BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 133: MERRY IMPASSE!
"The search for answers in baseball's labor dispute
apparently reached the desperate, last-gasp phase" (Mark Maske,
WASHINGTON POST, 12/22). The two sides did not meet face-to-face
yesterday, but met at separate locations with Special Mediator
William Usery. "The atmosphere was painfully similar to the dark
circumstances that existed just before the players struck"
(Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 12/22). Rockies Owner Jerry McMorris
and MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr met Tuesday night and made "slight
progress on some peripheral issues, but the obstacle that has
separated them for the past six months was still firmly in place.
Cost control" (Peter Schmuck, Baltimore SUN, 12/22). Fehr: "The
gulf that separates us remains essentially what it once was"
(N.Y. POST, 12/22). McMorris was unable to sell the players on a
luxury tax (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 12/22).
THE IMPASSE: With less than 24 hours to go until the owners
deadline to declare an impasse, the owners "were insisting the
only thing holding up progress was a proposal from the union."
Blue Jay Paul Molitor hinted the players may present a proposal
today. "But he was quick to say he doubted the move would lead
to any last-minute breakthrough" (Joseph Reaves, CHICAGO TRIBUNE,
12/22). Braves President Stan Kasten said owners are planning to
implement a salary cap at 12:01am Friday: "This can't go on
forever" (Baltimore SUN, 12/22). ESPN's Peter Gammons: "Each
side is focusing on what is going to happen after implementation
-- not focusing on a deal trying to prevent implementation"
("SportsCenter," 12/21). MLBPA Gen Counsel Gene Orza calls
implementation "inevitable" (AP/Vancouver PROVINCE, 12/22).
COMPLAINT DEPT.: The NLRB filed a 7-page complaint accusing
the owners of unfair labor practices when they refused to make a
$7.8M payment to the players' pension fund. A hearing before an
administrative law judge in New York has been scheduled for March
14, 1995 (Peter Schmuck, Baltimore SUN, 12/22). Orza, noting
that the MLBPA will file an NLRB complaint if the owners impose
their cap: "Once the NLRB issues a complaint, it's out of the
union's hands. It will then become The People vs. Major League
Baseball" (N.Y. POST, 12/22). Kasten: "If I'm 0-2 in exhibition
games, it doesn't bother me. If I'm 0-2 in complaints filed, it
doesn't bother me, either" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/22). THE
EXEMPTION: ESPN's Bob Sirkin reported that a couple of the
players met with soon-to-be House Speaker Newt Gingrich in
Atlanta. Gingrich says that he has the support of Braves Owner
Ted Turner in revoking MLB's antitrust exemption status. Sirkin:
"The players have long said they would end their strike the
moment the anti-trust exemption is lifted" ("SportsCenter,"
12/21). Sports attorney and writer Lester Munson: "I don't
really see how there can be a settlement now unless the owners
have actually realized how appalling the idea of replacement
players are in spring training. Maybe the owners are also
beginning to worry about the new Congress because they have a
good chance of losing their anti-trust exemption when this new
Republican Congress comes in" ("Market Wrap," CNBC, 12/21).