BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- II: IS USERY USELESS NOW?
At the urging of the MLBPA, Usery issued a statement saying
that his recommendation for a settlement was not a "formal
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.
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).