Baseball's owners this week "intensified" discussions about
adopting a revenue sharing plan next year with or without a new
labor agreement, according to the WASHINGTON POST. A committee
headed by Astros Owner Drayton McLane proposed the plan. The
owners already have a plan that would transfer $58M annually from
large to small-market clubs. However, the owners argue that the
plan can't be put in place until there is agreement on curbing
players' salaries. McLane's plan would immediately aid small-
market clubs which say they need revenue-sharing to survive.
Mark Maske notes large-market clubs are "wary" of such a plan
without a salary cap or payroll tax (WASHINGTON POST, 8/17).
OTHER HAPPENINGS: Dave van Dyck noted from Chicago that one
"moderate" owner said the labor situation better be resolved by
mid-September if baseball wants to cut a multimillion-dollar deal
with Fox (CHICAGO SUN TIMES, 8/15). New York City's Commissioner
of Labor Relations Randy Levin appears to be the choice as new
chief labor negotiator with an announcement to be "made soon."
Owners are also close to hiring a new marketing director
(WASHINGTON POST, 8/17).
MADAME COMMISSIONER? When asked to name two public figures
he thought would be good Commissioners, former Commissioner Bowie
Kuhn named former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and
former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Colin Powell. Kuhn added
while he didn't think either would want the job, he also didn't
think the owners would approve either of them because of each
one's ability to be a "strong leader" (Bob Wolfley, MILWAUKEE
JOURNAL SENTINEL, 8/17).
UBL GEARING UP: The UBL will hold a press conference today
in New York to announce major developments for the season
starting in the spring of '96. Included will be information on a
commitment for an extensive national media deal, franchise
owner/owner groups for the first season, locations of first
season stadium facilities, UBL's schedule, and the format for its
Championship Series (UBL).
In yesterday's media teleconference, NBA Commissioner David
Stern said a deal is the best way to protect the NBA's sponsors
and the league's continued growth. Stern: "We are absolutely,
flat-out poised for extraordinary growth. The recent Disney
acquisition of ABC, with a reference to the importance of ESPN;
the fact that an NBC would sort of step up and make its statement
by acquiring a sports property such as the Olympics; the fact
that CBS further cements its growth by focusing on NCAA
basetball; the fact that the Fox network focuses on the NFL and
hockey to improve its status; this all speaks well for enormous
potential growth of our league. And we think the best way to
come up with a collective bargaining agreement is to promise
player and owner alike that they will share in that growth.
That's why we reached out to the players with the second deal and
that's the soft message, in effect, that we're sending both to
our sponsors and our players. We understand both the opportunity
and the risk and we'd like to take advantage of the opportunity
and avoid the risk" (THE DAILY).
ARMATO ON "MONEYLINE": Leonard Armato, agent to Shaquille
O'Neal, on CNN last night: "A lot of people don't understand
just how important it is to companies involved in the sport to be
able to plan their marketing themes. And what happens sometimes
when there's labor unrest is that those companies start to get a
little nervous, and that tends to take money out of the sport.
Basketball has been such a fast growing sport and captured the
imaginations of fans and sponsors and people all over the world,
I think it's dangerous to mess with that right now --
particularly in light of the most recent round of labor
negotiations. So, right now before I have analyzed in full
detail the proposals that are on the table, my initial indication
is that it is best for all to simply settle their differences in
connection with the current agreement" (CNN, 8/16).
"The battle over decertification of the NBA Players
Association intensified Wednesday as each side hurled
inflammatory rhetoric at the other," according to David Moore in
this morning's DALLAS MORNING NEWS. "Dissident" players led by
Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, and attorney Jeffrey Kessler held
a press conference in Chicago and a teleconference with the media
to reiterate their stance, and NBA Commissioner David Stern also
held a teleconference to push the league's perspective. Jordan:
"A fair deal begins with what we just finished. Everyone has
said the league is successful, the players and the owners are
both making money. Let's start with that and move forward.
Don't start below that and make the players try to get that back.
... I know if David Stern represented the players, he would not
ask the players to accept this deal from a business standpoint.
Why is he asking us to accept this now?" Stern: "If I were a
player, I would say what everyone else knows, and that is the cap
was riddled with some Mickey Mouse loopholes that made us a
laughing stock. We stepped up and made substantial financial
promises to the players. ... I would say, hey, we have a heck of
a lot better deal than the football union negotiated by a large
margin. I think we struck a pretty good compromise. It's easy
to use phrases like rollback, and we did tighten some loopholes.
But tell me, is the ability to become a free agent after three
years, is the reduction of the draft to one round, is the
increase in the percentage of revenue that will push the average
salary to $3 million by the end of this deal, a rollback? I
would ask people to study this deal and reach their own
conclusions" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 8/17).
I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE: According to most press
accounts, Stern took direct aim at Kessler for driving the
campaign of "misinformation" about decertification and the
proposed CBA. Stern: "I listened to a lawyer misrepresent the
facts of the deal, and we owe it to our players to get the truth
out. We've allowed him to occupy the public, and he's putting
out all sorts of disinformation in the newspaper. Maybe I made a
mistake in allowing it to be put out there without saying
anything before. ... The decertificaiton effort is an attempt to
kidnap the negotiation process, and we're not going to abide by
the kidnapping. I hate to predict doom, but if it happens, and
the owners are clear about this, I don't believe there can be a
season" (Dave D'Alessandro, BERGEN RECORD, 8/17).
THERE'S A MR. STERN ON LINE 1: According to Jeffrey Denberg
in the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, Stern "probably will contact
dissident players with a personal plea to support the new labor
agreement." Stern: "I've been known to lobby our players from
time to time." The commissioner also said team execs will reach
out as well. Stern: "We have designated people on each team who
will talk with the players because we are very interested in
having a season. We will urge them to study the deal and vote."
Denberg also reports that Stern will call a meeting of owners
immediately after the vote (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 8/17).
STICK TO YOUR OWN SPORT: Stern took at aim at NFLPA Exec
Dir Gene Upshaw for urging NBA players to decertify. Stern: "I
am especially perplexed as to why Gene Upshaw is going around
talking to our players about decertifying. His league has a hard
cap. ... I think he would worry about his own league" (L. C.
Johnson, CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER, 8/17).
MORE FROM MJ & CO.: Jordan in today's CHICAGO TRIBUNE:
"What we're asking, and what we're basically using
decertification as, is an opportunity to get the fairest deal and
he [Stern] controls that issue. We're not striking here. We
want to play." Jordan, to the fans: "It's not us causing this.
It's the league that has locked us out thus far, which has
enabled us to do what we can to give the season back to the fans.
... We don't want the same situation as baseball. But at the
same time, I don't think it's fair for them to pressure us to
accept a bad deal so that the fans can criticize the players.
That's the way the league is positioning this whole situation."
Jordan, on the rank-and-file: "Yeah, it's a good deal for us --
for the superstars. But for these young players who are going to
move forward and make this league and make the game of basketball
as popular as it is today, it's not a good deal for them. That's
why we're making this stand" (Terry Armour, CHICAGO TRIBUNE,
8/17). Alonzo Mourning: "We should be compensated on our
talent, our worth to our team and also the success of the team."
Patrick Ewing: "It's printed that I have the most to lose, so if
I can step up and put my money where my mouth is, I think all the
other guys should do the same" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 8/16).