Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig denied a story that MLB is
investigating whether exiled Reds Owner Marge Schott is
"meddling" in the day-to-day affairs of the franchise. Selig did
say NL President Len Coleman will be "monitoring the situation
very closely." Coleman is in Cincinnati today to review
compliance with MLB's edict (USA TODAY, 6/28). On Thursday, the
DAYTON DAILY NEWS reported that Schott has been upset with new
policies enacted under interim CEO John Allen. One Reds
employee: "She was on a rampage, just sticking her nose into
what everybody was doing and wondering why she didn't have any
checks to sign." Another employee: "I've seen her ranting and
raving and waving her arms in protest" (Hal McCoy, DAYTON DAILY
NEWS, 6/28). An NL spokesperson told ESPN "they will not begin
an investigation unless someone in the Reds organization issues a
complaint" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 6/27).
NEWS & NOTES: Former minor league ump Craig Compton, fired
in October '94 after being named the top umpire prospect a year
earlier by Baseball America, has filed suit against the NL, AL,
their counterparts in the minor leagues and the MLB Office for
Umpire Development, alleging he was denied promotion because he
is white. Compton, who has filed similar complaints with the
EEOC and a PA state agency, seeks $100,000 in damages (PHILA.
DAILY NEWS, 6/28). ....BASEBALL AMERICA notes the White Sox's
upcoming contract talks with No. 1 pick Bobby Seay have put Owner
Jerry Reinsdorf in an "interesting position: either pay more for
Seay's services than he might think they're worth, or let him go
for the fiscal sake of the industry." Reinsdorf has called for
limits on scouting budgets, including signing bonuses (BASEBALL
AMERICA, 7/8-21 issue).
Negotiators for the NBA and its players "were working
overtime last night" to resolve the remaining issues regarding
the to-be-signed collective bargaining agreement in hopes of
averting the second lockout in as many years, according to the
WASHINGTON POST. Sources from both sides said talks were likely
to continue today. Meanwhile, NBA Commissioner David Stern told
BLOOMBERG BUSINESS NEWS that he will "ban" free agents signings
if there is no deal by Monday, July 1 -- the day players can
begin negotiations with teams. Mark Asher reports, "Neither side
was predicting a deal will be struck" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/28).
On the issue of payment for the use of the players' logo, USA
TODAY's Roscoe Nance reports the union originally asked for $31M,
but has lowered that demand to $29M -- money which will go to the
players, not the union (USA TODAY, 6/28).
BAD DREAM TEAM: USA Basketball spokesperson Craig Miller
said they have not heard from any Dream Team member that he will
not report in the event of a lockout. One NBA GM, saying said an
Atlanta boycott would be "tragic": "I understand wanting to put
pressure on the NBA, but that just isn't the right thing to do.
You're supposed to be playing for your country in an
international competition. What does that have to do with the
amount of money you make or the benefits you are receiving?"
(WASHINGTON POST, 6/28).
OPINIONS: In Chicago, Lacy Banks calls the owners' threat
of a lockout a "bully tactic that can be costly for all parties
because I don't think the players will surrender like they did
last year." He continues, "With TV money, foreign commitments
and the league's image at stake, I believe the players are better
able to call the owners' bluff." Banks calls the players' demand
for $29M from group licensing "chump change" and indicates he
would support a player boycott of the Olympics should the league
lock out its players (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/28). In New York,
Peter Vecsey is "convinced they'll avert a lockout. Why?
Because David Stern always has said, 'If money is the only
obstacle [which, Vecsey notes, it is] preventing us from reaching
an agreement, we can work it out'" (N.Y. POST, 6/28).
In a teleconference yesterday, NBA Commissioner David Stern,
NBA VP/Business Affairs Val Ackerman and NBC Sports President
Dick Ebersol announced a five-year TV rights agreement between
the new Women's NBA with NBC presenting weekly coverage beginning
June '97. Stern cited NBC's track record and the NBA's "comfort"
level with the network as key reasons. Ebersol indicated the
deal is based on revenue and profit sharing and that NBC expects
WNBA coverage to produce at least a 3.0 rating by the third year.
Stern said a cable deal, airing two prime time games a week,
would be announced within three weeks, with Lifetime and Turner
among those considered. Any local TV deals will be negotiated by
the teams (THE DAILY). Ebersol: "In the last three years, the
two sports that have shown the most growth are NASCAR and women's
basketball. Knowing what the NBA can bring to this, it can
really develop into something" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/28).
CABLE: INSIDE MEDIA's Mike Reynolds reports Lifetime and
ESPN are the front-runners for the cable package (INSIDE MEDIA,
6/28). ESPN's Dan Quinn: "We're very interested and discussions
are taking place" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/28).
DETAILS: Stern said the eight teams would play in NBA
cities, in NBA arenas, and would be operated by NBA team front
offices. He added the WNBA's access to those resources --
including "the best marketers in all of sports" -- coupled with
the NBC deal, are two differences between the WNBA and past
failed women's leagues. The NBA's Val Ackerman said the best
players will get "top salaries," but they would likely be lower
than the ABL's considering the ABL has a longer season. Stern
does not see the ABL as "a competitive issue" since the ABL will
play in the fall and the WNBA in the summer. The WNBA has a Labor
Day timetable to announce cities and player signings (THE DAILY).
REAX: Stern: "If we can't do it, it can't be done"
(WASHINGTON POST, 6/28). In Baltimore, Milton Kent writes, "One
can't help but think that NBC has taken a big step toward
protecting the second most valuable television sports property,
after the NFL" (Baltimore SUN, 6/28). In St. Pete, Brian Landman
writes, "No women's league -- amateur or professional -- has
commanded such coverage, which bestows a credibility to the
fledgling league" (ST. PETE TIMES, 6/28).