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Volume 24 No. 112

Leagues Governing Bodies

          Baseball's popularity "is soaring" as Mark McGwire and
     Sammy Sosa set HR records, according to a CNN/USA TODAY/
     Gallup Poll, as reported by Mel Antonen of USA TODAY.  The
     poll, conducted Monday and Tuesday, shows that 63% of the
     1,082 surveyed said they are "a fan or somewhat of a fan" of
     pro baseball -- an increase of 19% since a similar poll
     taken in June.  McGwire: "The best part about the home run
     chase is that it is bringing fans back to the ballpark. 
     It's good for baseball."  The 63% is the highest since the
     poll began tracking MLB's popularity in February '93.  The
     previous high, 55%, was in August '94, before the strike. 
     The low was 41% in April '95, when replacement players were
     playing in exhibition games (Mel Antonen, USA TODAY, 9/17).
          ALL TIED UP: Sosa hit his 63rd HR last night, tying him
     with McGwire.  Sosa's Cubs played the Padres in front of
     49,981 at Qualcomm Stadium, while McGwire's Cardinals played
     the Pirates in front of 39,758 at Busch Stadium (THE DAILY).
          HR RACE? In N.Y., Murray Chass writes on the suggestion
     that MLB "slighted" Sosa "in its treatment of him" during
     the HR chase, and that Sosa's race "is the reason."  Tom
     Reich, who, along with partner Adam Katz, reps Sosa: "Sammy
     doesn't perceive it that way and neither do we.  The
     attention that has been given to Sammy has been tremendous." 
     MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said that he "had received some
     calls from fans who said they thought Sosa had been
     slighted."  Selig: "I explained it to them and they were
     satisfied."  Selig said that both McGwire and Sosa will be
     honored during the World Series, no matter who ends up with
     the HR record (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 9/17).
          ALL FOR A BALL? John Grass, the 46-year-old who caught
     McGwire's No. 63, presented the Cardinals with "a list of
     more than 30 items he wanted in exchange for the ball,"
     including a trip to spring training, a chance for him and
     his son to throw out first pitches at Cards games, and items
     autographed by McGwire and Stan Musial.  The list was
     forwarded to Cards Principal Owner Bill DeWitt, but GM Walt
     Jocketty said that the ball "is not worth that."  Jocketty:
     "Unless it's the last one that Mark hits, I don't think it's
     worth that much" (Ric Bucher, WASHINGTON POST, 9/17).
          STATION ID: In Chicago, Jim Kirk writes to look for
     Cubs TV carriers, including WGN, "to carry more identifying
     logos ... in the corner of the screen" for every Sosa AB. 
     Enough sports outlets "have been poaching live footage of
     Sosa's at-bats that Cubs' executives have suggested that
     outlets identify the footage" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/17).

          NHL: The NHL awarded its 2000 All-Star Weekend to
     Toronto.  The 50th All-Star Game will be held at the new Air
     Canada Centre (NHL).  In Toronto, Lance Hornby writes that
     Maple Leaf Gardens "likely will be used" for the Heroes of
     Hockey old-timers game and the skills competition, while the
     National Trade Centre at Exhibition Place will host NHL fan
     events and other functions (TORONTO SUN, 9/17)....In L.A.,
     Karen Crouse writes under the header "Penalty on Union:
     Brainwashing Blake," noting that unsigned Kings D Rob Blake
     "has been kidnapped ... by an increasingly militant group
     called the NHLPA."  Crouse: "The Rob Blake we know never
     would have let his position as [VP] of the NHLPA supersede
     his loyalty to the Kings. ... The Rob Blake we know wouldn't
     have been among the more than 100 restricted free agents who
     remain unsigned. ... If they're smart, the Kings won't let
     the NHLPA hold their season ransom" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 9/17).
     ...Penguins C Petr Nedved, beginning his second year as a
     holdout from the Pens, reached a contract agreement with the
     IHL Las Vegas Thunder.  Nedved is expected to sign the deal
     upon his arrival in Las Vegas on Monday (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-
     JOURNAL, 9/17).  IHL President & CEO Doug Moss is "working
     hard to improve" relations between the IHL and the NHL, but
     "fears" that deals like this "would hurt the relationship." 
     Thunder GM Bob Strumm said Nedved's return is "not about
     money."  Strumm: "In no way, shape or form would what we
     might be able to offer at this level compete in any way with
     what he could make in the NHL.  All we would be able to
     provide is hockey" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 9/15).
          NOTES: The Broncos "have accepted the NFL's request" to
     play a preseason game next August in Sydney, Australia. 
     Their opponent will be the Chargers, whose punter, Darren
     Bennett, is Australian (CO Springs GAZETTE-TELEGRAPH, 9/17).
     ...The three-game WNBA Brazil Tour '98, which will feature a
     team of WNBA All-Stars, is a joint effort of the league and
     the Confederao Brasileira de Basquete, and will include
     youth programs and appearances designed to increase
     basketball awareness.  The first game is September 29 (W.H.
     Stickney, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/17). 

          "Both parties are at fault," according to Dave
     D'Alessandro of the Newark STAR-LEDGER, who offers his
     "solution" to the NBA's labor woes.  D'Alessandro writes
     that the players' "main problem is that they are mesmerized
     by the misguided notion that fiscal stupidity should be the
     basis of fair market value."  The owners, meanwhile, say
     that the players earned 58% of all basketball-related income
     (BRI) last year, but "what they don't tell you is that the
     BRI includes only" 40% of luxury-box income, 40% of signage,
     none of the revenue from NBA theme stores "that exploit the
     players' names, and none of the naming-rights revenue on
     arenas."  D'Alessandro: "The only logical solution is to
     keep the present system but find a way to restrict annual
     increases."  D'Alessandro suggests a "graduated raise
     system," in which "the annual increases in the standard
     contract is contingent on the base salary," and "profit
     sharing" of revenue sources such as gate and signage.  He
     also suggests a new rookie scale whereby picks 1-10 are
     "bound" to five-year contracts, picks 11-20 for four years,
     21-29 for three years, with all becoming unrestricted free
     agents when their contracts expire.  D'Alessandro, noting
     that the NBA's last proposal to the union included a minimum
     salary of $350,000, with an extra $50,000 per season after
     five years of service: "The union should take the money and
     run, but not before asking for the $50,000 raises to kick in
     after two years" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 9/17).  
          PLAYERS FRUSTRATED, BUT UNITED: Sonics player rep Vin
     Baker: "This is definitely discouraging.  We can come to an
     agreement to make this thing work.  There has to be a happy
     medium. ... If we lock out for a long time, and if Michael
     Jordan retires, those are significant things that could
     really put us a big step back" (Portland OREGONIAN, 9/15). 
     Raptors rep Dee Brown: "We might have a shortened training
     camp, a few pre-season games, but I'm optimistic we won't
     miss any regular-season games" (TORONTO SUN, 9/16).  Pacers
     F Chris Mullin: "From what I've heard, it doesn't look like
     training camp will start on time.  After that, who knows?" 
     Pacers G Fred Hoiberg: "We just have to stay positive and
     stay together.  If the guaranteed players do get paid, there
     can't be any jealousy" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR-NEWS, 9/16). 
     Rockets C Hakeem Olajuwon: "It's sad.  Both sides know
     there's so much at stake" (AP/S.A. EXPRESS-NEWS, 9/16). 
     Grizzlies F Shareef Abdur-Rahim: "This is something you
     think would happen more to truck drivers or pilots.  In
     professional sports, you wouldn't think this would be going
     on. ... As players, we have to put up the best deal, but
     hopefully we can do a deal where both sides are comfortable"
     (Vancouver PROVINCE, 9/15).  Warriors rookie Antawn Jamison,
     on coming out of college early: "Honestly, I don't regret
     (my decision) at all. ... I definitely didn't think it would
     last this long and be this serious.  I thought everything
     would be fixed by now.  At most, I thought we'd miss a
     couple of days of training camp.  But I didn't know it would
     be this much of a headache" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 9/17).
          MOVING CAMP: In Toronto, Frank Zicarelli reports that
     NBA teams "have been put on official notice to seek
     alternative training camp sites" (TORONTO SUN, 9/17).