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Volume 24 No. 117
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     "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).