HARD-LINE OWNERS PUSH FOR BALLOW TO STEP FORWARD
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).