BASEBALL'S BACK II: LABOR ISSUES ECLIPSED, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
GOOD MORNING, BASEBALL: Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig
appeared on "Good Morning America." Selig: "I would hope before
this year's over that we have a long-term labor agreement."
Selig on what needs to be done in regards to the fans: "We are
going to have to work at all levels, players and the clubs and
the central offices, to bring fans back. ... There'll be places
obviously, like Denver, Toronto or Baltimore next week and others
that are going to be sold out, but there's no question we are
going to have to work to bring people back. ... Maybe what we've
gone through will heighten the awareness the sensitivity of both
players and management towards the fans and make us, not only for
the next day, month -- but for the years to come -- understand
what we have to do. If it all works out that way, then this will
have not been in vain" (ABC, 4/26).
TELL THAT TO THE UMPS: MLB opened its season last night
with replacement umpires. This morning, the MLBUA and the
leagues will argue before the Ontario Labour Relations Board that
the use of replacements is illegal under Ontario law. No ruling
is expected today, thus ensuring that the Blue Jays' home opener
will not be affected (James Christie, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL,
4/26). In an "unusual joint statement," MLBUA General Counsel
Richie Phillips and MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr announced an
understanding that players would not be asked to respect the
umpires' picket lines. MLB negotiator Robert Kheel, before a
meeting with Phillips last night: "There's nothing new" (AP/L.A.
CHANGE IN COMMAND: The owners hired Univ. of Virginia law
professor Douglas Leslie to argue their appeal of Judge Sonia
Sotomayor's court order on May 11 which led to the end of the
players' strike. Leslie replaces Frank Casey of Morgan, Lewis &
Brockius, the owners' firm of record on labor matters for the
past decade (N.Y. TIMES, 4/26).
COLLUSION CHARGES COMING: MLBPA General Counsel Gene Orza
claims it has proof the owners again colluded on player salaries.
Orza, who says he will present a "massive number of violations"
to the NLRB: "Strange as it may seem, one more time (the owners)
have restrained the market rather than letting it flow." Acting
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig again denied the charge (Rod Beaton,
USA TODAY, 4/26).
DOWN THE ROAD: ESPN's Peter Gammons, on the dim prospects
for a quick settlement: "Both judges said that the owners could
have implemented if they had just done it right, they could have
put any system they wanted in if they hadn't double-crossed the
NLRB. That time is going to come at the end of the season;
eventually the players are going to have to deal with it"
("Baseball Tonight," 4/25).
MORE POLL NUMBERS: The CNN/USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows that
baseball is still in second place as America's favorite sport at
16% to football's 32%, although basketball is a close third at
15%. Of 427 self-identified "baseball fans," 52% have a
favorable opinion of the players, with 44% unfavorable. But only
31% have a favorable opinion of the owners, with 63% unfavorable