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Volume 24 No. 115

Leagues Governing Bodies

     The NLRB -- "apparently with some prodding" from Special
Mediator William Usery -- delayed a decision on whether to seek
an injunction restoring baseball's old economic system until next
week.  MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr has said the players would end the
strike with such an injunction.  MLBPA General Counsel Gene Orza,
on reports Usery intervened to get the delay:  "I hope not" (Mark
Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 3/24).  NLRB Chair William Gould:  "The
collective bargaining process is the best way to resolve this
dispute. ... We have simply not resolved this case and not
decided it at this particular juncture" ("Sports View," CNBC,
3/23).  Fehr: "They ought to be acting.  I think a delay hurts
the process here.  Having said that, they'll do whatever they'll
do.  They don't ask my permission for things" ("Sports Tonight,"
CNN, 3/23).  The union was "privately enraged" that Usery called
Gould (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 3/24).  Usery "apparently was
convinced that a pending injunction would make it more difficult
to get both sides back to the table, but the delay could leave
the owners with even less motivation to negotiate" (Peter
Schmuck, Baltimore SUN, 3/24).
     OWNERS TEAM MEETS, PLOTS:  The owners' negotiation team --
with the exception of Rockies Owner Jerry McMorris -- met outside
Chicago yesterday to "plot their next move" (Jerome Holtzman,
CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/24).  At 6:30pm EST, ESPN's Bob Ley reported
that the owners may be preparing "a possible new proposal"
("SportsCenter," 3/23).  But later on "Baseball Tonight," ESPN's
Grace Lee Nikkel reported, "If you're looking for concrete
evidence that management is about to submit another proposal to
the union, you're not going to find it here" ("Baseball Tonight,"
3/23).
     BACK TO THE TABLE?  Usery "is trying to arrange for a
weekend, small-group negotiating session, which will include
McMorris and possibly just one other management representative"
(Tracy Ringolsby, ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 3/24).  One management
member "indicated Usery might have a difficult time persuading
the owners' committee to meet" (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 3/24).
Dick Conn, a spokesperson for Usery, said he has asked the owners
to return with a new offer.  Conn:  "We don't know what they're
going to do" (Peter Schmuck, Baltimore SUN, 3/24).  But sources
tell the CHICAGO TRIBUNE that the owners "will offer 'new'
proposals similar to those on the table.  If the union balks, the
owners, as they did last December, would declare another impasse"
(Jerome Holtzman, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/24). ESPN's Peter Gammons
said the owners are trying to keep the media away from
deliberations and that talks may begin again "around Sunday"
("Baseball Tonight," 3/23).
     EVER HOPEFUL:  ESPN's Gammons:  "There's been some talk that
even if it goes to April 1 and they get a settlement, they could
postpone the season two or three weeks, get started, and get this
thing running" ("Baseball Tonight," 3/23).  In Toronto, Bob
Elliott also notes one scenario by which the owners would delay
the start of the season until a deal is made.  One GM:  "Not only
are replacement games far from being a success, but we have far
too many loose ends.  If we proceed the way things are right now,
we could set a record for lawsuits" (TORONTO SUN, 3/24).

     MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr was interviewed on "Baseball
Tonight."  On the players' position:  "We're not in a bad
position to bargain now, the owners don't have the deal they want
either."  On rumors of players crossing:  "I've never been
concerned that players would cross in significant numbers, I'm
not concerned now.  If they owners believe that they will, then
there won't be a deal, and only the passage of time can prove
them otherwise.  In any other situation, if you would have
demonstrated the kind of solidarity that the players have
demonstrated over this period of time, people would look around
and wonder.  But seemingly, if we don't have 110 percent, we're
in trouble.  That just isn't so."  Asked to clarify "significant
numbers":  "You've got 1,100 people out there, you can't account
for everyone's behavior every minute of every day" (ESPN, 3/23).
     FIRST TO CROSS?  Yankees pitcher Steve Howe told the N.Y.
DAILY NEWS that he is thinking about crossing the line for
"personal and philosophical reasons."  Howe:  "Any guy who has
told you that he has not thought about going back to work --
'crossing' is a bad word -- is lying.  Bottom line" (Jeff
Bradley, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/24).
     BARNSTORMING TOUR SPUTTERS AGAIN:  ESPN's Karl Ravech
reported that the city of Homestead, FL has rejected plans for
the players to train for their planned "barnstorming" tour at the
city-owned facility ("Baseball Tonight," 3/23).  Some on the
players side accuse the owners of pressuring Homestead and other
AZ communities against hosting the players saying that doing so
would harm the cities' chances of becoming spring training sites.
The N.Y. TIMES reports that Capital Sports of Stamford, CT, a
company that represents Reebok -- which planned at one time to
sponsor of the tour -- had reached agreement with Homestead on
behalf of the players.  But Homestead City Manager Will Rudd
wrote to Capital Sports this week that they would be "unable to
complete negotiations" (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 3/24).
     END THE STRIKE:  USA TODAY's Hal Bodley examines the
rationale under which the players might return without an
agreement (which he admits is a "long shot"):  1) They could play
and get paid while legal action continues;  2) To prevent large
numbers of players from breaking ranks;  3) To head off greater
financial losses.  According to Bodley, the owners are "unlikely"
to vote for a lockout.  Fehr on ending the strike:  "Is it within
the realm of all possible things?  Yes."  Fehr also said the
union would consider a no-strike pledge for the '95 season (USA
TODAY, 3/24).

     United Baseball League officials were in Vancouver on
Thursday to meet with potential franchise owners.  B.C. Pavilion
Corp. President Warren Buckley, who represents B.C. Place in
talks with the UBL, said they spoke with "more than one but less
than five potential investors," and called the meetings "more
positive than I expected."  UBL Founder Dick Moss said they
intend to have local ownership in Vancouver, but that there are
U.S. investors willing to operate the team (Terry Bell, Vancouver
PROVINCE, 3/24).  The UBL's six charter franchises:  Washington,
New Orleans, San Juan, Vancouver, New York, and Southern CA.
With the appointment of Mike Stone as UBL COO and the "firming
up" of a deal with the Superdome, "the league seems to be getting
its operational house in order," according to Lyndon Little of
the VANCOUVER SUN.  UBL Co-founder Bob Mrazek said that Orlando,
Sacramento, Portland and Hartford are areas the league is looking
at for its other two franchises.  Mrazek said he is "convinced
that the UBL will open with teams that will be better than the
Marlins and Rockies were in their first year" (VANCOUVER SUN,
3/24).