Members of MLB's Executive Council are "tentatively"
scheduled to meet tomorrow, with the owners facing a decision on
when to resume negotiations with players. In addition to the
time-frame, owners will also discuss who will lead negotiations
and who will serve as chief legal counsel. Robert Ballow of King
& Ballow "could take on a prominent role in the talks," and
ownership sources say the decision to remove Chuck O'Connor as
general counsel of the Players Relations Committee "already has
been made" (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 4/9). MLBPA Exec Dir
Don Fehr said the union is ready to resume talks "any time, any
day" (Mike Zizzo, ORLANDO SENTINEL, 4/10). Fehr said a strike
this season would be "highly unlikely": "Anything is possible,
but I wouldn't bet on it" ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN, 4/9).
TOLD YA SO: Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, on the
small- to big-market trading frenzy: "This is exactly why we
need a change in the system, and I guess that is what's so
frustrating. The media may not want to believe it and the union
may not want to believe it, but it shouldn't be a surprise to
anybody. We have some clubs that aren't going to make it" (Ross
Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 4/9). Bill Conlin: "You are right back to
where you were August 12th, right back to where they were
desperately trying to avoid ... losing all these desperately
inefficient small market teams" ("Sports Reporters," ESPN, 4/9).
In Boston, Peter Gammons writes, "The teams for whom the strike
was fought are demonstrating that they are the huge losers in the
eight months of senseless slaughter" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/9). For
more on the plight of MLB's small-market franchises.
WHAT NOW? With Ballow's apparent ascension, "the players
believe the owners will sit tight, waiting for a crack or the
opportunity to get an impasse and implement" (Peter Gammons,
BOSTON GLOBE, 4/9). NL VP/Media & Public Affairs Ricky Clemons:
"I think you will see an agreement, possibly before June 1,
certainly before the All-Star Game" ("Sports Report," BET, 4/8).
Bill Conlin on the free agent camp: "You would think the owners
would be smart enough to send a few scouts down there, so they
can avoid the appearance of collusion" ("Sports Reporters," ESPN,
LOST A LEGAL FIGHT, WON THE WAR? While several note the
problems with the owners' legal strategy (in particular, the
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER's examination of the appellate judges'
taunting of the Morgan, Lewis & Brockius lawyers), others note
the drained free agent market is a clear victory for owners.
BUSINESS WEEK's Bernstein & Greising: "Easy guys, you won. A
mechanism to slow soaring labor costs is in the works" (BUSINESS
WEEK, 4/17 issue). In St. Louis, Bernie Miklasz writes, "It
looks like the owners are getting their salary cap all along"
(ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 4/9). In San Francisco, Glenn Dickey
writes, "Do you suppose it might be time for the Players
Association to rethink its position on a salary cap?" (SAN
FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 4/10).
TIME FOR NEW LEADERSHIP? In L.A., Ross Newhan reports "a
quiet push among several clubs to begin the search for a new
commissioner." Dodgers President Peter O'Malley: "There's no
reason why a search couldn't go on concurrently with the
negotiations, and I think more and more clubs are realizing that"
(L.A. TIMES, 4/9).
DIS-UNION: Former Phillie Player Rep Dave Hollins, on the
treatment Lenny Dysktra received at a union meeting in February:
"The union always likes to talk about how open things are and if
we ever have a question or want to say anything we should just
speak up. Well, when Lenny walked in they treated him like he
was a Russian spy. He wanted to speak and they were all over
him. They tried to bury him. Don Fehr never spoke up once. So
I had to. That ticked me off. That was my last meeting" (Mult.,