even years of litigation for the potential rewards that
would spring from the successful imposition" of a cap (Peter
Schmuck, Baltimore SUN, 12/13).  Rockies owner Jerry McMorris on
delaying implementation: "We're literally out of time.  With the
holidays staring at us, it would be very difficult to move that
date again" (PHILA. INQUIRER, 12/13).   THE DISPUTES:  In their
latest offer, the owners called for a tax similar to the flat 5%
payroll tax cited in the last player plan.  "The sides do not
have a problem there."  It is in what the owners describe as
their "secondary" tax plan that the "troubles arise."  That
system would kick in should the flat tax fail to create a "drag"
on salaries that management says it needs.  There would be a
threshold payroll limit.  If a team exceeded that threshold, it
would be charged an additional tax that would start at 1% in the
first year and double every season thereafter that the club
stayed about the threshold (Joel Sherman, N.Y. POST, 12/13).  One
player called the owners' new plan a "Rube Goldberg contraption"
(Joe Giuliotti, BOSTON HERALD, 12/13).
     A PLAYERS' MANAGER:  A's Manager Tony La Russa says he does
not know if he would manage a team of replacement players: "If
they have minor league players playing, what do you lose by have
the (minor league) staff handling them?  Any decision has to be
based on what you think is best for the game.  You have a
relationship with (veteran) players.  At some point they will be
back, and you've got to be able to explain why you did what you
did."  La Russa has talked about his concerns with A's CEO Wally
Haas.  Haas: "I can see where Tony's coming from.  I hope things
never get to that point" (John Hickey, OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 12/11).

     The NHL Board of Governors voted unanimously to reject the
latest offer from the NHLPA, but directed NHL Commissioner Gary
Bettman and the negotiating committee to continue the collective
bargaining process.  In addition, Bettman was given the authority
to cancel the season if no CBA is reached in time to play a 50-
game regular season and Stanley Cup playoffs by July 1 (NHL).
Bettman:  "This is not about a league fighting with the union.
This is about a league fighting for its future" (Mult., 12/13).
     REAX:  Bruins GM & President Harry Sinden:  "You don't get
26 owners to shut down a business if it's healthy" (Nancy
Marrapese, BOSTON GLOBE, 12/13).  Oilers Owner Peter Pocklington:
"Baseball had a drop-dead date, and look what happened.  It
dropped dead" (Mult., 12/13).  Lightning GM Phil Esposito, on a
"drop-dead date":  "There's no reason for it.  Sooner or later,
the day will come when we can't go any further, and that decision
will be made by Mr. Bettman" (Roy Cummings, TAMPA TRIBUNE,
12/13).  "It's almost certain there will be no season unless
either the players or owners are prepared to make a 180-degree
turn.  Yesterday, neither side seemed interested in compromise"
(Fuller & Hornby, TORONTO SUN, 12/13).  "If the season is indeed
cancelled, the blood will be on the gloves of Gary Bettman" (Gare
Joyce, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 12/13).  "There is no Dove owner
willing enough or powerful enough to pull the switch that will
allow either side to gracefully avoid a collision of potentially
thunderous and long-ranging impact" (Kent Gilchrist, Vancouver
PROVINCE, 12/13).  NHL Senior VP & Dir of Hockey Ops Brian Burke:
"The owners are the ones who will cancel the season, but the
players are the one who won't agree to a deal that makes sense"
(Mark Everson, N.Y. POST, 12/13).  "If 50 is really the minimum
number of games required for an NHL season to happen, then lots
of time still remain to cut a deal -- maybe more than two weeks"
(Damien Cox, TORONTO STAR, 12/13).  ESPN's Al Morganti:  "It
could very well be that this is just another phase in the
posturing by either side in these negotiations.  But if they are
playing a game of chicken, they are getting dangerously close to
the deadline" ("SportsCenter," 12/12)
     NEXT SESSION:  Talks could begin again tomorrow, possibly in
New York (Joe Gordon, BOSTON HERALD, 12/13).

     In a stock sale agreement yesterday, MLS acquired the San
Francisco Blackhawks from owner Daniel Van Voorhis.  The
agreement not only allows MLS to acquire the team, but also the
long-term rights to Spartan Stadium in San Jose.  In exchange for
the sale, Van Voorhis becomes a limited partner in MLS.  The
Blackhawks join the league after having last played in the
American Professional Soccer League (APSL) in '92.  San Jose is
one of eight cities already designated to be site of inaugural
MLS play in '96, joining Boston, Chicago, Columbus, OH, Los
Angeles, New York/New Jersey, Tampa and Washington, DC.  MLS
Chair Alan Rothenberg was pleased about the agreement: "I am
gratified the MLS and Mr. Van Voorhis have agreed to work
together.  The Blackhawks have done a good job in helping focus
attention on the need for a Division I outdoor league in America
and we know that soccer fans in that region will support MLS"
(MLS).

     The NBA is seeking to add something to its All-Star weekend
in Phoenix in two months.  "Now the league and its players are
seeing if they can add peace to the agenda."  Officials from the
NBPA and the NBA got together last week in New York and are
scheduled to meet the rest of this month and through January to
"hammer out a new" collective bargaining agreement.  "Never one
to pass up a well-lit stage," NBA Commissioner David Stern "would
absolutely love to make the announcement with sponsors and media
in heavy concentration."  NBPA Exec Dir Charles Grantham: "We
want to see if there is a way we can reach an agreement around
the All-Star game if possible. ... It's clear there's a sense on
both sides that we would like to get a deal."  The sides are
still "rather distant."  The players will "give" on a rookie wage
scale, and the league is ready to give more of the "lucrative
licensing pie and even raise the percentage of defined gross
revenues that go to the players" from 53 to 57%.  But the owners
want to "tighten the cap rules and restrict the tap dancing
around the spirit of the system.  There is also talk of a four-
year limit on player contracts" (Steve Bulpett, BOSTON HERALD,
12/11).