Talks in the baseball labor dispute resumed in Milwaukee
yesterday "with no promises but some mention of progress." For
the owners: Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, Red Sox CEO John
Harrington and Rockies Owner Jerry McMorris. For the players:
MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr and MLBPA attorney Lauren Rich (Dale
Hoffman, MILWAUKEE SENTINEL, 2/22). Selig reported that much of
the meeting was spent "venting" on baseball's rancorous labor
history: "Today was a catharsis for both sides" (Mike Kiley,
CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/22). CNN's Nick Charles: "As predicted,
nothing dramatic happened" ("Sports Tonight," 2/21). ESPN's Bob
Sirkin: "Tuesday's so-called 'therapy session' lasted over four
hours and ended with both sides going out to dinner -- together"
("Sports Center," ESPN, 2/21).
LOOK FOR THE UNION LABEL: While Teamsters officials said
they would not cross picket lines to make deliveries to MLB
stadiums this season, they expressed unhappiness with the MLBPA's
decision not to have players on the picket lines (GANNETT/USA
TODAY, 2/22). Braves President Stan Kasten said if MLBPA General
Counsel Gene Orza does arrange for replacement picketers, "it'd
be the first person he'd gotten a job for since August" (Henry
Unger, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 2/22). In Washington, Michael
Wilbon notes the players' history of non-support for other
strikes: "They want other unions to support them, but they'll
have the team bus drive them right through somebody else's picket
line at a stadium and not even step off to look their 'brothers'
in the eye" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/22). In St. Louis, Bernie
Miklasz writes of replacement pickets: "Let's just say that
Donald Fehr is no Cesar Chavez" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 2/22).
CANADIAN AD MARKET DRIES UP: Media buyers estimate that
Canadian broadcasters could be out as much as C$100M in ad
revenue if the season starts with replacements. For example,
Bell Canada will put baseball advertising "on hold" until the
regular players return. Labatt, which has ownership in the
SkyDome and Blue Jays, will also refrain from advertising on
replacement games. As for broadcasters, Baton Broadcasting,
which carries about 60 of 145 Blue Jays and Expos TV games, will
probably not carry replacement games. TSN is also expected to
pass on replacement baseball (Marina Strauss, Toronto GLOBE &
CONGRESSIONAL STATS: USA TODAY surveyed the members of the
Senate Judiciary Committee on their positions on the Hatch-
Moynihan bill, which would lift baseball's antitrust exemption in
labor matters. SUPPORTERS: Hatch (R-UT), Thurmond (R-SC), Leahy
(D-VT). OPPOSED: Specter (R-PA), Simon (D-IL), Feinstein (D-
CA), Heflin (D-AL). UNDECIDED: Brown (R-CO), Grassley (R-IA),
DeWine (R-OH), Kyl (R-AZ), Thompson (R-TN), Abraham (R-MI),
Feingold (D-WI). OTHERS: Simpson (R-WY) supports repeal, but
not during the strike. Biden (D-DE) wants to examine all sports,
not just baseball. Kennedy (D-MA) voted against the bill last
June but supports mandatory binding arbitration. Kohl (D-WI) has
recused himself because of his relationship with Bud Selig and
his position as owner of the NBA Bucks (USA TODAY, 2/22).
ATLANTA -- CLUBHOUSE STEAM: Braves GM John Schuerholz
reacted angrily to the MLBPA's position that any minor-leaguer
that plays in a spring training game will be considered a
"strikebreaker": "I'll be damned if I'm going to have a mean-
spirited union use young players in our organization as a tool in
a derailment of baseball, and at the same time have it be ruinous
to a young man's career" (I.J. Rosenberg, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION,
BALTIMORE -- NO PRESSURE: The Orioles said they will permit
their minor-leaguers to sit out exhibition games if they so
choose. But, owner Peter Angelos said all players "will be
strongly encouraged by the Orioles to play" (Peter Schmuck,
Baltimore SUN, 2/22).
CHICAGO -- NO PRESSURE, II: White Sox GM Ron Schueler "said
there would be no repercussions against those who decline to
play" in spring games. Schueler: "Our policy is to keep
everything intact" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 2/22).
CLEVELAND -- TRIBE TIX SALES DOWN: Indians spring training
ticket sales are down about 40% from last spring, according to
Indians Spring Training Manager Jerry Crabb (Paul Hoynes,
Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 2/21).
FLORIDA -- CROSS THAT LINE: The Marlins are expecting some
of their major league players to cross the line in mid-March.
Marlins GM Dave Dombrowski: "Sometimes you have to ask yourself,
even though you're being represented (by the union), are they
representing you in your best interest? I think there is more
than one player out there who has asked himself that question."
Marlins Player Rep Bryan Harvey said the team was just trying to
"get somebody to cross and break the union" (Amy Niedkielka,
MIAMI HERALD, 2/22).
NEW YORK -- OFFER THEY CAN'T REFUSE: While Mets GM Joe
McIlvane said there would be no fines or punishment for minor-
leaguers who don't play in exhibition games, to which Mets Asst
GM Gerry Hunsicker agreed. But Hunsicker added: "The players
have to understand not playing may not be in their best interest"
(John Giannone, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/22).
SAN DIEGO -- SEEN IT, DONE IT: Columnist Nick Canepa
writes, "I might be willing to give the replacement player idea a
try -- if I hadn't already seen it. The Padres (unofficially)
tried it here last year and the year before and it didn't work"
(SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 2/22).
SAN FRANCISCO -- SOLIDARITY WATCH: Giants pitcher Dave
Burba, asked if the players can hold on until licensing checks
arrive in mid-April: "Personally, I wouldn't cross the line, but
there are some guys thinking about it" (Mark Gonzales, SAN JOSE
MERCURY NEWS, 2/22).
SEATTLE -- BEAN-BILLS: Two bills are before the WA
Legislature aimed at pressuring owners: one to prevent teams of
non-MLB players from playing in the Kingdome or other publicly
funded facilities; the other to prohibit Mariner management from
advertising a replacement team as "Major League" (Jonathan
Martin, Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 2/21).
TORONTO -- DUNEDIN CHECKS OUT: AL consultant Dick Wagner,
AL umpiring chief Marty Springstead and AL Dir of Finance Derek
Irwin toured 6,200-seat Dunedin Stadium and said they found it
adequate for MLB games. Writes Larry Millson, "All at once it
was pathetic, stupid, sad and funny" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL,
Red Sox CEO John Harrington, who heads MLB's expansion
committee, reportedly told VA Senator John Warner that Northern
VA will "definitely" get a MLB expansion franchise, according to
this morning's WASHINGTON TIMES. Warner Staff Director Grayson
Winterling said that during a recent meeting on Capitol Hill,
Harrington told Warner that baseball would be back in the DC
area. Winterling: "The worst-case scenario would be that
[Northern VA] would be the third one selected. ... We're taking
the man at his word." MLB owners are expected to award two of
four expansion teams by the end of March. According to
Winterling, support of legislation that would weaken or do away
with baseball's antitrust exemption would "not help efforts" to
land a franchise: "They made it clear you're going to get an
expansion franchise. But don't rock the boat." A team would
play at RFK Stadium until a ballpark in Northern VA could be
completed (Thom Loverro, WASHINGTON TIMES, 2/22)
OTHER EXPANSION NOTES: Peter Gammons reports that a yes
vote for Quebec secession in June could push the Expos out of
Canada: "Don't be surprised if the Expos end up in St.
Petersburg, with Northern Virginia the National League expansion
team" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/19)....Jayson Stark notes that the owners'
expected yes vote on expansion will not deal with the question of
whether to add two teams to the same league or one to each
league. Stark: "If they go to 15 teams in each league, they have
to go to interleague play. And that means another DH fight.
Plus, the Royals and Astros both are fighting a potential switch
from Central to West divisions, depending on where the new teams
wind up. So look out" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 2/19).
"A high level delegation" of the proposed UBL will be in
Vancouver either late this week or next week to discuss ownership
and stadium lease issues with B.C. Place officials. Although it
is unclear whether the UBL "will present any solid ownership
possibilities" with the group, UBL VP of Franchise Development
Greg Smith said that "certain numbers of the UBL investor group
remain interested" in the Vancouver franchise (Lyndon Little,
VANCOUVER SUN, 2/22). In Boston, Michael Gee predicts that the
UBL "will not play in 1996, or any other year." The league
proposed profit-sharing between players and owners as an
"economic incentive" for players joining the league. However,
Gee disagrees, writing that "profit sharing works only when there
is a profit. And the stars a new league needs to survive, let
alone prosper, are unlikely to work on commission" (BOSTON