The owners could submit a formal proposal to the players
when meetings resume tonight, according to the L.A. TIMES. The
key points, according to a top management official: Arbitration
for players with three years of experience, restricted free
agency for four and five-year players, unrestricted after six, a
40% tax on payrolls over $40M (Bob Nightengale, L.A. TIMES,
3/25). But ESPN's Peter Gammons cited Red Sox CEO John
Harrington, who said the owners "will not present a new proposal.
They will present some new ideas, and maybe some things that will
bring the players closer." But Gammons added: "I really don't
think that there's any way that they're going to come any closer"
("Baseball Tonight," ESPN, 3/26).
FOR GOD'S SAKE, DON'T DRINK THE KOOL-AID! White Sox Chair
Jerry Reinsdorf compared Fehr to cult leader Jim Jones.
Reinsdorf, who recommended the players hire an "independent third
person" to evaluate offers from both sides: "Don't believe the
owners, but for God's sake, this isn't Guyana. Don't believe the
guy that's misleading you" (Paul Sullivan, CHICAGO TRIBUNE,
3/26). ESPN's Keith Olbermann: "No truth to the rumors that
Fehr will reply by comparing Jerry Reinsdorf to the worst person
he could think of -- Jerry Reinsdorf" ("SportsCenter," 3/26).
WASHINGTON WEEK IN REVIEW: President Clinton was
interviewed over the weekend by ESPN Radio. Clinton on the
baseball strike: "If it becomes so painfully clear that it is no
longer a sport and it's just a business, then the customers may
decide to take their business elsewhere. ... It could become a
community sport again -- almost the way soccer is, if they don't
fix it" (ESPN Radio, 3/25). Citing what he claims are
conflicting statements from acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig,
Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy plans to reintroduce legislation
today with Republicans Orrin Hatch and Strom Thurmond to
partially repeal MLB's antitrust exemption (Murray Chass, N.Y.
TIMES, 3/25). Speaker Newt Gingrich predicted hearings on the
issue, "once we're past the labor-management fight" ("Larry King
Live," CNN, 3/24).
THE WINNER, AND NEW CHAMPION? Two baseball writers give the
owners the nod thus far in negotiations. In Denver, Tracy
Ringolsby writes, "The owners have finally stayed together, and
the union has failed to adapt" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 3/26). In
L.A., Ross Newhan writes, "No matter how a negotiated settlement
plays out, the owners would finally win one" -- but, that is if
they can: 1) "disentangle" from the Reinsdorf-led effort to
break the union; 2) convince Selig "to act like the commissioner
many are convinced he wants to become"; 3) compromise on the tax
-- 35% at $47M is suggested; and, 4) include a three-year
reopener on the tax, unrestricted free agency for 4+ players and
right-of-first refusal for three (L.A. TIMES, 3/26).
OTHER STRIKING THOUGHTS: An AP poll (403 self-identified
baseball fans surveyed March 15-19) found 34% saying they would
attend fewer games if replacement players are used, and 38%
saying they would watch fewer games on TV (Mult, 3/25)....MLBPA
counsel Lauren Rich: "If there's not a settlement in the next
seven to 10 days, it will reopen an era of litigation that will
make collusion seems like child's play. ... This will degenerate
into a legal war that will take a very long time to play out and
(in) which the only winners will be football, basketball and
hockey (Ross Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 3/27)....ESPN's Karl Ravech
reported that spring training attendance per team is down from
89,000 last year to 20,200 this year. Averages per game: 5,933
in '94, 2,020 in '95 ("Baseball Tonight," 3/26).