BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 132: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BILL
"With yet another doomsday deadline rapidly approaching,
there continued to be the faintest signs of hope Tuesday" that
players and owners were close to finding a resolution (Joseph
Reeves, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 12/21). Rockies Owner Jerry McMorris,
MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr and Special Mediator William Usery --
who, by the way, turns 71 today -- met alone late last night.
"And while there was speculation that this might mean some sort
of breakthrough was near," one union official said the two sides
needed to determine "whether there is reason to get together as a
group" (Jayson Stark, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 12/21). McMorris:
"It's time to make a deal if we want one. There will be
compromises reached. There will be give and take on various
parts" (AP/Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 12/21). While most reports note
that McMorris and Phillies Exec VP Dave Montgomery have been
given the authority to make a deal, acting Commissioner Bud Selig
denied that McMorris was sent as the "designated deal-maker"
(Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 12/21). McMorris will meet again with
Fehr this morning and the owners' full negotiating committee will
arrive later in the day for joint talks (Hal Bodley, USA TODAY,
IN DISPUTE: Again, it appeared the "potential basis for a
settlement" could be a two-tiered tax that features a relatively
small tax on all 28 teams' payrolls, and a 2nd tax assessed
against teams who exceed a certain payroll level (Jayson Stark,
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 12/21).
IS THERE A DEADLINE? While the owners have a self-imposed
deadline for implementation at midnight tomorrow, many reports
note that they may decide to hold off on declaring an impasse.
"The union is winning the paper chase, but it remains to be seen
whether a couple of unfavorable government rulings will
discourage the owners" (Peter Schmuck, Baltimore SUN, 12/21).
MLBPA General Counsel Gene Orza said he thought "owners were
becoming aware making a deal was their best option": "There are
more and more people uncomfortable with the system they would
implement" (USA TODAY, 12/21). But McMorris said owners are
still working under the premise of a Thursday deadline (Thom
Loverro, WASHINGTON TIMES, 12/21).
ANOTHER NLRB LOSS FOR OWNERS: The NLRB dismissed an unfair
labor practice charge against the MLBPA by the owners concerning
alleged threats against potential strikebreakers. A week ago,
the NLRB said it would issue two unfair labor practice complaints
against owners over their failure to make a $7.8M contribution to
the players' pension fund (I.J. Rosenberg, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION,
12/21). MLB plans to appeal the NLRB's dismissal of the threats
NEWS & NOTES: In an interview with ESPN that was made
available to the ASSOCIATED PRESS, incoming Senate Judiciary
Chair Sen. Orrin Hatch said he believes that some owners are
trying to break the union: "If I get the impression that the
owners are going to break the players union, then I'm not going
to sit idly by." In a statement, Selig responded to Hatch's
comments: "I'm disappointed that Sen. Hatch made such
inflammatory remarks at this critical stage" of the negotiations
(ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 12/21)....The Blue Jays have not decided
when to put tickets for the '95 season on sale. Jays
spokesperson Mark Leno said the team will wait and see what
happens with the strike before asking for season ticket renewals
(TORONTO STAR, 12/21).