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Volume 24 No. 114
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     Special Mediator William Usery addressed the owners at their
meeting in Palm Beach, FL, for 30 minutes yesterday, and, as
expected, he urged them to make their "best offer" when
negotiations resume.  What was not expected was Usery's
"emotional and somewhat irritated" appearance at a press
conference later.  Usery:  "After 30-something years in this
process and over 1,000 national major disputes in America, this
one has gotten almost for us where it's embarrassing and
ridiculous" (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 3/10).  Acting MLB
Commissioner Bud Selig and Rockies Owner Jerry McMorris, who is
heading the owners' negotiating team, said they would comply with
Usery's request.  But Murray Chass notes, "It's what would happen
after they make their 'best offer' that could have an impact on
the progression of the talks."  According to a source at the
meeting, Chuck O'Connor, management's chief attorney, suggested
the negotiating committee "make its 'best offer' to satisfy
Usery, but then not budge from that offer."  That position "would
confirm the fears" of the union (N.Y. TIMES, 3/10).  ESPN's Peter
Gammons:  "A lot of owners think they see a victorious end-game
now. ... After they make the 'best' offer next week and get it
rejected, you may see the owners declare another impasse,
implement this proposal and have something in place if the
players cross" ("SportsCenter," 3/9).
     WHERE NOW?  In Denver, Tracy Ringolsby reports the talks
will resume Tuesday -- most likely in Dallas or Atlanta (ROCKY