BASEBALL AT THE BREAK: GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS
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).