Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 24 No. 112

Leagues Governing Bodies

     During Wednesday's hearings before the Senate Subcommittee
on Antitrust, Business Rights and Competition, both sides had an
opportunity to argue their case for keeping or amending MLB's
antitrust exemption.  ESPN's Keith Olbermann: "The usual suspects
spoke the usual platitudes" ("SportsCenter," 2/15).  In New York,
Claire Smith notes that one theme of the hearings "was a
groundswell of bipartisan anger toward all of baseball.  That
much was evident as supporters and opponents of bills seeking to
change the exemption constantly painted the sport as one no
longer fan friendly" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/16).  "The congressional
message to both sides about settling the strike was clear:
You're on your own" (Brad Snyder, Baltimore SUN, 2/16).
     DEFENDING THE EXEMPTION:  Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig
"painted a bleak financial picture of major league baseball,
suggesting that three or four teams were on the verge of
financial collapse."  Selig: "We have a significant number of
teams that are, quite frankly, hanging on for dear life."  Selig
defended the use of replacements, saying that some of the clubs
cannot afford to keep their stadiums idle (Bill McAllister,
WASHINGTON POST, 2/16).  MLBPA's Don Fehr on why the exemption
needs to be lifted: "If you're going to help to end this dispute
and prevent this thing from happening every three or four years
from now until forever, you've got to do something about it."
Fehr, asked if he has the votes to get some change in the
exemption: "Eventually we will if we don't now" (THE DAILY).
Sen. Bob Graham: "How can you justify a continuation of an
exemption to a basic law that applies to all other professional
sports and most commercial enterprises?" ("McNeil/Lehrer," PBS,
2/15).
     BINDING ARBITRATION:  The players and owners stood firm on
their feelings toward binding arbitration.  Selig, on the
owners;' opposition: "Everybody, even arbitrators think that's a
short term solution."  Fehr, on the players' consent:  "They
refuse arbitration because they do not believe the force of their
own arguments is sufficient to sustain their position" (THE
DAILY).
     WHAT ABOUT A LOCKOUT:  Sen. Orrin Hatch, sponsor of the
bipartisan bill that would lift the exemption in regards to labor
disputes, pressed Selig on whether MLB would lock out the
players:  "That's a decision we would have to make."  The players
have agreed to end their strike if Hatch's bill is passed (Aaron
Epstein, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 2/16).  As USA TODAY's Mike Dodd
put it, "Selig repeatedly refused to rule out a lockout" (USA
TODAY, 2/16).
     FROM THE GRANDSTANDS:  Sen. Alan Simpson: "Please spare me
that you have to have this or that in order for baseball to
survive.  If one has to have millions to induce one to stay in
this game -- to play it or own or operate it -- then baseball is
better off without you" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/16).  Sen. Joe Biden:
"Neither one of you are very popular.  You're getting into the
category of those of us who hold public office" (Baltimore SUN,
2/16).  Tommy Lasorda:   "I'm disappointed because the two words
that I have never heard mentioned is 'compromise' and 'fans'"
(CBS, 2/16).
     BACK TO THE TABLE?  Special Mediator William Usery hopes to
resume negotiations as early as next week.  He added that all has
been "smoothed over" and both sides want him to continue (Hal
Bodley, USA TODAY, 2/16).  In this week's "Point After," SI's
Michael Bevans suggests that Usery's proposal "might be the last
chance to ensure labor peace in time for Opening Day" (SPORTS
ILLUSTRATED, 2/20).

     Two statements made before the Senate by MLB officials were
questioned after the hearing.  First, acting MLB Commissioner Bud
Selig said that season ticket holders could receive refunds for
games with replacement players and would not lose their seats.
Reds Owner Marge Schott's response: "If he said that, this lady
will be on the phone tomorrow."  The Reds have not offered a
refund to season-ticket holders.  They are the only club that has
not either lowered ticket prices or offered refunds for
replacements games (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 2/16).  Two other clubs
are following different plans -- the Giants, who are being sued
by a season ticket holder over the issue, and the Rockies, who
are not allowing season ticket holders to retain their seat
locations if they fail to buy for replacement games (THE DAILY).
     HAZY REPORTS FROM CANADA:  The second disputed statement
came from MLB General Counsel Chuck O'Connor, who announced to
the media that the Canadian government will allow the Expos to
hire replacement players.  But neither Pam Cullum, a spokesperson
for the Canadian Department of Immigration, and Paul Cavalluzzo,
a Toronto-based lawyer who is acting as Canadian counsel to the
MLBPA, would confirm the report.  In addition, Expos President
Claude Brochu was unaware of O'Connor's statement. Cavalluzzo:
"It appears Mr. O'Connor believes we're some sort of banana
republic up here, but we're not."  Brochu: "All I can say is that
we're optimistic, we're moving ahead on it and these things take
a bit of time" (Mike Rutsey, TORONTO SUN, 2/16).  According to
the TORONTO STAR, O'Connor based his statement on a memo from
Brochu stating that the Expos were advised by Peter Harder,
Deputy Minister Citizenship and Immigration Canada, that
temporary replacement from outside Canada will be allowed entry
into Canada.  But Judy Morrison, press secretary to Immigration
Minister Sergio Marchi, questioned the "accuracy" of Brochu's
memo (TORONTO STAR, 2/16).

     It was widely reported that the Mariners would kick off
spring training today, but that was a "false alarm."  The
Mariners will open camp Monday.  The Yankees are reportedly the
only team that officially opens camp today in the Grapefruit
League.  Tomorrow, the Giants, Rockies and Angels will be the
first to open camps in AZ.  In this morning's ARIZONA REPUBLIC,
Bob Eger writes, "Not so fast.  It's going to be another day
before they're even playing catch in the Cactus League" (ARIZONA
REPUBLIC, 2/16).
     NATIONAL ATTENTION:  On "Good Morning America," ABC's Tyler
Mathisen examined the effect the strike will have on AZ and FL
cities.  One sports merchandise store in Fort Myers is cutting
its prices on baseball apparel up to 50%, and "it is still not
selling."  Fort Myers Mayor Wilbur Smith: "The Sheraton Hotel,
our largest hotel, has lost 3,000 room nights, that translates
out to about $275,000."   Mathisen said each city that hosts a
spring training team will lose between $3M-$5M (ABC, 2/16).
     THE ORIOLES:  The Orioles are the only team that does not
plan to field a replacement team during both spring training and
the regular season.  The team will play "B" games with minor
leaguers if no admission is charged and the opposition does not
use replacement players (Ross Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 2/16).  O's
manager Phil Regan: "My worst case scenario is that I have a two-
year contract and go 0-and-0 for two years" (TAMPA TRIBUNE,
2/16).  Selig dodged the question of whether he would revoke the
Orioles franchise --either permanently or temporarily -- if they
refused to participate in replacement baseball (THE DAILY).
     PLAYER SQUABBLES?  According to Nick Cafardo in Boston, Red
Sox 1B Mo Vaughn "apparently spoke the conscience of middle-
salaried and younger players around baseball.  His idea of a
secret-ballot to end the strike and his urging of the union to
better represent all sides of the membership have been met with
approval in some quarters."  Red Sox 2B Terry Shumpert: "A lot of
players feel things that they can't come out and say" (BOSTON
GLOBE, 2/15).  Meanwhile, the Red Sox released hitting coach Mike
Easler after turning down Easler's request for a raise.  Easler
claimed that he should have been paid at least as much as
replacement players, who will make at least the league minimum of
$115,000.  Easler, who made $80,000 last year:  "My contract
stipulates that I'm a 'major league hitting coach.'  I'm not a
'replacement player hitting coach.'  What a joke" (BOSTON GLOBE,
2/15).  ESPN reports that Wally Whitehurst may be the first major
leaguer to cross the picket line.  He is expected to be in the
Giants camp, but neither he or the team would comment (ESPN,
2/15).

     With the prospect that the strike will continue at least
through Spring Training '95, baseball's leadership could be faced
with defections among its long-time sponsors and broadcast
partners.  In separate interviews with THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY,
William Marlow, an advertising attorney with Loeb and Loeb of New
York, and Dantia Gould, a media analyst with GOULD MEDIA,
addressed the high stakes facing MLB in terms of possible loss of
advertisers and TV outlets from the ever-expanding labor dispute.
     SPONSORS:  Marlow noted that baseball had problems with its
advertisers before the strike: "Baseball audiences have been, to
some degree, on the decline before the strike the started. ...
There's good reason to believe that it will continue.  The
question really is, will that trend be increased by the
occurrence of the strike?  Will it get worse than it would have
had there been no strike? ... The strike is exacerbating what was
an uncomfortable situation to begin with."  Gould, noted that
Coca-Cola, a longtime baseball sponsor, will stick with the
sport:  "That's significant because Coca-Cola has been involved
with baseball for so long.  In terms of some of the other
sponsors, I think it's going to be touch and go."
     THE BASEBALL NETWORK:  Marlow believes baseball will have to
give up on TBN and look to a "deep pocket" like Rupert Murdoch
for national broadcast rights.  Gould: "The unfortunate thing is
The Baseball Network did a good job in terms of getting
commitments for advertising sales last year.  They had Anheuser-
Busch, Avis, Country Time Lemonade, GM, MCI, Russell Athletic,
Texaco, among others. ... Because of the whole uncertainty in
baseball right now, I think you have to wonder who is going to
televise baseball in 1995."
     LOCAL TV:  Gould:  "When it comes right down to it, [cable
and broadcast outlets] will televise baseball with replacement
players.  They would rather have baseball under less than ideal
conditions than have no baseball at all."
     ESPN:  One point made by both was that ESPN saved money by
not carrying baseball after August 12.  Gould speculates that
ESPN was able to use as much as 2/3 of their baseball investment
toward other broadcast rights, including the recent long-term
NCAA basketball deal.  But, Gould adds: "ESPN is very anxious to
have baseball in the right form, because ... it enhances the
network's value" (THE DAILY).

     The CFL could be folding "within a month to six weeks,"
according to "confidential information" obtained yesterday by the
Toronto GLOBE & MAIL.  League owners and lawyers have reportedly
been secretly examining the idea of "folding the league and then
reopening a few days later under a new name, in time for the 1995
season."  The move would "eliminate the mandatory Canadian
content" on team rosters -- something that has been a "major
stumbling block" in negotiating a new CBA.  If a new league is
formed, it would contain the same teams and style as the current
CFL, but the teams would be allowed to use "whatever players they
wish, regardless of nationality."  Under current rules, Canadian-
based teams must "employ" at least 20 Canadian players, while
U.S.-based teams do not.  Players union President Dan Ferrone:
"If the CFL folds up and then becomes another U.S. Football
League or World Football League, it would do irreparable damage
to its reputation.  It would be taking a major step backwards, in
my opinion" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 2/16).

     The FTC's investigation into PGA Tour rules restricting
competition from potential golf-promoting rivals, is examined by
Tom Boswell of the WASHINGTON POST, who writes that an FTC
complaint against the Tour "would disrupt American golf for
years."  PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said the legal fight
would "probably last until the end of the century. ... We
shouldn't spend five years fighting our own government."  The PGA
Tour says it needs the rules to prevent its members from
participating in conflicting tournaments that undercut the tour's
major sponsors and network TV partners.  Boswell argues that PGA
players "were the ones that created the regulations," and without
the rules, TV networks will not pay millions for broadcast rights
if players can make more "at some schlock Challenge of the
Superstars," and sponsors would not sign up if tournaments don't
have a "representative field."  One of the "little mysteries is
who got the FTC all excited about the tour's" rules in the first
place.  Boswell mentions Greg Norman's World Tour idea and the
"TV arm of Jack Nicklaus's empire."  Finchem believes if the tour
loses the rules,  fans will see "promoter-driven, short-field,
low-cost-for-profit, made-for -TV-events, that never make it on
the network level."  Boswell concludes:  "Golf is perhaps our
last game that is not dominated by greed or lawsuits or ill-
mannered prima donna stars. ... By all means, let's see if
somebody can mess it up" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/15).

     During the hockey work stoppage, players routinely wore hats
and apparel with the logo of the NHLPA.  But now that the season
has begun, they "seem to be wearing less NHLPA garb," according
to Dave Lueking of the ST. LOUIS POST DISPATCH.  The Blues' Craig
Janney: "We gave them up in the agreement."  Blues Player Rep Guy
Carbonneau said before players were "paid by the NHLPA.  Now,
we're paid by the St. Louis Blues" (ST. LOUIS POST DISPATCH,
2/12).