Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 24 No. 117

Leagues Governing Bodies

     While there were reports over the weekend that CFL
Commissioner Larry Smith was engaged in last-ditch talks to save
the Las Vegas Posse, it appears that the league is ready to go
ahead with a "dispersal draft" of Posse players today (TORONTO
SUN, 4/18).  On Friday, the CFL again suspended the franchise
after efforts to sell the team to FL-based developer Norton
Herrick and move it to Jackson, MS, again fell through.  Herrick
pulled out after failing to convince local MS politicians to
cover his estimated $3M annual loss.  Any further talks seemed
directed at avoiding legal action.  Noting that the Posse is a
publicly-owned company, Calgary Stampeders Owner Larry Ryckman
said, "By law, it is our responsibility to say we did everything
we could to sell the Las Vegas Posse.  The league is in a very
tenuous situation with this public franchise."  One league source
described the situation as "the worst mess the CFL has ever
gotten itself into.  This is a serious problem -- a very serious
problem" (Allan Maki, CALGARY HERALD, 4/15).
     TOUGH TIMES:  In Baltimore, Ken Murray writes, "The CFL was
left with a huge credibility crisis and a shell of a franchise."
In three years of U.S. expansion, the CFL "has made its share of
clumsy mistakes."  But the "mishandling" of the Posse "could be
the low point."  Robert Wanzel, a sports management instructor at
Ontario's Laurentian Univ.:  "If we were bush league before, what
are we now?"  (Baltimore SUN, 4/18).  In Vancouver, Kent
Gilchrist writes, "Never before in the league that has been
around since 1909 has it been exposed to the ignominy and
credibility-sapping of the last month" (Vancouver PROVINCE,
4/18).

     Late Friday afternoon, the NBPA and Charles Grantham
released a joint statement announcing Grantham's resignation as
NBPA Exec Dir.  The release cited "irreconcilable differences
concerning matters of Association governance."  NBPA President
Buck Williams said Grantham was leaving on "amicable terms."
NBPA General Counsel Simon Gourdine will assume Grantham's
duties, effective immediately (NBPA).
     WHAT BROUGHT IT ON?  Two sources close to the union told the
N.Y. TIMES that the NBPA executive board "either ousted Grantham
or allowed him to step down under pressure, mainly because he had
failed to move along negotiations" for a new CBA.  NBPA Exec VP
Charles Smith:  "After months and months of talking about the
future, and what needs to be done, it just got to the point where
we saw a difference of opinion and it wasn't going to change"
(Mike Wise, N.Y. TIMES' 4/15).  In an interview, Grantham shed
little light on the situation:  "I analogize it to a coach and
his players.  When things don't go as you wanted them to for a
long time, what do you do?  You get rid of the coach." Grantham
"vehemently denied" that he had pushed for a work stoppage, but
"admitted his proposals and vision, ultimately, were not going
over with the union as well as they once had" (Mike Wise, N.Y.
TIMES, 4/16).
     HOOP WRITERS REACT:  In New York, Peter Vecsey writes,
"Common sense dictates something definitely went down the wrong
wind pipe and it had nothing to do with Grantham's collective
bargaining work.  Either Grantham did something funny or he lost
a power struggle to Gourdine."  Vecsey suspects the former,
citing word of "unnecessary trips at the union's expense" (N.Y.
POST, 4/18).  In Chicago, Sam Smith writes, "The resignation is
not considered good news for the NBA since Grantham was a more
experienced negotiator, suggesting some hard-line players may be
moving to a position of power, which would lead to uncertainty
for the league" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/16).  Lacy Banks writes, "For
the players to lose their top leadership in the middle of
negotiations certainly is no show of strength" (CHICAGO SUN-
TIMES, 4/16).  In Boston, Mark Murphy writes the move "would seem
to indicate serious division within the ranks" (BOSTON HERALD,
4/15).  Jackie MacMullan writes, "As the dust settles, league
officials will try to determine whether the union was unhappy
with Grantham because it thought his stance on the [CBA] was too
hard or too soft" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/16).  In Dallas, David Moore
writes the resignation "may change the tone of negotiations with
the NBA, but it's not expected to change the substance" (DALLAS
MORNING NEWS, 4/16).  In Denver, Mike Monroe writes, "What's
clear is that something had to be very wrong inside the union for
Grantham to leave before an agreement" (DENVER POST, 4/16).
     WHERE DO TALKS STAND?  In Washington, Richard Justice cites
"various sources" who say Grantham's resignation "won't affect
labor negotiations.  A deal apparently will get done during the
playoffs and will include a rookie salary cap" (WASHINGTON POST,
4/18).  In New York, Mitch Lawrence cites a union source who
reports "some progress" and says that a union counter-offer made
in the last month would "not change the landscape as dramatically
as has been indicated."  Notes Lawrence, "In other words, a cap
still will be part of the deal" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/15).
     OTHER QUOTES:  NBA Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik released
a statement praising Grantham:  "We have always maintained a
productive business relationship with the union's leadership and
are confident that this relationship will continue with the union
under the direction of Buck and Simon" (Mult., 4/15).  One NBA
official:  "It came right out of the blue.  We'd heard nothing to
indicate there was a problem" (Richard Justice, WASHINGTON POST,
4/15).  Mark Fleisher, a former member of the Agents Advisory
Committee for the CBA and son of Grantham's predecessor, Larry
Fleisher:  "By coming out so early and saying he wanted to put an
end to the salary cap, and the draft, and restricted free agency,
he boxed himself into a corner.  And, when he ended up shuffling
back from that corner, he lost a lot of credibility, both with
the league and with his own people" (Jackie MacMullan, BOSTON
GLOBE, 4/16).

     While Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig continues to insist
that Chuck O'Connor has not been removed as general counsel of
the Player Relations Committee, he "acknowledges that his daily
legal briefings are now conducted by Rob Manfred, formerly the
PRC's No. 2 lawyer."  And with the  owners' legal strategy "under
fire," Nashville attorney Robert Ballow "continues to move into a
more prominent role" (Ross Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 4/16).  Replacing
O'Connor with Ballow will bring "the real war," predicts agent
Tom Reich  (Peter Gammons, BOSTON GLOBE, 4/16).
     COLLUSION III?  MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr said an
investigation is under way to determine if owners are guilty of
collusion in signing free agents since the strike ended.  Selig
called the suggestion "so ludicrous it's hardly worthy of
comment" (Hal Bodley, USA TODAY, 4/18).
     UNION BLACKLIST:  Fehr made the rounds of training camps
providing players with lists of replacement players.  In Boston,
Mike Shalin writes, "Do they really need to know?" (BOSTON
HERALD, 4/15).  In K.C., Jonathan Rand writes the union "clearly
has too much free time.  Last time anybody looked, there was
still no collective-bargaining agreement" (K.C. STAR, 4/17).  In
Cleveland, Bill Livingston writes, "It smacks of the blacklist of
the McCarthy era" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 4/16).  MLBPA General
Counsel Gene Orza said the union has informed all players that
harassment or retaliation against replacements is illegal (Murray
Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 4/18).  In New York, Bill Madden notes Fehr
was telling the players they "won" the labor stand-off.  But
Madden asks, "Won what?" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/15).
     PRESSURING BUD:  USA TODAY's Hal Bodley reports members of
MLB's Executive Council "tried again to twist Selig's arm" to
become permanent commissioner.  While Selig again resisted, "if
he thinks he can serve the game, he'll reluctantly accept the job
-- as early as the owners' meetings in Minneapolis, June 6-8"
(USA TODAY, 4/17).

     The MLBUA lowered their salary demands yesterday, but their
new proposal was not enough for the AL and NL to consider ending
their lockout of the umpires, according to Murray Chass in
today's N.Y. TIMES.  MLBUA General Counsel Richie Phillips said
the new proposal represents a 40% raise, down from 53% in the
previous offer.  But management negotiator Robert Kheel
disagreed, "saying the front-loaded nature of the increases makes
the package far more expensive than Phillips portrays it."  The
umpires propose a salary range from $90,000 for rookie umps to
$265,000 for those with 30 years or more.  The owners have
offered a 10% increase.  Kheel, on the latest MLBUA proposal:
"We're very discouraged" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/18).
     LOOK FOR THE UNION LABEL:  Phillips said the umpires are not
asking the players to honor their informational picket lines
during spring training, but that "will change" during the regular
season.  Phillips:  "We're going to ask the players not to cross
those picket lines, not because we want to out them on the spot
but because we feel compelled to do that."  MLBPA General Counsel
Gene Orza said the players "have not resolved nor addressed" the
issue of umpires' picket lines (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 4/15).
Former umpire-turned Yankees TV analyst Steve Palermo said he
would not work on MSG Network telecasts until the regular umpires
return.  MSG Exec Producer Mike McCarthy said the network
supports Palermo's stance (N.Y. POST, 4/15).