After a day highlighted by the union's response to the
owners' latest offer, there is no clear indication of how this
critical week will play out for both sides in the baseball
dispute. Some views from the baseball media:
In New York, Murray Chass writes that despite the owners'
new offer, the looming decision of U.S. District Court Judge
Sonia Sotomayor on the NLRB's injunction request "appears to be
paramount," particularly because the owners seem less likely to
vote for a lockout (N.Y. TIMES, 3/29). For more on a possible
lockout vote. In L.A., Ross Newhan focused on the expected MLBPA
counter-proposal and the players' stated hopes that "there was
room for negotiation within the framework of management's offer"
(L.A. TIMES, 3/29). In Denver, Tracy Ringolsby notes several
players and agents "were encouraged by the owners' offer and
contacted the union to make sure it followed up on the
negotiations" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 3/29). In Boston, Larry
Whiteside reported that any optimism from Monday night "was
obliterated by the players" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/29). In
Philadelphia, Jayson Stark noted "mixed signals": while talks
"appear to be going nowhere," several teams were ready to re-
start spring training (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/29). In San
Francisco, Glenn Dickey writes, "Basically, the bargaining comes
down to this. The owners are afraid they can't lock out the
players, and the players are afraid they can" (S.F. CHRONICLE,
3/29). On ESPN, Peter Gammons said, "If [the two sides] can find
something in the 40% at $45-$46 million range, find some way to
ensure that it's closer to 100% of the revenue when they raise
the tax rate three years into the deal, then it's at least a
possibility -- a 50-50 possibility -- that they can get a deal
before they put the replacements on the field Sunday night"
("SportsCenter," 3/28). But later, Gammons said the owners "are
a lot harder line than a lot of people realize" and questioned
whether this is a deal that can be split "down the middle"
("Baseball Tonight," 3/28). CNN's Mark Morgan: "It is now
apparent that it will take a minor miracle for an agreement to be
reached by Opening Day" ("Sports Tonight," 3/28).
WHAT'S NEXT? ESPN was reporting that the players will
respond with a counter-offer of a 30% tax on payrolls above $49M.
But ESPN's Keith Olbermann also noted the owners "have
reintroduced the one demand that single-handedly caused the 50-
day strike in 1981 -- compensation for free agents"
("SportsCenter," 3/28). MLBPA attorney Lauren Rich and
management attorney Rob Manfred will hold a "technical" meeting
today on the owners' plan. Sources close to the talks predict a
35% tax on payrolls above $46-47M "might produce an agreement"
(Ross Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 3/29).
QUOTE BOARD: MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr: "It is fair to say
that the series of suggestions we have received represents some
movement by the clubs. I think it would be incorrect of me to
suggest it was substantial" (Mult, 3/29). A's Player Rep Terry
Steinbach called the owners plan "definitely a serious move on
their part and a real step in the right direction" (John Hickey,
OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 3/28). Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner's
advice to Fehr: "He should listen, embrace it, and then see
where we go from within that structure, because it's a very
definite come-down from where we were before" ("Sports View,"
CNBC, 3/28). Reds GM Jim Bowden, noting the $1M plus bonuses per
club that will paid to replacement players if they start the
season: "If there's no settlement by Opening Day, there's really
no incentive for owners to settle for about 30 days" (CINCINNATI
ENQUIRER, 3/29). Phillies President Bill Giles said if the
players reject the latest offer, "then I'm full-bore for
replacement ball" (Frank Fitzpatrick, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER,
3/29). Mets President Fred Wilpon: "We never said this is a
final offer. We said this is, and I think the other side knows
this, this is a stretch for us. A real stretch for us" ("CBS
This Morning," 3/29). Braves Player Rep Tom Glavine: "We want
to get a deal and we understand there's going to be some
compromises made. But, there's a difference between compromising
and selling everything you've gained over the last 27 years as a
union" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 3/28). ESPN's Gammons: "Saturday
is the big negotiating day, because nobody ever does anything in
this business without a crisis point, and the crisis point is
about Saturday midnight, or Sunday noon" ("Baseball Tonight,