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Volume 24 No. 160
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     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,
     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.,
     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).