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Volume 24 No. 117
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     The talks between the players and owners broke off, and now
the "ugly stage" is set for the owners to declare a negotiating
impasse (Alan Truex, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 12/15).
     IMPLEMENTATION:  Three-fourths of the ownership must vote
for implementation for passage at today's meeting in Chicago.  It
will take eight votes to block implementation of the salary cap
(I.J. Rosenberg, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 12/15).  All reports
acknowledge that Orioles owner Peter Angelos will vote against
implementation, while most note that at least one (but maybe
both) Canadian team will also vote against (Mult., 12/15).  In
Chicago, Jerome Holtzman adds the Dodgers and Mets (CHICAGO
TRIBUNE, 12/15).  And in L.A., Ross Newhan adds the Reds (L.A.
TIMES, 12/15).  Red Sox CEO John Harrington will recommend
implementation at today's meeting.  Special Mediator William
Usery has not ruled out going to Chicago "and asking the owners
to hold off" (Alan Truex, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 12/15).  In New
York, Murray Chass notes the developments of the previous 24
hours could make the owners "take a harder look at the possible
implications" of implementation (N.Y. TIMES, 12/15).
     WILL IT BE THE CAP?  In Atlanta, I.J. Rosenberg writes,
"There is a question of what the clubs will implement."  There
are two sets of proposals on the table, the original salary cap
and an escalating tax which the owners presented on November 17
     MORE INTERVENTION:  Assuming the owners implement their
salary cap, the players are expected to appeal to the National
Labor Relations Board (NLRB) "with the charge that the owners
have not bargained in good faith, that implementation of the
owners' proposal was the objective when negotiations began almost
two years ago."  The NLRB already "came in with a verdict for the
players" yesterday when it ruled in favor of the union on its
complaint that the owners were in violation of their contract
with the union for failing to make a $7.8M payment to the
players' pension fund (Jerome Holtzman, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 12/15).
MLBPA attorney Doyle Pryor:  "If we have to file another charge,
it will already have been determined that they have not bargained
in good faith" (L.A. TIMES, 12/15).  In Baltimore, Peter Schmuck
notes with NLRB's pension decision, "the owners may have suffered
a significant setback. ... The announcement couldn't have come at
a worse time for the ownership bargaining committee" (Baltimore
SUN, 12/15).
     WHAT NEXT?  Some owners believe the players will "turn on
Fehr as they realize how much money he has cost them by leading
this freedom crusade" (Alan Truex, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 12/15).
ESPN' Peter Gammons and Bob Sirkin said "it is very unlikely"
that Usery will be fulfill his hope to have both sides back this
weekend ("SportsCenter," 12/14)