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).
Leagues Governing Bodies
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).