AT THE NLRB The players union is expected to file charges with the National Labor Relations Board, challenging the legitimacy of ownership's impasse declaration and accusing management of bargaining in bad faith. The charges will be filed in New York, where complaints are almost certain to be issued. That would lead to a hearing before an administrative law judge and a ruling that likely would be appealed to a three-judge NLRB panel by the losing party. From there, the case could go to the federal circuit court and remain hung up in litigation for months or years. The players hope that the NLRB applies for an injunction against imposition of the salary cap, which would force management to function under the terms of the old Basic Agreement.
IN THE COURTS
The players union is expected to file a case challenging baseball's antitrust exemption. The case will be filed in Philadelphia, where a judge recently delivered a favorable opinion in an antitrust action involving the father of Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Mike Piazza.
IN THE FRONT OFFICE
General managers will need time to get up to speed in the new economic environment, but they hope to continue signing players in case the labor dispute is resolved in time to open spring training with major-leaguers. They might find agents unwilling to negotiate, however, if the union recommends a contract boycott.
ON THE FIELD
The owners have vowed to assemble teams of replacement players and open spring training, but that will be a complicated and contentious issue. It is uncertain where those players will come from and it is unknown whether the Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays will participate. The Department of Labor recently made it tougher on the owners by certifying the strike and triggering an agreement with the Immigration and Naturalization Service not to grant visas to potential strike-breakers.
The players have been lobbying for years to get baseball's antitrust exemption lifted, but this may be their best chance to convince Congress that the special protection afforded the owners is being abused.
IN A PERFECT WORLD
The players would decide to take the high road and go back to work while the situation plays itself out on the various legal and governmental fronts. The owners would abandon their potentially disastrous plan to field replacement teams before the image of the game is damaged any further.