Baseball still in a holding pattern

November 12, 1994|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Sun Staff Writer

RYE BROOK, N.Y. -- Baseball's union and management bargaining units met yesterday afternoon, but no proposals were exchanged and no concessions were made.

Special mediator William Usery will bring the negotiating teams back together today for a third day of meetings, though no one would predict if there would be hard bargaining before the session at the Doral Arrowwood Conference Center ends today or tomorrow.

"We've had a lot of constructive dialogue -- a lot of issues have been discussed," Usery said. "No agreements have been reached. We're still under discussion in the key areas. In my way of mediation, there has been good faith on both sides. It was a good day as far as I was concerned."

Yesterday, Boston Red Sox general partner John Harrington admitted that the owners believe time is running out on their option to declare an impasse and impose their salary-cap proposal.

Off-season business is being conducted in a traditional manner, but the owners figure to impose new work rules in December if there is no compromise. The question is whether they do so in time for the Dec. 7 arbitration deadline or the Dec. 20 deadline for tendering contracts.

"You all know that there is a business calendar and a baseball operations calendar," Harrington said. "Certain decisions have to made in regard to sponsors, vendors and ticket buyers. On the baseball operations side, there also are decisions that have to be made."

This was not surprising to the union, which has been preparing for a legal counterattack that is certain to take place if the owners put their new proposal into effect.

"All we know is, they believe there is a calendar that has some imperatives in early December," union director Donald Fehr said.

Three members of the players' contingent -- Kevin Brown, Brett Butler and Scott Sanderson -- left after yesterday's meeting to attend to other commitments but indicated that they would return if the talks heat up.

"We're still faced with a situation where they desire to have a system, whether it be a salary cap or something else, but some type of system to control salaries," Brown said. "We'd like to address their problems -- and there are problems to address -- but we feel there are other ways to address them.

"I'm not sure a whole lot has changed, but there have been more frank discussions. . . . I think both sides want an end of this."

Ownership negotiator Richard Ravitch remained silent for the second straight day.

The news yesterday that Harrington had been appointed spokesman of the bargaining unit could be an indication that the owners may take a more conciliatory view toward the kind of "taxation" plan that was proposed by the players in September. That plan was dismissed by Ravitch, but Harrington has seemed open to the possibility of a salary cap alternative all along.

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