BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 225: NLRB DELAYS DECISION
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,"
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).