One week before Opening Day, the NLRB "authorized its
general counsel to seek an injunction in Federal court that could
send striking players back to work as early as this week."
Daniel Silverman, director of the NLRB's New York office, said he
would initiate the effort in U.S. District Court in Manhattan
today "and would ask the judge, once one is assigned, to handle
the case expeditiously." While the players have made it clear
they would return if such an injunction is obtained, it is "not
clear" whether the owners would subsequently vote to lock them
out. "And in a related development, the two sides in the dispute
agreed to meet tonight in Manhattan to resume negotiations for
the first time since March 4" (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 3/27).
The story led ABC's Sunday "World News Tonight" (ABC, 3/26).
REAX: MLBPA General Counsel Gene Orza: "I'm never
surprised when something we say is upheld by a third party" (Ross
Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 3/27). Braves President Stan Kasten: "I
have utter confidence in our case, unfortunately that would take
a long time to get to" (I.J. Rosenberg, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION,
3/27). Rangers President Tom Schieffer: "What we have here is
something that just prolongs the process. The NLRB is not a body
that resolves things" (Simon Gonzalez, FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM,
3/27). "The best case scenario for the union is that there could
be a hearing on the matter by Wednesday, and a ruling by Friday"
(Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 3/27). ESPN's Peter Gammons, on a
pre-Opening day injunction: "There's no guarantee, because of
the unusual nature of this case, that [the players] are actually
going to get the injunction. If they do, the players will offer
to come back, the owners will then vote 23-5 or 22-6 to lockout.
Unless there's a settlement this week, we're going on into
replacement ball next weekend." Gammons said the owners don't
view the NLRB ruling as "important," adding, "If the players
really do, then these negotiations are just going to be
distracted and not go anywhere" ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN, 3/26).
TO LOCKOUT, OR NOT TO LOCKOUT: Several reports note that
the owners might not be able to get the 21 votes necessary for a
lockout. One AL owner predicts six teams would vote "No" --
Dodgers, Yankees, Mets, Blue Jays, Orioles and Padres -- with the
Indians, Tigers and Rangers leaning that way (Ross Newhan, L.A.
TIMES, 3/27). In Philadelphia, Jayson Stark noted "major doubt
among baseball people" that the owners would vote pro-lockout.
But the nature of the ruling, the timing and whether the players
return with a no-strike pledge are all factors (PHILADELPHIA
INQUIRER, 3/27). The latest BUSINESS WEEK outlines the owners'
risk: "If the NLRB finds the lockout illegal, the league could
be on the hook for players' salaries totaling some $1 billion for
the season. That amount could be tripled if the lockout was also
found to have violated the old contract's anticollusion clause"
(Aaron Bernstein, BUSINESS WEEK, 4/3 issue). In Washington, Mark
Maske notes that "ownership moderates will try to convince hard-
liners they're in a precarious position" by risking that much
(WASHINGTON POST, 3/27). In New York, Murray Chass adds, if the
players stay out, "they may prefer a lockout to a strike at this
juncture, partly for public relations purposes and partly to keep
any players from being tempted to break ranks and return to work"
(N.Y. TIMES, 3/27).