BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 188: ON THE HILL AGAIN
As expected, Senate Judiciary Chair Orrin Hatch, and Sens.
Pat Moynihan and Bob Graham introduced the first bipartisan
legislation to address MLB's antitrust exemption. The bill would
permit players to sue if the owners again attempt to implement an
economic system. Hatch: "This would not affect baseball's
ability to control franchise relocation, nor would it affect the
minor leagues." The bill would not impose a settlement, but the
players have promised to return if it passes -- probably
resulting in a lockout by owners (Steve Daley, CHICAGO TRIBUNE,
LOW EXPECTATIONS: Reaction among Hatch's Republican
colleagues was less than favorable. Sen. Trent Lott, No. 2 in
the Senate leadership: "Totally insane. We're not going to get
in the middle of a baseball strike." Lott, who says he backs the
idea of ending the exemption, said he would "not be part of a
deal that would force one side or another into an agreement."
House Speaker Newt Gingrich echoed Lott: "I'm not sure I want to
use [Hatch's bill] as a club to beat up the owners on behalf of
the players." House Judiciary Chair Henry Hyde said he would be
willing to hold hearings on the exemption, but not until "later
this year" (Steve Daley, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/15). MLB General
Counsel Chuck O'Connor on the Hatch bill: "It's a straw man.
It's a false issue. It deserves no attention because it is
special-interest legislation" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 2/15).
TODAY'S HEARING: Scheduled witnesses for today's baseball
hearing before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust,
Business and Competition: Moynihan, Sen. Nancy Kassebaum,
Graham, Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, Red Sox CEO John
Harrington, former assistant Attorney General James Rill, MLBPA
Exec Dir Donald Fehr, Royals Player Rep David Cone, Indians
veteran Eddie Murray and former FTC General Counsel Kevin Arquit
(USA TODAY, 2/15).