TALKS WITH UMPS TODAY; TALKS WITH PLAYERS STILL UP IN AIR
Representatives of MLB and baseball's locked out umpires are
scheduled to return to the bargaining table today, with union
officials acknowledging that they will set up informational
pickets at selected sites in AZ and FL when spring training games
begin today. Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, on the umps'
demands for a 53% raise over a four-year deal, a doubling of
postseason bonuses and increased retirement benefits: "Given
what's happened in baseball the last year or so, it's hard to
understand the umpires' demands" (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST,
4/13). MLBUA General Counsel Richie Phillips: "This is very
resolvable. We're only dealing with dollars, not on matters of
principle" (Bernard Fernandez, PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 4/12).
NOT READY YET: ESPN's Chris Berman reported after meeting
in Milwaukee, the Executive Council says "they need to meet at
least one more time before they return to the bargaining table
with the players sometime further down the road" ("Baseball
Tonight," 4/12). Braves President Stan Kasten said the owners'
negotiating committee doesn't plan to meet with players "for a
couple of months." ESPN's Peter Gammons: "I think you are going
to see this thing go for a while before there is an agreement"
("SportsCenter," 4/12). LEGAL TEAM: While no decision was
made on retaining Chuck O'Connor and his firm, Morgan, Lewis &
Brockius, as the owners' legal representatives, the N.Y. TIMES
cites a source who says when the owners return to the table,
Robert Ballow of King & Ballow will be serving as the owners'
"chief legal strategist." The source claims that Selig and
O'Connor "do not talk much any more because their relationship
has deteriorated. ... [The two] basically lost confidence in each
other and were not operating on the same wave length." According
to the source, the "rift" began during the Scottsdale talks, when
O'Connor, "sensing" that MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr was ready to
make a deal, apparently pushed for an agreement before the NLRB's
general counsel could seek an injunction (Murray Chass, N.Y.