BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- PART II: THE DYKSTRA FALLOUT
One day after Lenny Dykstra suggested that he might cross a
picket line in April, Mets pitcher John Franco conceded that some
players are "starting to get antsy": "Both sides need to give in
a little." When asked if he would cross a picket line, he first
said, "No way," but added: "I'm not going to be one of the first
guys to cross. Who knows? Maybe two, three, four months down
the road. Hopefully, I'm not crossed with that dilemma." Last
October, Franco felt differently: "If someone crosses the picket
line, once we get back in I'll be the first one to kick his
[butt]." Franco said his October comments got "blown out of
context": "At that time, they asked me about minor-leaguers
coming in. I should have worded it a little better" (Jon Heyman,
N.Y. NEWSDAY, 2/11).
MLBPA'S ANGELOS? MLB General Counsel Chuck O'Connor
downplayed Dykstra's comments: "It's obvious that there are
individuals in each group, clubs or players, that are going to
express dissatisfaction with the approach their side is taking.
They have Lenny Dykstra. We have [Orioles Owner] Peter Angelos"
(WASHINGTON POST, 2/12). Free agent Rob Dibble: "If 10 or 15
guys cross the line, that's 10 or 15 we don't need in the union.
... I might never pitch in the big leagues again. But I believe
in the union" (ESPN, 2/11). PUBLIC OPINION WAR: Sunday's N.Y.
TIMES ran opposing op-eds from MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr and
Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. Both gave their explanations
for why talks broke down at the White House. Selig: "We do know
that the clubs played by the rules throughout the long process.
Unfortunately, just as we were about to reach the end, the rules
were changed on us." Fehr: "All the players have ever wanted
from the government is equal protection under the laws,
specifically the antitrust laws" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/12). Meanwhile,
Fehr has scheduled two player meetings for late this week in
Tampa and Phoenix.
IN WASHINGTON: Senate Judiciary Chair Orrin Hatch and Sen.
Pat Moynihan tomorrow will introduce a bipartisan bill dealing
with MLB's antitrust exemption. In a letter to Hatch, Fehr said
that he will recommend to the players that they end their strike
if the legislation is enacted (Maske & Swoboda, WASHINGTON POST,
2/11). Fehr and Selig will be in Washington tomorrow to testify
before the Judiciary Committee on the exemption. As Murray Chass
notes, even if the players end their strike with the passage of
this legislation, it is likely the owners would lock them out
(N.Y. TIMES, 2/12). Peter Gammons notes that "the only thing the
union and owners agreed on" is that Labor Secretary Robert Reich
is "an amateur" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/12).