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Volume 24 No. 156

Leagues Governing Bodies

          AL President Dr. Gene Budig fined and suspended five
     Yankees and Orioles players for their part in the fight
     Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium.  Orioles P Armando Benitez
     was suspended for eight games; Yankees P Graeme Lloyd and OF
     Darryl Strawberry for three games each; and O's P Alan Mills
     and Yanks P Jeff Nelson for two games each (AL).  Benitez
     and the Yankees players "waived their right to appeal,"
     while O's officials said Mills "will make a decision about
     whether to appeal later" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/21).
          REAX: In N.Y., Joel Sherman criticizes the length of
     the suspensions and writes that Budig "continues to have a
     blind spot for how important perception is in a sport that
     is constantly losing that battle," adding that it was "par
     for the course for him not to go the 10 miles from his
     midtown office to [Yankee] Stadium to be on hand last night"
     (N.Y. POST, 5/21).  On L.I., Shaun Powell: "This wasn't a
     beanball from Budig, this was a Beanie Baby. ... A month off
     the bench would have gotten an entire league's attention
     about the whole notion of beanballs" (NEWSDAY, 5/21).  
     Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner, on Benitez's eight-game
     suspension: "A month's suspension should have been the least
     he should have gotten" (HARTFORD COURANT, 5/21).  In N.Y.,
     Dave Anderson writes that as MLB "is still searching for a
     commissioner, it needs someone to rule on fines and
     suspensions in both leagues instead" of the league
     presidents (N.Y. TIMES, 5/21).  Also in N.Y., John Harper
     credit Budig's ruling, calling it "the first properly severe
     suspension that Budig has handed down" (DAILY NEWS, 5/21).
          LEAVING THE BENCH: MLBPA Associate General Counsel Gene
     Orza, on the suggestion that leaving the dugout/bullpen be
     an automatic suspension: "It can't be in our sport because
     there's only one player on the field against nine" (N.Y.
     TIMES, 5/21).  On ESPN SportsZone, Rob Neyer agrees with the
     dugout aspect, but writes that what is realistic "is a rule
     barring anyone from leaving the bullpen" (SportsZone, 5/21). 
     

          At the NFL owners meetings in FL, "most members" of the
     NFL Coaches Association (NFLCA) "quietly took part in a
     protest" before a coaching symposium was set to begin,
     according to Mike Freeman of the N.Y. TIMES.  The group of
     "about" 50 to 60 coaches, "upset with issues they say
     include race and age discrimination, as well as pension plan
     issues, staged a non-confrontational protest that could
     signal future labor unrest."  The members entered the
     symposium 15 minutes late on Wednesday morning "to show the
     league that coaches, particularly assistants, are unified
     and prepared to take on the league."  Among the coaches were
     Eagles head coach Ray Rhodes and former Raiders head coach
     Art Shell.  Also present was NFLCA Founder William Wallen,
     who said that 94% of the NFL's assistants are association
     members.  But NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said the
     protest "bordered on silliness because we're well aware of
     their issues."  Tagliabue: "We've been talking to them; more
     than talking to them, we've changed a number of policies."
     He cited changes in the league's health insurance plan (N.Y.
     TIMES, 5/21).  In DC, Leonard Shapiro writes that the NFLCA
     members now face "a more important question: What next?" 
     Sources say the NFLCA "will not register as a union, but
     that a class-action lawsuit charging the NFL with age and
     race discrimination is being considered."  While coaches
     acknowledged the health insurance changes, they said other
     issues "have not been addressed" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/21).
          OTHER LEAGUE NOTES: NFL owners adopted a resolution to
     allow NFL teams to own AFL teams within their own markets.
     ...Kansas City's proposal to be considered to host the 40th
     Super Bowl in 2006 was rejected (USA TODAY, 5/21)....NFLPA
     Exec Dir Gene Upshaw said the league should make the new
     Browns franchise competitive as quickly as it can: "We are
     not going to punish an expansion team for being an expansion
     team.  It's not fair to the players, it's not fair to the
     city, it's not fair to the new owners, and it's not fair to
     the league" (BEACON JOURNAL, 5/21).  Panthers Owner Jerry
     Richardson: "We'll resolve it in a way that will give them a
     fair chance to compete.  Ours worked well" (SUN-SENTINEL,
     5/21)....Of the 52,000 PSLs sold for the new Browns
     franchise, about 10,000 are left, most of which cost $250 or
     $500 (BEACON JOURNAL, 5/21)....In San Jose, Sam Farmer
     writes that during the meetings, NFL owners "tiptoed oh so
     close to the issues troubling the 49ers, yet never treading
     on that delicate ground."  Tagliabue, on the fate of the
     team's $525M stadium/mall complex: "I really haven't spent
     enough time on it recently to feel comfortable that what I
     would say would even be accurate" (MERCURY NEWS, 5/21).

          Warriors G Latrell Sprewell sued the Warriors and the
     NBA yesterday, "seeking lost wages and damages stemming from
     what his lawyers allege as excessive discipline for
     Sprewell's attack" on coach P.J. Carlesimo last December,
     according to Jesse Barkin of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS.  The
     suit, filed in U.S. District Court, alleges the team and
     league "made several transgressions -- including a violation
     of Sprewell's civil rights, racial discrimination and
     violation of antitrust and unfair business practices
     statutes at the federal and state level."   Sprewell is
     "seeking as much" as $30M, which takes into account lost
     wages of $6.4M, plus court costs, legal fees and damages
     (S.J. MERCURY NEWS, 5/21).  The suit also states that the
     league "demonized Sprewell with a 'massive' public-relations
     campaign that made him a scapegoat."  Also named in the suit
     were parties "X, Y, and Z," which will be fill-ins for
     potential defendants added later.  Sprewell was not present
     at the press conference, but is scheduled to make a public
     comment "in the near future," according to his legal
     advisor, Robert Gist.  In S.F., C.W. Nevius writes that the
     "breadth and the scope of the suit had many observers
     raising their eyebrows, but few jumped on the bandwagon." 
     The NBPA issued a statement that it "has not endorsed this
     lawsuit and has advised Mr. Sprewell's attorney against
     bringing this action" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 5/21).  In a
     statement, NBA Exec VP & Chief Legal Officer Jeffrey Mishkin
     said, "This is a poorly disguised attempt by Mr. Sprewell's
     new attorneys to reargue claims that have already been
     rejected and put to rest by the arbitrator" (NBA).
          TIME FOR WAPNER: SI legal analyst Lester Munson said
     that Sprewell "is going to go 0-for-4 in this case.  His
     lawyers were sitting there at the press conference talking
     about punitive damages, treble damages, double jeopardy. 
     They misused almost all of these legal terms.  I think the
     outcome here is going to be that the NBA will not only win
     this case early but also Latrell Sprewell will end up paying
     the NBA's attorney's fees for getting this case dismissed"
     ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 5/20).  In S.F., C.W. Nevius writes
     that Sprewell's suit is "about revenge" and has "no chance." 
     Nevius: "This is a long longshot, and a play that a lot of
     major law firms wouldn't even begin to touch" (S.F.
     CHRONICLE, 5/21).  In Denver, Mark Kiszla writes Sprewell's
     suit is an example of the "sad tale of a professional sports
     league dying slowly at the hands of millionaires who are
     above the law. .... Sprewell isn't killing the NBA's
     integrity.  He's just here to bury it" (DENVER POST, 5/21). 
     In related news, George magazine named Sprewell one its 20
     most fascinating men in politics, saying he "finally set the
     bar for what the American public will tolerate from the
     modern pro athlete" (N.Y. POST, 5/21).
          PLAYERS WARNED TO CLEAN UP: In Seattle, Steve Kelley,
     under the header, "NBA Millionaires Continue To Act Anything
     But Civil," wrote, "Do the players really think the public
     is going to be on their side if owners follow through with
     their threat of a lockout?" (SEATTLE TIMES, 5/20).