For the second day in a row, talks between the owners and
players went into the early morning hours. "That they were still
at it seemed amazing considering that the union had responded to
the owners' deadline and fundamentally rejected their escalating
tax plan during a joint meeting Tuesday morning" (Ross Newhan,
L.A. TIMES, 12/14). "There were no indications from either side
that anyone had proposed a brilliant last-minute idea to end this
endless strike. Yet still they talked" (Jayson Stark,
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 12/14). "Neither side wanted to be the
first to say goodbye" (TORONTO STAR, 12/14).
USERY TO THE RESCUE: It had appeared yesterday afternoon
that talks would break off, but Special Mediator William Usery
convinced both sides to keep talking. A smaller group from each
side continued to meet (I.J. Rosenberg, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION,
12/14). For the owners: Red Sox CEO John Harrington, Phillies
Exec VP David Montgomery and management lawyers Chuck O'Connor
and Rob Manfred. From the union: MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr,
Fehr's brother Steve Fehr, MLBPA General Counsel Gene Orza and
players Jay Bell, David Cone and Tom Glavine (Mult., 12/14).
A CONCESSION BY ANY OTHER NAME: Many reports note that at one
point during last night's talks, Fehr offered to "rid baseball of
salary arbitration in exchange" for earlier or unrestricted free
agency. But the owners rejected that offer. "For months, people
in baseball and out speculated that if the players agreed to
eliminate salary arbitration, the owners would drop their demand
for a salary cap" (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 12/14). With the
rejection of that concession, this dispute is clearly about the
salary cap. "No more, no less" (Claire Smith, N.Y. TIMES,
THE VOTE TO IMPLEMENT: The owners' negotiating committee is
expected to leave Rye Brook, NY for Chicago this afternoon.
Tomorrow, the owners are expected to declare an impasse and vote
to impose their salary cap system. Twenty-one of the 28 owners
need to approve the plan. In Washington, Mark Maske writes, "It
appears that the hard-line owners will have little or no problem
getting the 21 votes" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/14). But ESPN's Peter
Gammons hints that the vote may be close and predicts the meeting
will be "very interesting day of discussion." In addition to the
Blue Jays, who may not vote to implement because of the Ontario
labor laws preventing the use of replacement workers, other teams
oppose implementation ("SportsCenter," 12/13). Orioles Owner
Peter Angelos is expected to vote against implementation
(WASHINGTON POST, 12/14). Harrington again stated that the
owners would not delay their vote (BOSTON HERALD, 12/14).
EXPANSION: In Chicago tonight, the owners will discuss
expansion. The Orlando group has yet to present its bid, but is
expected to either tonight or tomorrow morning. For more on
Orlando's expansion effort.
Milwaukee real estate developer Marvin Fishman has confirmed
that he is exploring the possibility of bringing a CFL franchise
to Milwaukee. Fishman was a leader of a group that brought the
Bucks to the city in '68. He earlier had failed in an attempt to
secure an AFL franchise for the city in '65. Fishman "was
reluctant to comment on his role, but did say he would be best
defined as a consultant, not as a potential owner." He did say
that he opened talks with Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist about the
idea after the Packers decided that they would no longer play any
regular season games at County Stadium. Norquist: "I am
confident there will be pro football again in the Milwaukee area.
Right now, our highest priority has to be to secure a place for
the Brewers in Milwaukee." CFL Commissioner Larry Smith said
Milwaukee would probably acquire a current team, rather than an
expansion franchise, but Smith "did not rule out the latter
possibility." Milwaukee is one of the five cities that Las Vegas
owner Nick Mileti is considering as a potential home for his
team. The others: Los Angeles, Orlando, Birmingham and
Hartford. The Brewers have to approve any potential tenant of
County Stadium (Bob Wolfley, MILWAUKEE JOURNAL, 12/13).
Talks between the NHL and its players' union will resume
today or tomorrow after contacts were made "at lower levels of
both bargaining committees," according to a report this morning
by the CANADIAN PRESS' Alan Adams. Sources said the talks "will
be held on an informal, though official, basis and not involve
the full bargaining committees" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 12/14).
One source familiar with the planned "get-together" stressed that
it was "no big deal" (Len Hochberg, WASHINGTON POST, 12/14).
There is, however, considerable "lobbying behind the scenes" by
players, GMs, agents and league officials in search of a
settlement (Kevin Allen, USA TODAY, 12/14).
OUTLOOK: League sources indicate that, "while the
possibility for a deal without a tax system existed several weeks
ago, it no longer does." One source: "The hardliners are taking
over" (Damien Cox, TORONTO STAR, 12/14). Hockey analyst Stan
Fischler: "It's now up to the union to make a sensible offer,
they have been absurd up until this point, they simply have not
had a dose of reality. ... I'm convinced, and others have said
so, if the owners' offer were put to a secret ballot the players
would approve it, but they are being led by a guy who to me is
very unrealistic, Bob Goodenow" ("Sports View," 12/13).
OWNERS QUOTES: Whalers Owner Peter Karmanos: "If the union
really chumps us on this CBA and half the teams go out of
business -- all the Canadian teams, the L.A. Kings and two or
three that are weakly financed and front-loaded with salaries, is
that good for the union? They lose jobs." On the talks:
"Judging from the way I understand Bob Goodenow behaves in the
negotiations, I'm surprised Bobby Clarke hasn't gone over the
table and kicked Goodenow's rear end" (Jeff Jacobs, HARTFORD
COURANT, 12/14). Nordiques Owner Marcel Aubut predicts a deal
will get done: "It is just a feeling. I feel comfortable in
saying that the rationale of intelligent men will save the day"
(CP/GLOBE & MAIL, 12/14).
THE "I" IS WATCHING: In Boston, Joe Gordon examines the
possible consequences of an NHL cancellation for the upstart IHL.
Agent Steve Freyer: "It wouldn't surprise me, if the NHL season
is dead, to see the IHL make a very aggressive move. The numbers
of players they could sign this year would be limited, but I
would think they might sign players now for next season." Bruins
GM Harry Sinden: "If the players want to go to the IHL and play,
they're going to have to do it for 10 percent of what they're
making now, and in our proposal we've guaranteed that the current
salary level won't drop" (BOSTON HERALD, 12/14). For more on the
The IHL awarded its 19th expansion franchise to the Richard
DeVos family and Orlando. The team will play in the Orlando
Arena, home of DeVos' NBA Magic. The Orlando franchise paid $6M
to join the league and plans to spend around $1.2M to upgrade the
arena for hockey. Orlando Magic GM Pat Williams, who admitted
that the new owners "do not know much about hockey": "The whole
thing happened in not much more than six weeks. ... They really
came to us." Williams said there was a possibility that the team
will affiliate with the neighboring Tampa Bay Lightning, who
played 5 regular season games in Orlando last year. The IHL is
expected to announce another expansion franchise in San Francisco
today (Cammy Clark, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 12/14).
Pat Gaffney, a representative of the Atlantic Coast League,
has approached the Florence, SC, City Council about becoming a
franchise city. The ACL is not affiliated with any major league
club and is set to begin its first season in June 1995.
Spartanburg, SC, has already signed as one of the league's teams.
Other SC cities being courted: Sumter, Anderson, Orangeburg, and
Greenwood. Also: Gastonia, NC (Denny Seitz, FLORENCE MORNING
MORE MINOR NEWS: MD Baseball Limited Partnership Chair
Peter Kirk hopes to bring a class-A team to Salisbury, MD by '96.
He had hoped to start as an unaffiliated team in '95, but likely
will start in '96 as an Orioles affiliate. An announcement about
the team nickname will be chosen soon from 1,700 entries (Kent
Baker, Baltimore SUN, 12/14).