Bottom of ninth looms, but last at-bat expected

September 07, 1994|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Sun Staff Writer

Representatives of the striking Major League Baseball Players Association spoke by conference call with management negotiator Richard Ravitch and a small group of owners Monday, but the clock continues to count down to ownership's Friday deadline to save the rest of the season.

It seems likely that there will be a formal bargaining session between now and then, but nothing has yet been scheduled.

The telephone conference included Atlanta Braves president Stan Kasten, Colorado Rockies CEO Jerry McMorris and Boston Red Sox general partner John Harrington. The union was represented by associate general counsel Gene Orza, assistant general counsel Lauren Rich, union consultant Steve Fehr and several other MLBPA officials.

Though nothing encouraging came out of the discussion, the unannounced negotiating session confirmed that both sides still are working behind the scenes in an attempt to find some common ground on which to build a settlement.

Both sides seemed hopeful they would meet before the deadline that was imposed Friday by acting commissioner Bud Selig.

"Hopefully we can get an eyeball-to-eyeball session with all of the key people in a room again," McMorris told the Rocky Mountain News on Monday night. "With the [Jewish] holiday, that probably couldn't be before Wednesday."

There probably isn't time to make a settlement before Friday, but Selig said yesterday that the deadline might be flexible if there were any reason to stretch it.

"I really think Friday is the date," he said, "but if we're close to a deal, we wouldn't do anything foolish. It's just that we're not close to a deal."

There were rumors yesterday that there would be an ownership meeting in Dallas today, but they were denied by Selig and other ownership sources.

There have been reports of a large-market attempt to break the link between revenue-sharing and the salary cap proposal that has frozen the negotiations, but the official party line has not changed.

It seems likely that there will be some kind of meeting between now and the deadline Friday, if only for the public relations value of making a last-ditch attempt to save the pennant stretch and the postseason.

Federal mediators remain involved in the dispute and figure to encourage both sides to come together tomorrow or Friday.

The union has scheduled an executive board meeting for Monday, but has told player representatives to be prepared to go to New York earlier if negotiations are resumed in the next few days.

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