Judging by their meeting last week, there's reason to wonder if the baseball lords have any intention of giving a proposal to the players before the end of the year.
When the owners convene and spend nearly all of their timmeeting separately, rather than in the same room, it's an indication that they can't agree on anything. Richard Ravitch, who is trying to put together the revenue-sharing, salary-cap proposal, says it is a complex issue, which nobody disputes.
But the bottom line here is that the "haves" do not want to sharwith the "have-nots," which is the way it has always been. There are 10 clubs, including the Orioles (did you ever think they'd be included among the haves?), who don't want to divvy up the money pie.
That's enough to prevent the required 21 votes to enact anchanges in baseball's basic operational policy. And Ravitch is going to have a hard time selling his program to those 10 teams.
Meanwhile, Donald Fehr, executive director of the Major LeaguBaseball Players Association, is waiting for something to take to his membership. So far he has gotten nothing more than an oral commitment from Ravitch that there will be no lockout next spring and that free agency won't be impeded this coming off-season.
A lot of people are interpreting Ravitch's promise of no lockouas a guarantee there won't be a work stoppage. But that is not true.
All that has happened is that the owners -- unable to agree otheir own proposal -- are making sure the onus is shifted to the players. But it was the owners, by reopening negotiations on the basic agreement, who presented the players with the option to strike this season.
With two good divisional races in the American League, plulong-shot leaders in the National League, the players have more leverage now than they could hope to obtain before this time next year. This is far from a done deal. And it may take the pressure of a threatened strike to get movement from the owners.
Labor Day, a natural target date for any possible job action, istill a magical date. At this point, the players have nothing in the way of a proposal offer to respond to and could decide that they are going to have to force the issue.
If so, it's not far-fetched to assume they'll have a bigger hammein the final month of this season than they will any other time.
When 24 equals $25,000
It took him 10 days, but Rickey Henderson finally got his number. After wearing No. 14 for his first 10 games with the Blue Jays, Henderson secured his familiar No. 24 from outfielder Turner Ward.
It didn't come cheap. Henderson reportedly paid Ward $25,000. That works out roughly to time and a half pay for one day for Henderson, whose daily wage computes to $17,441.86.
That's steep rent for a couple months, and also a sign thainflation has even hit the number bartering system. The last time Henderson negotiated for his number, when he was traded to the Yankees in 1985, Ron Hassey gave up No. 24 for a new suit and a set of golf clubs.
B. Ripken ready to play
When the season started, the Texas Rangers were counting on shortstop Manuel Lee and second baseman Bill Ripken to plug defensive holes. Now neither can get into the lineup, and Ripken can't even get on the roster after being disabled with a torn hamstring.
Mario Diaz and Doug Strange have done a good job at shortstoand second base while Lee and Ripken were idled with assorted injuries and batting averages below .200. Lee has irritated some of the Rangers people by brooding over his lack of playing time.
Manager Kevin Kennedy, however, says he has paid no attention to Lee's mood swings.
Ripken appears ready to leave the disabled list, but the Rangers are strapped for space and aren't likely to do anything before Sept. 1, when rosters expand to 40.
Ripken has talked to general manager Tom Grieve about his situation, but won't rattle any chains by filing a grievance. "I can understand his impatience," Grieve said, "but now the time is not right [to make a roster move]."
Red Sox sitting pretty
Long-suffering Boston Red Sox fans are drawing a lot of hope from this year's schedule. The team, which has the best home record in the American League, plays its last 10 games at Fenway Park.
Six of those 10 games will be against also-rans Minnesota anMilwaukee. The other four are against Detroit. Those games will come at a time the Orioles, Yankees and Blue Jays are playing each other, so if the Red Sox can stay close through the middle of next month, they could ease into a division title.
Brown slices film clips
The Rangers have drawn a rebuke from Bobby Brown, American League president, for a segment on their Diamond Vision screen. Inspired by the Nolan Ryan-Robin Ventura mismatch, the Rangers were running a series of misplays by the White Sox. The tag line was "Baseball Bloopers By The Guys Who Wear Black," playing on the White Sox's "Good Guys Wear Black" theme. Brown told the Rangers to cease making fun of their division rivals.
Gwynn's hot bat