Arbitrator George Nicolau denied newly acquired Baltimore Blast forward Dale Mitchell's contract grievance against the Kansas City Comets yesterday, a decision that upholds the Aug. 20 trade that sent Carl Valentine from the Blast to the Comets for Mitchell.
Mitchell was asking Nicolau to make him a free agent on the grounds that Comets owner Chris Clouser fraudulently induced Mitchell to sign by promising him certain things that weren't written in the contract and then trading him to the Blast, whose officials had no knowledge of the extras.
Mitchell has said that the extras promised him by Clouser were in the form of commercials and endorsements that would enable him to make an extra $18,000 over the maximum one-year player's salary of $72,000 under the new Major Soccer League team salary cap of $630,000.
If declared a free agent, Mitchell had said he planned to sign with the Tacoma Stars. Tacoma is only three hours from his Vancouver, British Columbia, home, and Mitchell said if he has to play for $72,000 a year he would prefer to do it close to home instead of in Baltimore.
But Nicolau, the sports arbitrator who ruled in favor of the major league baseball players in the collusion case against the owners, said yesterday: "I ruled the player [Mitchell] did not present sufficient evidence to win the case. My job is to determine who wins and loses."
Mitchell said last night from Vancouver: "It's obviously a difficult situation. I was confident of winning the way everything went in the hearing. I'd do the same thing all over again even though I lost."
Mitchell said he hoped the Blast fans would hold nothing against him for "doing what I had to do. I never had anything against Baltimore. It was Kansas City. Chris Clouser told me last January that I would be in Kansas City as long as there was a team there. That's why we bought a home out there."
Westminster High Marching Band members Dennis Middleton, Mark Craig, Chris Diehl and Melissa Dahms (from left) look smart in new uniforms.
*** NOTES--Blast coach Kenny Cooper said yesterday, "Dale Mitchell ought to get down on his knees and thank the good Lord that he's coming to Baltimore. We have a good organization, great tradition, good fans and good ownership. Dale Mitchell is an impact player, and I would hope our fans understand the situation and not make it personal. Dale never had anything against Baltimore, it was against Kansas City."
Cooper cut four free agents yesterday: forwards Papee James, Shayon Jalayer and Bora Petric and defender Noel Healy. James and Healy played for the Washington Stars this season, Jalayer is a former Essex Community College player and Petric is from Chicago.