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Volume 24 No. 117

Leagues Governing Bodies

     Representatives of the two sides in baseball's labor dispute
resume high-level talks in Scottdale, AZ.  While the two sides
remain far apart, "several owners remain optimistic that this
latest round of negotiations" will end the strike (Peter Schmuck,
Baltimore SUN, 2/27).  Rockies Owner Jerry McMorris:  "If both
sides are willing to do some hard, earnest bargaining, I think it
can be over in a day or two" (Ross Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 2/27).
     MARGINALIZED MEDIATOR?  MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr "doesn't
foresee any bargaining taking place" within the framework
outlined by Special Mediator William Usery.  In Washington, Mark
Maske reports the union "probably will not permit Usery to have
much impact on the negotiations any longer."  One source on the
players' side: "He's a schedule-maker at this point, and no more"
(WASHINGTON POST, 2/27).  Labor Secretary Robert Reich was asked
if the administration "blew it" by publicizing Usery's
recommendations.  Reich:  "We did not publicize Mr. Usery's
proposed resolution.  In fact, Mr. Usery did not come up with a
proposed resolution.  Mr. Usery was bringing, as any mediator
does, bringing the two sides closer and closer together."  Reich
placed the odds of a negotiated settlement at about 35-40%, and
said he faviored binding arbitration ("Evans & Novak," CNN,
2/25).
     OUTLOOK:  ESPN's Peter Gammons said that "both sides seem
very pessimistic.  But, maybe in pessimism comes desperation and
the only way there is going to be a deal is if both sides are
desperate."  Gammons added if a deal doesn't happen in the ten
days to two weeks, "dig in.  This strike is going a long way"
("SportsCenter," ESPN, 2/26).  In his Sunday column, Gammons
cites on "outside go-between" who says that Fehr "is ready to
seriously negotiate a luxury tax," provided the owners modify
their revenue-sharing agreement," and that acting MLB
Commissioner Bud Selig "is signed on."  But others believe
"nothing will happen, not with the hard-line owners" (BOSTON
GLOBE, 2/26).  Red Sox CEO John Harrington, the owners' chief
negotiator, said the dispute would have to be resolved by March 5
if the season is to start on time with regular players (Mult.,
2/25).
     NLRB UPDATE:  USA TODAY's Hal Bodley reports that NLRB
General Counsel Fred Feinstein "is close to issuing a complaint
and seeking an injunction" against the owners.  An injunction
could bring the players back, but also spur a lockout -- although
Bodley writes that the necessary super-majority vote from owners
could touch off a "nasty battle."  An aide to Feinstein says
expect a decision on the matter this week or early next week (USA
TODAY, 2/27).
     TIDBITS:  In Denver, Tracy Ringolsby reports that, depsite
claims that a network deal is close for a MLBPA-run barnstorming
tour, tour sponsor Reebok "has been in touch with independent
producers to see if they can put a TV package together because of
what Reebok officials say is a lack of network interest" (ROCKY
MOUNTAIN NEWS, 2/26)....In New York, Jim Heyman cites Don
Mattingly:  "We're only as strong as Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey and
Frank Thomas."  If one were to corss, "Forget it."  Since Griffey
and Bonds have major league bloodlines, Thomas could be the
"owners' best hope" (N.Y. NEWSDAY, 2/26)....Int'l Sport Summit
Exec Dir Craig Tartasky, on the status of MLB's sponsors:  "They
are stepping aside.  They're not walking away, but they're saying
let's see which way the wind blows.  They don't want to get their
hands dirty, but they don't want to lose the opportunity of
perhaps being there when the players return" ("Bloomberg Business
News," 2/27).

     ATLANTA -- COX STEERS OWNERS' LINE:  ESPN's Peter Gammons
reported from the Braves spring training site.  Braves Manager
Bobby Cox:  "I've worked for Ted Turner for an awful lot of years
and he has paid the bills for me and my family for a long time
now.  You know, you signed on, you have to work."  Braves
President Stan Kasten, on the MLBPA's position on minor leaguers:
"I think from the start this has been about how high we can get
salaries, and how we can protect the people at the very top of
the salary scale, with not a whole lot of thought given to the
rest of the players in the industry" ("SportsCenter," 2/24).
     BALTIMORE -- NO FRIENDS, NO FOES:  The Orioles' spring
schedule "could be wiped out because of the organization's stance
against replacement players, leaving the club's minor-leaguers
with a month of intrasquad games" (Olney & Schmuck, Baltimore
SUN, 2/26).  Orioles Owner Peter Angelos, asked which teams he
thinks will show:  "Maybe nobody" (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST,
2/27).
     CALIFORNIA -- OPTIMISTIC AUTRY:  Angels Owner Jackie Autry:
"It's too early to tell, but every survey we've done shows fans
will support replacement players because their anger is such that
they may come out just to prove a point" (Mike DiGiovanna, L.A.
TIMES, 2/26).
     CHICAGO -- CHECK THE MESSAGE BOARD:  White Sox GM Ron
Schueler said a meeting reportedly called by minor league pitcher
Barry Johnson and attended by White Sox Player Rep Mike
LaValliere had nothing to do with Johnson being asked to leave
camp.  Johnson had decided he wouldn't play in exhibition games.
Schueler did say he didn't think minor leaguers needed to attend
union meetings, but that he didn't care if they did.  But Paul
Sullivan writes, "The decision on Johnson could be intrepreted by
some as a not-so-gentle persuader to stay away" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE,
2/27).
     CINCINNATI -- BIG-NAME ON THE WAY?  Reds GM Jim Bowden said
a "high-profile" player was headed into camp:  "It's a big
Cincinnati Reds name.  It's a name you're not going to guess and
it's going to shock you and excite you and do all kinds of things
to your emotions."  Guesses ranged from George Foster to Ted
Power (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 2/27).
     DETROIT -- TAPE DELAY:  While Channel 50 was to debut as the
Tigers' TV outlet Saturday, the team may delay the first telecast
until March 15 (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 2/27).
     LOS ANGELES -- RECIPE FOR SUCCESS:  The Dodgers say they
have a replacement team in place.  Manager Tommy Lasorda:  "It's
like if you can't have pasta, you have to have something else,
like pork chops" (L.A. TIMES, 2/25).
     MILWAUKEE -- Brewers Baseball Dir Sal Bando said "he will
not issue ultimatums to play in exhibition games unless there
aren't enough volunteers to field a team" (Tom Haudricourt,
MILWAUKEE SENTINEL, 2/27).
     NEW YORK -- KING GEORGE SPEAKS:  ESPN's Peter Gammons spoke
with Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner for ESPN's "Sunday
Conversation."  Steinbrenner:  "Teams like Minnesota, Milwaukee,
Pittsburgh ... even Anaheim, I want to help those people.  But I
don't want to help some other teams.  I don't want to help
Montreal. ... If they [Montreal residents] don't want baseball,
they don't want baseball."  Steinbrenner believes lost paychecks
will eventually force the players to return ("SportsCenter,"
ESPN, 2/26).  Steinbrenner will be named to replace the Angels'
Jackie Autry as one of the four AL owners on the MLB Executive
Council at the March 7-9 owners meeting (N.Y. TIMES, 2/27).
     OAKLAND -- KEY ISSUE?  A's Manager Tony LaRussa said the
MLBPA's minors policy "could be the issue that brings things to a
head" (Frank Blackman, S.F. EXAMINER, 2/27).
     PHILADELPHIA -- UNION MEN:  Frank Fitzpatrick reports a
"strong preference" among Phils' minor leaguers towards abiding
by the MLBPA edict (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 2/25).
     SAN FRANCISCO -- GOOD COP/WORRIED COP:  Giants GM Bob Quinn:
"We're ready to roll.  We like our numbers."  Giants Asst GM
Brain Sabean:  "I just want to know who will say 'yes'" (Mark
Gonzales, SAN JOSE MEFCURY NEWS, 2/26).
     SEATTLE -- EXTRA CHEESE?  Mariners VP of Baseball Ops Woddy
Woodward and Manager Lou Piniella met with 30 replacement players
and 60 minor-leaguers over approx. 50 pizzas to outline the
team's policy:   Players who come forward will be given $100 per
game plus an additional per diem of $80 (Jim Street, SEATTLE
POST-INTELLIGENCER, 2/27).
     TEXAS -- FIELD OF TEAMS?  Rangers GM Doug Melvin is
confident the club can field a replacement team despite 14
defections from camp over the past two days (T.R. Sullivan, FT.
WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 2/27).

     In the latest issue of BUSINESS WEEK, Paula Dwyer examines
the possibility of success for the World League of American
Football.  Besides hiring "hotshot marketer" Marc Lory to revive
the league, the reasons why the league should succeed include:
American football "has thousands of fans in Europe," the
partnership with Fox Sports and the fact that Europe's media
business has "undergone a sea of change since the last World
League foray."  Lory:  "People want it.  It's an enormous force,
like a tidal wave building up" (BUSINESS WEEK, 3/6 issue).

     Maple Leafs President & GM Cliff Fletcher says the NHL will
expand by two more teams after next season, according to Damien
Cox in this morning's TORONTO STAR.  Fletcher notes there has
been no official discussions, but adds, "There are so many people
out there willing to put the money up.  The NHL is hot right now,
and people want to buy franchises."  With an eventual goal of 32
teams, the STAR's Cox mentions Denver, Phoenix, Seattle,
Portland, Atlanta and Houston as candidates.  Cox cites the
league's desire to get the estimated $150M entry fee from the
each of the two new teams before the Jets, Nordiques or Whalers
move to one of the desired locations.  Cox notes, "With no
Canadian city, including Hamilton, considered a viable candidate,
and with Winnipeg and Quebec possibly interested in relocating,
the Canadian influence in the league seems destined to be reduced
further" (TORONTO STAR, 2/27).
     FOLLOW THE BOUNCING NORD:  In Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont
reports that last week's Comsat offer to buy the Nordiques and
move them to Denver "rattled a few chains in Quebec City."
Nordiques Co-Owner Marcel Aubut is giving the province 90 days to
come up with plans for a new arena or he says he will sell the
team to the highest bidder.  Dupont: "It now appears the
government will build Aubut his new arena and include an on-site
casino to finance the project" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/26).  In New
York, Joe Lapointe predicts the team will stay.  "With another
referendum on provincial sovereignty approaching in Quebec, what
French politician voting on arena financing would want to take
the blame for the creation of the 'Phoenix Sudiques?'"  According
to Nordiques spokesperson Jean Martineau, the team wants a
financial subsidy from the province until the arena is built.
Lapointe also theorizes that Aubut's threat of a move and the
potential loss of expansion revenue could spark revenue-sharing
talks (N.Y. TIMES, 2/26).

     Vince Naimoli, head of the group trying to bring a MLB
expansion team to Tampa Bay, assumes that if both expansion teams
are put in the same league, they would be in the NL.  But if they
split the teams, Naimoli believes Tampa will go to the AL (Bill
Chastain, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 2/25).  In New York, Bill Madden writes,
"At long last, Tampa Bay is going to get its baseball team.  It
has taken no less than a half-dozen jiltings at the altar -- and
a like amount of threatened lawsuits -- but there will be major-
league baseball at the Thunderdome" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/26).
     THE NAME SEARCH:  In VA, the two investor groups bidding for
an expansion team are trying decide on a team name.  The two
groups have until Wednesday "to submit one name each" to MLB
officials.  The Capital Baseball Group Inc. has "all but settled"
on the Virginia Generals.  Some of the names being considered by
Virginia Baseball Group, considered MLB's favorite:  Fury,
Diamonds, Monuments, Grey Sox, and Bats (Eric Lipton, WASHINGTON
POST, 2/26).

     The NHL and NHLPA are still at odds over items such as
player pensions, draft rules, and the relationship between the
NHL and Europe, according to Roy Cummings of the TAMPA TRIBUNE.
Cummings reports that the NHLPA's refusal to address the question
of Canuck Murray Craven's status as either a Group II or Group V
free-agent is "holding things up."  When Craven's status is
determined, the league's average salary can be determined.
Cummings says the final sticking points leave questions about
issues such as the NHL's status for the '98 Nagano Games and
possible sponsorship of a European development league.  Cummings
notes the IHL's planned expansion into Europe: "There is concern
over the NHL's future there if the IHL gets deals in all the key
markets" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 2/26).