Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr are scheduled to meet in Texas today, "but neither man would predict today whether they'll emerge from their meeting with a negotiating session scheduled between the team owners and major league players," according to Mark Maske in today's WASHINGTON POST. The owners' negotiating committee met on Monday. Some owners are lobbying for a return to the salary cap, but Maske reports that sources say that is unlikely. Selig reportedly also will suggest that talks take place "in a lower-profile manner than they did the last time around" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/11). Red Sox CEO John Harrington said the owners have a "strong consensus" on the proposal they intend to make (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 7/11). A LOOK BACK: Also in today's POST, Mark Maske retraces the recent labor talks. The owners "can't agree on whom to blame for their humbling failure," but, "for all their mistakes, the owners still may claim a victory" -- in the form of a luxury tax (WASHINGTON POST, 7/11). RATINGS WATCH: Richard Sandomir notes that the MLB All-Star Game outdraws all other sports' all-star games, but asks, "Will the game's Nielsen rating approach last year's pre-strike 15.7? Will it drop by as much as baseball's 20 percent attendance decline?" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/11). ABC's Mark Mandel: "At this point, our only worry is putting a great production on air. Whether people watch is not our concern anymore" (Mike Bruton, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 7/11). COMMISH NEEDED: TX Gov. George W. Bush, a co-owner of the Rangers: "What is needed is a truly independent commissioner who can stand up and restore the confidence of the game." Bush, who said he likes Selig: "We need a commissioner with strategic vision, and you can't own a team and run the game" (Bill Madden, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/11). In Fort Worth, Simon Gonzalez writes, "Instead of a tough, independent commissioner guiding the game through these troubled waters, the seat of power resides in Milwaukee, a city that symbolizes everything that is wrong with baseball." Selig: "I happen to believe that we need a commissioner. But more importantly, we need a system that a commissioner can survive under" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 7/11). Selig told USA TODAY that there has been no change in the owners' philosophy that there has to be a labor agreement before there is a new commissioner (Hal Bodley, USA TODAY, 7/11). Nolan Ryan proposed a commissioner paid equally by owners and the MLBPA, but he added that he had no interest in holding such a position (Mike Dodd, USA TODAY, 7/11). During ESPN's "Baseball Roundtable," Ryan reiterated his call for "a commissioner that does what's best for the interest of the game." Tony Gwynn, on the drop in attendance: "I think the fans need to see that both sides are trying to get something done. You know, having a commissioner would help immensely" (ESPN, 7/10). JUST DO IT: ESPN's Peter Gammons argued that MLB's problems were "to the point where the players need to step forward and say 'OK, the owners can't run this game and we've got some ideas.'" Commenting on the worldwide growth of baseball and the need to strengthen domestic marketing, Gammons said if the owners don't want to invest in the game, "then the players association may go out and do it. ... It's always been my belief that players care much more about this sport than the average fan realizes" ("Baseball Roundtable," ESPN, 7/10). Earlier, Gammons said some players were saying, "Look, we've got to convince ourselves no more money for promotions. Let's try to get the game back on track, we're tired of being bashed by the media, tired of being bashed by fans. Look around this room ... we have a lot to sell" ("Sports Center," ESPN, 7/10).
Leagues Governing Bodies
Media reflection on the State of Baseball at the All-Star break continues: ADVERTISING AGE'S JEFF JENSEN, noting the failure of TBN: "Now, sports marketing and media experts are trying to price MLB, and their appraisals are indicative of just how beaten up baseball is" (AD AGE, 7/10 issue). BOSTON GLOBE'S LARRY WHITESIDE: "What is the state of major league baseball? Don't ask. ... Nobody can say for sure if this is the end of an era or just a rough bump in the road" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/11). BOSTON HERALD'S STEVE BUCKLEY, to fans who left: "I am here to say baseball is every bit as exciting as you remember it. ... Baseball lives" (BOSTON HERALD, 7/11). DALLAS MORNING NEWS' CATHY HARASTA: "The game would do anything for a quick fix, but the All-Star Game must settle for being just a diversion" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 7/11). HOUSTON CHRONICLE'S ED FOWLER, who argues that a new CBA is needed first: "In the meantime, a new wrinkle might be considered, and this message comes to you from a traditionalists. ... But what in thunderation is wrong with the Cubs playing the White Sox" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 7/11). L.A. TIMES' ALAN MALAUMD: "Only time can ease the alienation that many former fans now feel for baseball. But even that may prove an inadequate cure" (L.A. TIMES, 7/11). NEW YORK POST'S JAY GREENBERG: "The game needs new fans before it needs new stadiums. It needs a collective bargaining agreement with the family just as badly as its needs one between owners and players. The ball is rolling up the gap -- the generation gap" (N.Y. POST, 7/11). NEW YORK TIMES' MURRAY CHASS, noting that baseball has already drawn 23.3 million, more than the other major sports: "Baseball will always outdraw the other sports because of more games and/or larger seating capacities? That's true, but it doesn't render meaningless the simple fact that more people watch baseball than any other sport, even in the worst of times" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/11). SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE'S C.W. NEVIUS: "Baseball is facing the greatest crisis in the history of the grand old game. Luckily, the finest minds in the sport are up to the task. They have announced that they are raising the pitching mound three inches. There, that should fix everything" (SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 7/11). WASHINGTON TIMES' TOM KNOTT recalls a 1969 Washington Daily News header when the game was at RFK: "Will Youth Rediscover the Ol' Ball Game?" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 7/11). CNN'S SPORTS TONIGHT: CNN's Bob Lorenz also examined the status of baseball. MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr: "Clearly there has to be reassurance given to the fans that the kinds of off- the-field difficulties that have plagued us for the past two years are not going to be something with which they ought to have any concern. And that's going to take some work." Paul White, Editor of USA TODAY's BASEBALL WEEKLY: "The people who are in the game have got to sell it and I think they can't sell it until they get their own house in order" (CNN, 7/10).
No one player, manager or owner got the same amount of attention as Hideo Nomo on All-Star Monday. In Milwaukee, Dale Hofmann writes, "You get an idea of the health of the national pastime when its most promising cure must be imported." Tom Haudricourt writes, "'Nomomania!' has engulfed major-league baseball's 66th annual All-Star Game" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 7/11). In Chicago, Jerome Holtzman notes that comparisons were made between Nomo in '95 and Ruth after the 1919 Black Sox scandal and whether Nomo is "capable of a similar rescue" of the game (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/11). In Houston, Alex Truex writes, "His whirling delivery has caused him to be nicknamed Tornado, but he is a fresh breeze for baseball" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 7/11). In Tampa, Martin Fennelly writes, "The man to save America's game does not speak English. That is where we are at" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 7/11). In L.A., Mike DiGiovanna writes, "Fernando Valenzuela, Hideo Nomo -- these international rookie phenomena come along only about once every 15 years, so you have to take advantage of them" (L.A. TIMES, 7/11). In K.C., Jeffrey Flanagan writes, "If there is a responsibility for Hideo Nomo ... to single-handedly restore interest in baseball, he's not aware of it" (K.C. STAR, 7/11). N.Y. DAILY NEWS' John Harper, on the Nomo-Randy Johnson match-up: "For once, it seems, baseball has done something right" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/11). In Dallas, Gerry Fraley calls tonight's game an "evening of historic proportions" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 7/11). In Baltimore, John Eisenberg writes, "Tonight's start will only add to his growing legend" (Baltimore SUN, 7/11). In Philadelphia, Jayson Stark writes, "This is [Nomo's] night. All he has to do is save baseball" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 7/11). In New York, Dave Anderson calls Nomo baseball's "rising sun" amid the post-strike clouds (N.Y. TIMES, 7/11). N.Y. POST header: "Baseball's Rising Sun-sation" (N.Y. POST, 7/11). USA TODAY's Beaton & Horovitz: "Nomomania has swept Major League Baseball" (USA TODAY, 7/11). In S.F., Joan Ryan writes, "The irony, of course, is that this All-American game of baseball is counting on this hard-throwing Japanese import to save it from itself" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/11). BEYOND THE SPORTS PAGES: ABC News profiled Nomo last night. ABC's Jim Lory "While some Japanese felt betrayed by Nomo's departure, he has now become an object of national pride. Everyone loves him" ("World News Tonight," 7/10). Nomo is also featured in this week's PEOPLE (PEOPLE, 7/10). SIGN OF FUTURE TIMES? ESPN's "Cover Story" last night examined the diversity of MLB players. Peter Gammons: "The people who mismanage baseball just don't understand they're never going to get the kids in Greenwich, or the valley girls, or the Beavis heads." Gammons compared players such as Nomo and Cuban Ariel Prieto to "the refugees who came over on the Mayflower. ... So when Hideo Nomo takes the mound in Arlington Tuesday, he is a reminder -- that while baseball may no longer be the national pastime, it will always be the game of the American heritage" (ESPN, 7/10).
MD Gov. Parris Glendening intends to meet with NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue to discuss Baltimore's chances in filling the open L.A. market, according to John Steadman of the Baltimore EVENING SUN. "Sentiment is building within the league" to deal with L.A. by creating a "hurried-up expansion process before the turn of the century and that is where Baltimore comes in -- or hopes to be included." Steadman writes that within the league "there's a feeling it can no longer attempt to hold, at least by implication, the Baltimore territory" for the Redskins. Steadman: "Baltimore fits into the L.A. development scheme." CFL Commissioner Larry Smith also met with Tagliabue, and there's a possibility "the CFL will ask the NFL for assistance in gaining a network television contract, and somehow, be a replacement in summer for the spring league the NFL operated in Europe -- which took a sound financial beating and scored poorly in viewer ratings" (Baltimore SUN, 7/11).
The NBA has told the United Negro College Fund that it may not hold Magic Johnson's 10th annual charity game July 30 at The Great Western Forum, and "that Johnson may not be involved in any way," according to this morning's N.Y. POST. The NBA has ruled that, under the terms of the lockout, Johnson, as Lakers part- owner, "may not interact with NBA players in any official capacity" and that team-owned facilities may not be used "by players for any reason." Johnson's agent, Lon Rosen, said the game will go on, but at a different location in Southern CA. Rosen added that Johnson "understands this (ruling) from the owners' side" (Thomas Hill, N.Y. POST, 7/11). P.R. PROBLEM LOOMING?: Carlis McGhee, a development director with the UNCF in L.A.: "I think [the NBA is] going to have a very serious media problem. We stand to lose a million dollars. People are still very upset about the baseball strike. It's not right that a charity has to suffer because of this kind of politics. This is a shame. Our students can't go to school because the NBA can't get it's act together?" According to McGhee, Grant Hill, Jason Kidd, Shawn Kemp, Alonzo Mourning, Chris Webber, Mitch Richmond, Nick Van Exel, Ed O'Bannon and Jamal Mashburn have all agreed to play. Leonard Armato said Shaquille O'Neal might also play. The nine previous charity games -- all held at The Forum "and billed as 'A Midsummer Night's Magic" -- generated $9.1M for the UNCF (N.Y. POST, 7/11).