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Volume 24 No. 112

Leagues Governing Bodies

     Appearing on ESPN's "Up Close," Phillies CF Lenny Dykstra
said that he and 20 other stars would meet some time in the next
week to discuss how to end the strike.  "It was as close as any
baseball player has come to open mutiny with the players union,"
according to Frank Fitzpatrick and Jayson Stark in this morning's
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER.  The INQUIRER piece was front-page, above
the fold.  Dykstra, who characterized Special Mediator William
Usery's recommendations for a settlement as "fair":  "The players
have to rethink our position, what's best for us. ... We're
running out of time.  We tried to let them get it worked out and
it hasn't happened.  It's time to really break it down and call a
spade a spade."  Dykstra said that the next step would be to go
to New York and meet with the union's executive committee
(PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 2/10).
     REAX: MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr "shrugged off" Dykstra's
comments: "I'm sure there's a lot of confusion from players out
there over what happened in Washington because of the way clubs
circulated Bill Usery's recommendations. ... I'm confident that
when players like Lenny have a chance to find out precisely what
happened, this is not going to be a big problem" (Fitzpatrick &
Stark, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 2/10).  Dykstra committed "the
union equivalent of heresy when he said that the owners deserved
a few breaks" (Peter Schmuck, Baltimore SUN, 2/10).  I.J.
Rosenberg in Atlanta:  "The solid armor of the baseball players'
union developed a crack Thursday."  Braves Player Rep Tom Glavine
described Dykstra as "someone who hasn't been at any of our
meetings and really doesn't understand the proposal" (ATLANTA
CONSTITUTION, 2/10).  Giants GM Bob Quinn:  "If you took a secret
vote among the rank and file, I'm willing to bet the majority
would vote to come back and play right now" (SAN JOSE MERCURY
NEWS, 2/10).

     At the urging of the MLBPA, Usery issued a statement saying
that his recommendation for a settlement was not a "formal
proposal."  The owners had released the terms of Usery's
recommendations to the media, "no doubt hoping to take full
public relations advantage of their willingness to end the
dispute."  Braves President Stan Kasten: "That's something a
mediator has to say.  We know what he proposed" (Peter Schmuck,
Baltimore SUN, 2/10).  In a memo to agents, Fehr wrote that
Usery's recommendations were terrible, "to put it mildly" (Ross
Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 2/10).  Headline over Murray Chass' piece in
the N.Y. TIMES: "Usery's status in Baseball talks up in air."
But in the piece, Chass writes that Usery "showed no signs of
leaving or being eased out" when he made his statement (N.Y.
TIMES, 2/10).
     BLOWN OPPORTUNITY?  The union "clearly" does not want Usery
to remain involved, reports Mark Maske and Helen Dewar in the
WASHINGTON POST.  "But they may not have any choice, given his
political clout and virtually spotless reputation as a mediator."
In fact, ownership sources claim that the union "may have ruined
any chance it had of getting Congress to repeal" MLB's anti-trust
exemption when the union "publicly attacked Usery."  Union
officials said yesterday they will not address Usery's status in
the near future.  Fehr:  "If we have a position that we don't
believe he should be involved in the process any more, everyone
will know it" (Maske & Dewar, WASHINGTON POST, 2/10).
     OWNER COMMENTARY:  Acting Commissioner Bud Selig was
interviewed in yesterday afternoon's MILWAUKEE JOURNAL.  On the
solidarity of the owners: "I'm very happy with the current state
of solidarity. ... They've just been remarkably good.  I will say
that I really take great pride in that because it's the first
time in baseball history" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL, 2/9).  Mariners CEO
John Ellis thinks Clinton's plan to intercede "might have
torpedoed hopes of ending the walkout": " The president was
taking a very large risk and he shouldn't have gotten into this
unless he knew for sure what the result would be."  Ellis also
thinks that Clinton's involvement "cut the ground from under"
Usery (Angelo Bruscas, SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 2/10).
     PLAYER COMMENTARY:  Ex-MLBPA Exec Dir Marvin Miller: "Both
he (Bill Clinton) and mediator Bill Usery really embarrassed
themselves. ... You cannot press two parties to agreement when
the element of pressure is not there" (NEWSPORT, 2/9).  Blue Jay
Dave Stewart: "I know what's on the table and we don't have
anything else we can give them.  We got rid of salary arbitration
and we've given up other things that younger players wouldn't
feel were appropriate" (TORONTO STAR, 2/10).  In New York, Tom
Keegan recommends that Fehr step aside and let someone else take
over the negotiations for the players (N.Y. POST, 2/10).

     The following are excerpts from editorials compiled from 25
newspapers in 18 MLB markets:
     ANAHEIM:  ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: "The President and
Congress should keep their mitts out of the baseball industry"
(ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 2/7).
     ATLANTA:  ATLANTA JOURNAL: "The President has no authority,
and Congress has no business, in this dispute" (ATLANTA JOURNAL,
2/9).
     BALTIMORE:  Baltimore SUN: "Perhaps a presidential gun held
to their heads would induce a voluntary settlement.  But the gun
Mr. Clinton is brandishing has no bullets and both sides know it"
(Baltimore SUN, 2/9).  WASHINGTON TIMES: "Let W.J. Usery ...
continue to argle-bargle with the major-league gang.  There's no
legitimate federal role involved" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 2/10).
WASHINGTON POST: "This a labor dispute in a non-essential
business, and it's up to the contending parties, not the federal
government, to work it out" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/10).
     BAY AREA, CA:  SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS: "We won't propose a
solution to the baseball strike.  We do have an opinion on who
else has no business playing umpire:  the President and Congress"
(SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 2/9).
     BOSTON:  BOSTON GLOBE: "Enough!  Let no more energy be
wasted on these egos, especially not in the halls of Congress"
(BOSTON GLOBE, 2/9).  BOSTON HERALD:  "Though Congress shouldn't
force a solution ... it should revoke the owners' anti-trust
exemption" (BOSTON HERALD, 2/9).
     CHICAGO:  CHICAGO TRIBUNE: "The first bad idea was for the
President to involve himself in this affair in the first place"
(CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/9).  CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: "The President ought
not ask the fans -- as citizens -- put up with even more by
shoving their government into an intrusive, no-win situation"
(CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 2/9).
     CINCINNATI:  CINCINNATI POST: "Americans do not have a
constitutional right to entertainment, and that's reason enough
for Congress to stay out of the baseball strike -- as the White
House should have" (CINCINNATI POST, 2/9).
     CLEVELAND:  Cleveland PLAIN DEALER: "Congress should have
much more important things on its mind than the future of a game.
Americans, meanwhile, will find a way to survive without major
league baseball" (PLAIN DEALER, 2/9).
     DETROIT:  The DETROIT FREE PRESS is against Congress passing
binding arbitration legislation: "If lawmakers want to nudge the
parties toward an agreement, a more appropriate action would be
the repeal of the major leagues' antiquated exemption" (DETROIT
FREE PRESS, 2/9).
     HOUSTON:  HOUSTON CHRONICLE: "Baseball's fracture has to be
healed by baseball interests themselves.  That may be sad and
painful.  But don't make a federal case out of baseball's
rhubarb" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 2/9).
     LOS ANGELES:  L.A. TIMES: "Congress should get off the bench
and make a play" (L.A. TIMES, 2/9).
     MIAMI: Ft. Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL: "Save congressional
involvement for real crises -- like a steel strike or lock-out
during a time of war or severe economic depression -- not for a
labor dispute that puts one set of millionaires against another"
(Ft. Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL, 2/9).
     MILWAUKEE:  MILWAUKEE SENTINEL: "The spectacle of a
president intervening in a sports dispute about which fewer
Americans seem to care is just that:  a spectacle" (MILWAUKEE
SENTINEL, 2/10).  MILWAUKEE JOURNAL: "Clinton's decision to seek
congressional action ... is a useful initiative that could help
break the stubborn impasse" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL, 2/8).
     MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL: ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS: "Baseball is
show business, not an essential industry.  Ultimately, owners and
player should resolve their own differences, while the nation's
leaders shoulder more critical duties" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS,
2/8).  Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE: "It isn't Congress' job to
settle the baseball strike. ... It is time, however, for Congress
to take indirect action by doing what it probably should have
done decades ago:  remove the antitrust exemption" (STAR TRIBUNE,
2/9).
     NEW YORK:  N.Y. TIMES argues Congress is not the place to
solve the dispute: "There may be some merit in a broad
Congressional redefinition of the rules under which baseball
operates": eliminating the exemption (N.Y. TIMES, 2/9).  NEWSDAY
is against the Clinton legislation: "We've advocated removing the
antitrust exemption  -- there's no justification for it and it
would put more pressure on the owners to negotiate in good faith"
(NEWSDAY, 2/9).
     PHILADELPHIA:  PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: "Trust us esteemed
leaders of Congress, few voters in America will blame you for
bending the sacred principles of free enterprise just a bit to
give them their game back.  Get it done" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER,
2/8).
     SAN DIEGO:  SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE commends Clinton for his
efforts but notes there is "no compelling national interest in
lawmakers' forcing these spoiled millionaires to stop their
bickering" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 2/9).
     SEATTLE:  SEATTLE TIMES: "Congress does not need to force a
solution to the Major League Baseball strike. ... Nothing says
negotiators have to listen to a president, but to do so
courteously and seriously is the American custom, just like
paying attention to that song they play before every game"
(SEATTLE TIMES, 2/9).

     The Bills cheerleaders, the Jills, won a ruling with the
NLRB to form the first union representing a professional
cheerleading squad over protests from sponsor, the Mighty Taco
chain (WASHINGTON POST, 2/10).

     As the NBA prepares for its All-Star weekend in Phoenix,
papers from around the country this morning are offering
perspective on the league.  The NBA bills the "three days in
Phoenix as a celebration of American's hippest sport," writes
Roger Thurow in this morning's WALL STREET JOURNAL.  The weekend
is "a mighty sell-abration," the best vehicle for peddling the
games most-marketable personalities to the NBA's foreign
markets."  Commissioner David Stern calls it "a real-brand
builder."  Thurow looks at the NBA's international expansion
efforts. As the league gains on soccer as "the world's most
popular sport, the NBA brand, manifested by their merchandise of
its 29 teams is getting to be as ubiquitous as cans of Coke,
especially in Europe and Asia."  International sales of NBA
products is expected to hit $350M for the year, and the league
has "jumped heavily into cable, satellite and direct broadcasting
and now claims to be the largest provider of sports programming
in the world."  NBA Entertainment is the hub of the international
effort, where league highlights and shows are sent around the
world.  Stephen Hellmuth, VP/Operations at NBA Entertainment:
"Most everything we do, we're thinking globally" (WALL STREET
JOURNAL, 2/10).
     LABOR UPDATE: On the labor front, there is "growing unease
about the lack of progress" toward a new CBA to replace the one
that expired in June, according to Gary Kingston of the VANCOUVER
SUN.  The NBA and NBPA had hoped to "have a framework of an
agreement" by the All-Star break, but the two sides are "still
far apart."  NBPA President Charles Grantham:  "Definitely, we
are on a collision course."  Grantham says the "biggest thorn" in
negotiations is the owners' reluctance to identify, and share,
some of the revenues generated by the league, "particularly the
take from licensing and merchandise."  Currently the NBPA
receives $500,000 annually from licensing and merchandising,
which goes into an annuity.  Grantham: "It's embarrassing.  The
league will do about $3 billion in retail sales this season.  We
assume their take is somewhere around 5%.  That's $125 million
plus" (VANCOUVER SUN, 2/10).