In a meeting with WASHINGTON POST reporters, acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said that he expects each of the 28 clubs to field a replacement team for the '95 season -- that includes both the Orioles and Blue Jays. MLB General Counsel Chuck O'Connor: "We have a problem in Toronto that is not just legal - - the question of Labatt's being comfortable with using a so- called loophole ... [that] might be viewed as an affront by the Canadian people." Selig and several owners were in Washington this week to meet with members of Congress as well as Labor Secretary Robert Reich. Over the past two days, owners have met with 35 members of Congress, including House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and Senate Judiciary Chair Orrin Hatch (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 1/12). NHL EFFECTS: MLBPA General Counsel Gene Orza: "The biggest benefit of the hockey settlement is I no longer have to hear [Rockies Owner] Jerry McMorris and Bud Selig give me the ultimate non sequitur of these negotiations: 'We want a salary cap and you'll notice the only sports playing have salary caps.'" MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr noted that the NHL did not implement its own system: "I think clearly because they're covered by the antitrust laws and they didn't think they could get away with it." But MLB's O'Connor countered: "I believe it's incorrect to hold that the clubs could not implement the salary cap proposal if the antitrust laws applied to baseball" (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 1/12). THE SEARCH FOR PLAYERS: Red Sox CEO John Harrington said the clubs' operations committee has compiled a list of 800 players who were active in the major or minor leagues within the past 18 months, but are not with any organization now (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 1/12). Because the union had its strike certified, the Immigration and Naturalization Service will not grant a visa required of any foreign player signed to a major league contract -- even if he will not be used as a replacement (Rod Beaton, USA TODAY, 1/12). A WORD OF WARNING: Red Sox Danny Darwin said that he is "among a growing number of players who will be closely watching for signs of loyalty" from coaches, managers and trainers, "all of whom pay union dues and collect licensing money" (Nick Cafardo, BOSTON GLOBE, 1/11).
Leagues Governing Bodies
Retiring LPGA Commissioner Charlie Mechem, at the eve of the LPGA's first '95 event: "I don't think there is any question that someday there will be a woman commissioner. But I don't get any sense that this time it must be a woman." An 11 person search committee, including eight players, has been formed to find a new commissioner (Steve Hershey, USA TODAY, 1/12). According to the LPGA, the '95 season will be "its most successful season ever." The schedule includes 38 events totaling over $24M in prize money. In addition, 26 tournaments will enjoy TV coverage -- that's the most televised events ever for the LPGA in one season. The added TV coverage includes a few events that will appear on The Golf Channel (LPGA).
Goodwill Games President Jack Kelly announced that the Games will remain a 16-day single-city event, but said that they do not intend to return to Russia in 2002. Kelly said former and future Olympic city hopefuls like Beijing, China, Osaka, Japan and Cape Town, South Africa, have expressed a "great deal of interest" in hosting the games in 2002. The prospects for those cities as hosts were discussed at a meeting among Kelly, Turner Sports President Harvey Schiller and TBS Chair Ted Turner. Kelly: "There's a sentiment that for the Games and Turner Sports' growth, we might be better off going to a new region." No changes were made to the format of the Games, although Kelly left open the possibility that organizers might "tinker with the number of days or sports at a later date." New York will host the '98 Games. Kelly said the prospect of winter Goodwill Games, which is "gaining momentum under the Turner tent, was not discussed" (Joe Drape, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 1/12).
The NHLPA recommended that its members accept the owners' latest contract offer. The union will now conduct a ratification vote, and players "are expected to confirm" the six-year CBA by noon tomorrow. NHLPA Exec Dir Bob Goodenow: "We have come to a conclusion that both sides can live with and now we can grow together." NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman: "I'm thrilled, happy, relieved, take any emotion you want on the spectrum. ... It's important that the league and players come together" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 1/12). ESPN's Bob Ley: "Like Jason who, yes, wore a goalie mask, the season could not be killed" ("SportsCenter," 1/11). NOT A DONE DEAL? Many players were reluctant to predict easy passage for the agreement among the union membership. Ranger Mike Hudson: "I wouldn't be surprised if the 'No' vote was as high as 30 percent" (Mark Everson, N.Y. POST, 1/12). Among the most "contentious" issue remaining is back pay (Dave Luecking, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/12). Other questions the players are asking: "How will their salaries be computed? Will they be prorated against their base pay for an 84-game season or be based on the number of days in the coming partial season. ... Will current players' statuses be grandfathered?" (Jim Smith, NEWSDAY, 1/12). Blackhawk Jeremy Roenick: "There's a lot of things unanswered. It's going to come down to one or two votes, it's going to be very tight" (ESPN, 1/11). WHAT NEXT? For the owners, revenue sharing looms as the next major challenge. The issue "is certain to rekindle animosities." Oilers Owner Peter Pocklington: "I have NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman's word this will be addressed at the next board meeting. And that's good enough for me" (Shoalts & Milner, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 1/12). James Christie writes that during the lockout, the "gap between the NHL's small-market and major-market teams went from being a cleft to a rift to a chasm" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 1/12). Canucks President Pat Quinn: "It's an owners' problem, not a players' problem" (VANCOUVER SUN, 1/12).
Reactions on the deal from several NHL cities: IN NEW YORK, MIKE LUPICA credits Bettman with saving the season: "It does not make Bettman some kind of hero. He never lost a paycheck here. He had to work for his votes every step of the way. But if he did not rough up Goodenow, if he did not rough up his owners sometimes, especially the owners who were perfectly willing to shut down this season for good, then hockey is gone" (N.Y. NEWSDAY, 1/12). THE N.Y. POST scores it "Owners By Knockout," but LARRY BROOKS scores it "E.G. Error, Goodenow" (N.Y. POST, 1/12). RANGERS GOALIE GLENN HEALY: "We got killed, but we had to do this in order to play hockey this year" (Mult., 1/12). IN TAMPA, LIGHTNING GOVERNOR DAVID LEFEVRE: "We didn't get everything we wanted, but it is a good deal for us. We've got a system that will slow down the escalation of salaries. The only gain they made was in unrestricted free agency. And most players retire by the time they are 32" (Cammy Clark, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 1/12). IN DETROIT, CYNTHIA LAMBERT & LYNN HENNING: "The players gave up a ton, but they can still be considered the victors. Why? NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman promised the owners a salary cap." RED WINGS OWNER MIKE ILITCH: "I'll go along with this. You have to respect what the whole group wants, but this isn't going to work, not in the long run" (DETROIT NEWS, 1/12). IN CHICAGO, BLACKHAWKS GM BOB PULFORD: "I think the reason we went to the lockout was because we needed a deterrent on salaries and we didn't get that" (Robert Markus, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/12). IN SAN JOSE, SHARKS DIR OF HOCKEY OPS DEAN LOMBARDI: "We're back at the starting gate and our wheels aren't spinning yet. But I don't think it's irreparable harm; it just means our jobs are harder" (S.J. MERCURY NEWS, 1/12). IN DALLAS, TERRY EGAN writes, "In a sense, there is a new beginning for hockey in Dallas." STARS OWNER JIM LITES: "I hope it's a mending time" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/12). IN TORONTO, MAPLE LEAFS PRESIDENT & GM CLIFF FLETCHER: "I think I can say without going off the deep end, it probably will be the best collective bargaining agreement of all the four major professional sports. It'll be the only one that doesn't include a tax or a cap and does include some arbitration and some free agency for veteran players." DAVID SHOALTS & BRIAN MILNER write that the consensus is that Bettman "has emerged as a big winner," but that opinion on Goodenow "is much more divided." The players may be the "biggest losers" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 1/12). AL STRACHAN writes that, by the time the deal expires, the NHL "will no longer be the dominant hockey league in the world. ... As long as the players have nowhere else to play, then they have to put up with the salary limitation imposed by the new CBA. But there is every indication that the players may soon have other options." Strachan notes the IHL and a possible European league (TORONTO SUN, 1/12). IN BOSTON, BRUINS PRESIDENT & GM HARRY SINDEN: "I think [the fans] lost. I don't think the sport was well-served by a 103-day shutdown." BRUIN CAM NEELY: "It's pretty evident the owners basically want to control you from the time you're 18 until the time you're 32." HERALD headline: "NHLPA bails out owners" (BOSTON HERALD, 1/12). Kevin Paul Dupont writes the players "got what they wished for and now will have to live with it. ... They held off a cap and slipped on a straitjacket" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/12). IN WASHINGTON, TONY KORNHEISER writes, "The owners lost. The players lost. The fans lost. The NBA won." CAPITALS PRESIDENT DICK PATRICK: "I'd say the players won. ... We didn't accomplish what we were after" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/12). CAPS OWNER ABE POLLIN: "I believe we could have gotten a deal that would have been fairer, not better but fairer, for the owners as well as the players" (Dave Fay, WASHINGTON TIMES, 1/12). IN ST. LOUIS, BLUES' BRENDAN SHANAHAN: "They bent a little. We bent more" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/12). NHLPA VP MARTY MCSORLEY: "The players will have to be tougher next time, better educated on the issues and more wary of the opposition" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 1/12). IN L.A., HELENE ELLIOTT writes, "It wasn't worth it. Nobody won" (L.A. TIMES, 1/12). WAYNE GRETZKY: "There's still a free market, that was most important and I think it was vital for Mr. Goodenow to take that back to the players union. ... [The owners] didn't get a salary cap which they wanted in the beginning, but I think that they really got a drag on salaries" ("SportsCenter, ESPN, 1/11). IN OTTAWA, ROY MACGREGOR calls Goodenow a "big-time winner. ... Goodenow took on, and beat, the salary cap. The owners were able to take away some, but not nearly what they had counted on." Bettman had "three months of victory, two days of being kicked in the stomach. He took charge, the owners took it back" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 1/12). OILERS OWNER PETER POCKLINGTON, who voted against the deal: "Gary [Bettman] did a hell of a deal. He's the greatest breath of fresh air this league has ever seen" (Richard Sandomir, N.Y. TIMES, 1/12). IN VANCOUVER, TONY GALLAGHER writes, "The owners won this thing so cleanly it's obscene. But have they won too much? Will the restrictive rookie salary cap spawn a competitive league which so many agents feel is soon to be a reality? ... The IHL only has to lift its salary cap and say, 'let's go'" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 1/12). ESPN'S AL MORGANTI: "This was a matter of how much would be taken away from [the players]. They got hammered pretty well in arbitration, they got hammered in other areas, they got a rookie cap. On the other hand, the banner they chose to fight under was no tax, no cap. They can have their victory dance over that" ("SportsCenter," 1/11). HARVARD LAW PROFESSOR PAUL WEILER said the rookie cap will have a positive effect on the salary structure for the owners: "The salary patterns that are set by those rookies filter all through the rest of the salary structure for the veteran players" ("World News Tonight," ABC, 1/11).
According to Suns Owner Jerry Colangelo, who is leading Phoenix's effort to land a MLB franchise, "a strong likelihood" exists that a franchise will be awarded in the next six weeks. Although expansion teams are not expected to play until the '97 or '98 season, Phoenix must have an answer by April 1, when sales-tax legislation that would fund a $253M retractable roof stadium expires if a franchise is not awarded. Colangelo made his comments after a meeting with MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr, who was in Phoenix for a players meeting and gave Colangelo's efforts a vote of confidence. Colangelo, who says he talks with the MLB expansion committee almost daily, said he was glad to have Fehr's support: "I felt all along that we have an awful lot to offer baseball" (Paola Boivin, ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 1/12).
In the January 16 issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Jamie Diaz writes that the proposed World Golf tour "may be dead, but the idea is alive and well." Diaz chronicles the promises made by World Tour organizers, concluding: "The World Golf Tour was a classic case of big hat, no cattle. While the commitment from Fox was real, there were no specific sites, and no signed contracts with players were produced." Diaz is critical of Greg Norman for being "oblivious to the prevalent view among players that, while the concept of an elite series of events sounded good, they would not participate unless the new tour was conducted with the cooperation of the PGA Tour." Diaz notes Seve Ballesteros and Nick Faldo criticized it as "slipshod." Diaz says there is hope for the future: "It's important to realize that while the World Golf Tour might be dead, the idea of a world golf tour has emerged from the rubble more viable than ever" (SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, 1/16 issue),