Negotiating teams for the owners and players will meet today at Milwaukee's Pfister Hotel at 4pm EST. The groups will reportedly be smaller than past sessions (Mult., 2/21). Owner Jerry McMorris: "I personally wouldn't look for a deal to happen in the next two days." CNN's Fred Hickman said MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr told CNN not to expect any major developments ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 2/20). WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? Peter Gammons writes that the owners' replacement plan "is turning out to be just another bad idea turned worse. ... While the strike is engineered for the Minnesotas, Milwaukees, Pittsburghs, etc., the Yankees, Dodgers, Orioles and Blue Jays don't buy into it. And what are the Brewers and Twins going to do with their replacement players if the markets that drive the industry don't participate?" Gammons calls William Usery's plan a "framework" for a deal, but the players will probably "want to wait to get down to hard-core bargaining until the NLRB comes down and the replacement farce begins, which may vastly restore their leverage" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/19). SPARKY REAX: Several columnists and baseball observers sounded off on Tigers Manager Sparky Anderson's decision to take an unpaid leave rather than manage replacement players. In Washington, Thomas Boswell writes, "Maybe, just maybe, his profile in character will be the catalytic act of spiritual meditation that baseball so desperately needs" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/19). In New York, Mike Lupica calls Anderson the "conscience of the game" (N.Y. NEWSDAY, 2/20). But Bill Madden wonders whether it "was simply his means of leaving an organization he no longer wanted to be a part of -- on his terms" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/20). Peter Gammons: "I would be a little surprised if he were offered his job back" (ESPN, 2/19). But Stephen Brunt counters: "None of that subtext matters. For public consumption, the impression remains that Anderson simply couldn't stomach what was happening" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 2/21). NEWS & NOTES: The MLBPA was criticized for its position that minor league players who participate in spring training games will be considered strikebreakers. Mets Manager Dallas Green said he told MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr, "It's totally unfair of the union to ask (minor leaguers) to sacrifice when in fact they are not under your protection" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/21)....The union also announced that other unions may handle the picketing outside ballparks, which Jack Etkin & Tracy Ringolsby refer to as "replacement pickets." MLBPA General Counsel Gene Orza: "There's a security problem involved. The players would just be out there exposed" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 2/20). NO LAUGHING MATTER: The replacement players have become a staple for late-night comedy. Jay Leno, on Friday: "You know things are bad when Tommy Lasorda is thinner than any other guy on the team" ("Tonight," NBC, 2/17). Leno, last night: "You can tell these replacements don't have the hang of professional baseball. I was watching the news today and one of them signed an autograph for free. ... Last year when everyone laughed when Michael Jordan said he would be the greatest professional baseball player? Well, now he is" ("Tonight," 2/20). Last night's Letterman Top Ten was "Signs You Are Not Watching A Real Baseball Game": 10) You recognize batter as the kid who sold you a hot dog a couple minutes earlier; 9) Everytime a player slides into second, he busts his hip; 8) They keep shouting "Do Over!"; 7) When umpire yells, "Strike 3!", batter looks at him as though the dude's speakin' French; 6) Try as they might, they just can't scratch themselves like professionals; 5) First Base: Siskel, Second Base: Ebert; 4) Game stops when some lady in a house near the stadium shouts "Dinner Time"; 3) Players constantly adjusting each others's cups; 2) You overhear the coach yelling, "Run, Forrest, Run!"; 1) They play like the Mets ("Late Night," CBS, 2/20)
Leagues Governing Bodies
BALTIMORE -- PETER'S PRINCIPLES: The Orioles informed MLB that they won't play spring training games against teams using replacement players (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 2/18). Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said the opposition from Orioles Owner Peter Angelos "isn't anything new, obviously" (Buster Olney, Baltimore SUN, 2/18). But columnist Ken Rosenthal asks: "How would the Orioles know if their opponent was using scabs?" (Baltimore SUN, 2/18). CALIFORNIA -- SLOW TICKET SALES: Angels VP of Stadium Operations Kevin Ulich said sales of tickets to Cactus League games are down about 5,000 from this point last year, and sales of regular season games are down about 2,800 (Mike DiGiovanna, L.A. TIMES, 2/20). CINCINNATI -- HARD LINE: Reds GM Jim Bowden said Reds minor leaguers will be expected to play in Grapefruit League games. Bowden: "If they decide not to perform, they have that statutory right and we will not discipline them. They will be put on the disqualified list and go home" (Chris Haft, CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 2/18). COLORADO -- REPLACEMENT PARK: According to the team's ad agency, the "star" of the Rockies' '95 marketing campaign will not be the players, but the team's new stadium, Coors Field (Norm Clarke, ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 2/19). DETROIT -- PARTING THOUGHTS? Tigers Manager Sparky Anderson, who went on unpaid leave Friday rather than manage replacement players, called the team a "mess" and accused the front office of "phoniness" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 2/20). FLORIDA -- RIGHTS FEES: Marlins President Don Smiley said if replacement games are played for an extended period, he would consider reducing the rights fees of the team's TV partners or increasing the number of telecasts on Sunshine Network and WBFS- TV (Barry Jackson, MIAMI HERALD, 2/19). LOS ANGELES -- PICKET PREPARATIONS: The Dodgers, the only private owner of a spring training facility, met with local authorities to prepare for possible picket lines at Dodgertown (Bob Nightengale, L.A. TIMES, 2/20). MINNESOTA -- AD TIME: Midwest Sports Channel GM Kevin Cattor said he will decide in a few weeks whether MSC will lower its ad rates to attract more advertisers to Twins games. WCCO-TV will do the same this week (Rachel Blount, Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 2/21). Some Twins sponsors have requested "rate adjustments," and WCCO-TV is "struggling" to sell ads at full price (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 2/17). MONTREAL -- ALOU WAVERS: Expos Manager Felipe Alou said he is undecided whether he would manage a replacement team (AP/Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 2/21). NEW YORK -- SHOWALTER PUTS OFF DECISION: Early on Friday, Yankees Manager Buck Showalter "expressed uncertainty about whether he would manage replacement Yankees." By the afternoon, he said he would be at the March 2 spring training opener, but he put off a decision on the regular season (Jack Curry, N.Y. TIMES, 2/18). OAKLAND -- OPEN-DOOR POLICY: A's President & GM Sandy Alderson, on the team's openness on their replacement players: "We don't want to expose any of our guys to pressure or ridicule" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 2/19). PHILADELPHIA -- WHAT TO DO? The Phillies are to open their spring schedule with the Orioles on March 3, but the O's say they won't play teams with replacement players. Phillies GM Lee Thomas: "If we're just going to play minor-leaguers against minor-leaguers, then why do we even have the replacement players here?" (PHILA. INQUIRER, 2/19). PITTSBURGH -- JOB TO DO: Pirates Manager Jim Leyland, who described the scene as "weird," will manage the team this spring: "I have to do my job. And I intend to do that to the best of my ability" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 2/21). ST. LOUIS -- UNION TOWN: Labor leaders are urging the St. Louis area's 250,000 union members to boycott Busch Stadium if the Cardinals use replacement players (Roger Signor, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 2/19). TORONTO -- NO FREE LUNCHES, OR DINNERS: The city of Dunedin's annual "Welcome Back Blue Jays" dinner was cancelled (Jim Byers, TORONTO STAR, 2/18).
The Celtics "put up an air ball when the 1998 NBA All-Star Game was on the line," but the team is looking for another chance to host the game, reports Will McDonough of the BOSTON GLOBE. The deadline for bids was February 3, and since the Celtics failed to do so, they are now "out of the running." While Celtics VP/Special Events Stu Layne said the Celtics would like the game in Boston at some point, "it is still not a great deal for the city." Layne: "It would be very expensive and take up a lot of time [for Celtics employees]. And also, it could cause some real problems with our own ticket-holders and game sponsors. The league takes the game over." New Boston Garden Corp. President Larry Moulter "wants the Celtics to push harder the next time" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/18). In Chicago, Sam Smith writes it will be "a while" before the United Center hosts the NBA All-Star Game. Bulls VP Marketing & Broadcasting Steve Schanwald: "We'll probably apply again around the turn of the century" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/20).
MLB responded to a report last week that MLB was "cracking down" on copyright infringement by Little League teams and amateur adult leagues by requiring them to pay an additional $6 fee to wear uniforms with "big-league nicknames." The league issued a statement Friday that not only will Little League teams not be required to pay the fee, but that MLB would also "donate more money to youth baseball than it receives in royalties on licensed products sold to youth teams" (Kathy Reakes, FLORIDA TODAY, 2/18). Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig: "It is Major League Baseball's intent to encourage Little League clubs and other youth baseball clubs to use the names of Major league teams, not discourage it" (MLB). MLB Properties VP & General Counsel Don Gibson: "It's not a money issue. It's a matter of trademark use. If you don't protect your trademark, you risk losing it" (USA TODAY, 2/20).
The Raptors and Grizzlies are discussing submitting a proposal to the NBA that would allow June's expansion draft to be televised in Canada. The draft, to be held June 28 at Skydome, is slated to be held via phone and the players' names are not released during the proceedings. There is speculation that the draft may be shown on a tape-delay basis (Howard Tsumura, Vancouver PROVINCE, 2/19). WILKENS TO COACH DREAM TEAM III? Hawks Coach Leny Wilkens has emerged as the "prohibitive favorite" to coach the U.S. team at the '96 Games in Atlanta. Wilkens' "professional demeanor and no-nonsense approach" are seen as key factors, considering the U.S. team's behavior at the '94 Worlds (Ailene Voisin, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 2/19).